In 2001, I was serving as the youth pastor of Destiny Church and sitting at my office desk when I received a phone call from my mother. She called with sad news! My grandmother’s health had declined significantly and she was near death. She’d been suffering with Alzheimer’s for over seven years up until this point. Immediately, I told my mother that I wanted to travel with my father to be with him and my grandmother before she passed. I’ll never forget that plane flight to Nashville and that drive through the smoky mountains on our way to Charlotte, North Carolina. Unfortunately, we were too late to say goodbye. She was already in the presence of Jesus when we arrived.
Later, as I began to reflect on why I wanted to be with my father and be there for him, this reality struck me. My father has always been there for me, and I’ll always be there for him. It’s as simple as that!
Most men can identify with being good at their work, sports, or some achievement. There are master plumbers, master golfers, or master mechanics. Mastering marriage, fatherhood, and family, on the other hand seems daunting. Why is that?
To begin with according to www.fathers.com, “an estimated 24.7 million (33%) children live live absent their biological father.” Can you believe that? A third of the population hasn’t known a present, loving, providing father. If that was me, I’d imagine it’d be hard to have good feelings about fatherhood, not to mention a compelling vision. I don’t know if I’d even want to risk putting someone else through what I went through, unless I could give them what I never had.
All I’ve ever known is several generations of fathers and grandfathers on both my father’s and mother’s side. In fact, they all kept their marriage vows until they parted at death. Now they weren’t perfect, but over time they allowed the heavenly Father to make them into some great father’s by His grace.
The big 3 things that I believe my father’s taught me, by example, didn’t come through human achievement. I’m convinced it came from a knowledge and experience with the heavenly Father through, His one and only Son, Jesus.
Jesus told his disciples before his ascension, “…And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) Jesus was there for his followers, which were like sons to him. It was something that he learned from his heavenly Father. The Father was there at Jesus’ baptism saying, “This is my son in whom I’m well pleased.” Jesus was eager to get alone from the pressures of life and ministry to spend time with his Father, through prayer. At his darkest hour in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus drew guidance and strength from his Father to accomplish his mission at the cross.
When I remember back over my 41 years of life, I wasn’t alone. I’ve got memories of my father and grandfather’s at my soccer and basketball games cheering me on and giving me coaching tips. They were there when I graduated from elementary school, middle school, high school, and college expressing how proud they were. They were there at every birthday giving gifts and writing loving cards that celebrated my life. And now they’re here for my children, doing the same thing!
Mastering fatherhood starts with being there for your children! If you say you’re going to be there, be there. I work, because I love my wife and kids. I work, because I want to provide. I work, so I can have free time to spend with them. They are why I work! I don’t work to escape from my family. I can’t wait to see them at the end of the day. I care more about what they think than anybody else in the world. I believe this is the heart of the heavenly Father and how my father and grandfather’s always treated me.
Jesus said, “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” (Matthew 7:11) This scripture reminds us that earthly fathers that don’t have a relationship with the heavenly Father have been known to provide for their children and give good gifts. How much more would our heavenly Father give us! And I would say, how much more should we as godly fathers give to our children.
I remember working for my mom’s parents, over the summers, in their business and at their home. They were always so generous and grateful for the work I did. It really helped to build my confidence and skills that are a part of who I am today. My dad’s parents were no different. However, they lived on the other side of the country and I only saw them on vacations. Because of the circumstances, they usually gave us gifts. I remember the time my grandfather gave me $100 in cash and gave each of my sisters only $20. I guess it was because I was the only boy of 5 children and I was named after him. He also bought me my first car. About a $6,000 gift!
This generosity made me feel secure, safe, and valued as a child. And now my parents are doing the same for my children and their other grandchildren. And, I know, I can go to them if ever I have a need. I just have to ask!
So secondly, mastering fatherhood involves working hard to give good gifts and provide for our children. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. They’ll do the same for their children and others. We impart a legacy of generosity that started way back with a generous heavenly Father.
At Jesus’ water baptism, a major milestone in his life and ministry, this is what his heavenly Father said publicly about him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.”
How many children have never heard these three simple powerful words from their earthly father? I love you! Many men have a hard time saying, “I love you!”, to their wife and their children. Imagine if fathers could go a step further and say, “You bring me great joy…you make me happy…you make me smile…I’m pleased with you!” Imagine how that would cause children to soar into their full potential in life. 2
I’m convinced most things are better caught than taught. We learn by example and experience. If our father never spoke blessing over us or expressed this kind of love, we will probably never do it for our children. It’s a vicious cycle that’s more of a curse than a blessing.
Lastly, mastering fatherhood involves speaking blessing over our children. We have to get a revelation from the heavenly Father of who he’s created our children to be and then speak extravagant love over them. If that comes hard to you, maybe you don’t even know who God’s made you to be and how much he loves you. If your tank is empty, so to speak, how are you going to fill up your child’s. I understand! Let me give you the best place to start filling up your fatherhood tank.
As blessed as I’ve been to be born into a family with great father’s, there have been other men that have shaped me significantly. I would consider these men spiritual fathers.
Men like John Bell, Dave Bell, Matt Bell, Mike Bell, Wayne Beadles, Archie Alderson, Terry Sisneros, David Fischer, Brad Noyes, Roland Ashby, Ron Bishop, Jeff Gonzales, Rick Shearouse, Marcos Witt, Mike Herron, Sam Mckern, Sam Walker, Chris Flores, John Ramon, James Vasquez, Eduardo Quintana, Richard Medina, Rick Annunzio, Julian Macias, Aaron Mendenhall and many more I could mention. I met all of these great fathers at Destiny Church, a local Christian church in San Antonio, Texas. Some of them had great fathers and some not so much, but one thing is for certain they got a spiritual heart transplant from the heavenly Father when they chose to follow the Son of God, Jesus Christ. It’s only Jesus’ love, forgiveness, and example that’s empowered them to become master fathers.
Secondly, we’ve learned how to be better Fathers by worshiping God together, applying God’s Word to our lives, learning from one another, and encouraging each other on this journey of mastering fatherhood.
We have chosen to put family first above the achievements and pleasures of this world. We are living for another King and another Kingdom. Jesus is the eternal King with an eternal Kingdom. Our aim is to prepare our children for the day He returns. A day where we can spend forever, together, in heaven!
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