"Fathers Getting The Job Done"
One of the most sobering events of life for me was becoming a father. There is obvious responsibility that goes with marriage, but marriage is also about partnership and sharing life's ventures. However, with a child, there is a weight of responsibility like nothing else in life. A parent has one chance to shape a life which will affect what happens for generations as well as an eternal destiny.
Unfortunately many homes in America are suffering from the phantom father. A man is present who may have fathered the child or children, but is not positively involved in the welfare of the home or children. Likewise, there are far too many homes where men have fathered children and simply walked away from the family. It is without debate that fathering a child does not make a man a father. Statistics over the past 30 years tell a sad story of what is happening to children in homes where there is no father. Some of these are a "550% increase in violent crime, 400% increase in illegitimate births, 200% increase in teen pregnancies and a 300% increase in teen suicide. More that 70% of all juveniles in state reform institutions come from fatherless homes." Homes in America are not so much in need of a man, but in desperate need of men who are fathers.
There is a moving story in the ministry of Jesus about an outstanding father. You can find it in the fifth chapter of Mark's Gospel. It is about a man named Jairus who had a seriously ill daughter. He provides some of the best lessons on fatherhood you will ever find. He did three things incredibly well. If all of us fathers sought to meet these three needs in our families, I can only imagine how much better the homes of our nation and the children in them would be.
First, Jairus attended to the physical needs of his family. It sounds so simple, yet in many families men selfishly absorb needed resources or doesn't work to provide for his family. It is sad to see a family who does not have enough food to eat or adequate clothing or housing because the father has squandered away the family's money. It is also sad to see families who have the top of the line in everything at the cost of the father being constantly away from the home working to pay for them. Now, I know that it is nice to have the top line in things, all the way from designer clothes to a new automobile. But as nice as that is, it is necessary that a man spends time with your family. His family needs to live in a strong, vibrant, and sustaining relationship with him.
One day Jairus' twelve-year-old daughter became ill. When illness strikes our children, our hearts ache. We want to take their illness for them. As Jairus realized that his daughter lay dying, he could have sat down and wept away the hours. But Jairus was a father who strove to meet the needs of his family, and that sent him out in search of Jesus, the healer. Jairus' foremost desire was that his daughter be healed.
Second, Jairus met the emotional needs in the crisis surrounding their family. Many fathers have accepted the macho image which our society views as the manly ideal. Our families need an image of a father who has a kind and gentle spirit more than they need macho men. This talk of having a kind and gentle spirit is by no means idle talk. The prophet Micah declared to Israel that God requires people to be lovers of mercy and to learn to walk humbly before God. (Micah 6:8)
Jairus was a man who displayed a kind and gentle spirit. As Jesus began to accompany Jairus to his home and his sick daughter, their journey was interrupted. A large crowd slowed their journey, but Jairus did not act improperly to the crowd. He displayed a kind spirit. As they journeyed, a woman who was sick touched the hem of the robe of Jesus in order that she might be healed. As Jesus stopped His journey so that he could find out who had touched His garment, Jairus did not voice any impatience; he did not act in any way other than a gentle way. Through all of this, Jairus exhibited a kind and gentle spirit, a spirit worthy of imitation.
Fathers must constantly display a kind and gentle spirit for our families to follow. Frustrations and anxieties well up occasionally in virtually all of us men. However, how we handle them is the real test of our faith and a powerful witness to our children. Most children are more sensitive to their parent's stress than parents realize. That's why it is so urgent that parents, and especially fathers, learn to handle emotions properly. Without this, every other member of the family suffers anxiety and insecurity. In this day when the pressures of society try to force us to see others as objects and enemies, our families need an image of emotional health to follow.
Third, Jairus met the spiritual needs of his family. Jairus was a man who displayed great spiritual faith. His little 12 year-old girl lay dying and he went forth to seek Jesus, the healer, because he believed that Jesus could heal his precious daughter. Jairus did a very difficult thing. He committed his daughter's life to Jesus. When our children become ill, we stand ready to do anything, to perform any task to ensure their healing.
Some people might say that his action was that of a desperate man, that he had no other place to turn except to Jesus. I would say that he turned to Jesus because he believed that Jesus could heal his daughter that Jesus could restore her health. Jairus was a man who had faith.
The pressures of our society seek to destroy the spiritual values of our families. Our families need strong examples of spiritual faith to follow. No one is more significant in the family than the father in passing on strong spiritual values.
Some time ago I saw these rather startling observations. "Research has revealed that if a child is the first person in a household to become a Christian, there is a 3.5 % probability that everyone else in the household will become Christians. Obviously this is not very high at all. If the mother is the first to become a Christian, the percent goes up and 17% of the homes will see the remainder of its members trust Christ. But if the father is first, there is a 93% probability that everyone else in the household will follow."
Fathers, if you want to get the job done, pay attention to the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of your family. There are no shortcuts. There is no one else the Lord will look to one day for an accountability of influence on your children more than you. Your children will leave home one day. Will they be prepared to be part of a healthy family and contributing member of society? Even more importantly, will they be prepared for eternity?
It's not easy being a good father, but it's certainly not impossible. It takes hard work, hard praying, and making hard decisions. You can't do it alone. God doesn't expect you to. God doesn't want you to. Don't leave Him out of your adventure in fatherhood.