“The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.” ~Proverbs 23:24
Every Father’s Day is a time to reflect on our relationship with our fathers. Whether living or deceased, fathers have a strong impact upon our lives. Some due to what they did and said, and others because of their absence in the lives of their children.
Children who grow up without a father (some due to death and others due to abandonment) spend much of their lives searching for a substitute to fill the void. The impact of a father in the home is almost immeasurable. A mother can be many things to her children and provide the necessities of life – food, clothing, and shelter – but she cannot fill that void. Children who have a grandfather, older brother, uncle, or another male role model to fill the void usually find what they need to get on in life. Those who don’t have a positive role model usually seek out a gang or a stronger alpha male to follow, and often end up in trouble, doing drugs, or in prison.
I have a wonderful father whom I plan to see again very soon in Heaven. He died in 2003, but I think of him every day, not just one day in June. His influence over my life is so strong that when I face a decision, I still ask myself (whether consciously or subconsciously) what he would do.
Here are the things my father gave me that have made my life what it is:
- Love and Care – Though he didn’t express it often, I never doubted his love and concern for me. His whole life was spent serving and caring for others, and he showed his love by his actions.
- Protection and Security – He provided well for his huge family by working day and night. He gave us a comfortable, safe home, and I never wondered whether my needs would be met. He protected us by not allowing us to do things that could have messed up our lives, and he stood between us and evil influences.
- Healthy and Well-balanced Life – My parents worked constantly to provide healthy food to meet our needs and many of our wants. They allowed us the freedom to try new things, experience real life, and learn from our failures. Yet they protected us from things that would cause us permanent emotional or spiritual damage.
- A Strong Work Ethic – As a carpenter/home builder, my Dad worked a full-time job. Then after hours he worked in our garden, keeping bees, growing fruit trees, or whatever needed to be done at home. He also pastored a church, which meant he had various responsibilities several nights each week. He left us a great example of hard work and fulfilling all his responsibilities. We kids were never coddled, but were also given responsibilities. We had chores to do and were expected to do them without reminders. All work and no play makes a dull child, but this does not describe my life. After our work, we had plenty of time left to play.
- Memories of a Happy Home – I think of how noisy and busy our home must have been with so many children. My parents provided a few basic toys: sleds and bikes to share, a bat and ball, a croquet set, horseshoes, board games, puzzles, cards, and some toys we made ourselves. We had homemade kites, pea shooters, slingshots, and such. We climbed trees and explored the natural world around us. We played red rover, kick the can, hide and seek, and hopscotch outside each day. We played cards and board games inside at night. Without a television, we dreamed up plays, played house, played church, listened to music, sang, and entertained one another. I don’t ever remember being bored.
- A Good Name and Reputation – My father was known all over the community and county as a man of God, a hard worker, and a sincere, honest person who would help anyone he could. There were countless people who came to our house asking for his help or advice. I never heard anyone say a bad word about him, and I still hear compliments about his exemplary life from people around the world.
- A Picture of Kindness – My Dad seldom raised his voice, yet we all knew he meant business when he spoke. He treated his family and everyone he knew with kindness, and even when we were disciplined, it was usually just a lecture or extra responsibilities.
- Respect for Myself and Others – We were taught to do what was right even when others around us did not. We were taught to respect other people and their property, and to treat everyone equally, showing no difference because of race or nationality.
- Approval – I remember being very young and hearing my Dad talk about how smart I was. It made a great impression on me, and I never forgot his words. Throughout his life, he accepted his children and grandchildren as we were, never showing a difference between any of us.
- An Education and a Love of Learning – My Dad took us to see and experience many things outside our little world. He taught the boys carpentry, how to hunt and fish, and how to track game. He taught all of us a lot about nature and how to work with it. He and Mother both read and provided reading materials for us at home, a set of encyclopedias, other books and magazines, and the daily newspaper. He provided financial help for those of us who wanted to go to college.
- A Godly Heritage – Without a doubt, this is the most important thing my Dad left me. He taught us the Bible and showed us an example of following Christ in our daily lives. He prayed with us daily, and lived exactly as he spoke.
- A Model for a Good Husband – I remember thinking about what I wanted in a husband, and it was based on the kind of man my father was: a good provider, honest, polite, faithful, respectful, and godly.
- An Example of a Life-long Marriage – My mother died just a month short of their celebrating 58 years of marriage. They were faithful to one another, and I never gave a thought to the possibility of a divorce.
- A Large Family to Love and Support Me – Besides being great parents, my Mom and Dad gave me 14 siblings. That’s nine brothers and five sisters. One sister died at birth, but they raised 14 of us to adulthood. Since they’ve been gone, I still have a large support group to encourage and stand by me if I ever need help.
I cannot imagine living life without the help, love, care, protection, and support of my father. Best of all, he gave me a positive image of my Heavenly Father, and he is the reason I love and serve God. His influence was invaluable, and if he were alive today, I would say, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” Philippians 1:3