A couple years ago my dad wrote a article for his church's newsletter. After reading it again recently I tried convincing him to start his own blog. It was a no go. I suppose you can't teach an old dog new tricks after all! Ha ha, Just kidding Dad! Anyways, this Father's Day I thought I would post his article for all of you readers out there. Happy Fathers Day Dadio!!!
Further to last month’s article, I continue with the promise of men committing themselves to building strong families.
Twenty or so years ago I was under the impression that “Fathers’ Day” was a day for my children to put me on a pedestal, shower me with gifts and praise, and a day where I could do as I please. As I’ve matured (no, I’ll never admit to having grown up!) my view on the “day” has changed considerably. God has blessed me with children and with that blessing comes incredible responsibility and obligations that are very clearly set out in the bible.(Eph 6:4, check your concordance for others). Though I will always take the presents (told you I haven’t grown up), I now view that day as a time to do a self-performance appraisal on how good a father I’ve been over the past year. The standards set are high.
I want to talk to you men about one of the most important aspects of our relationships with our children; that would be your role as an encourager. Are you more pessimistic than optimistic; more discouraging than encouraging; more focused on correcting behavior than supporting proper behavior? The impact of your actions as a role model and character shaper can be immense in this area.
Encouragement is vital for life and relationships. It revives and refreshes, renews and gives strength. It’s been compared to high-grade fuel; it takes the “knock” out of life. It brings hope, strength and growth in people’s lives. Heb 3:13 states “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (also see Heb 10:24-25) Those closest to us crave our unconditional approval and encouragement. Dr. Barry Braselton (children’s’ hospital in Boston) says, “that the bond between father and child is one of the most powerful and complex. We may look to our mothers for unconditional love, however, we often seek to validate our existence through our fathers.”
We discourage others in at least 4 main ways; curses, gossip, hurtful criticism and slander.
We utter curses through name calling (stupid, idiot, loser, …), negative nicknames, saying he/she is lazy, untrustworthy and comparative comments like ‘Why aren’t you like __”. Consistently used, the receiver will believe what is being said and he/she will live out what they are being told. Webster’s defines a curse as “a calling on God to send evil or injury down on some person or thing.” We need to release the person from the curse by immediately asking the person for forgiveness and seeking forgiveness from God by confessing it.
Gossip is generally designed to hurt/injure the reputation of the person being spoken about. It is sin and what most people don’t realize is that it damages the gossiper’s reputation as well. In Christian circles we can see gossip passed through ways such as, “Would you join me in prayer for __”
Hurtful destructive criticism tears down a person; it does not build them up. Potshots from the sidelines create unrest and unhappiness in those around you. Constructive criticism is delivered directly, in love and designed to build up and encourage. If you are a critical negative person life will treat you in kind. On the other hand, if you have the joy of the Lord, the joy you share with others will be returned to you.
We slander others through complaining about them; carrying stories that make others look bad, judging their motives, and speak against them by tearing them down rather than building them up. `James (probably my favorite book) 4:11 says “Brothers do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it……. There is only one lawgiver and judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?”
Our cursing, gossip, criticism and slander will bring untold misery to the lives of those we want to malign and speaking against others will come home to roost. Look up what Mathew 7 has to say about what happens to those who judge others.
To this point I’ve not referenced my principle bible reference: James 3. I’ll just give you parts of it but please read it and pray it. “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” Paraphrasing; ‘we can tame all the animals but not the tongue’ and ‘we praise God and curse man with the same tongue.’
When we say mean hurtful things about others we are saying them about the Lord. Mathew 25:40 “….. whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” is usually referred to in the context of doing good, however, the negative also applies. Next time you find yourself about ready to curse, criticize or slander someone, picture Jesus.
Learn to discipline your tongue and never speak when angry. Pastor “R” gave you some biblical references for this so I’ll give you a couple of secular comments; “Never break the silence unless you can improve on it.” And “Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.”
Back to Father’s Day. No one knows your tongue better than those closest to you. Do you talk too much? Do you pass along choice things about others? Do you have a sharp critical tongue? Are people, your wife, your children, built up and healed or hurt and crushed by your words? Are you teaching your sons (mothers – your daughters) to respect women (men) in the way you talk and treat your wife (husband)? Are you setting them straight if they show disrespect for their mothers? What example are you setting? Are you teaching your children to; hurt or heal, slander or serve, break down or build up, or curse or bless?
My daughter, Meaghan, was born with crossed eyes. She required corrective surgery and still wears very heavy corrective lens. When she was young we would spend hours outside looking at the stars and talking about traveling to the planets and galaxies. She dreamed for several years of being an astronaut. In grade 7 Meaghan’s class was studying astronomy and she shared her desire to be an astronaut and visit the stars. The teacher laughed at her and told her astronauts required perfect vision and with her eyes her desire was hopeless. After that day, Meaghan lost all desire to be an astronaut or to spend time watching the stars. I was never able to undo the damage done by those words issued by that teacher.
Other references to pray about; Prov 18:21, Mathew 18, Mathew 7, and 1Peter3:8-12
The Promise Keepers Conference is the two days before Father’s Day. It is a conference sponsored by PK but run by God. You will come back a better Christian, a better husband and a better father. Tell God why you can’t go. Mathew 26:40-41.