Day message for fathers
There is a fundamental difference
in some churches between the sermons you’ll typically hear on Mother’s
Day and Father’s Day. Moms are usually showered with positive, uplifting
praise focused on their value and virtue. For dads, the experience too often
amounts to a detailed inventory of their shortcomings, leaving men feeling
more like a target than a treasure.
I think it’s time we balance
the scale. I want you to recognize three important fatherhood facts that will
bless and build your family.
1. Every dad
“Honor your father and your
mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving
you” (Exodus 20:12).
God endorses both Mother’s
Day and Father’s Day in this passage, since the heart of these special
occasions is the biblical commandment and life-giving principle of honoring.
Has that commandment been especially
hard for you to obey? It may help you to better understand the meaning of
the word “honor.” In Hebrew, it suggests recognizing the value
or worth of a person. When we honor someone, we deeply treasure them —
not necessarily because we feel something
about them, but because we recognize
something about them. When God commands us to honor our father and mother,
He does not expect us to conjure up an emotion that may not exist; He is telling
us to adopt an attitude and to act accordingly.
During his marriage seminars, Gary
Smalley often brings out an old, beat-up, stringless violin. He polls the
audience to see how much they think it’s worth. Most people don’t
think it’s worth more than a couple of dollars at a yard sale. That’s
when Gary gives them a few bits of additional information. For example, he
mentions that there are only about 600 violins in the world like this one.
Then he reads the name inscribed on the instrument: Stradivarius. Suddenly,
the audience reacts with oohs and ahhs. What made the difference? The recognition
7 Secrets of Effective Fathers
Ken R. Canfield
Like the Father
Kenneth O. Gangel and Jeffrey S. Gangel
Father to Son: Showing Your Boy How to Walk with Christ
here or call
In order to genuinely
honor our fathers on Father’s Day, we need to genuinely
recognize the significance and value God designed into every dad.
Dads are essential equippers. No
one can argue that a father is not indispensable when it comes to conceiving
a child. But psychologists and behaviorists have only recently recognized
the vital role dads play in their children’s development. The fact is,
moms and dads parent differently. No surprise there. What we’re learning
is that those differences in style and approach give kids a more complete,
balanced upbringing than they could receive from either parent alone. Check
out some of these findings:
Moms tend to be more verbal with
their little ones while dads are more likely to be physical, rolling around
on the floor giving them horsey rides and playing tickle games.
During play, mothers tend to stick
with more calm and familiar routines. “Dad games” are generally
more surprising and unpredictable. In fact, studies have shown that babies
only 2 months old know the difference between their mother’s approach
and father’s approach, and react differently. When Dad comes near, a
baby will begin to breathe more rapidly and open his eyes wide anticipating
excitement. The same baby will welcome Mom by relaxing his shoulders and lowering
his eyelids expecting a more soothing interaction.
Fathers and mothers also differ
in the amount of risk-taking they encourage. See for yourself the next time
you visit a public swimming pool. The moms are more likely to be holding their
toddlers, assuring them that everything is okay. Dad will be the one with
his arms outstretched saying, “Go ahead and jump. I’ll catch you!”
Neither style is wrong. In fact,
both are essential if we are to raise healthy, well-adjusted kids.
This applies to both sons and daughters.
The notion that men raise boys and women raise girls is a myth, and a dangerous
one at that in these days when so many people are intent on redefining the
family. Consider the example of a little good-natured roughhousing with Dad.
Psychologists have noted that this kind of play teaches boys to regulate and
control their aggressiveness. When things start getting out of control, a
father might say, “Calm down or we’ll stop playing.” Men
play a vital role in establishing and enforcing boundaries for their boys.
Girls benefit from this sort of physical interaction every bit as much, although
in different ways. Primarily, it helps them build more self-confidence and
In another area of parenting, moms
are often the tenderness teachers while dads are often the tenacity teachers. In his article “Complementary Parenting
Styles” Dr. Wade Horn writes, “Fathers tend to be more results-oriented
and less sensitive to the pleadings of children, whereas moms are more focused
on the emotional experience of their children. As a result, dads tend to be
more insistent than moms that their children work through a problem, even
if doing so causes some emotional upset. This helps children learn how to
cope with frustration and to be good problem-solvers. Dads tend to emphasize
the importance of learning life’s hard lessons, believing those lessons
will help their children be successful when they become adults. Moms tend
to be more concerned about protecting their children and keeping them close
to the family.”
