Summary: Why didn’t the father go after his Prodigal Son? Why did he just sit and wait when he could have done so much more to bring his son home?

OPENING STATEMENT: Over the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at how we can create a G-rated (a G-od centered) home in the midst of an R-rated world. This week, we’re going to look at a crucial element of that effort – fathers.

ILLUS: Dr. James Dobson told the story of when he was about 3 three years old. He said they lived in a one-bedroom apartment and his little bed was located beside his parents’. His Dad said it was not uncommon during that time to awaken at night and hear a little voice whispering, "Daddy? Daddy?"

He would answer quietly, "What, Jimmy?"

Then I would reply, "Hold my hand!"

My dad would reach across the darkness and grope for my little hand, finally engulfing it in his. He said the instant he encompassed my hand, my arm would become limp and my breathing deep and regular. I had gone back to sleep.

You see, I only wanted to know that he was there!

APPLY: This is Father’s Day. It’s a day to honor the dads who are there/ or have been there.

But now, not every father lives up to the praise that Father’s Day was designed to give… but most fathers really do try to be the kind of men their children can be proud of.

A good father has a significant impact on a family.

Professor David Popenoe in his book “Life Without Father” said, "Depriving children of fathers has become the most prevalent form of child mal-treatment in America today."

Why are fathers so important?

1. Fathers protect their daughters from abuse, protect their sons from violence, protect their wives from rape and assault, and protect their neighborhoods from intrusion and disorder.

2. Fathers are the primary providers. Even though many mothers work, fathers are still expected to earn the lion’s share of income.

3. Sons learn about male responsibility, achievement, suitable assertiveness, and independence best from their fathers. A father’s authority and discipline in rearing sons, particularly teenage sons, is difficult for a mother to achieve.

4. When a daughter enjoys her father, she experiences a healthier femininity, she feels love worthy, and she is able to trust. Daughters who are able to trust men normally, grow and marry trustworthy men.

5. Fathers provide stimulating and exciting "rough and tumble" play, but within limits. Children learn that biting and kicking and other forms of physical violence are not acceptable. They learn when enough is enough. A study among Texas prisoners showed that 90% of inmates did not play as children or played abnormally. The majority of prisoners also have little to no relationship with their fathers.

6. Fathers stress the survivor skills of competition, challenge, initiative, risk-taking, and independence. In contrast, mothers emphasize social integration, relationships, and personal well-being. Fathers focus on their children’s long term development, while mothers focus on their immediate situation. Fathers stress justice, fairness, and duty (based on rules). Mothers stress sympathy, care, and helping (based on relationships).

7. Children learn the healthy use of power from father and love from mother. Researchers Westley and Epstein (1970) said that only this kind of parenting "produces predominantly emotionally healthy children."

So fathers ARE important to a family…

But does that mean that a father will ALWAYS do what is right?

(long pause)

We’d like to think so, but of course we all know that’s not true.

ILLUS: I find comfort in the words of Bill Cosby who advised new fathers that when they feel bewildered and even defeated that they should take comfort from the fact that - whatever they do in any fathering situation - they have a 50% chance of being right.

So, fathers will fail – more often than they would care to admit.

We’ll make mistakes

We’ll fall short

… and we’ll often wonder if our failures will do damage to our families.

But here we have the story of a father who does EVERYTHING RIGHT

We have before us (here in Luke 15) the story of one of the best possible fathers you’d ever see, a faithful father who did everything right.

AND how do we know that he’d done everything right? Because the father in Jesus’ story of the Prodigal Son is God Himself.

In other words… this father was faultless. This father did nothing wrong.

And yet his son still couldn’t stand to be in the same house with him. In fact, his son was so rude, arrogant and self-centered that he couldn’t wait for his daddy to die so that he could get his inheritance and go off to play with his little friends.

ILLUS: It kind of reminds me of the story of a married couple had a boy that was difficult to raise. He caused all types of trouble in school, in the neighborhood and at home. One year, the couple went on a trip to Europe while the boy stayed with relatives back home. While they were in Greece, they sent back a postcard to their son with this message:

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