‘Pater’: Shows Up & Leads

Group Effort for FireAccording to William Bennett, the Latin term for father is “pater,” which means “the one who shows up and takes responsibility.” This comes from a series of recent interviews and pod casts hosted by Family Life highlighting “The Book of Man” by William Bennett.

Today we are ten days from Father’s Day, 2016, and we continue to examine Dad’s role in the family and how he (we) can “step it up” for our spouse’s and children’s benefit.  Today’s quote:

To me, having kids is the ultimate job in life. I want to be most successful at being a good father. — Nick Lachey

Within the introduction to “The Book of Man”, Mr. Bennett states:

The purpose of this book is to explore and explain what it means to be a man. In these pages you will find a variety of sources that offer a coherent, defensible, and appealing notion of manhood. The selections range from ancient to modern, and in sum they carry timeless instruction…For boys to become men they need to be guided through advice, habit, instruction, example, and correction. It is true in all ages.  Someone once characterized the two essential questions Plato posed as: Who teaches the children, and what do we teach them?

For me and my siblings, we had the blessings of a strong family – Dad and Mom loved each other and provided a great example of not only making marriage work through the thick and thin, but to show real joy at spending their lives together.  It may be rarer to find these days, but I’m grateful that I got to witness their commitment and joy first hand — I also believe it was one part of helping me make my marriage work each day, too (of course, I take nothing away from my wife’s support, grace, and compassion at putting up with me!)

From a parenting standpoint, I have to say I learned a lot from my Dad and Mom, but I also learned a lot from direct observation of other families, hearing what coaches, teachers, and spiritual advisors had to say, and by reading the Bible.

Scouting provided a practical learning lab for developing my own technical skills like cooking, camping, surviving, etc. but also for leading others by caring about their needs and helping them overcome obstacles to get things done.Allamuchy winter 2011 017

Since that time in my teen years of getting practice dealing with adults, I’ve begun to recognizing that there are, indeed, some percentage of the male population who’s maturity is nowhere close to their biological age. I have seen the ripple effect of “man-boys” who shun responsibility and “grown up behavior” throughout society (and to some extent the “Church” which is increasingly a building filled with women and children as some sort of proverbial life boat for a sinking ship of culture)

Mr. Bennett summarizes this succinctly:

Men are missing from the lives of women and children today in increasing numbers. Almost half of all babies born in the twenty-first century in the United States are bone out of wedlock…Many women are left on their own to wonder: Where are the good men? Where are the fathers?

Some of the call outs to address these questions include:

  • cultural shifts
  • personal irresponsibility
  • perception of fatherhood as burden instead of priviledge
  • failure to recognize the virtues and rewards of marriage and fatherhood
  • shifting child rearing responsibility to organizations, away from parents (i.e. day care, kindergarten, sunday school, youth group, children’s church, vacation bible school, public or parochial schooling, college in lieu of apprenticing, et.al.)***
  • too little interest in education and intentional preparation of boys for manhood

***NOTE: in themselves, these organizations are not anti-family or necessarily inappropriate tools to be used, thoughtfully, in the process of raising our children, but if we “give over” our control and responsibility, we may have gone too far — throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

CSB imageThis last bullet point is not a new phenomenon, but one that has been around for generations.  While it falls to fathers to prepare sons for manhood, I believe men have to confront one of two stumbling blocks.  Some have to care enough to try (own the responsibility), and others have to overcome their own past failings as a man to realize that they are capable, by God’s grace, to lead their sons to become something greater or nobler than we’ve accomplished along the way (accepting that as imperfect as we may be, we are not absolved of our obligation).

We never fail when we try to do our duty, we always fail when we neglect to do it. — Robert Baden-Powell

IMGP6812 (2)Dads who need some help, guidance or support can find it in a number of places.  Christian Service Brigade is a Men’s Ministry whose goal is “building godly men of today and tomorrow” — they help men grow, while helping boys become prepared and equipped, too.  Of course, there are other programs out there for dads and sons like Trail Life USA, Royal Rangers, Calvin Cadet Corps, and more.  Find a program that fits you, and get involved ASAP.

