Being a Dad is tricky business. Now, I recognize I am quite the novice compared to many. Yet, I have been a Daddy to three daughters for over 20 years now and had my share wins and losses in that role. It seems to me that much of being a Father is about timing. Here’s what I mean. I remember quite vividly getting some advice from a father of girls who I would consider an expert. I based my opinion of the weight of his words on how long he had been a father to these ladies as well as the close relationship they all shared and their sense of secure identity in who they were. One of his first pieces of advice was to constantly build them up; tell them how beautiful they are, affirm their worth, and let them know you will always love them no matter what. Solid advice. I employed it immediately and my launch into fatherhood of young ladies was off to a great start. That is until they began the trepidatious journey into their teen years; I was dead meat!
I’ll never forget the day when getting the girls ready for school, crying emitted from the bathroom. I immediately suspected that the mischievous middle daughter had done something to upset the oldest. Come to find out, acne was to blame and her whole existence was forever ruined. I thought I would employ some of my friend’s fantastic fatherly advice. So, I told my now pimple laden daughter how beautiful she was…she wailed even louder yelling back to me, “You don’t count, you’re my Dad!”
I have much more stories of my personal fatherly follies but I won’t bore you any longer.
Being a Dad, or a parent in any respect, is not an easy job and requires a massive amount of love, wisdom, and character.
Luke 15 gives us the story Jesus tells of two sons; one who demands his inheritance before his Dad’s passing and runs away with his loot to live life on his terms, while the other is a task master who starts crying your favorite statement and mine, “it’s not fair!” There is this beautiful-tense moment where the runaway son realizes what a mistake he made, is humbled, and returns home to beg to simply be one of his Father’s servants. We all know the beautiful scene in verse 20, “And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him”. He gave him his best robe, put a family ring on his finger (apparently he had pawned that in the process), and threw him a lavish party in celebration of his return. Meanwhile, the other son hears the music and sees the festivities at his brother’s return and begins throwing a baby-man tantrum because he never got a party such as this. I can only imagine the look of bewilderment on this Dad’s face; it is a face I am familiar with seeing in the mirror.
Dads of both sons and daughters face many peaks and pits as we attempt to raise our children to be the best God has wired and constructed them to be. After all, we recognize that our children are simply on loan to us from God; we are charged with the daunting task of somehow pointing them back to Him. As wrought with peril as parenting can be, one of the single best practices we can exercise is the development of OUR OWN character. Yep, we actually get to focus on ourselves. The reason we get to focus on ourselves is, it is out of the content and depth of our character that will need to respond from to an insolent, disrespectful child. It is out of the content and depth of our character that we will need to respond to the raging hormonal class-five rapids they must navigate and it is up to us, no matter how dangerous the delivery of the “you are beautiful” messages may be. We must take our cues from the many lessons contained in the parable of the Prodigal Son that Jesus gifts us with. One such lesson and huge nugget of wisdom is to employ the same kind of care and love He shows us, to our own children. It would have been so easy for the Father in Luke 15 to flip out and come unloaded on these two sons of his on at least two occasions. But he does quite the opposite, digs deep into his love tank, and responds in such a wise and loving fashion.
During this season as we celebrate and honor Dad’s, the Bible tells us one of the greatest yet budget-friendly gifts we can give each other are our words.
“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but words of the wise brings healing”
The healing of a Father’s loving words is immeasurable. This Father’s day, let’s extend words of life and love to those around us we call “Dad”.