Friday, June 17, 2011

What Fatherhood Means To Me

On a recent "date" with my kids
"It is much easier to become a father than to be one." ~ Kent Nerburn

I realize that I am one of the fortunate ones. In a society filled with boys and girls who grew up with an absent or distant father, I was raised by a dad that was (and is) loving, supportive and one of my biggest cheerleaders. I shudder to think what I would have become had I not been blessed with the father that I have. He's a U.S. Marine with a tender heart. A fitting combination that makes for a great dad.

In my years of experience in ministering to young people, I've encountered countless numbers of young men and women that didn't have the type of dad that I have. There are those who have never met their father. Or who had a dad that worked such long hours that he made little time for his family. Or those who were verbally, emotionally and sexually abused by their father. And then there are those that lost their dad to sickness, accident or some other misfortune at a young age.

Whatever the case may be, there are untold numbers of children and adults who are nursing daddy wounds. Men that don't know what responsibility is because it was never modeled for them by their dads. Women that go to bed with any guy that shows them the least bit attention because they are longing for a man's love that they never received from their father. In a culture filled with anguish, addiction and broken lives, too much of our heartbreak comes as the result of men that chose not to or were not able to properly father their children.

Our society often tells us that fathers are dispensable much like an added feature on a new car.  Sure, it might be nice to have but you'll be fine without it.  But I've counseled way too many people with deep emotional and psychological issues that likely could have been prevented had their dad loved and supported them as he could or should have.  Having an involved, responsible and caring father doesn't guarantee success in life, but it sure doesn't hurt.

Fatherhood is hard work and no one says it is easy.  A dad needs to provide for his children.  A dad needs to protect his children.  A dad needs to play with this children.  A dad needs to pray for his children.  A dad needs to know when to say "yes" and when to say "no."  It's a tough job but somebody has to do it.

Being an involved dad is part of being a responsible adult and, for those of us that are believers in Christ, it is one of our primary callings in life.  As a minister of the gospel, my most important ministry is to my wife and children.  If I fail there, does the rest of it really matter?  (See I Timothy 5:7-8.) That does not mean all of us will have perfect marriages or perfect children.  But those of us who are fathers need to ask ourselves if we are being the men has called us to be and that we trust Him with how everything turns out.

I love being a dad.  I love spending time with each of my four children and I'm grateful that God has blessed my wife and I with them.  I can't imagine life without them.  I love seeing them grow and develop and look forward to the people they will become.  But I also realize that I am merely a steward of them.  They are really God's children to do as He wishes with them.

My children will eventually grow into adulthood and will live the lives they choose to live.  I don't know who they will ultimately become but I trust that they will love God and love their neighbor well.  And I hope that when they are my age and have their own children that they will feel the same way about me that I feel about my dad.  That would be alright with me. 

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