Father’s Day Message ❧ Part 1 of 1
Selected Passages ❧ June 19, 2022
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten in the car, started down the road, and forgotten where I am going! Somewhere between tuning the key in the ignition and pulling out of the driveway, my mind goes into automatic pilot. Habit takes over and I start driving toward the office instead of where I need to go. Does that ever happen to you too?
Years ago, when the Western US was being settled, roads were little more than a dusty set narrow wagon tracks. Yet those simple roads could pose serious problems if travelers weren’t careful. On one of these ancient winding routes a sign was posted which read: Avoid this rut or you’ll be in it for the next twenty-five miles!
Habits form the ruts that determine the direction of our lives. Nowhere does this truth come to life like that of being a dad. I am convinced the habits we develop as fathers are the key to either our success or failure. Pascal understood the significance of our habits when he wrote: The strength of a man’s virtue should not be measured by his special exertions, but by his habitual acts. Another penned, Habit is a cable, we weave a thread every day, and at last we cannot break it. Whether for good or bad, the habits we weave into our lives on a daily basis will leave a lasting legacy that will greatly impact our children. Any life-change then in becoming the dad we want to be for our children must be made at the level of our habits.
This morning I want to talk to dads. We’re going to look at four habits every effective dad needs.
- The habit of maintaining right priorities builds genuine happiness in the home. Probably one of the interesting and poignant passages in the Bible that speaks to this is the second chapter of Genesis. After six days of speaking His masterpiece creation into being, God makes some final touches before He’s finished. One of them is creating Eve. Up to this point, everything that needed to be created was, the sun, moon, stars, ocean and everything it contains, land, plants, trees, animals, even Adam. Everything which was to be created had been except for a wife for Adam. In Genesis 2:18 God points this out and declaring I will make a helper who is just right for him” (NLT). The word for helper means more than help in general but help that comes specifically from God. This same word comes from the word “crown” implying a noble help.
Now, you’d expect God would create Eve, since that was Adam’s need. But He doesn’t. Instead, the very next verse says God brings every beast of the field and bird of the sky before Adam to give them a name. Now, that seems odd. It seems God says He’s going to do one thing, and instead He does something else. What was God’s purpose? Two to mind. One, by naming all of the animals, Adam was exercising his God-assigned dominion over the Earth (Gen. 1:28). Second, by naming all of the animals, it gives Adam the opportunity to verify he alone is uniquely created in God’s image. No other creature shares God’s image but man. God is not only showing Adam how unique he is, but how alone he is as well. There is nothing in all of creation to take away his loneliness; no one to share his new life with. Genesis 2 says, He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him (Gen. 2:20, NLT). Before Adam can ask God just what He’s up to, God puts him into a deep sleep, takes a rib from his side and forms Eve. If you don’t know what God is up to in your life, you’re not the first.
What is God saying through this strange order of events? He’s saying something incredibly important: “Adam, I want you to learn from the get-go the habit of maintaining the right priorities. No matter where you search in all of creation you will never find the answer to your loneliness and satisfaction than in your family. If you look to your work, your hobbies, your money, your friends for these things, you’ll never find them. Make family a priority.”
When you couple this idea with the Psalmists words: Children are a gift from the LORD (Ps. 27:3) – the picture becomes even clearer. Dad’s, the second greatest investment of your life is your family – they are a gift from God. They are second, not the first. The first greatest investment you’ll ever make is giving your life to Christ. In fact, it is only with God’s help you can be the husband and father you need to be.
It’s not an accident that if you look in the dictionary for the meaning of the word “Father” you’ll find: 1) Father means source and 2) that from which one derives significance. Your children will find their significance in life largely by how you much you make them a priority; the time and attention you invest in them.
One of the problems many families struggle with today is a home where dad is physically and emotionally absent. The effects are devastating and jarring. One study revealed that fatherless daughters are 92% more likely to fail in their own marriages. Fatherless men were 35% more likely to experience marital failure. Fatherless children are 100% more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems. The most reliable predictor of crime is growing up fatherless. More than 70% of all juveniles in state reform institutions come from fatherless homes.
