What kind of father are you?
Now, I know that many may be reading this who are not fathers. You may not even be father material. But the truth of the matter is that the principles which should be guiding our conduct as fathers are the same principles which tell anyone what sort of a life he or she should be leading.
Mitch Albom, the author of the international best-seller “Tuesdays With Morrie” not long ago wrote a short article for Father’s Day titled “When Did Fathers Become Expendable?” Albom described what happened on a recent exchange on “The View,” a daytime television show with a massive female audience.
A guest host, an actor named Terry Crews, had floated the idea that “there are some things only a father can give you.” He was deluged by objection, both on social media and on the set. When he said, “A father gives you your name,” co-host Whoopi Goldberg joked, “Like in The Lion King?” When he said “a father gives you your security” and “your confidence,” co-host Jenny McCarthy, who is raising a son on her own, shot back, “I’m a single mother and I guarantee you I can give (my son) all those things.”
The debate went on for several minutes at a high volume with the female hosts paying homage to widows, single moms, and gay couples, and McCarthy hammering at the idea that her “amazing” son needs no man.
A pastor had been pastoring this church for a few years. He was really excited. Things were happening. The church was growing. They had a piece of property. They were going to sell it and buy another piece of property. They were going through the process for that because the original piece of property wasn’t going to be big enough for what was happening at the church. But in the selling of that property the men of the church who were leading that sale were hiding some information to get more of a price. The pastor said to these men, “We need to tell them everything.” Their response? “Preacher, this is business. You don’t understand how to deal with this stuff. You need to look the other way, pastor. This is business. You’re not cut out for this.”
The pastor was devastated. He went to another pastor, a very close friend, and they talked about it and about what he had to do. I remember telling him, “Those men do not fear the Lord, but you better.” So he went and confronted them. He spoke openly and called them to repentance, and he was fired.
A lot of men tend to think that way. Men are prone to compartmentalize their lives as though they’ve got a church life, a family life, and then they’ve got a different life out in the business world. So they have to function based on the real world, they tell themselves. There’s a way they’ve got to handle themselves there that’s different from their church life, different from their family life. A lot of men have a personal life and they tell themselves, “Well, this doesn’t really have anything to do with what I’m doing here as long as I’m providing for my family, as long as I’m allowing them to have the things that they want to have. So their life is compartmentalized; it’s segmented. And over the course of time that compartmentalization, that division of life into secular and spiritual, into work versus family, into business versus church life, has such an impact on others that the culture we live in will make statements similar to “See, my son needs no man in his life.”
In his article, Albom pondered how far we’ve come that on network TV a man suggesting “there are some things only a father can give you” is greeted not with agreeing nods, but with cannon fire. He offered the following analysis: “What does a father bring to the table? I can cite a few things I got from my own: strength, quiet confidence, discipline, responsibility. And love – all displayed differently than my mother, which was fine. My father also taught us how to be a husband, how to respect a woman, when to lead and when to support.
“It’s true, not all men are like my dad.” Albom said. “But plenty are. And fatherhood didn’t suddenly, after thousands of years, lose its value. It may be trendy to dismiss dads as little more than fertilizer, but it’s not true. In fact, it’s pretty foolish. Such is our world, where a comment like Crews’ brings a tsunami. Funny thing is, I remember someone from my childhood frequently saying, ‘He needs his father to do that.’ It was my mother.”
The Bible pinpoints the bottom line for the kind of man and the kind of father which Albom describes. Psalm 111:10 tells us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding.”
Then Psalm 112 goes on to detail the many facets of a man who fears the Lord. The man who puts the Lord first in his life, every moment of every day of his life, that’s what it means to “fear the Lord,” not to be afraid of him, but to have a healthy respect for and true admiration for him in every aspect of living – that man will see his family blessed, his business and work life blessed, his community life blessed, his social life blessed, and his spiritual life blessed. Yes, he will face hardship, but even in sad and bad times, he who fears the Lord will be honored.
What’s true for men is also true for women. God wants each of us to honor Him in every way. And he promises to bless our efforts and our desire.
Won’t you fear Him today?
Chuck Tabor is a religion columnist for The Times-Gazette. He also serves as pastor of Port William UMC.