Happy Father’s Day to all dads who mean well and do the best they know how. May God be patient with us all, just like He was with my father. ◊
My father died 24 year ago at the age of 63. I think about him a lot these days. He would have loved to see our 3 kids now grown up with families of their own. Today he would be enjoying 9 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Blessed are those that can live into their 8th decade.
Had he lived, he would have been a wise old Christian man now with 24 years of Christian spiritual growth under his belt. He became a Christ-follower the same day he found out he had terminal pancreatic cancer.
He died 6 months after that diagnosis.
But that day he surrendered his life in simple faith to Christ after years of stubborn resistance. From that point until the end of this life he was a man alive with new desire to live and devour the Scriptures and make up for lost time.
Just 2 months before he died he told me that he wished he had gotten aboard the Christianity bandwagon sooner. He said “I don’t know why it took me so long.”
Good Dad, Great Dad
I’ll make no distinction here this Father’s Day between a Good Dad and a Great Dad. My dad was a great dad because he was my dad, present and accounted for, loving in his own way, well-intentioned and did the best he could. Would that all people could say that.
Of course, no father on earth is perfect. His generation survived the Korean War, married their high school sweetheart and worked hard to support a growing family. In his youth my dad worked in construction and then spent 30 years as a produce clerk in a grocery store. When I was a kid he invested in an 8-unit apartment building in Los Angeles that allowed him and my mom to retire in their 50’s.
He helped me develop my early baseball pitching career, my love for the Dodgers and USC Trojan football. He taught me to drive and shoot a gun. He also took me into downtown LA boxing clubs (literally like Rocky 3) as he grew up himself a low-rent boxer in the mean streets of Los Angeles.
He taught me nothing about faith or religion as he had no spiritual upbringing himself. His own mother, my grandmother Nana Lupe, was the only Christian-convert in my family at that time. She’s the one who would pinch my cheek when we visited her in Long Beach and tell me “Miguelito, Miguelito! I pray for you everyday! I pray for you and your wife!”
I was 8 years old.
In one sense, that was my father’s spiritual legacy passed down to me. I never forgot Nana Lupe’s words. Before my grandmother died at age 95, my college fiancé, Debbie, now my wife of 39 years, had a chance to meet her. Debbie and I decided to do that kind of praying for our own kids and grandchildren too.
4 Keys to Good Fathering
I believe that non-believers can be good fathers. They are just missing out on the best gift and legacy they can pass on to their children; namely, exposure to Christianity. After that, each child is on their own to make their own decision for or against Christ, the gift from God.
This Father’s Day, here is my list of 4 keys to good fathering:
- Love their Mother, your Wife – kids have a way of picking up on conflict between their parents. Get this fixed as it impacts their own sense of security and future healthy relationships. Disputes are often steeped in issues of pride and selfishness. Forgive and assess your own flaws and guilt. God’s mercy extends to both of you. (Ephesians 5:25)
- Have ‘Special Time’ with each Child – my wife did this proactively, even called it “Special Time.” I did it haphazardly; today I would be very deliberate though not overt. My “Special Time” would be in spending at least 15 minutes with each child alone daily. Yes, daily. It’s doable. Could be playing a game, playing catch, reading, talking, biking, coloring, walking – something, anything where they get your undivided attention. This will forever change their lives and perspective about their Dad. (Psalm 127:3-5)
- Lead your Household – one need not be perfect, but the father needs to take the helm and lead his family. Ideally as a humble man of God, loving his wife and raising his children in the ways of the Lord. As best you can, mindful of pratfalls, model for your family humility, humanity, discipline and honor. Your children will thank you later (years later), but thank you nevertheless. (Deuteronomy 6:7)
- Pray for your Children – regardless of training and upbringing, we all can come to God in prayer, even as skeptics. In your own privacy, simply talk to God verbally about your children and pray for their protection, their future, their hearts and minds to be molded with wisdom, love, truth, and the Spirit of God. Yes, the God that you yourself may just be starting to move toward. It’s a way of softening your heart – for your children’s sake, as well as your own. (John 17:15)
If a dad, be celebrated this weekend and/or celebrate your father, living or not. Love your dad, forgive your dad, understand your dad, remember your dad.
Regardless of circumstances, our Heavenly Father is good, even great, and loves us so. In that we can rest assured and celebrate everyday of our lives.
Happy Father’s Day!
Now the righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him! – Proverbs 20:7