a fatherhood imperative

this weekend is father’s day.  genesis is shrinking in my rear-view mirror and i’ve been thinking a lot about what the lord would want me to say to fathers and future fathers who are compelled to listen to me this sunday.  admittedly, i’m pretty dogmatic about the responsibility of fathers in our culture–especially fathers who claim to be christ-followers–as our role, albeit a shrinking one, is critical to the survival of the species.  i’m blessed because my son turned out to be a pretty good man (thanks to my wife).  he is polite, honorable, hard-working, and has a heart after god (of course, i am painfully aware that all parents are blind to the shortcomings of their kids, so leave me in my reverie).  still, each day that passes brings my son closer to the daunting responsibility of fatherhood and i want to impress on him and others how influential they are.

another factor in my father’s day musings is that my own parents are here on a visit from their home in california.  my dad is 77 and is recovering from a recent surgery (repair of a thoracic aneurysm).  he has lost a lot of weight and arthritis has affected his posture and mobility.  it’s a sobering thing to see my bullet-proof dad struggling with mortality.  he was and is an amazing man, and i am astounded by my admiration of him.  the thing i most want to communicate to fathers this weekend is the innate power they have in the lives of their offspring (especially sons).  it saddens me, but most young fathers that i know are unaware of that power, and they squander it thoughtlessly.  i “borrowed” the following from dave burchett’s blog, confessions of a bad christian (http://www.daveburchett.com/archive/2008/06/11/7840.aspx)

 

Ken Druck and James Simmons in their book The Secrets Men Keep discuss six major secrets men have. At the top of the list is that “men secretly yearn for their fathers love and approval.” This is often without their conscious knowledge that this yearning manifests itself in the drive that many males have to prove themselves. The authors say:

It may surprise us to know that the most powerful common denominator influencing men’s lives today is the relationship we had with our fathers …. Of the hundreds of men I have surveyed over the years, perhaps 90 percent admitted they still had strings leading back to their fathers. In other words, they are still looking to their fathers, even though their fathers may have been dead for years, for approval, acceptance, affection, and understanding.

 

there is a terrifying passage of scripture in the old testament (1 samuel 2) that tells the story of eli, the priest at shiloh.  eli had two sons who were utterly without honor and who would harass and intimidate the people who came to the temple to worship.  the bible describes them as “wicked men; they had no regard for the LORD.”  the tragic part of this story is that eli knew what his sons were up to and refused to take a strong stand against their rebellion.  god spoke to a young boy, samuel, and told him to take a specific prophecy to eli.  samuel obeyed, and eli immediately knew that god had spoken to samuel.  the old prophet urged the boy to tell him what god had said and to hold nothing back.  samuel quoted god to eli, “I will judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them.” (1 samuel 3:13)  god had given eli influence in the lives of his sons and he refused to utilize it.  later, both of eli’s sons died in battle on the same day as a result of god’s judgment.

in my opinion, if this generation has any chance of survival, fathers have got to cash in their influence and challenge their children to become men and women of character.  we’ve got to stop being “buddies” to our children and start being fathers.  we can no longer afford to choose convenience or expedience.

i pray that i will be able to communicate that message on sunday with humility and compassion.

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