For the last couple of years I’ve noticed a tendency on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. I’ve had the privilege of teaching or preaching on those days for a number of years. Moms get a lot of praise and adoration on their day. Dads, or men in general, get challenged and chided. Now, adoration for moms is well-deserved, and challenge for men and dads is necessary. And I guess as a man speaking to women, it is easier to be encouraging than chiding. And I guess the reverse is true as a man speaking to men. I see my own shortfalls along with the shortfalls of men in general and take the opportunity to challenge us.
But with that said, let me take a moment and offer a positive commentary on dads and men. I have a great dad. He’s not perfect, but he was always there. Growing up in the home of a pastor presents a challenge to children (glass house, parental pressure, etc.). I never saw my dad as a pastor first. He was a good pastor who loved and led his church, but I saw him as my dad because he was present.
My dad taught me to play sports—baseball, golf, football, fishing, etc. My dad taught me to work, to mow the grass, to tend a garden, to be generous with what God had given us, to love a woman deeply, and to trust God. My dad modeled for me some important lessons I’ve tried to emulate as a father.
- My dad taught me to be present with my children. We did many things together, and even today I cherish the golf and fishing memories of my childhood.
- My dad taught me that we should sacrifice for others, but that family comes first. I remember cutting a vacation short one year because a church member passed away. But putting church things ahead of family was rare. My dad was always generous and giving with his time, but he didn’t sacrifice his family for his church.
- My dad taught me that it’s ok not to be perfect. I’m my own harshest critic. I think I get that from my dad actually. But my dad reminded me over the years that he’s not perfect (and he certainly pointed that out to me, in a good way, when I was a child). That’s a lesson I didn’t get until I became a parent. It’s not my job to help my boys be perfect. They are sinners and need to know it. It’s my job to show them my imperfections, their imperfections, and point them to Jesus, the only perfect One. I’m eternally grateful to my dad for that lesson.
- My dad taught me to say, “I love you” and “I’m sorry.” Dads, your children need your affection, your emotion, and your honesty. They’re learning how to live and interact with others from your example.
I pray that I can live up to the lessons my dad taught me. I also hope this father’s day to be an encouragement to other dads and men. So, if you’ve learned from your dad, or if you’re seeking God in your role as a father, be grateful. Take some time tomorrow and enjoy the day. Honor those who’ve taught you. Bless those who are learning from you. And humbly acknowledge the great responsibility you have as a dad.
To my dad on Father’s Day, “Thank you for what you’ve taught me. I love you.”