"I'm a man but I can change, if I have to, I guess." The man's pledge off the Red Green show says a lot about how we see men and fathers in society today. Men, if you are a bit confused about what is expected of you take courage that you are not alone. Society seems to be confused about a lot of things these days. They can't even decide what is a male or female so the fact that men are being kicked to the curb should not surprise us.
It has already been noted by many commentators that fathers are the most picked on position and relationship in society today. We are under attack in sitcoms, children's television shows, adult shows, novels and anywhere else possible. Moms are the intelligent super-hero-like character, with great wisdom; the protector of the family. Dads are portrayed as bumbling idiots who typify the great failings in a family, the one who usually leads them on misadventures. Even the beloved Berenstain Bears dad is the idiot and the mom is the rescuer. If kids are told this enough times guess what they are going to grow up believing.
It isn't just how we are portrayed but what is expected of us. Dads used to be the providers and protectors of the family. Together with mom they formed an incredible team, raising a balanced family. I know, it sounds like I am going back to the 50's and painting an ideal picture. There have always been imperfections, imbalances and abuses but nothing compared to today. The one thing everyone needs to accept is that dads play an important role in the family and need to be encouraged to fulfill that role. If we keep portraying poor dads, lowering our expectations, then that is exactly what will be produced.
What makes a good dad? One who portrays the character of Jesus in his daily living, in public as well as private. The foundation of a good father should be found in Matthew 22:
“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’" (v. 38-39)
The greatest thing a father can do for his children is teach and then demonstrate what the love of Jesus looks like. Anyone can get mad and take vengeance. Any father can punish his children. But it takes a real man of God to love as Jesus loves:
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
This kind of selfless love can only come from a heart that is surrendered and dedicated to Jesus. It is only possible in a heart where the Holy Spirit has been given the freedom to work. It is only found in a heart where the owner knows and lives the truth that he has been crucified with Christ and no longer lives but Christ lives in him.
O praise God that we are nor reliant on this confused society to define the role of a father. Thankfully we have the example of our heavenly Father who defends, protects, and sacrifices for those he loves. Thankfully we have the Holy Spirit to enable us to be the dads our children deserve even when we mess up from time to time. Thankfully ours is not a selfish love that depends on our children loving us. Yes, even in the face of rebellion from our children, we give ourselves to them, never give up on them, and long to see them safe, healthy and mature.
To the good dads, I salute you sirs for keeping your head when all around you people are losing theirs. Thank you for the great example you set in the face of the pressure of our society to change you. I encourage you to go deeper with Jesus so you can resist the storm.
To the failing dads, I say, it is never too late. With Jesus on your side you can turn this ship around and sail into the waters where you family desperately needs you to be. With Jesus your heart can be transformed from self-focused love to self-sacrificing love.
And too all the dad haters out there, I say, we love you anyway and you need us, even if you don't realize it.
May Yahweh bless all the dads today with the wisdom to know how important they are and what their role truly is in their family.