Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads! 🙂
The grandpa I lived across the field from for a number of years in my childhood was a well-loved adult Sunday School (S.S.) teacher, farmer/homesteader, and public school board chairman. Although he received only a grade 6 formal education, he remained a life-long learner and example of a godly man who lived what he believed in his community. (A few pictures of him are provided at the bottom of this post and yes, that is him and me in the photo above – I loved to pick the tiny “English Daisies” which grew in their lawn and around their water pump!)
One Father’s Day many decades ago, he led the Sunday service at his church and, in going through some papers here, I found a hand-written script of his message. I could have called this a sermon too but instead, in keeping with Grandpa’s usual teaching style, I think of it more as a lesson in fatherhood, thus the given title. (He was also more content being a S.S. teacher rather than on a platform behind a pulpit.) I gave his script some minor editing but otherwise, I have generally kept his original sentence structures. Please look up the Scripture verses as referred to in your Bible or online such as Bible Gateway’s website linked here.)
Here it is, a lesson on being a father, by my grandpa, and shared with you for this Father’s Day:
“Greetings in the Precious Saviour’s Name. (then prayer)
As I have been persuaded to take this Father’s day service, although not conscripted rather with the help of God and your prayers, I will try and do my best. I assure you I would much sooner be down in the seat than up here.
Well, for my introduction. I don’t know how many of you know how Father’s Day began. I myself didn’t until I dug up some material. And it wasn’t started by a man either. It was a woman. To Mrs. John Bruce Dodd belongs the honour. The day actually came into being about 51 years on a very small scale when a woman, Mrs. John Dodd, in Spokane, Washington, remembered her father as she sat in church on Mother’s Day. Mrs. Dodd was one girl among six children, the other five boys.
She could recall the day her mother died. As little children, they did not understand the finality of death and that night, one of the little boys rushed out the door and started for the cemetery where they had put his mother. Her father ran after him and caught up the little fellow in his arms and brought him back and put his arms about all of them. “From that moment, he became both father and mother to us,” she said.
Mrs. Dodd remembered through the years, he tried to throw about those six children the best influence – how he taught them to live by the Golden Rule and taught them a faith to live by. He brought the preacher into their home again and again. Mrs. Dodd went to the ministerial association in Spokane with the idea of honoring her father. And this is how Father’s Day was brought about.
The Father and Home: Husband and Wife
God’s standards for the husband and father – in Ephesians 5:23; 25-28, we learn about his right relationship to his wife and also in Ephesians 6:4 and in 6:10-11, his relationship to his children.
- The husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the Head of the Church. Husbands are to love their wives even as Christ has loved the church and gave Himself for it. We can picture some big, strong man throwing around his authority of what he considers the head or boss of the home, belittling his wife’s loyal, loving efforts, of no account. Have you heard men brag in this manner? Some years ago, a man told me about keeping back ten dollars he wanted for drink [alcohol] that his wife didn’t know anything about. Where is the oneness that was vowed on the wedding day? You say, oh well, that was drink and that doesn’t apply to us. But as Christians, there are other things – what about our actions, our unity, our attitudes one with the other. So much keeping secrets one from the other when we vowed to be true. What about divorce cases, which we haven’t time to even mention?
However we notice that when a position of authority is given in the Word of God, some qualifications are also laid down. We are to be vigilant (watchful), sober [self-controlled], not given to filthy lucre. I fear many even so-called Christian husbands are guilty in these times of materialism. So the ruler of the home must rule in God’s way if he is to remain the rightful head in the home.
God’s own stated requirements is “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it.” Adam lost his opportunity to be head of the church when he chose sin in the Garden of Eden. Christ earned this forfeited position when he chose Calvary’s cup in the Garden of Gethsemane for your sins and mine that we might have a home in Heaven. So a man must manifest [show] this same unselfish spirit in regard for the interest of others to earn the right to be head of the wife.
So if the man has met the qualifications of unselfish love for his wife, he will not find it difficult to be the head of his home. As Christ is head of the Church, Christ does not force a person to do anything in direct violation of that person’s will. So a husband should so behave that his wife will want to follow his lead. Then he is the head even as Christ is head of the Church.
A man’s love for his wife is also shown by his willingness to protect her life, honor, and spiritual welfare. “Likewise ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife as the weaker vessel and being heirs together of the grace of life that your prayers be not hindered. Be courteous.” (1 Peter 3:7-8).
