Today is Father’s Day. I’ve been doing my homework this past week and I’ve learned some things about Father’s Day that all of you dads need to know. Let me let you in on what we’ve been suspecting all along. Did you know Mother’s Day was officially recognized by the US government in 1913? Do you have any idea when Father’s Day made it as an officially recognized day? How about 1972. 1972? It took 59 years for us dad’s to get a day of our own? Can you imagine those poor dads who have gone before us? They celebrated Mother’s Day in May of 1913…and waited…and waited…and waited for 59 years. And then they got a bottle of Brut or Old Spice! But wait, there’s more.
Here’s another interesting tidbit to get our celebration started. In 2019, $16 billion dollars was spent on gifts for Father’s Day while $25 billion was spent on mom for Mother’s Day.
According to Hallmark, the most recognizable name in cards, there is a decrease in spending of 30% for cards bought for Mother’s Day in comparison to the cards bought for Father’s Day. As a matter of fact, Hallmark’s revenue drops so significantly for Father’s Day that they have paired it with Graduation Day. So if you go to the store and head on over to the card section you will see a sign that says, “Dads and Grads!” Dad, we now have a cause! I set up a petition on Change.org early this morning and want to encourage all of you dads to take out your phone and join the movement at this very moment. “Dads and Grads?” How about a “Moms and Proms” section for next May?
Mom, you’ve had your special day. That was last month. Today, I want to celebrate all of the dads I know and love. I’ve been conducting a survey this past week and I want to share the results with you this morning. My survey only consisted of two questions. Are you ready? Here they are: “How did you learn to be a dad? Who shaped the way you parent your children today?” The second question is this: “What’s the toughest challenge you face in being a father?” The answers I’ve gotten have been such a blessing to me. Some of the answers I heard concerning the first question have been, “My own dad. I’ve learned things I wanted to do and things I knew I didn’t want to do in raising my own kids.” I also heard, “I didn’t learn it from my dad because he wasn’t part of my life. I learned how to be a father from coaches I had while I was growing up.” “I learned how to be a dad from mentors and older friends.” “I’ve tried to learn how to be a dad from Scripture, prayer, and watching other dads.” “I’m not convinced I am a good dad. I never had a dad to teach me.”
The men I spoke to gave me some great insight from their answers to the second question I asked: “What’s the toughest challenge you face as a father?” Listen to this: “I fear that I’m doing irreparable damage. Not intentionally, but I don’t want to do anything to hurt my kids or my relationship with my kids in the future.” “My daughter is so social, she loves people, and I’m afraid for her because I know she’s going to get hurt by others in the future.” “Discipline. I struggle with the proper kind of discipline for my kids.” “Consistency. I know the lessons I’m teaching my kids, but I don’t always live by those same lessons. It’s tough to be consistent.” “The toughest challenge? I see things in my kids that were in me when I was younger and I know the trouble and heartache it has caused me. I don’t want them to experience the same trouble and heartache.”
I’ve been asking these questions this week because I’m curious, “What does it take to be a good dad?” Is being a good dad a result of growing up in a home with a father who modeled what it means to be a father for us? Maybe, but then again maybe not. Is the desire to be a good dad a choice that we make and then make over and over again while we are raising our kids? When I asked Tre the question this past week, he gave me his answers, but then he shared a video with me that I’d like for all of us men to watch right now. The video is called: “Is being a good dad something you learn, or a choice you make?”
Pretty amazing huh? All of the men in the video want to be a good dad. Some had a good dad, some didn’t. Some didn’t have a dad at all. Whether you had a “good” dad or have never known your dad, God has provided you and me with tools so that we can strive to be a blessing to our kids. I want to share a few of those tools with us this morning, but before I do I want to share something that is becoming more clear to me as the years roll on.
While Dan, Nate, and Annie were growing up I tried to be a good dad. I tried to be involved in their lives in a variety of ways. I tried to encourage them to grow in their love and trust in the Lord. I tried to discipline them in a way that would benefit them later in life. I tried to teach my kids how a man treats a woman. I tried to teach them the value of all people. I tried to teach them the value of hard work and finishing a job. I can honestly say I tried to be a good dad and that I never intentionally hurt my kids. Here’s the thing, now that I’m looking back on how I did as a dad while my kids were growing up, while my kids were young, I see so many things I could have done differently. I see so many ways I could have done a better job. I wonder if any of you older dads feel the same way?
