Father’s Day is not like Mother’s Day and not always in the best way.
I was sitting behind a dad and his son during church on Father’s Day several years ago. The son was probably about 11 or 12 years old. The sermon majored on how fathers “need to pick it up,” supported by a healthy dose of dead-beat-dad statistics. It was a depressing sermon and as I looked around the sanctuary, I saw a lot of dads I knew who were plugging away, trying to do their best for their families and their kids. The pastor missed his audience but his sermon left an impression.
“Dad,” the son said to his father loudly enough that I could hear, “How come mom got roses on Mother’s Day and you get a lecture?”
Unfortunately, I’ve heard similar sermons through the years from different pastors who exalt “Proverbs 31 women” on Mother’s Day and a month later remind men of how they are following Adam’s path of failure. It feeds the specter that whispers to virtually every man that he is letting someone down.
Yes, there are fathers out there who leave much to be desired, but it’s wrong to project those failures onto dads working hard to be great fathers. Fortunately, there are a lot of great dads out there plugging away hoping they have a positive lifetime impact on their children.
I’m fortunate. My dad is one of those kinds of fathers.
My dad is about as drama-free as they come. He’s even-keeled, low maintenance and doesn’t get worked up about much if anything. He’s a committed husband, father and Christ follower.
My dad (and mom) sensed a call to international missions, applied to the IMB, shut down his business (and his second career after serving 20-years in the U.S. Navy), and before you could blink was in Guatemala serving mission volunteers and leading prayer-walks among unreached indigenous people groups. Now retired from overseas missions, my dad continues to serve others and be a man dedicated to prayer.
My dad may also have the greatest mechanical mind in the universe. I’m convinced the man sees the world and everything in it as a series of those exploded schematic images.
Years ago, I busted up the plastic components in my car’s steering wheel that mechanically operates the turn signal. Pieces wedged in the steering mechanism when turning corners and prevented the wheel from turning back. It was a safety hazard, so I removed the pieces and tossed them under the seat. The turn signal flopped on the steering column like a dead fish. A year later my dad found the bits and reassembled the mechanism using rubber bands to hold it all together. Rubber bands! I drove it that way for several more years and sold the car never having had another problem.
I am so confident in my dad’s ability to fix anything that I have him listed in my phone’s contact directory as “Help Desk Dad.”
One might assume my dad missed a significant amount of my childhood serving in the Navy and floating around the world on an aircraft carrier, but it never felt that way to me.
When my dad was home, he was fully engaged: ballgames, Boy Scouts, riding dirt bikes, motorcycle camping trips, crawling down the intakes of A7 Corsair jets while my dad did quality assurance inspections, or hitting ground balls to me while I tried to memorize Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” (It didn’t work but I got better at fielding ground balls).
And I’ll never forget running onto the court my senior year of high school to play rival Christian Brothers, and there in the stands was my dad with a long banner that read, “Smother the Brothers!”
My dad also taught me how to work. Raising a pole barn, splitting wood, cutting grass, shingling a roof and working on a car. My dad taught way more than I ever caught.
However, what I realized when my daughter was born is that I did catch a lot of what it means to be a father because mine was a living example of what fatherhood is supposed to be. I’m just trying to do what he did.
So, Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there showing up every day for Dad Work. It’s not an easy calling, but men, keep plugging away. B&R