By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
I firmly believe that having the opportunity to be a father is one of the greatest privileges that God has ever given me. It’s also one of the hardest jobs I have ever had because of the responsibility that comes with the role.
Over the past few years authors have made a lot of money writing books “for dummies” — Football for Dummies, PCs for Dummies, etc.
Fortunately, God wrote the original book for “dummies” — the Bible, His Holy Word. God knew before He created the world that mankind could not make it on our own. We would need a lot of help and He has given that to us through His Word.
The Bible has a lot to say about being a good parent. Joyce and I have tried to instill Christian values in our children (and both are professing Christians). The verses we have leaned on over the years are Proverbs 22:6 which remind us to “train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it” and Ephesians 6:4: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
I know I fell short in the first part of the last verse. I have a feeling my kids would testify that I “exasperated” them on many occasions. But hopefully they would also testify that I tried to “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
As I reflect on what it truly means to be a good dad, I think there are three essentials that every man needs to do in order to accomplish that goal.
(1) MARRY A GREAT MOTHER. Joyce has been the rock of our family. When I fell short, she stood tall. I honestly don’t know how single parents do it. It took Joyce and I working as a team to parent our kids. I can’t imagine doing it alone. God blessed me more than I could ever have asked for when He gave me Joyce for my wife.
(2) PRAY, PRAY, PRAY. You can’t say it enough. Prayer is one of the key ingredients of being a good parent. We can’t do it on our own power and strength. Parenting is hard. When we faced difficult times and didn’t know what to do, we prayed. And, we asked others to pray for us and our children when needed. That’s critical. Don’t be so proud that you won’t ask others to pray.
(3) TURN IT OVER TO GOD. As parents, we are going to “mess it up.” We aren’t perfect. The sooner we realize that and do number two above (Pray, Pray, Pray) and then turn it over to God, the better off everyone is. Our children will make mistakes and so will parents. We have to trust God because He ultimately is in complete control.
I’m the first to admit I am not a perfect dad. I honestly don’t know if I’ve been a good dad. Only my kids can answer that one. But I can say that I’ve been a loving dad who tried to instill Christian values in his children.
As the best cooks would say, the proof is in the pudding. My children, just like me and Joyce, and everyone else for that matter, are works in progress. But I see signs that Joyce and I did “something right.”
Our oldest grandson, Eli Beasley, is a miracle from God. By all accounts he should have died at birth, but God spared him. Last week, he participated in his pre-K program at school. Our daughter, Joanna, wrote these words on Facebook following the program:
“I’m so proud of this kid. At the beginning of the school year, his progress in school was a little worrisome. He ended up being diagnosed with ADHD and a sensory processing disorder. By the end of the year, he was right on track and won awards for knowing all of his letters, sounds, and being able to write his name. … In a letter his teacher wrote to him, she said, “Eli, you’re a wonder!” His doctors all think so too. It’s a wonder he’s alive, it’s a wonder he’s not severely disabled, and it’s a wonder he’s on track for his age. He continues to defy the odds and I’m in awe of what God has done in his life and continues to do.”
That tells me she knows who’s really in charge.
And, by the time the next paper is published, our son Daniel will be married to a wonderful young lady named Jill Pransky. It’s no secret Daniel and I had some issues during his teenage years, but he turned his life around (and back towards God). His marriage to Jill is evidence of a life that has been changed by God’s wonderful grace and mercy.
I am proud of both of my children and the adults they have become. God has truly blessed me and for that I am thankful and indebted to Him. My prayer is that every dad in Tennessee can claim that same blessing.