Hospice of Yancey County
“Looking Back at a Good Harvest”
A Father’s Father
By Jacob Willis
“Father to the fatherless, defender of widows – this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families; He sets the prisoners free and gives them joy. But He makes the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.” (Psalm 68:5-6)
Many times during the life of a Father you may feel that your contribution is misunderstood, at best, and at worst just not appreciated. Sometimes it is easy to lose sight of the goal of Fatherhood, which is to raise children of a particular kind.
When we say a particular kind, we are specifically meaning Christ like. Children who become contributors to society by their: love, meekness, generosity, kindness, and compassion. People of a peculiar kind as Peter says to the church in 1 Peter 2:9 (KJV) 9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. This is the basis for Fatherhood, to mold children into the image of God. Therefore, by the power of God’s Spirit and the steady hand of an earthly Father, we equip our children for the adventure that is life. This is truly no small task, and as we embark on the rearing of children we need God’s help. Psalm 68: (5-6) points to three traits of a successful Father.
A successful Father is one who loves unconditionally. Successful Fathers love no matter what. They love their children not based on performance, but based on choice. When the child fails (and they will) a successful Father nurtures and admonishes Ephesians 6:4. Nurture means to gently show the way (with an attitude of love), admonish means to mildly rebuke. It can be hard to find balance between the two, but when you learn not to take the offense of your child personally, but rather view it as a teaching opportunity, then you are behaving like God. God is a Father to the Fatherless. In other words he is choosing to love, and that is the deepest kind of love, which has the potential for the deepest impact. His love never fails. He loves us no matter what.
A successful Father liberates His children. He “sets the prisoners free”. How do I accomplish that as a Father? When I love them apart from their performance it sets them free. The greatest thing a Father can do for a child is believe in them. Believe in them even when they are messing up, from the time they are young till they are old. We need to believe in our children and God’s plan for their lives. Many times as parents we can circumvent God’s plan for our kids; by pushing them to be something they are not, by holding them back because we are afraid they will fail (embarrassing us or them), and lastly by being critical of their success. As a Father we need to be encouragers. We need to be the biggest fan of our kids there is. We need to be supportive of their goals even when we don’t like them. We need to set them free. Free to live apart from our own skewed expectations. Free to potentially fail, because my Dad will love me no matter what.
A successful Father teaches his kids about joy. Joy is different than happiness. Joy isn’t dependent on people, circumstances, or things. Joy can be found in example. Here is where the rubber meets the road in parenting, so to speak. If my kids see me complaining about work, their Mother, the yard work, or Pastors and leaders; chances are they won’t become positive joyous people. When we are joyous apart from outcomes we demonstrate to our children the sovereignty of God. We teach them that our hope isn’t in paychecks and people, but in God. When they grow up hopefully they say, “Dad trusted God for his joy and peace”. Being a Godly example of sacrificial love works wonders in the lives of children.
A successful Father is a defender of what is right. In this case the widow. It is very important in our society to teach boys, especially, how to treat women. It is the Father’s responsibility to teach His son how to protect marginalized people. It is important children see them valued. A Father who protects the marginalized leaves a great legacy for His children. In every man there is a hero, be that guy for your kids.
Finally, what can be said to the Dad who is in the trenches, worn out, and feeling devalued? Yancey Hospice gives me a unique opportunity to observe people at the end of life and I want to leave you with these final observations. Those teenagers do grow up. It may seem that they don’t hear a word you say, but soon they will be hanging on your every word. You will go from being dumb to brilliant, almost overnight. Also, those babies won’t need you forever. It may seem that you don’t get sleep and you are secondary to this new one, but they will grow up. In fact they grow up too fast and they are gone. This, by the way is your goal. You want your child to grow into a leader and defender of the right. The greatest gift is a dying Father surrounded by the fruits of His labor, Godly children.
Jacob Willis is an ordained pastor and Bereavement Coordinator for Yancey County Hospice. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.