Summary: This sermon, designed for Father's Day, addresses two components I wish I would have known before I became a dad myself. Two simple principles that can be easily applied to a father of any age and includes material for men, women, and various life stages.
There is no script or instruction manual, for being a good father.
Most men are thrust into the task of fatherhood that will change how we view our earthly father, Heavenly Father, and even ourselves forever. It is an adventure that will challenge us, drain us, beat us up, lending us to a few victorious moments and many more moments of shame, discouragement, and disappointment.
When I became a father the first time, I was scared to death that I was going to be the failure that I experienced in my fatherless home. While I wish I would have had someone walk this journey with me, often I felt alone guided by the challenges I faced moment to moment, more than guidance I received.
Equally, I was not quite prepared for the overwhelming regret I felt after my first child left our home for college. While I was not a “failure as a father," the overwhelming feeling of guilt I experienced for not investing more time in conversation, prayer, listening, and bible reading caught me by surprise. One of my close friends who is father and grandfather warned me months in advance that there would be profound emotional feelings that would catch me by surprise, and he was right.
There were many moments during fatherhood I have reflected on the father characters in the Bible. One being King David. While he was dubbed a man after God’s own heart, he appears in scripture to have many challenges as a father with children who despised, deposed, and dismissed his leadership. And even though David was raised in a good home with a good father, the pressures, and drama of power, politics, combat, lust, positioning, success, and failure seem to hijack his ability to invest successfully in the life of his children. Still, he was known as a man after God’s own heart.
Throughout scripture, we see many different types of fathers. Men who left a legacy of their fatherhood and the positive or negative wake it left behind. Take for example King Saul in whom we see the Abusive Father, who had moments of embittered anger toward his son Jonathan (1 Samuel 20:30). In King David, we see the Absent Father who is engaged but absorbed in his ventures and therefore misses opportunities with his children. In High Priest Eli we note the Abandoned Father who abdicates his leadership and fails to address his sons need for correction and direction (1 Samuel 2:22). In Abraham, we see the image of the Appointed Father who would become the father of incredible faith that would become the model man, leader, and husband (Genesis 18:19). In Noah, we see the Adventurous Father who in spite of challenges and obstacles plows through hardship and leads his family to safety and victory (Genesis 7:13-14). And we even have the Audacious Step-Father in Joseph who is a vision discovers his calling and becomes the human caretaker for the God of the Universe, Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:20).
Each of these men gives us an understanding of what it looks like to be a good father whether this is through their success or short-comings.
Yet the felt impact of fathers is tremendous in either direction. Many of us know these infamous men. Billy The Kid, Saddam Hussein, Robert Graysmith, Jack the Ripper, Jeffrey Dahmer, Adolph Hitler, Lee Harvey Oswald, and Charles Manson. Each grew up in a fatherless home and the ramifications we felt by millions. In fact, 90% of felons currently being incarcerated grew up in fatherless homes, which is a remarkable statistic. And there are dozens of facts to support this.
TWO DISTURBING FACTS THAT COULD BE INCLUDED:
The National Center For Fathering reported in 2011 that, “Children in father-absent homes are almost four times more likely to be poor. In 2011, 12 percent of children in married-couple families were living in poverty, compared to 44 percent of children in mother-only families.”
Brad Wilcox, University of Virginia Professor, pointed out in 2013: “From shootings at M.I.T. to the University of Central Florida to the Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Decatur, GA, nearly every shooting over the last year in Wikipedia’s ‘list of U.S. school attacks’ involved a young man whose parents divorced or never married in the first place.”
But on the flip side, it is undeniable that some people get a leg up in life just because they had a father who was present to them. People like Andy Stanley, John Maxwell, Peyton & Eli Manning, Ben Stiller, and other great men will undoubtedly tell you that having great fathers led to their success and gave them advance awareness and an unfair advantage over other son’s because they had Dads who invested in them.
I pray the two critical components I am sharing with you today will give you just that type of advantage. So if you are a dad, or are just thinking about becoming a dad, then take note of these two components.