To this day, when my cell phone caller I.D. says “Mary Beth” or “Ryan” my soul grins a really wide grin. Why? I really like being a Dad and it’s a journey that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
No Dad is perfect and I’m sure not. But we can all take steps to get better. Some of us lean too much in the authoritarian direction where we are too controlling and domineering. Authoritarian Dads don’t listen very well and tend not to see their role as one of guiding their child towards maturity and independence.
Some Dads lean too much in the direction of administration. They see themselves as family CEO, delegating all the nurturing of the children out to others. Don’t get me wrong. Others can help but others cannot replace the unique input from Dad. Silence from Dad is not golden.
And some Dads lean too much towards absenteeism where they are simply neglectful of their parenting role, spending little time or investing little interest in the development of their children. Absentee Dads can be very indulgent. Their catch word is “whatever.”
The apostle Paul tells us, almost in passing, part of what good fathering looks like. Here is 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 as worded in The Message: With each of you we were like a father with his child, holding your hand, whispering encouragement, showing you step-by-step how to live well before God, who called us into his own kingdom, into this delightful life.
That’s the process of being a good Dad. It involves some hand-holding, some whispered encouragement, and some step-by-step teaching on how to live well before God. A father might be called on to make some tough decisions regarding discipline, but he always has in view the end result of the parenting process.
When a Dad does what 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 pictures for him to do and when he sets a personal example of Christian discipleship, a child grows up under a big, strong, sturdy umbrella of blessing. The richest gifts you will leave your children will not be contained in your will – they will be contained in your life.
My Dad passed away back in 1999 and although I still miss his presence I still cherish his touch upon my life. And on this Father’s Day weekend, I salute his influence and imprint . His love for me and my children was steady and true. I was handed a healthy Dad legacy and I’m trying to pass that along. Some of you are doing the same thing and some of you are saying, “a healthy Dad legacy needs to start with me.” I applaud that resolution within your spirit and God, your Heavenly Father, will be at your side as you push forward.
In closing, I was thinking over the past couple of days about all the popular “father type” songs written over the years (Fogelberg’s Leader of the Band for example). There was a country song (and I’m not just a huge country music fan) a few years ago called “Watching You.” It’s an insightful story of a song and I dare you to watch it all the through even if you’re not into country music. It’s a tribute to every Dad who is trying to walk the walk and show the way. Enjoy!