Today would be my father's 90th birthday. Dad was born on June 13, 1924. Friends kidded him all his life about being born on a Friday the 13th. He died when I was in college, and I especially miss him on Father's Day. If he were alive today, I would thank him for teaching me that family is my highest privilege and responsibility, and for loving us so unconditionally.
My dad would have agreed with the 75 percent of fathers who say that being adad is their most important job. Sixty-one percent say they are more involved with their children than their father was with them. According to Pew Research Center, the amount of time fathers spend on childcare and housework has grown from 6.5 hours a week in 1965 to 17 hours in 2011. This is progress.
Where we need to make more progress is on the spiritual front. Christianity was founded by a man and 12 male disciples. Men were engaged in the faith from its inception. But during the 19th century and the industrial revolution, more men began working in mines, mills and factories far from their home and church. Women stayed behind and began doing most of the church work. Over time, church became a place for women where men attended on Sunday morning if at all.
Today, only one out of six men goes to church. In a typical church service, only 39 percent are men. Many who do attend find worship services boring and irrelevant. It's a shame that more men don't connect with faith and church, because churchgoers are more likely to express a high level of satisfaction with life.
Worship attendance is the most important predictor of marital stability: those who attend worship are 25-50% less likely to divorce than those who don't. Religious involvement helps men be more engaged husbands and fathers. And teenagers who have religious fathers are more likely to say they enjoy spending time with them.
Our God is a Father. He wants to help us be the best fathers we can be. Here's what I've discovered over 28 years of parenting: I am a better father when I am walking close to God. I need the "fruit of the Spirit" for my family, God's love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). I need to be a man of God who models consistent integrity and grace. And I can be none of these things unless the Holy Spirit is shaping me into the character of Christ.
For many in our culture, God is a counselor whose advice we follow when we wish, rather than a King whose orders we must obey. God is my king to the degree that I obey him even when I don't understand his commands or want to follow them. When my Father is my King, I am the best father to my sons. When he's not, I'm not.
If you're a father, be encouraged today. The Creator has given you the priceless privilege of joining him in parenting the life he has entrusted to your care. As you trust and follow, he will lead and bless.
One night a father heard his son pray, "Dear God, make me the kind of man my Daddy is." Later that night, the father prayed, "Dear God, make me the kind of man my son wants me to be." Will you make his prayer yours?
Publication date: June 13, 2014