Let’s take a look at some tools the Lord has given us, some guidance He has given us, in His Word. The first thing that I want to encourage all of you dads with this morning is to love your kids. Love them with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your mind, and all of your strength. Maybe you didn’t grow up in a home where love was demonstrated. Maybe you never heard the words, “I love you.” If that’s your story then have no fear, I’ve got good news for you. Jesus said,
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. (John 15:9 NIV)
There’s a great principle and a great source of encouragement for you and me in this verse dads. Let me ask you a question: Has God loved you? How has He shown His love for you? Stop and think about that for a minute? Has He provided for you? Has He forgiven you when you’ve messed up? Has He made a way for you when there seemed to be no way? Has He been there for you when others turned and walked away? I know the answer to all of those questions for me…Absolutely!
The love we have received from the Father we are now to share with our own children. As we have been loved…we are to love them in the same way. It is so important for our kids to know they are loved.
This past week Connie had me watch an interview with Burt Reynolds. Burt Reynolds died in 2018 at the age of 82. The interview was done by Piers Morgan in 2012. What a life that guy lived! He was Hollywood’s biggest money maker for several years with huge hits like “Smokey and The Bandit,” “The Longest Yard,” and “Deliverance.” Burt made $1 million dollars a week while he was at the height of his career. He had it all, but there was one thing that was missing…the affection of his dad.
As we watched the interview, Piers Morgan asked Burt about his dad. Burt talked about how he idolized his dad who was a WWII hero and the Chief of Police in their town. Burt said, “I would have killed for a hug from my dad.” You could see the emotion on his face so I went and did some research. I read part of Burt’s book, “But Enough About Me.” Let me read you a portion.
I tried everything I could to earn his approval, but I got nothing. Not a single ‘attaboy’ or pat on the head. As a young boy on construction jobs with him, I’d work extra hard. I’d load the wheelbarrow with dirt, push it as far and as fast as I could, unload it, and rush back. One time he said, “You keep that up and you’ll be built like Joe Louis.” That was the closest my dad ever came to giving me a compliment.
When I shined on the football field–he did come to all of the games with my mom–I thought, ‘Well, when I get home tonight he’ll say, ‘You played a good game son,’ But…nothing.’ When the papers the next day would have glowing write ups…still nothing. And when I made First Team All-State, he didn’t say a word. I kept hoping that someday he would tell me what a good football player I was, but he never did. He just didn’t know how to say it.
Men of his generation didn’t show affection easily. They didn’t hug or say, “I love you.” I would have settled for a hug. I would have killed for a hug. My dad lived to be ninety-five and in the last few years of his life we talked a lot. When he finally said he was proud of me, it made me cry. It still does. I’m grateful that he lived long enough to say it. (Burt Reynolds, But Enough About Me.)
Isn’t that heartbreaking? You don’t have to have a Ph.D. to tell your kids, “I love you.” How difficult is it to give them a hug, lots of hugs? I see how we try to provide “things” for our kids. I’m guilty. I did the same thing. We want them to have what all of the kids want, what so many of the other kids have, but there is no substitute for “I love you.” A lifetime of strong hugs will provide lasting memories that new LeBrons or the latest iPhone never will. Jesus said,
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:12-13 NIVO)
Once again, we are not just to love others as we’ve been loved, but we are to love our kids in the same way that Jesus has loved us.
I want to share a second tool that God has provided for us to help us be a good dad. We are to teach our kids. Our kids are learning from us whether we intend to teach them or not. They are watching and listening. What are we to teach them? Well, we’re to teach them about all kinds of things. God gave Moses and the families leaving Egypt some great guidance when He said,
4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deuteronomy 6:4-7 NIV)
Just like Moses and the other parents who first heard this guidance from God, we are to teach our kids as well. We are to teach them God’s commandments or God’s Word. That’s a great place to start. It’s hard to find any subject that will be as valuable to our kids throughout their lives as the lessons they can learn from God’s Word. In God’s Word we can find lessons about who God is and what God is like. We can find lessons about sin, salvation, grace, forgiveness, discipline, love, mercy, and so much more.
We’ve just started a new study in our Sunday morning Bible classes on the book of Proverbs. Proverbs was largely written by Solomon and taught to his sons. These proverbs have been used to teach countless young boys and girls throughout the ages. Listen in,
1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: 2 for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; 3 for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; 4 for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young– (Proverbs 1:1-4 NIV)
The Proverbs are to help the young gain wisdom and understanding about life, they are to help them learn about wise living, prudent behavior, and to understand what is right and just and fair. In Proverbs you’ll find lessons about relationships, good and bad behavior, what to watch out for in life, who to trust above all others, and on and on the list goes.
There are also lessons we can teach our kids that are not found in God’s Word, but which are valuable for them to learn. When I asked Irvin about who shaped him as a dad, he said, “My own dad.” I asked Irvin, “What did he do?” Irvin said, “He always took me along with me.” I asked Irvin to give me an example. He told me about how his dad worked on their car. Irvin said, “He might not know how to fix it, but he would invite friends over who knew how and eventually he would learn himself.” Irvin learned by watching his dad and the only way he was able to watch was because his dad was willing to spend time with him.