James Freeman Clarke was a nineteenth-century American preacher and author. One of his essays is found in “The Book of Man” and I’d like to provide some highlights as an encouragement of the critical mission that Dads and Moms must undertake.

Manliness means perfect manhood, as womanliness implies perfect womanhood.  Manliness is the character of a man as he ought to be, as he was meant to be. It expresses the qualities which go to make a perfect man: truth, courage, conscience, freedom, energy, self-possesion, self-control,.  But it does not exclude gentleness, tenderness, compassion, modesty.  A man who is not less manly, but more so, because he is gentle.  In fact our word “gentleman” shows that a typical man must also be a gentle man.

By manly qualities the world is carried forward. The manly spirit shows itself in enterprise, the love of meeting difficulties and overcoming them, the resolution which will not yield , which patiently perseveres, and does not admit the possibility of defeat.  It enjoys hard toil, rejoices in stern labor, is ready to make sacrifices, to suffer and bear disaster patiently. It is generous, giving itself to a good cause not its own; it is public-spirited, devoting itself to the general good with no expectation of reward. It is ready to defend unpopular truth, to stand by those who are wronged, to uphold the weak.  Having resolved, it does not go back,  but holds on, through good report and evil, sure that the right right must win at last. And so it causes truth to prevail and keeps up the standard of a noble purpose in the world.

The opposite of true manliness as described by the author is chilling when we consider recent headlines of young men who take advantage of women instead of protecting them, and fathers who attempt to defend these actions.

But as most things have their counterfeits, so there is false manliness which imitates these great qualities, though at heart it is without them. Instead of strength of will, it is only willful; in place of courage, it has audacity. True manliness does what it believes right; false manliness, does what it chooses to do. Freedom, to one, means following his own convictions of truth; to the other it means thinking as he pleases, and doing as he likes. The one is reverent, the other rude; one is courteous , the other overbearing; one is brave, the other foolhardy; one is modest, the other self-asserting. False manliness is cynical, contemptuous, and tyrannical to inferiors.  The true man has respect for all men, is tender to the sufferer, is modest and kind. The good type uses its strength to maintain good customs, to improve the social condition, to defend order.  The other imagines it to be manly to defy law, to be independent of the opinions of the wise, to sneer at moral obligation, to consider itself superior to the established principles of mankind.

A false notion of manliness leads boys astray.

Further, the author reminds us of our need to cherish women for their strength and G0d given, beautiful design.

True manliness differs also from the false in its attitude to woman.  Its knightly feeling makes it wish to defend her rights, to maintain her claims, to be her protector and advocate.  False manliness wishes to show it superiority by treating women as inferiors. It flatter them, but it does not respect hem. It fear their competition on equal levels, and wishes to keep them confined, not within walls….but behind the more subtle barrier of opinion, prejudice, and suppose feminine aptitudes. True manliness hold out the hand to woman, and says, “Do whatever you are able to do; whatever God meant you to do. Neither you nor I can tell what that is until all artificial barriers are removed, and you have full opportunity to try.”  Manly strength respects womanly purity, sympathy, and grace of heart. And this is the real chivalry of the present hour.

Husbands, Fathers, I urge you to take the next few days to think, pray and recommit yourself to your family.  Father’s day can be about getting a present, but it would mean more to you and your family if you focused on stepping up your game as you head into the next 364 days until Father’s Day 2017.

I want to give my kids the world, but I also want them to appreciate everything, to succeed, to be good people, to enjoy life. This is my most important role. If I fail at this, I fail at everything. — Mark Wahlberg

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Looking Up To Dad

There are eleven days until Father’s Day.  Today’s quote:

We looked up to our father. He still is much greater than us. – Wynton Marsalis

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Walk This Way

Dads (and moms, too) serve as role models and examples.  Our every move, whisper, and reaction is studied and analyzed by our children whether we’re ready for it or not.  It is difficult to be under the microscope, but it is a good test of accountability, too.

