Happy Father’s Day weekend 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 27 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 90 years old, enjoying 9 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
Blessed are those that live into their 9th decade.
Had he lived, he would have been a wise old Christian man now with 27 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 “Mike, 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 and well-intentioned. He did the best he knew how given his own upbringing.
Would that all people could say that.
My father barely finished high school. Unlike some in his Army unit, he survived the Korean War and then married his high school sweetheart. He 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 young 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 how to drive and shoot a gun. He also took me into downtown LA boxing clubs (literally like in the Rocky 3 movie) as he grew up himself a low-rent boxer in the mean streets of Los Angeles.
My father taught me nothing about faith or religion as he had no spiritual upbringing himself. His own mother, my grandmother Nana Lupe, was a new Christian-convert when I was a child, the only Christian 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.
I had no ideas what she was talking about then, but I never forgot Nana Lupe’s words. Before my grandmother died at age 95, my college fiancé, Debbie, now my wife of 42 years, had a chance to meet her. Debbie and I decided to do that kind of praying for our own kids and grandchildren too.
In a very real sense, that was my father’s spiritual legacy passed down to me.
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 with each child, even called it “Special Time.” We do it now with the grandchildren. As a father 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, listening to their music – something, anything where they get your undivided attention. Believe it or not, 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. Mindful of your own shortcomings and blessed that God forgives, 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 you’re a Dad, be celebrated this weekend and celebrate your father, living or not. Love your dad, remember your dad, understand your dad, forgive your dad.
Regardless of your circumstance and experience with your earthly father, know that your Heavenly Father is good, even great, and loves you very much. With that going forward, may you rest assured and celebrate every precious day of the rest of your life.
Yes, Thank You, Dad. Happy Father’s Day!
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust. – Psalm 103:13