My father has always been a pillar of strength. He knew everything about the Bible, camping, hunting, and happiness. He taught me how to throw a football, the best way to eat craw-fish, and how to fry catfish.
He has always listened to me as a mentor and trusted friend. I haven't always made the best decisions, but my father has always loved me through them all. I remember coming back from Bible college excited about theology and spiritual insights I had learned. He listened patiently while helping me think through what I discovered. He never spoke down to me or maligned by insights.
Looking back, my father allowed me to be me. He treated me with respect and guided me so I could fly. Don't get me wrong, he disciplined me. There have been times he has been disappointed. In my mind, as a child, my dad had always been a dad. I thought it was his life's purpose to be my dad. I was fortunate and blessed by my father.
I am now a father.
I and my wife both had lives before our children. If you're a parent, maybe you can relate. However, my children are my purpose. They are central to my decisions. The greatest change in marriage and having children was the shift in my thinking. I was no longer alone or the greatest purpose in my life.
Fatherhood and husbandry is sacrificial.
It has been the most difficult and rewarding pursuit of my life.
When I was freshman in High School I joined the wrestling team. We moved from Louisiana to Colorado. I understood wrestling as capes, masks, theatrics, and the WWE. I thought it sounded cool. It was not cool. My first day was the hardest I had worked in my life. I threw up three times. Everyone else in the class had been in the sport since they were five years old. My partner pummeled me day after day.
I wanted to quit.
My father told me I couldn't. He said, If I started quitting now, it would be easier to quit the next thing. I was to fight through struggles, not quit when it got hard. I thought, "You haven't wrestled Druschella." He was the heavy weight I was put against. He was older, larger, and knew a dozen ways to cut off my wind while twisting my shoulders into the mat.
Dad said, "Just show up. You may not win, but you can't quit."
I was determined to be successful. Every practice I tried harder and harder. I worked, ducked, dipped, dived, and reversed over and over. Each time I tried to be faster and outmaneuver my opponent. He countered every time.
My ultimate goal was to last the match without being pinned. I may not be able to pin my competitor, but I wouldn't let them pin me. I showed up every morning before school to condition. To last a match without pin I had to be conditioned to outlast the other guy. I did the extra conditioning every morning with conditioning following practice each night.
I was determined to be successful.
Looking back, that lesson stayed with me the rest of my life. I hated it. At the time I hated my father for it, but I learned there was more than one way to be successful. I just had to show up. I would find success.
I won one match that year. I have the medal to this day. It's my most prized award. I didn't wrestle again. I did my time, I'm proud of that. I was pinned many times, but they had to fight for it.
As a father today, I often remind myself of that wrestling season. I'm a fighter. I will not go quietly into the night. I will not quit, I will not leave my responsibilities. I will temper my speech and my anger. I will discipline with patience and purpose.
I am a father.
I now have the responsibility to provide, protect, and discipline my own children. My choices affect my small tribe, not me alone. As fathers we are called to raise our children in the training and instruction of the Lord, do not exasperate your children (Ephesians 6:4). A father can exasperate their children by being inconsistent, not providing security, or demanding more than a child can bear.
It's okay to admit you're wrong from time to time. As fathers we must have confidence and security in ourselves to be wrong while committing to our decisions. You and I have a big responsibility.
Above all, we are called to love our families and wives as Christ loved and sacrificed for the church (Ephesians 5:25-37). Our children will learn love from how we love their mother and them. They will equate God's love with a father's love, your love. You and I have their full trust. We must protect it and reward it. This means we prioritize our children and family over parties, games, television, fishing, and anything else outside of the family's success as a unit.
This responsibility is also a great power. You have the lives and success of your children resting in your hands. The people they become, the success they live, the legacy they impart, rests on your example.
This is why we celebrate fathers. They mold us and in turn we mold others from their example.
We won't get it right, but we show up.
Our families need us to show up.
May you show up
May you see the blessing of your labors
May you be blessed this Father's Day
In His service and yours,