Ideally, our children will look up to our example with joy and find ways to emulate us on our “better days” and understand that everyone has “difficult days”, too.

Still, we need to examine our own hearts, motives and habits in order to straighten up and fly right – confessing sin, and asking for help in walking in a worthy way (showing gratitude to God for His grace and mercy):

  • Psalm 26:1-2 (NASB) Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, And I have trusted in the LORD without wavering. Examine me, O LORD, and try me; Test my mind and my heart.
  • Psalm 139:23-24 (NASB) Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any [a]hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.

Resources

Learn how Tony Dungy worked to break bad habits in his own life. http://www.allprodad.com/dungy/how-to-break-bad-habits

Honor Dad, Build A Legacy

There are twelve days until Father’s Day.  Today’s quote reminds us that children look up to their parents, and are instructed to obey and honor them.  How we safeguard that trust invested in us as parents, builds a lasting legacy for our children and their children, too.

I decided in my life that I would do nothing that did not reflect positively on my father’s life. – Sidney Poitier

As dads we carry the trust and respect of our children, and we ought to honor that trust and caring by holding ourselves to the highest standard, but also working hard to mend fences when we make mistakes. We want our children to consistently remember us well.

Resources

Dads and Daughters

father with childrenAlthough, CSB Ministries, and more specifically our Stockade group is focused on boys, young men and adult men, we recognize that the father-daughter relationship is just as critical to helping young ladies navigate the “growing up” process, too.

It’s thirteen days until Father’s day.  Today’s quote:

I am not ashamed to say that no man I ever met was my father’s equal, and I never loved any other man as much. – Hedy Lamarr

My immediate family was blessed with two sons.  I’m proud of both of them, but I missed something by not raising a girl.  While it may be obvious that girls and boys are different, I’ve heard from dads who have been raising girls that they provide their own set of interesting personality changes, challenges and opportunities.

So whether you’re raising sons, daughters or both with your spouse, I’ll just encourage you to keep praying for them, sharing the Word with them and protecting them (even when they’re sure that they don’t need your protection anymore.)

Resources to consider:

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Go have fun with your family

IMGP6935There are 16 days until Father’s Day.  Today’s quote:

A real man loves his wife, and places his family as the most important thing in life. Nothing has brought me more peace and content in life than simply being a good husband and father. — Frank Abagnale

I encourage all Dads to take a moment today to think about how you could invest yourself in your family’s life this weekend. Can you adjust your schedule to surprise them with a picnic, a walk at a local park, tossing the ball with your son, having a chat with your daughter, reading portions of a familiar book together, getting something “extra” done from your wife’s “please fix this” list?

The founder of the Scouting movement, Sir Baden-Powell, offered a lot of great statements that resonate through the past century.  One of my favorites is this:

bshb0…the final and chief test of the scout is the doing of a good turn to somebody every day, quietly and without boasting. This is the proof of the scout. It is practical religion, and a boy honors God best when he helps others most. A boy may wear all the scout uniforms made, all the scout badges ever manufactured, know all the woodcraft, campcraft, scoutcraft and other activities of boy scouts, and yet never be a real boy scout. To be a real boy scout means the doing of a good turn every day with the proper motive and if this be done, the boy has a right to be classed with the great scouts that have been of such service to their country.

What if it said this instead?

…the final and chief test of the Husband/Father is the doing of a good turn to support forest-e-witcraft-quote-a-hundred-years-from-now-it-will-not-matterhis family every day, quietly and without needing to be recognized for each task’s accomplishment. This is the proof of the Husband/Father. It is practical religion, and a man honors God best when he helps others most. A man may wear many hats (of responsibility), win many trophies and accolades, know all the manly skills and critical familial activities, and yet never be a real Husband/Father. To be a real Husband/Father means the doing of sacrificial good turns every day with the proper motive and if this be done, the man has a right to be classed with the great Husband/Fathers that have been of such service to their country.

