This weekend we will celebrate Father’s Day. I love being a husband and a dad more than anything else I do, but sometimes the challenges are great. In fact, the Apostle Paul pointed to two hard things a father is assigned to do.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25 NIV) And “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4 NIV)
John Wooden, legendary basketball coach of UCLA, is arguably the greatest coach that sports has ever seen. His ten National Championships at UCLA statistically prove this. The sound bites of his former players give evidence of his legendary status in ways that go far beyond basketball.
John Wooden once said, “The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”
And love her he did! Though his beloved Nellie died in 1985, he continued to write her a love note every month until his death in 2010.
Russ Blowers, longtime minister at East 91st Christian Church in Indianapolis, was asked “What was your greatest accomplishment in 44 years of ministry?” This successful pastor who had led his church to be one of the largest in Indiana, led the Billy Graham Crusade to Indianapolis, served as president of his denomination’s convention said, “My greatest accomplishment is that I never had to go into my kids’ room and try to find some way to apologize to them for being unfaithful to their mother.” (Bob Russell, When God Builds a Church, p. 101).
Paul’s admonition to love as Christ loved the Church is at the heart of a sacrificing love. Very few of us, if any of us, will be called on to give ourselves up for our wives in the same manner as Christ gave Himself up for the church. However, this is the description of the way in which we ought to love. Isn’t it interesting how sacrifice in the marriage is one of those issues that seem to diminish with each passing year? Sacrificial love is not reserved for Valentine’s Day or Anniversaries; sacrificial love is the way that we should strive to love every day of the year.
Pray with me today that every Christian husband and father will live by the advice of Coach John Wooden and strive for the Biblical perfection admonished by the Apostle Paul.
Now, here’s the second thing. As Dads, we must discipline our children without driving them away.
The Dad who disciplines without driving away will be defined by at least these three characteristics.
1. You must win the right to be obeyed–Dad, you win the right to be obeyed by time, your own obedience, unconditional love, and consistent discipline. I am reminded that earlier in this passage we are to redeem the time. Now, when we encounter this idea in 6:4, I think back to redeeming time with our children. We don’t have long.
2. Teach Godly, Biblical principles. Don’t leave it to someone else to teach your children. Don’t leave it to the school. Don’t even leave it to the church. Dad, you take the leadership in teaching your children.
3. Pray. Having done all you can do, Dad, the very best thing that you can do is pray for your children. Pray with your children and for your children.
Rick Husband is an American hero. He was the commander of the ill-fated Columbia shuttle mission that exploded upon re-entry scattering parts over Texas and Louisiana. His wife put his story to words in the book High Calling. In the book, we learn that Rick was not only a great American, but also a great husband, father, and Christian. Though his commitment to NASA was obviously great, Rick never seemed to lose sight of the right priorities. The most inspiring part of Rick’s story is that he taped different devotions for each of the seventeen days of his mission for both of his children so that he would not miss a day sharing with them spiritual food.
Rick understood that his highest calling was the one given to him by his Heavenly Father. What about it, Dads? On this Father’s Day weekend, isn’t it time that all of us who wear the title Father spend some time re-evaluating how we are doing with the high calling God has entrusted to us?
(Join us Sunday at 9:45 or 11:11 a.m. I’ll be preaching on the great expression of commitment found in Joshua 24.)