The observance of Father’s Day was initiated by a grateful daughter, Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington. Her father, Henry Jackson Smart, had raised her and her five siblings as a single Dad, after the death of her mother. So grateful for her father’s devotion, she proposed a national Father’s Day in 1909. Various Presidents supported it, but it would be thirty years later before Congress officially recognized it. In 1972, it was President Richard M. Nixon that established Father’s Day as a permanent national observance for the third Sunday in June.
Exodus 20:12 records the Fifth Commandment, which says, “Honor thy father and thy mother…”
The role of a father is terribly underestimated. The father serves as an ambassador of God, the Father, to his family. And the respect bestowed upon our fathers, in effect, is ultimately the respect we show for God. There are two things I remember most about my father.
First, my father was a disciplinarian. Today the very concept of disciplining children has fallen on hard times. Much of the modern emphasis seems to be on “self-expression,” with a de-emphasis on showing respect for authority. However, the Bible teaches that the parent stands in relationship to the child as God does to us. God’s discipline involves teaching, guiding, correcting, and when there’s defiance appropriately applying “the rod” (Prov. 13:24).
Children can never learn respect for God’s authority, actually, any authority, including the police, judges, teachers, public officials, etc., if parents don’t consistently demand and enforce respect for their own authority.
Several years ago, the Houston Police Department drew up a list of rules for parents on how to raise a juvenile delinquent. I’ve paraphrased the list a tad to make it more relevant, but it essentially said:
Beginning with infancy, give the child everything he wants. In this way, he will feel entitled and believe the world owes him a living.
When he picks up bad language, laugh at him. This will make him think he’s cool. He’ll have a coolness about him that will lead him straight into the fires of hell.
Never give him any spiritual training. Wait until he is an adult, and then let him “decide for himself.”
Avoid the use of negative words like “wrong,” “bad,” and “sinful.” It could cause him to develop a guilt complex. This will condition him to believe later when he is arrested for committing a crime, that society is against him, the authorities are against him, and he is being treated unjustly.
Pick up everything he leaves lying around the house, books, shoes, clothes. Do everything for him so that he will be experienced in throwing responsibility off himself and onto others.
Let him read or access anything on television, the computer, or his smartphone without any monitoring. Be careful not to allow him to eat snacks that are garbage, but it’s alright if his mind feast on it.
Quarrel frequently with your spouse in the presence of your child. In this way, your child will not be so shocked when the home is broken up later.
Give a child all the spending money he wants. Never make him earn his way. Why should he have to struggle as you did?
See that his every sensual desire is gratified. Denial of carnal appetites, especially sexual, is not possible and could lead to harmful mental and emotional frustrations.
Take his side against neighbors, teachers, policeman, etc. They’re all prejudiced against your child. None of them understand him or appreciate him as they should.
When he gets into trouble, shrug your shoulders and apologize for yourself by saying, “I never could do anything with him.”
Second, my father was a man of grace. When I was growing up, it was my responsibility to keep a fire burning in the fireplace during the winter months. Consequently, we had a large woodpile on the back side of our property.
One day, Daddy made a passing remark about how it seemed that we were burning an inordinate amount of wood that year. So he ventured out to the woodpile himself to check things out. That’s when he caught a man, red-handed, stealing our firewood.
I ’ll never forget the way my father handled the matter. He said to the thief, “Sir, you shouldn’t steal from me. That’s wrong, and I could call the police and have you arrested. If you need wood to stay warm, you should just come to me and ask. I’ll not only give you some wood, but we can go and cut some together for you and your family.” Then my father helped fill the man’s wagon with the wood he had been stealing and admonished him, “Don’t steal from me anymore.”
Now that was grace, and my father’s treatment of that fellow made an indelible imprint on my life.
My father helped me to see God as Father. God is a God of law – a God discipline – a God of judgment. But he is also full of grace and mercy.
Each of us has dishonored God, the Father, by a thousand falls, and deeply grieved his heart. We are guilty and deserving of his wrath and condemnation. Nevertheless, he loves us and will wash away every sin if we turn to Christ and trust him as our Savior and Lord.
There was a short period as an adult when I was estranged from my father. I remember the hour I went home with tears and reconciled with him. If you are alienated from a parent, and they are still in this world, you should go quickly and make it right while there’s still time.
More importantly, if you are separated from God, the Father, go swiftly to him while there is still time. Take responsibility for yourself, own your sin, and acknowledge your failure to honor his authority over you. He will receive you gladly.
Happy Father’s Day.