Certainly not a perfect translation, but it is motivational.  Giving up your time, self-interests and self-focused pursuits in order to serve your family’s needs is what’s father with childrenneeded.  Does this mean you never get to do some of the things you really desire, of course not, but it does mean that sometimes it’s going to hurt a little to make the sacrifice play at a moment in time where you may feel justified in being selfish.  Make the tough call, put your family first and don’t keep score of your perceived injustice at having to give up that golf game, fishing trip, or such.

Invest time in doing things that you and your family enjoy.  It doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated – often the simple things work best.  Experiment, try new stuff, have fun.

Resources:

 

Honoring Your Dad

Austin David Farrell Jr 2

My Dad, Upon Graduation

There are 17 days until Father’s Day. Today’s Quote:

Father’s Day is hopefully a time when the culture says, ‘This is our moment to look at who our men and boys are.’ — Michael Gurian

Who is/was your Dad? Hopefully someone you love and respect, someone who invested himself in your life in a positive way. If he was unable or unwilling to be that positive role model, how have you coped, adjusted and moved on?

IMHO, Fathers can (and typically do) leave a lasting impression which can carry forward for more than one generation. Hopefully, he instilled a favorable legacy, and if not, you can overcome it, adjust and improve your parenting skills and commitment.

God wants us to break the chains of the past and walk forward in His grace and guidance.  Throughout the bible we are instructed on developing strong relationships, and our ability to shape and guide the next generation is of paramount responsibility.  We need not be perfect (I am certainly far from it) but we need to commit to give it our utmost effort.  God can take care of the gaps, hiccups, mistakes and disappointments.

  • Proverbs 23:24, (NLV) “I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.
  • Proverbs 4:11-13, (NIV) “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5, NIV)
  • Hebrews 12:9-10 Living Bible (TLB) “Since we respect our fathers here on earth, though they punish us, should we not all the more cheerfully submit to God’s training so that we can begin really to live? Our earthly fathers trained us for a few brief years, doing the best for us that they knew how, but God’s correction is always right and for our best good, that we may share his holiness.
  • Malachi 4:5-6 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC) “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. And he shall turn and reconcile the hearts of the [estranged] fathers to the [ungodly] children, and the hearts of the [rebellious] children to [the piety of] their fathers [a reconciliation produced by repentance of the ungodly], lest I come and smite the land with a curse and a ban of utter destruction.
Jean Leigh Farrell (Grad) 2

Mom, Upon Graduation

I was blessed to have awesome, God appointed parents.  My Dad and Mom were super committed to their family, and were willing to sacrifice personal wants to build a strong family.  Were they perfect?  Of course not.  Did they do more than “show up”?  Every day.

My parents have gone home to be with the Lord in Heaven and I miss them.  Their legacy shines through me to my children, and my wife and I depend completely on God to “fix our mistakes” and keep our children from suffering when we drop the ball.

As we move closer to “Father’s Day” you may want to evaluate your relationship with your parents with the objective of repentance, repair, and resolution like we see in Malachi 4:5-6.  What do your children know of your parents?  Do they enjoy a healthy relationship with their grandparents (if so, praise God for His provision) or do they miss out on that due to estrangement between you and your parents?

I am no expert on relationships, but there are plenty of folks you can talk to if you’re hurting over a broken relationship beginning with your pastor or spiritual advisor.

Some additional resources you may want to consider from other blogs and such:

[Children] ought to see in their human father a reflection—albeit imperfect—of the heavenly Father in his strength and tenderness, in his wrath and mercy, in his exaltation and condescension, in his surpassing wisdom and patient guidance. The task of every human father is to be for his children an image of the Father in heaven.John Piper

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Father’s Day: Time for A Tune-Up?

normanrockwellfishingtripThere are 18 days until Father’s Day. Today’s quote about fathers:

A good father believes that he does wisely to encourage enterprise, productive skill, prudent self-denial, and judicious expenditure on the part of his son. — William Graham Sumner

So often we see stereotyped images for Father’s day focused on a cheesy tie delivered over a meal and “dad” mustering his most genuine show of appreciation for the gift.

