“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him” (Psalm 103:13)
As Father’s Day approaches in the year 2018, I cannot help but reflect on my own childhood, and the fact that I grew up without a father. My dad was a good Christian man, though life was very hard for him. His own father died when he was a teenager, compelling him to drop out of school in the tenth grade in order to help support his widowed mother, and six sisters. In his maturity, life continued to be a challenge for dad. His marriage failed, which meant that he was not able to watch three of his four children grow up. I was three years old when my parents divorced. I remember wondering as a young person what it would be like to have a father.
Without a father’s role model during my formative years, I looked for a substitute and found two, one in the church, and the other on a television program. In the church I had a godly Sunday school teacher by the name of Jim Lacy. What a blessing he was. I appreciate the interest he took in me as a young boy, and the guidance he gave me each week in Sunday school.
Then, there was Jim Anderson on the TV program, Father Knows Best. Though a fictionalized character, James Anderson was an excellent influence on my thoughts. Even as a child I admired his love for his family, the wisdom he displayed in solving problems, his calm demeanor, and his interest in everything his three children were doing. I wanted to be like Jim Lacy, and James Anderson, if I ever became a father.
“Did I succeed?”
Well, that inquiry will have to be answered by my own two children, but this much is certain. Jim Lacy, and James Anderson, have a message for fathers in the twenty first century. They are worthy role models.
Jim Lacy is a good role model because he was a Christian father who was faithful to the local church. He loved Christ. He respected the Bible. He prayed with his family. He did not use profanity or take the name of the Lord in vain.
James Anderson is a good role model because he did not terrorize his children. No child ever cowered in their room because he was drunk and disorderly. None of his children ever ran to their mother, Margaret, to say they were afraid of their father. None of his children wished he would go away. None of his children ever tried to sit on his lap, or give him a hug, only to be pushed away, untouched, mocked, and ridiculed.
My heart always aches when I see a child being abused by an insensitive father. The children of the world need good and godly fathers who will protect them, and not deliberately hurt them in any way.
One reason why so many men do not know how to be a good father is because they are not born again. They have never known the love of God the Father, or received forgiveness for their sins. They have not read what the Bible has to say on this subject.
Another reason why so many men do not know how to be a good father is that they have not been properly trained. Erma Bombeck wrote of this in her book Field Enterprises.
“I received a letter from a single mother who had raised a son who was about to become a dad. Since he had no recollection of his own father, her question to me was “What do I tell him a father does?”
When my dad died in my ninth year, I, too, was raised by my mother, giving rise to the same question, “What do fathers do?” As far as I could observe, they brought around the car when it rained so everyone else could stay dry.
They always took the family pictures, which is why they were never in them. They carved turkeys on Thanksgiving, kept the car gassed up, weren’t afraid to go into the basement, mowed the lawn, and tightened the clothesline to keep it from sagging.
It wasn’t until my husband and I had children that I was able to observe firsthand what a father contributed to a child’s life. What did he do to deserve his children’s respect? He rarely fed them, did anything about their sagging diapers, wiped their noses or fannies, played ball, or bonded with them under the hoods of their cars.
What did he do?
He threw them higher than his head until they were weak from laughter. He cast the deciding vote on the puppy debate. He listened more than he talked. He let them make mistakes. He allowed them to fall from their first two-wheeler without having a heart attack. He read a newspaper while they were trying to parallel park a car for the first time in preparation for their driving test.
If I had to tell someone’s son what a father really does that is important, it would be that he shows up for the job in good times and bad times. He’s a man who is constantly being observed by his children. They learn from him how to handle adversity, anger, disappointment and success.
He won’t laugh at their dreams no matter how impossible they might seem. He will dig out at 1 a.m. when one of his children runs out of gas. He will make unpopular decisions and stand by them. When he is wrong and makes a mistake, he will admit it. He sets the tone for how family members treat one another, members of the opposite sex and people who are different than they are. By example, he can instill a desire to give something back to the community when its needs are greater than theirs.
But mostly, a good father involves himself in his kids’ lives. The more responsibility he has for a child, the harder it is to walk out of his life.
A father has the potential to be a powerful force in the life of a child. Grab it! Maybe you’ll get a greeting card for your efforts. Maybe not. But it’s steady work.”
To the family men of America comes this message. Learn to be a good father. Better yet, be a godly father so that the children can love, honor, and respect you. Fathers, have compassion on your children, as God the Father has compassion on His children.