With Fathers Day a little more than a week away I would like to share some of my thoughts about the responsibility of being a father. Other than loving Jesus and my wife (in that order) it is the most important responsibility I have. It is more important than leading Heritage Christian Counseling Ministries and being an elder at Grace Fellowship Church. I am very aware of the importance of my presence in my children’s lives.
For my three sons, I am aware of the impact of blessing them in what Dr. John Trent identifies as five key areas that are critical for their development and being launched into life.
Dr. Trent first talks about meaningful and appropriate touch. This was valuable in my relationship with them. Jesus showed the power of touch in Mark 10:16 as He picked up the little children and held them. Also, research supports that meaningful touch facilitates a loving and warm relationship. It made me, as their dad, more approachable, which paid important dividends during their adolescence. It was easier for them to come to me with problems, and I was more able to speak into their lives with some optimism that they would listen. It also made it easier to celebrate their successes, as they were more willing to receive my praise.
Dr. Trent then speaks of the importance of attaching high value to our sons. Since sons are more likely to perceive God in a similar way to how they perceive male authority, it is critical for me to communicate their high value. As David writes in Psalms, “How precious are your thoughts to me,” communicating value to my sons is to let them know how important their thoughts are to me. Another important way to communicate value to them is through my decision-making concerning them. As I navigate life on a daily basis I choose to make decisions that show how much I care.
How I greet them is yet another important aspect of Dr. Trent’s blessing. In James 3:10 it says that out of the mouth comes blessings or curses. I think it is crucial to bless them by carefully choosing the words that come out of my mouth.
The fourth area Dr. Trent discusses is the importance of encouragement. My responsibilities with my sons include believing in them and expressing how God has a plan for them. It is to encourage them, help build their confidence, and again, celebrate their successes. For one of my sons it meant supporting him in his desire to be a Marine. For another it meant supporting his desire to go to school on the east coast. For yet another son it meant being supportive as he figured out what God’s plan was for his life, and today he is a leader and manager in the business world. In all three cases these decisions to give encouragement and support greatly impacted who they are today.
The final strong component of Dr. Trent’s blessing in being a father to my sons was showing a high degree of commitment in their lives. I was fully aware of statistics that showed how a father’s commitment and presence was important in reducing possible “at risk” behavior like drugs, alcohol and crime. Because of this it was a high priority for me to attend all of their ball games. In fact at one point I remember one of the boys joking, “Enough already Dad, you don’t have to come to all the practices too!”
Another area of commitment was to lead them spiritually. I clearly remember as a dad the tremendous responsibility of being a spiritual role model. That role model included honoring their mother and modeling a healthy marriage.
This article would not be complete if I didn’t include the importance of my presence in my daughter’s life as well. I will always be thankful for the “Daddy-Daughter Dates,” and the appropriate hugs that helped her develop a healthy sense of who she is. I even remember a Daddy-Daughter Date where we walked arm in arm down the mall, shopping. What a special memory! I have even recovered from the trauma of “shopping.” I remember how important the messages of kind and loving words were to her. Because she found love in our relationship it helped her to seek healthy and appropriate relationships in her life. I think it helped facilitate who she is as a person. It laid a foundation for how she relates to her husband today.
My belief in her and presence in her life also facilitated celebrating her successes. I am amazed at how she succeeds at whatever she puts her mind to. That included taking a full high school load and college load at the same time. We would regularly celebrate her academic success as well as her athletic success. She, too, believed that she had a bright future because of the confidence she gained from these experiences.
She learned the importance of commitment when she experienced a very difficult season in her life after giving birth. Her daughter was born with a serious health problem and was given no chance to live. It was her commitment to Christ through prayer and faith that saved her daughter’s life. Her ability to commit was a huge help in the months to come, as her daughter was in the neonatal intensive care unit for several months.
Having received the blessings of appropriate touch, high value, spoken messages, encouragement, and strong commitment, it is now a blessing to me to see my children passing these things on to their own children. The returns on my investment have been worth every bit of the effort.