Listen to how the apostle Paul,
speaking as a spiritual father, taught tenacity to the Thessalonian believers:
“We talked to you as a father to his own children — don’t
you remember? — pleading with you, encouraging you and even demanding
that your daily lives should not embarrass God, but bring joy to him who invited
you into his kingdom to share his glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:11,12).
Here’s the bottom line: Fathers,
don’t underestimate your significance to your family. You are necessary
and needed. You are wired differently than your wife, but only to complete her, not compete with her. The God-given task of parenthood requires
your combined efforts and inclinations. Despite what the sitcom stereotypes
may lead us to believe, fathers play a vital role in our development.
2. Every dad
Honoring your father does not require
that you ignore his weaknesses and forget about his failures; it means that
we deal with them both honestly and biblically. Let’s talk about two
ways to do that.
Dads must be learning leaders.
In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul writes,
“Follow my example [i.e., lead] as I follow the example of Christ.”
Every great leader is a learner.
That’s both an admission and an ambition! We need to recognize with
humility that while we carry the mantle of leadership, we are not all-seeing,
all-knowing dictators who have outgrown human error.
I can remember more than one family
road trip when the kids began asking the inevitable questions: “Are
we there yet?” and “How long till we stop?” What they didn’t
know was that even though I was leading (I was the one with my hands on the
wheel and the map in my lap), I was also learning. After all, this destination
was a first for me, too.
The admission that we are learning
as we are leading doesn’t undermine our position of authority. If anything,
it enhances it — especially if our family sees that we’re really
committed to following Christ’s lead in our life. While we can never
“learn” our way beyond all of our shortcomings, we can use them
to draw us into a greater dependence on the Lord’s wisdom and strength.
Families must be forgiving followers.
For some family members, Father’s
Day is difficult because it summons up memories of a father who is absent,
abusive ... anything but caring and connected. Does God really expect you
to honor your father after what he did to you ... or didn’t do for you?
The answer is yes — and both
the quality and quantity of your life depends on it. Remember, the Fifth Commandment
is the only one that comes with a motivational promise — “…
so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
Here’s a principle that many
people miss: God commands us to honor our fathers not only because of what
it does for them, but what it does for us.
Gary Smalley wrote, “Rejecting
our father is robbing from ourselves!” When we carry the baggage of
bitterness and hatred, it robs us in more ways than we can imagine:
Physically. Living with unresolved anger literally keeps our body systems
on full alert releasing chemicals within our body that can pose serious health
risks over time.
Emotionally/Relationally. Unresolved anger toward a parent
can be turned inward on ourselves or misdirected toward those we love. Serious
emotional difficulties and relational breakdowns can result.
Spiritually. We can ultimately blame God for our father’s failures
and forfeit the grace that only God can supply.
Biblically speaking, forgiveness
not only releases the person who wounded us, it releases us from the sting
of the wound.
3. Every dad
possesses the seeds of success.
Success in fatherhood may mean
different things to different people. Here’s what it comes down to for
me: having my family love God, live for God, and live forever with God.
What must I do to assure that victory?
First, I must invest my time. In
a recent survey, children were asked to describe tangible ways their parents
showed them that they were important. Their most common answer had to do with
what Mom and Dad spent on them ... not in money,
but in time — time attending their games, their open houses,
their band concerts and competitions, their church programs, etc. To children
(and often to our spouse), love is spelled t-i-m-e.
The second seed of success is training.
Remember the wisdom of Proverbs 22:6 — “Train a child
in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from
it.” The spiritual training of our children is a responsibility
we cannot delegate to a pastor, youth leader or Sunday School
teacher, no matter how helpful they may be. Through the values
we live out, the example that we set, as well as the words that
we speak, our children are depending on us to take the lead in
their Christian upbringing.
Third, in order to
be a successful father I must intercede for my family. The battle
for my family is ultimately a spiritual one. I can’t build
an eternally successful family in my own strength; it can only
happen through God’s power working within my family when
I pray passionately and persistently.
This Father’s Day, let’s
give Dad the kind of affirmation and appreciation we typically
save for Mom. But, instead of giving him flowers, give him respect.
Recognize the role he plays in God’s plan for the family.
As for us men, let’s use this occasion to recommit ourselves
to being loving leaders, lifelong learners, and dedicated doers
of the Word.
Brawner is senior pastor of Bonita Valley Christian Center in
Bonita, Cal. He and his wife, Jewel, have two children, Jordan
E-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.