This Sunday is Father’s Day. There will be thousands of Father’s Day messages preached all across America. My plan for Sunday is to take a different approach to the Father’s Day message, than I have in the past.
A dear friend told me recently that it seemed that every Mother’s Day the message was about how wonderful our Mother’s are, and how we should all learn to treat them better. Then came the stinger. He said that typically Father’s Day messages (including mine) are about how Fathers need to be better Fathers and about how they should improve their lives. The more I think about it, the more I believe he is right. I feel that I owe an apology to the Fathers who have heard me preach on Father’s Day.
It is not popular being a Father in our time. Father’s seem to always get a bad rap (including, apparently in many pulpits across the country). Have you noticed how dads on TV are often portrayed as being pitiful, inept, and sorry? Even professional athletes say hi to “mom,” yet hardly ever speak to “dad!” I am not saying that moms should not receive this praise and adoration, only that there are many dads in the world who should receive more praise than they get.
So, this Sunday my message will be entitled, “Lessons From Dad.” If you would like to help me write this week's message please feel free to tell me about some of the good life lessons you learned from you dad. I would love to hear from you. With a heart filled with gratitude to good dads (and particularly to my dad) here is a sampling of the lessons my dad taught me.
THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD THEREFORE WE SHOULD OBEY IT. My dad believed (and still does) that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, perfect, and complete Word of God. He taught us to love God’s Word. I vividly recall how his sermons were always engulfed in the Word. He quoted a lot of scriptures, however he always made application of the scripture to our lives. He taught us that we would be judged ultimately by scripture (John 12:48); therefore we should obey all of God’s Word. I remember growing up thinking that dad didn’t just know the Bible; it was the basis of how he lived his life.
WE SHOULD ALWAYS PUT THE LORD FIRST. There were never any questions in our home about who was first in our lives. The words of our Savior recorded in Matthew 6:33 were the basis for everything we did. There were three boys and one girl in our home. We all loved sports and we played every sport that you could play. We learned quickly that the Lord and His Church would always come before our sporting events.
Many times we would come to Bible study on Wednesday night dressed in our team uniform because we had been pulled out of a game so we could make it in time, or we would leave Bible study and get to a game late. Our worship to God, and our Bible study always received priority over our school studies. The work of the Lord was always put before any school or secular activities.
EVERY PERSON IS SPECIAL AND DESRVES TO BE LOVED, BECAUSE THEY ARE CREATED IN THE IMAGE OF GOD. Our dad taught us the importance and value of every person. I can vividly recall dad taking time to speak with or visit with people that did not seem to matter to others. He would take time to visit in the home of people who were destitute. He would help people who were suffering and going through difficult times. He would speak in a kind way to anyone, anywhere. Dad taught us that the color of a person’s skin, their standing in the community, their ability to give to the church, their educational degrees, or their business clout did not matter. What mattered most was that they were created in God’s image, therefore they were important.
EVERY INDIVIDUAL HAS A SOUL THAT WILL LAST FOREVER; THEREFORE WE SHOULD HELP THEM PREPARE FOR ETERNITY. Perhaps more than anything else dad taught us the value of each individual’s soul. He would talk to anyone about Jesus. He taught us that everyone is a sinner (Romans 3:23) and that everyone will stand before God in judgment (Hebrews 9:27). He taught us that everyone needs Jesus. I can remember going with dad into homes that had only a dirt floor to show them the old Jule Miller filmstrips (the set with the old record player that dinged to let you know it was time to manually move to the next frame!) Dad’s greatest attribute (among many) has always been his desire to help others find their way to heaven.
THE VALUE OF HARD WORK. My dad learned the value of working hard from his father. Dad tells the story about a time that someone came to our home when I was a small boy and knocked on our door. This sales person asked me if my dad was at work. I responded by saying, “my dad doesn’t work, he is a preacher!” As I grew older and watched dad I learned just how untrue that was. In addition I have learned it in my own life. Dad believed that working hard was something that every Christian should do.
THE IMPORTANCE OF RESPECTING YOUR ELDERS. My thought here is primarily about the leaders in the church, but includes everyone who is older. I never once heard my dad say one unkind word about a shepherd in the church. Come to think about it, I never heard him speak an unkind word about anyone. Dad believed that he worked under the authority of God’s shepherds and he has always had a great deal of respect for them. Many times in recent years, I have been thankful for the times that dad allowed us to be associated with older preachers, as well as other older Christians whose lives were filled with wisdom that could help us along the way. The wise man said a long time ago, “A grey head is a crown of glory, it is found in the way of righteousness.” (Proverbs 16:31)
Dad, I haven’t said it enough through the years, but allow me to say it now. Thank you for the valuable life lessons you have taught me (and continue to teach me even now). Thank you most of all for teaching me to show the Love of Jesus to others. I am eternally thankful to you and I love you dearly.
Dear Father, thank you for strong, Godly fathers. Thank you for the lessons they teach us on a regular basis. Thank you for allowing us to be instructed by men who love You and who have a strong desire to help us be like You. Thank You, dear God, for men who allow the light of Jesus to shine through them. Help us to emulate the qualities that are a part of their lives. Help us to draw on their experience and their wisdom. Thank You, for being the perfect Father, the one who loves us most! Thank You for all that You continually do to help us be closer to You.