In Honor of Godly Fathers

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Father’s Day is a day to recognize the role fathers play in society. It is believed to have been first celebrated as a compliment to Mother’s Day on July 5, 1908, but it wasn’t made a federal holiday until 1966. Interestingly enough, where Mother’s Day was met with enthusiasm, Father’s Day was met with amusement, the target of satire and derision, as many people saw it as an effort to fill up the calendar with promotions for merchants.

For some individuals, this impression of Father’s Day may be true. There are many fathers who are absent in their roles as provider and leader in the family, whose example is less than exemplary. The image of father has not been helped, either, by portrayals in the media of dads as mindless, self-absorbed individuals who are clueless about their families. However, this doesn’t change what the role is of a father or that many men try to do their best to be what God expects of them. We are thankful for those who understand how important the role of a father is in the home and in society, who seek to submit to God and exhibit Him in their lives.

God has entrusted a great responsibility to fathers. Paul penned, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Children need discipline to learn the parameters God has established for living, to hear it from loving fathers and to see it lived out in their fathers’ lives, too. The role of spiritual headship God has given to fathers complements well the role of nurturing God has entrusted to mothers. Children need to understand dad’s authority is given by God, but it is to be tempered by the love of God as well. Children should know their fathers aren’t perfect, but they are loving, caring and obedient to God just as He wants them to be, wanting the best for their children, now and eternally.

A father’s responsibility is carried out when rules have to be enforced but also when he sits down and talks with his children about life. It’s seen on the banks of a pond, fishing with a son, or in a bedroom, having a tea party with a daughter. It’s observed in the pride he feels for his children’s successes and the grief he bears for their failures and hurts. It’s known in their understanding that they can always go and talk with him and that no matter how bad things are, he will always love them. They realize how deep his commitment to them runs, not just in what he provides for them physically, but in seeing him lead family devotions, offering prayers on their behalf to God and taking them, not sending them, to worship. In these ways, and many more, fathers fulfill God’s charge to them and make a positive difference in the lives of their families.

I am grateful for having seen this in my father, and the memories I have of him still speak to me today, helping me to be my best. I don’t believe one ought to stop being this kind of father. It means a lot to children, no matter how young or old the children may be, to know their father is there for them. Even if you haven’t had the most positive example of a father in your life, you can know you have a Heavenly Father who is everything a father should be for you. Father’s Day isn’t a mistake. Rather, it’s a reminder of all that is best in God and in ourselves. “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him” (Psalm 103:13).

Robert Johnson

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