Psa 1:1-3 KJV (1) Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. (2) But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. (3) And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
It seems like “Fathers” no longer exist as they did back in my day of growing up. I fondly remember TV shows from my childhood: Timmy’s dad (from Lassie), Ward Cleaver (Leave it to Beaver), Jim Anderson (Father Knows Best), – you get the picture. Instead, Hollywood betrays dads as far from perfect as you can imagine. The children are generally smarter or “righter” than the parents. The dad is often at the bottom of the list of the person most respected and he is easy to manipulate.
In fact, most dads are depicted as distant individuals who really play no important role in the children’s life. Perhaps this is just a cycle of time, but Father’s seem to be so disrespected by many segments of society. On the other hand, there is something happening in parenthood that is not easily depicted by Hollywood.
- Men are more involved in the birth and rearing of children than ever before.
- Men are more apt to take off from work with a sick child, get up in the middle of the night for a crying baby, and with no hesitation they are more quick to be the one to change the diaper instead of relegating the task to someone else.
I will confess I love those YouTube clips that show men testing the limits of their courage to change a diaper!
My question to each of us as fathers this morning is, “What Kind of Dad Do You Want to BE?
To the children of Fathers, “What Kind of Father Do you Need in Your Life?”
Let me paint the picture of two dad’s.
The Distant Dad
2 Kings 4:18-19 And when the child was grown, it fell on a day, that he went out to his father to the reapers. 19 And he said unto his father, My head, my head. And he said to a lad, Carry him to his mother.
All too often this is how fathers are viewed – It’s someone else’s job to care for the child. This young lad had reached the age where he wanted to be with Dad. Yet his dad delegated responsibility for his well being to a servant and only finds out of the child’s status when he returns home from work.
Not the kind of dad I would want in my life.
I remember living in Seabrook, Texas. Dad managed the employee only park for Champion Paper. In the early morning hours of the warmer time of the year, Dad would leave the house early to make his rounds of the park and ensure that all was ready. He emptied trash cans, checked the cleanliness of the pool water, made sure the dock at the lake was ready for boaters, etc. The one thing I remember the best was being able to go with dad on his drive through this 140 acre park. He would often take time to teach us to drive the truck – shifting, clutching, turning, starting, stopping, etc. At times we would sit next to him and shift as he pushed the pedals. Later, we would sit in his lap and drive and shift as he pushed the pedals. Later still, we would sit on the seat just in front of him and push the pedals as he shifted and drove! He would let us swim in the pool, getting the leaves that had fallen overnight, while he backwashed the pump and put more chemicals in the hopper. I remember these “chores” as nothing but fun… When he worked in the paper mill, it was mostly on various shifts. I remember with pride going on tours, the credit union members meeting that catered to the children, riding through the carwash while riding in the back of the truck, pigeons he captured to bring home, and the tunnel we got to drive through going and coming.
Let me ask the fathers something, “Are you willing to have your child follow you wherever you go? Can they periodically go to work with you? Where are your footsteps leading them? Will you coach them along with you as you perform your duties, or are there places you would just hope they never see you going to?”
Sadly, this father was too busy with his harvesting to care about an obvious injury to his own child.
Never let it be said that our fathers place more emphasis on work than the well being of their children. Let’s include the role of ministry in this equation. Before there was a church, or the need for ministers to serve the church, there was a family. The most important duty of any man is to care for his family. Even if the fields are “white unto harvest already”, at what cost are you willing to give up your first harvest (the family) and reach elsewhere?
I wonder what this father felt when he arrived home late that evening to find his wife and child gone…and the tragic news awaiting him that she had taken their dead child in an attempt to find the prophet?
Dads, hear me: YOU—should always be the first recourse your wife and children turn to when there’s a need in your family. Although your pastor is here to be with you, to pray with and for you, to turn to, you are the spiritual authority in your home that your wife and children recognize and feel comfortable with in time of trouble.
In this story, the only mention of the child’s father is “Carry Him to his mother.” The only picture we have of this father is an uncaring, unfeeling, “go away, boy, you bother me” daddy too busy to spend time with this miracle child.
Men, do not ever fall into the trap of being labeled a Distant Dad!
The Faithful Dad
Gen 18:17-19 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; 18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
What a tremendous thing to have GOD say about you! It is one thing to claim to “know GOD”, but it is quite another to have GOD claim that He “knows you”. GOD, speaking within Himself, says “I know Abraham, that he’ll teach his children, grandchildren, and those generations after him”. Study of this particular phrase reveals that GOD understood that Abraham would teach his children both by parental authority and by example.
Men, it is not enough to tell your kids to live right; you need to lead them by example!
“We can’t watch TV for 3 hours then read the Bible for 3 minutes and expect to grow spiritually.” This equation is doomed to failure! What your kids know about God should be first learned from the home! Fathers that only take their children to church to learn of God are not really the image of Abraham.
- By example, Fathers go to church “with them” and are not confused with those that only “drop them off” as if the child were going to a birthday party at a friends house.
- By example, Fathers inhale the Word of God so that their breath is permeated with the lessons from God in everything they do.
- By example, Fathers are the first to take the family to the House of Worship, not relegating the job to another, regardless of which service it is.
You can add many examples to this.
I remember how hard we worked around the house on most Saturday’s. It seems like that at 9 a.m., the Saturday work schedule began – cleaning, washing windows (screens, baseboards, etc.), yard work, etc. How many times did I help move plants to one side of the yard, only to have to move them again the next week? It doesn’t matter. This is what we did as a family. Saturday was a day of labor around the house. No matter how tired we may have become from the week past, Sunday was about going to church! I remember Dad being ready early, singing around the house as we readied to leave.
Let me end like this:
Fathers, this is only one day out of 365 that you are recognized for your role in the family. However, it is imperative that you maintain that role of protection and provision throughout your life. Do not look over your heritage and act satisfied with what you have accomplished! Thomas Edison – “Show me a thoroughly satisfied man, and I will show you a failure.” Life isn’t about reaching an ending point and being satisfied with what you have done. There is always one more thing yet to do, or to be done.
In Eph. 5:25, we are instructed, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it.”
If you drop down just a few verses, however, after instructing children to obey their parents, Paul again instructs us as men:
Eph 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Even if wWe are commanded to love our wives “as Christ loved the church”, scripture goes on to tell us that we are to be the father to our children as God has been a Father to us! Perhaps your prayer should be: “Let me care for my children the way that GOD has cared for me.” Undoubtedly there have been times that GOD has surely become exasperated with me; yet He continues to love, to care for, and to teach me. So also should it be with us, dad…our children will never be perfect, but then…we weren’t either!
Men, accept God’s role in your life to be a leader at home. Eventually, leadership expands to other areas, but you are first a leader on the home front.
Let us not only be the dad equal to (or better than) what our fathers were to us, but let us be the Dad that our Children need and want us to be.