Yesterday was Father’s Day. Around our house, that has always been a wonderful day. A good meal. Some presents. Nice cards. What more could a guy want?
Yet, I know that day is not quite so wonderful for a lot of people. For some, the day can be painful. For some people, it is a stark reminder of their dad’s absence. In fact, I thought about several friends who were experiencing the first Father’s Day since their dad’s death. For others, it is a reminder of the years of turmoil at home. Finally, that turmoil resulted in mom and dad divorcing. For some children, that meant that dad moved on and may have even been completely out of the picture. Then for others, Father’s Day may be a reminder of the dysfunctional relationship that one might have experienced with his or her dad.
These wounds can linger deep within a person. They have a way of impacting one’s present relationships if they are not acknowledged and dealt with. I can’t tell you the number of people I have talked with over the years whose father-wounds have been deep and, unfortunately, lasting.
A part of our healing from these wounds is acknowledging that we do have a perfect heavenly father who is not lacking in any way. This one perfect heavenly father will be the father that you never had. He will be what your earthly father never could or would be.
Yet, there is only one perfect father. Maybe your own earthly father was absent from you, or hurt you, or
neglected you. Maybe he was silent at critical times in your life when you needed to hear a word of affirmation or even a "well done." If any of this is true, God
will be the one perfect father you never had. In
fact, for all of us, God is the one completely perfect father in our lives.
As earthly fathers, you and I are not necessarily destined to repeat the mistakes of our earthly fathers as we rear our own children. Fortunately we can look to our one completely perfect father in heaven and see what a father ought to be. We can even learn from others as they attempt to mirror this image in their own families. Yet, as an earthly father, I will also fall short and can never give my children what they can only get from that one true perfect father. Nevertheless, it is important to ask what a good father is like.
What are good fathers
like? This is a question I asked a number of people at our church last week. (I read a number of these Sunday morning.) These people responded by remembering the character of their fathers. They spoke of the following qualities:
- Memories of hugs and other signs of affection.
- Memories of how dad treated people.
- Memories of dad’s trustworthiness.
- Memories of their dad’s love for their mother.
- Memories of dad’s dependability. When he made a commitment, you could count on it.
- Memories of dad’s forgiveness. He forgave his children.
- Memories of dad’s hard work.
- Memories of dad’s honesty.
- Memories of how dad loved the Lord, the church, and Scripture.
- Memories of dad’s example.
Not a single person mentioned that they especially appreciated their dad for putting them into a new car at 16 years of age. Not one mentioned their special appreciation for giving them expensive clothes, new iPods, and other expensive toys. No one mentioned money. All of them in some way mentioned their gratitude for the character of their dads.
If you want to be a
dad who makes a lasting difference:
- Love God with all that you are. Get focused on God. Love him with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind. Let there be no other rival. Children are not easily fooled. At some point they typically see through any game that a dad might be playing. It is not about perfection but direction.
- Love your wife with all your heart. This is "neighbor love" or loving your neighbor as yourself. What do our children see in the way we treat their mother? I bless my children when I love their mother.