Of course, dads love to be appreciated and acknowledged for their role in supporting the family (hopefully well beyond delivering a paycheck to the bank weekly); however, it would be good if we could elevate or re-envision the holiday as a time for dads to:

  • reconnect with wife – setting a vision or plan for the coming year (get on the same page with priorities for each child, keeping the marriage healthy, etc.)
  • reconnect with each child – refreshing their intimate understanding of the child’s priorities, friends, interests, dreams and concerns for the coming school year.
  • commit to becoming more active in a men’s ministry or bible study at church so that they find accountability partners, learn more about their distinctive role as husband and father, etc.
  • develop (or revise) their own personal growth plan – highlighting how to integrate small groups, professional conferences, reading assignments, church participation, etc. to become stronger in their daily performance and their walk with God.
  • consider a stretch goal to become more involved in a ministry to support boys/girls in their church or neighborhood (i.e. getting involved in supporting CSB or a similar program)

What about work and professional development?  A man’s daily vocational enterprise is norman-rockwellreading to childrenconstantly on his mind and under development and growth/expansion. However, these other areas get relegated to a dark corner of his mind over time.  Whereas his manager/supervisor at work is proactively pushing him to improve his game “on the job“, each dad needs to build a ring of coaches who will urge him to sharpen his game when it comes to “off the job” items like personal spiritual growth, spousal relationship, nurturing and mentoring of children and healthy fellowship and learning through active participation in church functions.  Sometimes that’s his wife’s role (as primary coach/cheerleader), but it could also include a pastor, brother, bowling buddy, etc. to augment that focus.

Fire safety professionals urge us to mark one special day on the calendar when we replace all the smoke alarm batteries in our home — this could be Christmas Day, our Wedding Anniversary or a Birthday.  Why not make Father’s day a special day for tuning up Dad’s focus on his relationships?

Summary

normanrockwellfatherreadingtodaughterFor me, it’s not about getting a gift, it’s about renewing my true vocational calling to care for and lead my family with absolute love and concern for their welfare. I’m not perfect in that calling, but Father’s day reminds me of my own Heavenly Father’s faithfulness and hearty supply of grace.  I don’t fail when trying to do my duty – I only fail when I ignore my duties.  When I take at least one day a year to recharge and re-vision the direction of the family, I’m on track to build a healthy legacy of service to my wife and children.

Additional Resources to Investigate

As we approach Father’s Day, 2016, I’ll provide links to other blog articles (or books, ministry sites, etc.) that may be helpful depending on your family’s stage in life.

  • Backup files 042Here’s a link to an article on creative ways for dads to spend time with their toddlers (click here).
  • A story book you might consider reading to your younger children….The Children’s Book of Virtues by William J. Bennett —

With selections from The Book of Virtues, from Aesop and Robert Frost to George Washington’s life as well as Native American and African folklore, The Children’s Book of Virtues brings together timeless stories and poems from around the world. The stories have been chosen especially for a young audience to help parents introduce to their children the essentials of good character: Courage, Perseverance, Responsibility, Work, Self-discipline, Compassion, Faith, Honesty, Loyalty, and Friendship.

  • For men who are looking to challenge themselves with personal growth, you might consider another book by William J. Bennett — The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood

Using profiles, stories, letters, poems, essays, historical vignettes, and myths to bring his subject to life, The Book of Man defines what a man should be, how he should live, and to what he should aspire in several key areas of life: war, work, leisure, and more. “Whether we take up the sword, the plow, the ball, the gavel, our children, or our Bibles,” says Bennett, “we must always do it like the men we are called to be.

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