2. The Father and Children
“And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4) The Ephesians who received this letter lived in a thriving center of paganism. Here it was that immoral goddess Diana was worshipped (Acts 19:28). These pagans would beat a child mercilessly carelessly even to death. Do we have any such action around us today? The purpose in punishing a child should be to correct and train the child – not to give way to pagan anger/actions! Also, some people can mysteriously turn criminal if in their childhood, they were not punished on the basis of right and wrong but rather according to the irritation of the parents and as a result, they never learned needed lessons of behaviour. How often we hear of barking out the orders and never seeing that they are obeyed or giving orders to do something impossible? In the Depression many years ago, we hired a young lad, age 15; these were the words of his father: “You must make him work!” But he was still a boy, not a man. I have seen young boys praised so that they would work all the harder; I have also seen young boys broken by an overdose of praise. I do think we should encourage when it is right, but not in order to satisfy our own selves. A child does have great and marvelous potentialities and abilities. But we should bear in mind that he has limitations. “Harnessing is good but chaining is vexation.” (Editor’s side-note: This is a poetically-phrased sentence not to taken literally at all. It means the aim is to be towards a balance of praise and healthy correction for the betterment of the child’s growth/maturing process to be a good citizen. He was a farmer who knew that harnesses were helpful to guide horses in the right direction; he was known to show loving care to both animals and people.]
“Ye fathers, bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4) Sometimes I fear when men read this verse as “You mothers, bring them up.” Let us note this is a father’s duty. This must be teamwork or are we like the Shunammite woman’s husband when the child was out in the field and took sick the father said to a lad to take him to his mother (2 Kings 4:19)? In other words, “I am too busy to take him to Mother.” You fathers, the Bible says “provoke not your children to wrath but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” The word nurture carries with it the idea of training. The context is that it is the father’s duty to teach his children what is the right relationship and responsibility to God. Dad, when have you sat down with your boy or girl in family worship [Bible reading and prayer time], if you have such and if you haven’t then you ought to, and spoke to them about their soul welfare or relationship to Christ? Have you sought to lead them to the Lord? As one teacher mentioned about the drug condition in today’s culture, “We can only educate them against it.” And as our superintendent said last Sunday, we can only teach [educate] our children what the right way is.
We also have to be living examples before them and have the right attitudes the way the Lord would have us live. Do we do the things that are pleasing in God’s sight? Certainly the father should be the leader of the family in religious habits, grace at the table, family prayer, church attendance, good physical habits and manners, temperance. Once a Sunday School teacher described Christ to her pupils and asked them to guess Whom she was talking about. As she reached about midpoint in her description, one child said innocently, “That’s my Daddy!” God expects us, as fathers, to be “living epistles” of Christ to our children (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:2). Are you, as a father, living this kind of example?
The story is told of a young, hardware man by the name of Anderson who was very successful. He came home one evening and as he came into the house, he overheard his wife and little son talking about heaven and the little fellow said, “I don’t suppose Daddy will be there, will he? He’ll be too busy down at the hardware store.” Anderson said, “Whatever my boy meant I may never know. At any rate, I’m glad I heard it for the shock that came over me and went a long way in bringing me to my spiritual senses.” This mad rush we are in has robbed too many families of husband and father. How much more joy there could be if Dad, you’re in the family too! It is not how much you give them materially but how much time do you spend, Dad, with your children. The gap must be bridged. You can’t satisfy with toys, with gifts, etc. As one old barber said, after his family were all away from home, “Had I only taken one night a week to spend with my family.” So if we are going to spend time with our children and take time to bring them to know the Lord, it must be now; our children won’t wait for us. If we have no time today, they will go to other sources. As one has put it, he never had time for his daughter. Then one day, he decided to build some blocks with her, but her answer was, “Well, you know Dad, I am too busy.”
It was twelve years ago this past Thursday, we laid our only son, our youngest, away. Some said, “Oh, he was just getting to where he would be a great help to you.” At 12 1/2 years old, this may be true but what we missed most was he was almost as tall as I to go arm and arm – the fellowship! And yes, we are human enough to ask “why” but we know God never makes a mistake.
A man’s prayer relationship to God is beautifully summed up in Ephesians 6:10-11 – “Finally brethren, be strong in the Lord and the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
A truly successful father seeks God’s power and strength. Only God can give the grace to you fathers, to be the princes of the home that you ought to be. Only God’s armour can protect you and bring you to ultimate victory. (Ephesians 6:12-18). Only if you measure up to God’s standards of Christian manhood, can you become the leader, protector, and counselor to your family and guide them to the greatness in God. Have you committed yourself as a father to the Lord? If not, why not now? If you have, have you sought to lead your children to the Lord Jesus Christ? Now is the time for they need the Saviour too. “Ye must be born again,” Jesus said in John 3:7.
Isaiah 43:1 says, “Fear not: for I have redeemed thee. I have called thee by thy name; thou art Mine.” This message puts to silence other voices and claims – Satan says “you are mine”, circumstances say “you are mine”, trouble says “you are mine”, sickness says “you are mine”, death says “you are mine”. Amid all these voices, we hear an authoritative voice of God say, “thou art Mine” – only three little words but with these words, we can face all troubles and endure the trials of life.
- by Norman Rody (1902-1986)