I was blessed to have recently celebrated an amazing Father’s Day with Dana and our sons. It was a special time, especially when reading the beautiful cards that I received. When asking myself just what the keys to being a “Good Father” I came up with these thoughts.
They challenge. When the challenge comes from dad we listen seriously. We know its being said with a loving concern.
They inspire. Great dads want better for their children than they achieved, so they are always pushing us beyond what we think we can do. (Sometimes they push too hard, but this, too, is an error of love.)
They build. Maybe it’s the midnight toy-factory production, the night before scinence projects or the ongoing project which provides for bonding and teaching times. (And, occasionally a lesson or two in refining patience.) But, more than anything, great dads build elements of character which last a lifetime.
They provide. As best they can, good dads want their children to have what they need to be happy and successful in this world. And, there is a constant tension for good dads between working hard to provide and being there for the ones for whom they are providing.
They encourage. Good dads stand on the sidelines ready to cheer you to victory. Just when you think you can’t go on anymore, you’ll hear a voice from dad, “You’ve got this!” If whispered in sincerity and love that is a whisper which can last a lifetime
They discipline. A good father is not afraid to do what is hard to achieve what is best. No discipline is easy, but when lovingly given, with purpose and intentionality, it makes all of us better.
They listen. The ears of a dad are attentive to the questions, concerns and actions of his children – also knowing what isn’t being said may be just as important as what’s said.
They counsel. Wisdom comes with time and experience. Dads sometime grow up fast when the reality of their little one comes into the world – and, then the child begins to grow up into their own person. Dads don’t always know what to say, but often what they say will only be realized as true years after they said it.
They validate. There is something powerful about the words of affirmation from a dad. When you know you have his confidence you can more assuredly face whatever the world brings.
They play. They wrestle. They tease. They dress up and have tea parties. They laugh. They make up funny songs and – just when nothing seems exciting about the day – they entertain. (And, no one else would think it’s entertaining, but we do. Just don’t do it when our friends our here, dad.)
They model. A good dad walks his talk and leaves an easy-to-follow trail. And, children are watching closely.
They pray. Knowing they don’t have all the answers, a good dad carries his concern’s and the concerns of his family, to the One who has all the answers. A dad on his knees is a dad with confidence and assurance – from his Dad.
They teach. Good dads find those nuggets of life where time presents itself a teachable moment. They instill godly principles and values into their children by what they intentionally say and do. They are grounded in truth.
They strengthen. When a child is wondering if they are strong enough – or if they have what it takes – enter in a good dad to let the child borrow from his strength.
They endure. Through the good seasons and the bad, good dads stand the test of time. When knocked down they get up, dust off, and try again. They don’t make excuses. They move forward for the good of others (and themselves.)
They forgive. This is hard for many men, and it may take them time to process, but good dads work to be at peace with their children. They extend grace. They finish well, attempting to right the wrongs done in the past whenever possible.
They believe. Good dads believe in the best of situations. The world can’t discourage them for long. Their faith helps them overcome evil with good.
They lead. Good dads are helping their children get somewhere in life. They help them navigate through the days of uncertainty and fear. (That’s what leaders do – and good dads are leaders.)
They protect. Whether from the things which (appear to) make noises at night or the evils of this world invading the family, good dads stand strong against whatever threatens the family.
They love. Because love really is the greater gift. And, good dads love well. Love never ends.