Wisdom on fatherhood from an unlikely source

I took some time the other day to do some major dissertation work, and spent a lot of time listening to the same song on repeat on Spotify. I’d like to say that it was a passionate worship song, but it wasn’t. No, I was listening to the 90s Alternative music channel and the song was by a group called Everclear. What struck me through the song was how powerful its message was, and how strong the evidence is for understanding common grace. In the midst of a secular song is a word for dads. I’m including the lyrics here for you to read. 

Father of mine
Tell me where have you been
You know I just closed my eyes
My whole world disappeared
Father of mine
Take me back to the day
When I was still your golden boy
Back before you went away
I remember the blue skies, walking the block
I loved it when you held me high
I loved to hear you talk
You would take me to the movie
You would take me to the beach
Take me to a place inside that is so hard to reach
Father of mine
Tell me where did you go
You had the world inside your hand
But you did not seem to know
Father of mine
Tell me what do you see
When you look back at your wasted life and you don’t see me
I was ten years old 
Doing all that i could
It wasn’t easy for me to be a scared white boy in a black neighborhood
Sometimes you would send me a birthday card
With a five dollar bill
I never understood you then and I guess I never will
Daddy gave me a name
My dad he gave me a name
Then he walked away
Daddy gave me a name
Then he walked away
My dad gave me a name
Father of mine
Tell me where have you been
I just closed my eyes
And the world disappeared
Father of mine
Tell me how do you sleep
With the children you abandoned
And the wife I saw you beat
I will never be safe
I will never be sane
I will always be weird inside
I will always be lame
Now I am a grown man
With a child of my own
And I swear I’m not going to let her know
All the pain I have known

There is a reason why the Bible puts so much emphasis on the role of fathers in not only leading the family but also in the spiritual formation of children. Fathers are that important. In reading over the household passages of Deuteronomy 6, Ephesians 6, and Psalm 78, fathers are the direct recipients of the teaching. The pattern of Scripture is for fathers to model the love of Christ for the Church in the selfless, providing, sacrificial, and elevating love that he displays to his wife. Before the watching world but more so before the watching eyes of his children, a man is to model Jesus so that his children will love Him and him. He does this by teaching his children and bringing them up in the fear and discipline of the Lord, pointing his children to Jesus for their only hope and salvation.

Fatherhood is such a big deal that even outside the prescription of Scripture, the importance is recognized. John Mayer sang that fathers “Fathers, be good to your daughters, Daughters will love like you do.” President Obama launched a whole national conversation on the importance of fatherhood, where he says this “We all know the difference that responsible, committed fathers like these guys can make in the life of a child. Fathers are our first teachers and coaches. They’re our mentors and role models. They set examples of success and push us to succeed ourselves – encouraging us when we’re struggling; loving us even when we disappoint them; standing by us when no one else will… And when fathers are absent – when they abandon their responsibility to their kids – we know the damage that does to our families. Children who grow up without a father are more likely to drop out of school and wind up in prison. They’re more likely to have substance abuse problems, run away from home, and become teenage parents themselves.”

 Here’s a quote from a 2006 study from childwelfare.gov: “Even from birth, children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections.”

Dads, do you consider the incredible weight you bear? Do you recognize how crucial you are to your child’s life? Do you know what power you have to build up or absolutely crush your child? It is a power that even a mother does not have. Please do not take it lightly, but know that in your own strength you cannot do it alone. Jesus offers these words as comfort for us dads as we watch our children sleep and wonder how or why we can do this task. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

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