In the Name of the Father

Jun 19, 2018
G. Dwayne McCrary

Father’s Day has an image problem. It drew unfavorable press from the beginning because retailers pushed so hard for it. Mother’s Day was easily accepted and recognized, celebrated first in 1908 and becoming a national holiday in 1914. Father’s Day didn’t get the nod until 1972 — 58 years later. Recently I had several conversations with dads about Father’s Day. When asked to describe the difference between the two days, one man summed it up this way:
Mother’s Day = Women are saints who deserve our undying praise and adoration.
Father’s Day = The problems of the world are caused by lousy, deadbeat fathers who need to repent and live like real men.
No, these two days are unquestionably not equal. It would be easy to highlight spending differences between the two days (14.6 million for Mother’s Day; 9.4 million for Father’s Day), but that’s not the most substantial disparity. That lies in the perception.
Since we dads can’t change how others feel about our day, maybe we can change what we contribute to the day and give others a reason to see Father’s Day differently — not in terms of money spent but in the commodity of respect earned.
Change what we ask for
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for Father’s Day gifts. One of my most prized possessions is a Texas Rangers baseball jersey that was a Father’s Day gift from my kids. Sure, new tools and colorful ties are neat, but time with our families is the most game-changing gift we could request.
Not long ago, my adult children were in town, and we did all kinds of things together. As the weekend came to a close, my wife, Lisa, and I realized we had paid for everything. But we didn’t mind. We were doing stuff together, showing our adult children what interests us. In effect, we were letting them see our values.
The temptation on Father’s Day is for dads to herd everyone to a movie theater (or some other passive event that requires little interaction). The wiser move is to do something that encourages everyone to interact — to choose venues that make silence awkward (playing a table game, attending a local sporting event, volunteering for a church project).
While we’re in the huddle together, we should ask openended questions and get to the core why of the way family members think. Drill down to unearth values and preferences. Our kids may tell us stuff that make the hairs on the back of our necks stand up. But rather than bristle and fall back to defensive “You shouldn’t think that way!” posture, let’s listen instead — and then ask them if we can share why we think differently.
Lead our own cavalry
Here’s what one dad had to say about Father’s Day affirmation: “Although it’s important to understand the role and responsibilities of a father, it would be refreshing to hear a sermon that describes an actual father who has followed God, led his family, and served others. That powerful message would give the rest of us fathers hope and encouragement.”
Let’s face it, fatherhood takes a beating in our society. Come on, every problem faced by our society can’t be because we failed as dads. The failure of a few is giving the rest of us a lousy name. Not all of us are deadbeats. Many of us are trying to make a difference in our families, churches, and the world. And many are succeeding. The rest need to know that success is possible. We all want to succeed, and that takes a little encouragement along the way.
But we must not depend upon external affirmation. The cavalry of affirmation isn’t going to arrive and rescue us. We dads must lead our own cavalry. The best affirmation is to mark our own progress toward being the fathers we want to be, the ones God has called us to be. This means we have to turn to the Bible for guidance and ask other dads to help us measure progress.
Follow the standard
Think quickly: What Bible character would you point to as a great example for dads to follow? A guy who did it right.
All Bible men considered, perhaps the best model is the prodigal’s father, who is identified as symbolizing our Heavenly Father. And there you have it: The ultimate model for fathers is God.
As much as we try, we men will never be the father God is. We simply can’t do it. But just because we can’t be perfect, doesn’t mean we should isolate ourselves in our man caves. Instead, we need to show other men how to emulate God the Father. This is the Father’s Day gift we can give each other as dads: to be visual representattions of our Father in heaven.
Move forward
No doubt about it, there is significant disparity between the honor bestowed on mothers vs. fathers. Only men can change this. We need to step up and seize the opportunity to move forward. We can’t change the past or relive crucial moments we missed way back when. We can only deal with today and, with God’s guidance, plan well for the future.
The first step toward changing the negative perception of fatherhood is to seek God in earnest for the wisdom and strength to be good dads. The second step is to use Father’s Day as a time of evaluation and recommitment.
What if we spend part of the day looking at what we need to do to become fathers worthy of being emulated? What if each Father’s Day we encourage our kids to tell us one thing we each could do to become a better father? What if we act on that idea every year? What if we men who embrace God as our Father become totally dedicated and fully determined to show the world godly fatherhood? What would happen?
Let’s find out.

Additional Reading