Our oldest son, Caleb, just graduated from high school. As I’m sure many of you have done when your child achieved this major milestone, I spent several hours collecting pictures from his life and putting them together in a special slideshow for his graduation party.
Going back through the last 18 years of Caleb’s life was a wonderful time of reflection. I found the very first picture we took of him in the hospital. (We were still using cameras with actual film back then.) Then I found pictures of his first steps, first bike ride without training wheels, first day of school – I was amazed at how many firsts I had forgotten.
The physical, emotional, and spiritual transitions our kids make in such a short amount of time are incredible. Just a few years ago, Caleb was a cute little boy playing with cars and trucks. The young man before me now is taller than me (not a particularly hard thing to accomplish), handsome, and preparing to spend the balance of the year as a missionary on the other side of the world. Time indeed flies by.
When Jessica and I first married, I had an admittedly romantic notion of what fatherhood was. I was going to spend every waking moment with my kids and do nothing but play baseball and go for ice cream. We would do everything together: hobbies, church activities, family game night, movies, vacations, even chores.
As any parent knows, parenthood doesn’t end up being particularly romantic most of the time. There ARE wonderful memories and experiences we share with our kids. However, there are days and weeks of the mundane – of just living life – that stretch between those romanticized moments. And when boys become teenagers, they do what God intended them to do. They begin to think, act, and reason on their own. I’ve discovered that although Caleb shares some physical and personality traits with Jessica and me, he is his own person. He is not a clone or mirror image of either one of us. He is created in God’s image. There has never been anyone exactly like him in the past, nor will there be in the future. He is utterly and completely unique.
As a father, the process of watching your son grow into a man is both beautiful and frustrating. Our kids do some wonderful, amazing things; and then seemingly in the very next moment, they say something boneheaded that reminds us of their humanity. When we are the father of young children, we perpetually correct them and rescue them from poor decisions. But as a father of young men, we find ourselves correcting and rescuing less often. In order for our sons to complete their journey to manhood, we must allow them to make mistakes and fail. If we don’t, they won’t complete their journey. And, as you fathers know, watching our sons fail is one of the hardest things we have to do.
Much ink has been spilled bemoaning the state of fatherhood in America. In our narcissistic, sex-obsessed culture, too many men have abandoned their role as protector, provider, and priest in their homes. Too many have traded the tough, mundane work of fatherhood for short-term pleasure and selfishness. As a gender, men have led very, very poorly. The #MeToo movement is a stinging indictment on our gender and proof that too many of us have failed.
While the criticism of men in general is warranted, we must also stop a moment and praise those men who’ve stood the test of time and been fabulous fathers to their daughters and sons. Though somewhat ignored in our current culture, these men quietly, consistently love and care for their children through good times and bad. We celebrate those men on Father’s Day.
And we pray for those who’ve been poor fathers – that they might repent of their idolatry and step back into their role as sacrificial, loving leaders in their homes.
Some 85% of abortions are performed on single mothers. Many of the women we see at Human Coalition are pregnant, single moms. And although we just celebrated moms in May, I would be remiss if I didn’t again say thank you to those moms who chose life for their children – even when the baby’s father is absent. Single moms are compelled to be both moms and dads to their children – an extraordinarily difficult and somewhat thankless job.
Ultimately, men, we must look to our heavenly Father for wisdom and guidance on how to be fantastic dads. When we make mistakes, we apologize and repent. We train, correct, discipline, encourage, promote, and praise. We model biblical manhood for our sons and daughters. But perhaps the best thing we can do as fathers is to cultivate loving, growing marriages.
I am eternally grateful to be a dad to my two sons. My dad was, and is, supportive, eager to listen, and always present. I hope my two sons say the same the things about me.
The importance of godly fathers in America cannot be overstated. On this Father’s Day, let’s pray that God would strengthen good fathers and raise up the next generation of dads to be bold, compassionate, gracious, and loving. May abortion and the exploitation of females perish at the hands of men who refuse to demean and destroy women and children.