When I taught high school speech, students wrote a eulogy about someone/thing no longer in their life. Many were funny anecdotes about losing their baby teeth or learning that Santa Claus is not real. But some were tragic, and not a few tears flowed as students told about their fathers’ incarceration or disappearance or abuse.
This past weekend we celebrated fathers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 18.4 million children, one in four, live without a biological, step, or adoptive father in the home. My father died when I was eight-months old, so all I knew of him were the wonderful things my mother shared. I always wondered what it would be like to be someone’s little princess or to attend the father/daughter breakfast or to have my noggin thumped when I sassed.
Recently, when I asked on Facebook for examples of people who had overcome rejection, a dear friend contacted me to share of her dad’s inability to love. Only when she was an adult and learned that her father’s father had never modeled love did she start to understand and forgive.
We all know fathers who are present in their children’s lives, those who never miss a Little League practice or a soccer game or a Sunday football game, but how many fail to impart spiritual knowledge into their kids, read the Bible to them, take them to church, and most importantly, pray unceasingly for them? They are not intentional in modeling a faith-filled experience to their impressionable youngsters. Let’s face it, fatherhood is demanding business, and merely knowing God does not make a good father.
In the Old Testament, two of the most tragic stories deal with godly men who were terrible fathers. Eli, the high priest who was hand-picked by Samuel’s mother to raise her son into manhood, fathered rebellious sons who, instead of following in Eli’s footsteps, dishonored God. Samuel grew into a great prophet for Israel while Eli’s sons died in a battle because of their sins.
Even King David, one of the bravest leaders in Israel’s history, lacked parenting skills. His eldest son, Amnon, raped his half-sister and was later killed by his brother Absalom who set out to sabotage David’s kingdom. Both Eli and David knew of their sons’ shenanigans but failed to train or discipline them.
No father—except for God—is sinless. I hope you have a father who tries to do right, who loves you unconditionally, who sacrifices for you and who loves Jesus. I hope you have forgiven him for not being perfect. (“Let ye without sin pass the first stone.”)
The great early American spokesman, Patrick Henry, wrote in his will, “I have disposed of all my property to my family. There is one thing more I wish I could give them, and that is Christ. If they have Him and if I had not given them one dollar, they would be rich. And if they have not Him, and I had given them the whole world, they would be poor.”
Dads, it’s never too late. Be intentional in giving your children the Riches they deserve.