“Help Wanted: Father – The procreator or generator of offspring, male parent. No experience or training necessary.”
If this were an actual online ad or listed in the local paper it might attract some attention. What kind of responses would it get ? We live in a day and age that blurs the lines of what a father is. Some question whether a father is really necessary. Some fathers buy into that, abandon their children, and society suffers the consequences. More importantly, those little children suffer consequences from dads poor decisions in untold ways. Numbers vary, but all agree that the vast majority of our male prison population is made up of fatherless men. Some studies place that number as high as 85%.
The establishment of Father’s Day goes back to 1910 in Spokane, Washington. Sonora Smart Dodd heard her pastor preach a message about honoring mothers and questioned why this was not done for fathers. Raising six children as a single parent, she wanted to honor her father, civil war veteran, William Jackson Smart. While it was celebrated, it took years to establish “Father’s Day” as a national holiday. On again off again efforts by Presidents Woodrow Wilson in 1916, Calvin Coolidge in 1924, Lyndon Johnson in 1966, and then finally it was signed into law, making it a permanent national holiday, by Richard Nixon in 1972.
So, a daughters desire to honor her father led to the establishment of “Father’s Day.” William must have been quite a man to inspire his daughter to initiate such action. What do we do with this holiday if dad is not a man worthy of honor or is not even in the picture? Long before 1910, Moses in the Old Testament, (Deuteronomy 6:7) told the men in leadership over Israel to teach their children so that they and their grandchildren would learn to love, fear, and obey God. In the New Testament, Paul directed his message specifically to men, saying “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord”(Ephesians 6:4). According to Moses and Paul it appears William had it right – his children were his responsibility.
To you dads, like William, who identify, accepted and carry out your God given responsibility to your children…. I applaud you! Keep it up, your grandchildren need you too! Father’s Day is your day to be honored by your children for the life time investment you have made into their lives. If we were talking baseball, William would have been in the majors. That isn’t the league I play in as a father. Below “class A” there is an even lower designation called “rookie league.” Actually, semipro league may be a more accurate designation for where I’m at. I’ve got some work to do if I am to climb the ranks and become the father and grandfather God has called me to be.
If you, like me, have some work to do to climb the ranks to be that dad, what can we do? It starts with a lifelong vision of fatherhood. Pray for God to give you His vision for generational faithfulness. It would also serve us well to always remember that from the very early impressionable years to the end of our lives, our children and grandchildren are watching us. Have no doubt, we will have impact on their lives! The question is will it be positive or negative and how, in concert with Jesus Christ, can we maximize the positive. The phrase “Values are caught, not taught” comes to mind. We could go on. How about “Marriage lessons are caught, not taught”, “Leadership is caught, not taught”, “Attitude is caught, not taught”, and my favorite for boys and young men, “Manhood is caught, not taught.” We need to be intentional in modeling the various roles we have as fathers.
So, “Father’s Day” for me, and I encourage you to join me, has become a moment to view where I have been and to intentionally plan where I want to be. It is about breaking the chains of the past and starting new traditions. It is being honest about the kind of father I have been, reconciling my past and moving forward to be the best father and grandfather I can be. It’s also about helping other men be their best by learning from the mistakes of my past and pointing to the truth of Gods word as our compass to positive impactful fatherhood. Effective fatherhood is not an individual sport. Doing life together with men in Christian community provides accountability and encouragement. Having a mentor who has successfully been where you want to go and one who knows we can only achieve this through the strength of Jesus Christ would also be a great assist in becoming the father God is calling you to be.