How do you show your children they are more important than your job, your hobbies, or your money? How do you spend time with them in an average week? A hundred years from now, the size of your bank account, the size of your home, the career you invested in won’t ultimately matter. Your greatest legacy will be your children. Children know how important they are to you by how you spend your time more than anything else. There is no substitute.
The truth is, even though we know this, most of us still act as though we have all the time in the world. Seneca, the Roman statesmen, observed: We are always complaining that our days are few and acting as though there would be no end.
Charles Francis Adams, the 19th century political figure and diplomat, kept a diary. One day he entered: “Went fishing with my son today—a day wasted.” His son, Brook Adams, also kept a diary, which is still in existence. On that same day, Brook Adams made this entry: “Went fishing with my father—the most wonderful day of my life!” The father thought he was wasting his time while fishing with his son, but his son saw it as an investment of time. The only way to tell the difference between wasting and investing is to know one’s ultimate purpose in life and to judge accordingly. Dads remember your family is your priority over every other earthly relationship. Habit #1: Maintain the right priorities.
2. The habit of fatherly affection protects and promotes healthy relationships. People, no matter what age, need healthy genuine affection from others. God made us that way. The power of human touch, especially a father’s caring affection, will go long way toward promoting and protecting a lifetime of healthy relationships for children.
It is so important for dads to understand the significance of the habit of giving healthy and consistent affection to their children. Some fathers struggle with feeling uncomfortable in giving affection to their children. I have three words of advice for you: Get over it. Your children need their dad’s genuine affection. If you don’t show them healthy affection, mark my words, they will seek it elsewhere.
Most fathers don’t have a problem being affectionate with their children when they’re babies up to when they’re about four. Once they reach their grade school years, even in caring homes, fathers often shy away from giving the needed affection to their children. I don’t know how to say this without being candid. Prostitution thrives on men and women who were starved of genuine affection as children.
Noted psychiatrist, Dr. Marc Hollender, noted after interviewing scores of women who’ve had three or more unwanted pregnancies, all of them say the same thing – they were consciously aware that sexual activity was the price to be paid for being cuddled or held.
A significant part of Jesus ministry was caring affection. When He wanted to communicate genuine care for people – He touched them. In Mark 1:40 Jesus does the unthinkable by touching a leper. Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man (Mk. 1:40). Why? Because Jesus knew this man’s greatest need; someone cared for him just the way he was. Part of this man’s spiritual healing was his physical healing. This is a powerful lesson for dads in communicating the authentic love of Christ.
In another place, Jesus was being swarmed by parents who wanted Him to bless their children through His touch. Seeing this horde of parents pressing around Jesus, the disciples were offended. Jesus could have easily avoided them, but He didn’t. Instead, as the parents brought Him their children, He welcomed them; He knew their needs. Mark 10:16 says: And He took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them (Mk. 10:16). Jesus love for them became real when He touched them.
A number of years ago our family visited a busy foster home filled with hurting children. I will never forget one little boy in particular who wrapped his arms around my neck. If there is such a thing as a human sponge, he was it. I could literally feel him soaking in all the love and attention I gave him. Children need a father’s affection through caring touch.
Did you know that over a third of our five-million touch receptors are centered in our hands alone? When you place your hand on someone your hemoglobin level rises giving more oxygen to your body and promoting healing? Researchers say that when we have a healthy amount of meaningful touch (8 to 10 a day) it can increase your lifespan up to two years.
Dads don’t be afraid to touch your children. Hug them, hold their hands, put your arm around them often. They need their father’s affection. Habit #2:
3. The habit of encouragement builds healthy self-esteem. Someone has said, More people fail for lack of encouragement than for any other reason. I especially like the words of George Adams: Encouragement is oxygen to the soul.
The Apostle Paul hit the proverbial nail on the head when he gave these words of strong counsel: Fathers do not nag (exasperate, embitter, cause to be resentful) your children. If you’re too hard to please, they may want to stop trying (Col. 3:21, NCV).
