June 17, 2006
“He who is
taught to live upon little owes more to his father's wisdom than he who has a
great deal left him does to his father's care “
- William Penn
Not just those who live on little, but each of us is the beneficiary of someone’s “fatherhood.” In a time when fatherhood is in crisis, it behooves us to reexamine its impact and mystique.
If the relationship of father to son could really be reduced to biology, the whole earth would blaze with the glory of fathers and sons. – James Baldwin
It takes a very short time to create biological fatherhood and it is quite an undemanding exercise. It takes years, however, to make a real father. And those years are those which lead up to the moment of conception, that time between conception and birth where a man considers his commitments, and all the years afterward as he grows and develops in his role.
In the years that lead up to conception, the boy becomes a man as he observes other fathers, including his own, is mentored, admired, and assisted in the unfolding task of manhood. He is instilled with values, morals, and examples of what fatherhood is all about. These are the primary formative years in the making of a father.
In that period of time between conception and birth, a man comes to realize the awesome responsibility he has undertaken. If he is wise, he asks many questions, reads books, prays, and thinks more than he has thought for years.
By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he's wrong. – Charles Wadsworth
Then, of course, he has the rest of his life to work it out, to make appropriate corrections, and to adopt behavior patterns that will prepare him for each new stage of his own sons’ and daughters’ development and for grand fatherhood.
So, he is never finished with the process of being made a father. Fortunately, we have a guide, example, and helper in our Heavenly Father. The task is great, but God is greater. You can be the father God made you to be and help train the next generation of fathers. Along the way, there are some positive steps any man can take toward becoming a better equipped father:
q Cultivate personal spiritual disciplines that you can model for the children in your life. Be a life-long disciple of Jesus Christ. Nothing will prepare you better for fatherhood.
q Make prayer, first a centerpiece of your life, and then, of your home. Pray openly, honestly, and passionately about everything.
q Be consistent. Maintain a life of integrity so that there is agreement between what you profess and what you practice.
q Show affection and healthy emotion. It is the manly thing to do.
q Walk what you talk and talk what you walk. Give visual and verbal witness to the gospel.
Look in those eyes
That look to you
In trusting love.
Look deeply and
See the role that
Fits you as a glove.
You are his Dad.
You are her Father
And should you outlive your usefulness in every other dimension
Of what we so flippantly call life,
You will never grow so old or so feeble
That this will not be your child and you the hero of every hour.
© 2005, Thomas
B. Sims, All rights reserved
Photo: Gaze - Used by permission of Máté Bugár