Scripture Passage – Proverbs 22:6
Description – Father’s Day 2012 Reflection
Twelve years ago today I stood before many of you for the first time as I delivered my candidating sermon as you considered me as your next pastor. I brought along my wife and my two boys, aged 4 and 2.
This past week the 4 year old got his drivers’ license and drove himself, in my car, to cross country practice. The 2 year old marched in his first parade with our local high school marching band a week ago Saturday.
That particular Sunday I spoke about fatherhood as vital and important to the development of children and teens. I was a fatherhood “newby” back then, and even now, I still feel like a “newby” in many ways.
But what I have learned is that being a dad requires courage second to none. And this courage is not just about the courage to make a stand against the popular opinion that comes when your teen or, quite frankly these days, your elementary school child says, “But everybody is doing it!”
It is the courage to deal with the forces that come hard and fast against us as men, fathers, and followers of Christ. It is also the courage to show up, in person and emotionally, when our kids need us to be present. This is a daily kind of courage and I think that it is more heroic than anything else because it takes patience, day in and day out, to actually express this kind of courage.
In the men, the fathers, that I have admired over the years I have noticed there are two characteristics that lead to honest, healthy, and courageous fatherhood. Two characteristics which I desire to attain.
The first is to be spiritually current. Let me explain this phrase.
In a couple of weeks nine of our teens will attended the International Convention of the Church of God in Denver, Colorado. Some of you here have attended one and you have good memories of those experiences.
As I thought this week about the beautiful scenery of Denver (and I have enjoyed three trips to Colorado in the past 31 years) I was struck by the thought of what the Rocky Mountains might have looked like to those who had travelled across the plains of Kansas and Nebraska for weeks and perhaps months. What a refreshing sight it probably was to them!
I never attended a youth convention as a teen. The denomination I was a part of then did not have them. But I did attend a church camp, the only church camp in my High School years, 38 years ago this summer.
It was a profoundly moving experience and I often wonder where my fellow campers are and how they are doing. And while it was a powerful and profound experience, I can’t, 38 years later, keep living off that experience as a dad.
It was important and helpful for that time in my life. But I am not 16 anymore. I am 54. I need to have a spiritually current faith to be a good father. To be spiritually current is to be present to and with God in the here and now, not the back then.
The second thing I have noticed in courageous men and fathers is they achieve to be emotionally healthy. This is the courage to face and appropriately deal with one’s emotions. When I counsel with couples that have asked me to officiate their wedding ceremony, I talk to them about the impact their upbringing has had on them. Emotional health (and dysfunction) is learned in our families of origin. Dads need to be courageous here and learn how to become emotionally healthy.
And when I think emotional health there are two areas which come to mind that must be addressed for emotional health (and sanity) to take root – resentments and fears. To face who and what you have resented and who and what you are afraid of requires great courage. And some courageous dads I know have considered how they have contributed to the formation of such resentment and fear and after prayerful and careful consideration with a trusted friend or friends gone and made amends where they could and chosen, with God’s help, to let all of it go and let God take it away.
Fatherhood is a courageous endeavor. God has given us a courageous task to fulfill as a dad. Found in Proverbs 22:6 “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” Many of us know it as “Train up a child in the way they should go. And when they are old, they will not depart from it.”
Either way it is a tough assignment. It is a courageous assignment. It is an important assignment.
And it is assignment that requires dads to be, among other important things, emotionally healthy and spiritually current.
This morning we are pleased to welcome Splat Experience. It is a locally based Christian performing arts ministry that has a national and international reach. They will be reminding us of our heavenly Father and His love and grace for us.
So dads, and moms, sit back for the next few moments and be reminded of our heavenly father and His great character and love for us as they lead us in worship through artistic expression.