Dad’s, let me ask you a question: are you a nag? Nags are those guys who’re never pleased, no matter what you do or how hard you try. Are you in the habit of being a nag? If so, stop. When you’re constantly critical you’re saying to your children: “You’re not good enough.” Nothing will destroy a child’s self-esteem like a father who is constantly critical.
Dan Benson in his book: The Total Man, shares some too-close-to-home results of an extensive study. He found that for every positive statement made in the homes he surveyed, there were ten negatives – 10 to 1! Proverbs is right when it says: Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Prov. 18:21). James 3 says the tongue like a small spark can set the whole course of someone’s life of fire (James 3:6).
As a little boy growing up, my greatest ambition was to gain the approval of my father. It is amazing how you remember those moments when your father gave his encouraging approval. One memory that stands out is when I brought home my sixth-grade report card. It was all “A’s” except for one “B”. I thought for sure he’d point out that lone “B” and ask why it wasn’t an “A”. But he didn’t. Every detail of that moments like that become etched in your memory – you never forget. Nor do you forget the feeling of those important moments. A father’s words can have a lasting impact on his children – far more then we’d like to admit. Dad, are you consciously building your children’s self-esteem through your words?
On a scale of 1 to 10, how are you doing when it comes to being an encourager dad? Maybe it’s time to step up the habit of encouragement. Habit #3: Be an Encourager
4. The habit of spiritual authenticity builds an enduring faith. But you, Timothy, certainly know what I teach, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is. You know my faith, my patience, my love, and my endurance (2 Tim. 3:10, NLT). Paul’s saying: “You know that I am the real deal, Timothy.” 89% of what we learn comes through what we see, 10% of what we hear, and 1% through our senses. Authenticity is caught more than it is taught.
Like a coin your life needs both sides of what is taught before it becomes authentic. Nothing takes the place of an authentic faith in a father. Let me ask you a personal question dad: is your trust in Jesus Christ authentic? The great missionary J. Hudson Taylor noted: If your father and mother, your sister and brother, if the very cat and dog in the house, are not happier for your being Christian, it is a question whether you really are.
One startling bit of research conducted by the Christian Business Men’s Committee found the following: When the father is an active believer, there is about a seventy-five percent likelihood that the children will also become active believers. But if only the mother is a believer, this likelihood is dramatically reduced to fifteen percent (Keith Meyering, in Discipleship Journal, issue #49, p. 41).
Dads, how are you doing when it comes to authentically living out your relationship with Jesus Christ? Father’s who know the Lord want their children to know the Lord as well. But they often feel as though they fall short of knowing how to help their children grow in their own relationship with the Lord. Dad, you can’t take your children where you haven’t been yourself. If you want them to know the Lord and grow in Him, then pray with them. Read the Bible with them. Talk to them about what you read. Don’t feel like you have to have all of the answers. Be real with them about your own relationship with the Lord. Your relationship with Christ will be more caught than taught. It’s what they see, not just what they hear. Remember, God has given you the primary responsibility of growing your children up in the Lord. The best way to do that is to be real in your own relationship with the Lord and invite them to be a part of it.
Executive Director of Growing Families International, Gary Ezzo once asked his daughter Jennifer what she thought were the biggest problems fathers have with kids. She said, “Dads have too many “tomorrows.” You know, “I’ll play with you tomorrow, I’ll talk to you tomorrow.” She was right. Dad, be there now for your children, building quality and quantity benchmarks of trust. Don’t wait until tomorrow—or you’ll end up wasting too many todays (Gary Ezzo, Men of Action, Summer, 1996, p. 11). So, there you have it dads – Four Habits of An Effective Legacy: 1) The habit of right priorities – family is your second greatest priority, Christ is your first, 2) The habit of appropriate loving affection toward your children will protect and promote a life-time of healthy relationships, 3) the habit of encouragement – do your children know you believe in them? And finally, 4) the habit of spiritual authenticity. How are you doing?