Men, make every effort to teach your kids. It may be a whole lot easier to just do the job yourself so you can get it over with as quickly as you can, but as you take the time to teach your kids you are giving them a gift that will be a blessing to them for the rest of their lives.
There’s one more thing that I want to encourage you to do dad and that is to look outside of your family for kids to influence. Over and over again, while I was talking to dads this past week, I heard from men who were influenced by men other than their fathers. I have a young friend who didn’t grow up with his dad, but he’s a great dad to his kids. I sent him a message this past week and asked him to call me when he had a minute. When he called me he had just gotten out of football practice. He’s one of the coaches at Classen SAS, but he also coaches a football team for 7 and 8 year olds. I asked him, “Why do you do what you do?” He told me how coaches had made such a difference in his life while he was growing up and that he wants to use football to teach young boys about life, not just football.
He told me about two of the boys on his little league team. Two little boys from two separate families, but both fathers have recently gone to prison. My friend, their coach, is going by to pick them up for practice each day because their moms are busy and don’t really see the importance of their sons playing football. Two young boys whose fathers are now gone, have a coach who loves them, and is willing to be there for them while their own dad is away. You don’t have to be a biological father to positively influence the life of a kid who is in need of a friend.
It’s interesting to read the way Paul talked about a young man named Timothy. When Paul writes to Timothy he mentions his mother and grandmother, but there’s no mention of Timothy’s dad. Why is that? Was his dad absent from Timothy’s life? I don’t know and there’s no way to know, but this is what I do know–Paul talked about Timothy as his “son in the faith.” Turn to 1 Timothy 1:1-2 and I’ll show you what I mean.
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, 2 To Timothy my true son in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. (1 Timothy 1:1-2 NIV)
And Paul does that again and again. Paul didn’t lead Timothy to Christ, but there was something there that was special, something that made an impact on both of their lives. Paul wrote thirteen letters that are included in the New Testament, but the very last letter he wrote was to Timothy.
I’ve been thinking this past week and I may be wrong, but I believe our young people today need someone in their lives who can stir them up, instill in them a belief in themselves, motivate them to rise above the setbacks, the obstacles, and keep pressing on even when life gets tough. That’s something all of us can do for our kids, but it’s also something Paul did for Timothy even though he wasn’t Timothy’s biological father. So many young people today, when they face adversity are willing to throw in the towel and give up. We need to stir them up, lift them up, encourage them, and challenge them to be more than they ever thought they could be. Maybe the greatest illustration of this is found in that great gospel movie, “The Lion King.” I haven’t seen the new one because I love the original. If you haven’t seen the movie then let me close by giving you a recap.
Simba is the young son of Mufasa. Mufasa is the lion king, the king of the Pride Lands. Mufasa also has a mean, envious brother, by the name of Scar. Scar’s jealousy moved him to set up the murder of Mufasa and make it look like it was young Simba’s fault. Scar was talking to the little lion cub, Simba, right after his father was killed and he convinced Simba that he should run away and never come back again. “Run Simba!” Simba ran for his life and away from his destiny.
Simba eventually found himself in the wilderness where he ran into two characters, Timon and Pumba. Timon and Pumba don’t have a care in the world. They go around singing “Hakuna Matada.” Life is easy. Simba had no worries with Timon and Pumba because he had run away from his destiny. Then Simba ran into a little monkey witchdoctor named Rafiki. Simba found out Rafiki had known his father so Simba told Rakifi, “I miss my dad.” Rafiki said, “Your dad isn’t dead.” Simba said, ‘Show me my dad.” Rafiki took Simba to a pool of water. Simba looked down into the water and saw his own reflection and then his reflection transformed into the reflection of his father Mufasa. Mufasa says, “You have forgotten who you are. You are more than what you have become. Remember who you are!” And when young Simba heard his dad tell him who he really is Simba ran back to fight his battle.
Oh, let me tell you, when a man you respect, a man you look up to, a man who believes in you tells you who you are, what you can become–it gives you strength to fight your battles. I learned that when a young teammate of mine told me what God saw in me, how God loved me, how He willingly gave His Son for me, not so that I could just glide through life, chill and take life easy, but He did all of this so that I might become the man He created me to be. Men, young and old alike, the same holds true for you and He has called us to share that message with our kids and those who need a man to love them, challenge them, and encourage them to remember who they have been created to be in Christ Jesus.
Britton Christian Church
922 NW 91st
OKC, OK. 73114
John 15:12-13; Proverbs 1:1-4