Right up front, let me tell you this is not necessarily going to be the finest article I have ever written. Actually, I need to confess. My best inspirational thoughts and most insightful information about fathers, I preached in sermons over 50 years ago. The reason I tell you that is because those were the days before I was a father.
I had a father. I was very thankful for him. Now that I am a father and a grandfather, I wish I had been a better father and that I would be even a better grandfather. All that said, I’m sitting down to write this article entitled, Facts about Fathers, and there are not many facts that I have. I can tell you about three things, quickly, just rapid fire, that I do know.
One: There are no perfect fathers. I’ve never met one. I’m not one. I didn’t have one. There are no perfect fathers, except for the Heavenly Father.
Two: Most of us are aware we could be better fathers. There are areas of our lives that we could rearrange. Time we could give. Habits we could change. Hopes that we could exchange. We could be better fathers. We often think about that and need to pause and give more consideration to it.
Three: This is a good time to start being a better father. You can do it. I can do it. We all can get closer to the Heavenly Father and by His strength and power, by His grace and love, we can be finer fathers than we’ve ever been. Most of us know and God knows we need better fathers in this world. You can be one of those without a doubt. How? Well, there are three simple things that I would like to pass on to you that would help you be the father that the Lord wants you to be.
n Be an example. At the early days of God raising up His people, He had one follower by the name of Abraham who trusted Him, loved Him, and wanted to serve Him. He was a friend of God, and He was a man of God. You know the story. I won’t go in depth about it, but he and his wife had been promised a child of promise and hope for the future. Years went by, decades went by, and no child, but then the child would come. Listen to what God said about Abraham in Genesis 18:19, “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.”
Whenever I read those words I hear the voice of God saying, “I know him, and I know what he will do.” Abraham was dependable and predictable. He was going to be the father of a great nation until this day. He was an example. How do you become an example? There are two simple truths. When there are things you want your children to do, you do them yourself. Your lectures, your tongue lashings, your demanding and yelling are not as powerful as your example. You want them to be law abiding, good citizens? You do it yourself. You want them to be faithful to the church, read their Bibles, and pray? You do it yourself. You want them to be respectful in the way they treat people and the way they talk about people? You do it yourself. As well you can imagine, this is a list that would fill up The Baptist Record this week. The other simple thing is if there are things you don’t want them to do, then you don’t do them. You don’t want them to cheat, lie, gossip, cuss, do drugs, smoke, drink? Another paper could be filled up with the list. You don’t do those things.
I remember a young man who had gotten in trouble at school and with the authorities because he had been caught with some marijuana. It was a small amount and he had been smoking it. The father came to me in distress. His son had been caught and was in trouble with the law because he had been smoking marijuana. He asked, “How in the world? We’ve had that kid in church. Where would he ever get such an idea that he could do something like that?” He was a good friend of mine and I didn’t chew him out, but knowing he had a pack of cigarettes in the front pocket of his shirt I just reached over and tapped the pack of cigarettes and said, “He may have learned right here.” The man could not believe and did not say anything, but soon reflected to me that he had made the personal decision that he would no longer smoke. It’s not easy to quit a habit like that, but he did. Be an example for your children.
n Be an encourager and example. Encourage your kids to do their best, not just to be the best in the class but to be their best in whatever they’re doing whether it’s on the soccer field or in the math book, whether they’re participating in a church activity or a clean-up day in the community. Do your best. You as a father may not have been always at your best but truthfully, you may have been doing the best you could with what you had in the environment at the time. Encourage your kids to do the same.
n Be an enlightener, encourager, and example. The enlightener stays focused on the most important thing in all of life, which is to answer the question: “What have you done with Jesus?” Not too long ago, I was listening to a recording of one of the last sermons my dad preached. He’s been gone for decades, but his voice was as clear and resonating in my heart as though he preached it last Sunday. In that message, he was dealing with Matthew 7:13-14 which says, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” He was pointing the congregation to Jesus as he had pointed his sons to Jesus so many times throughout his ministry and his fatherhood.
We knew the pathway clearly. When this life is over, it is the most important fact of all that our children have come to a relationship with Jesus that will last through eternity, not just to span a short period of time called life here but life everlasting. Be an enlightener. I know fathers who spend so much time wanting to invest in their children’s games and activities and enrichment of life. What if you gave them everything or, to think of it in terms as Jesus said, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul” (Matt. 16:26)? What have you done?
To be an enlightener is to make sure your children, your grandchildren, and anyone who knew you as a father, anyone that you touched their life, to make them understand that Jesus is not just a good answer for life. He is the answer for life everlasting. We may not be perfect, but we can help make a difference in this old imperfect world. Happy Father’s Day, guys. May God bless each of you to begin a new day in your walk with Jesus to influence all of your children.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.