My dad. My husband. Two of my sons. Maybe the third son, one of these days. My son-in-law. My pastor, who has four sons. Countless friends down through the years whose children were, appropriately, third: God first, wife second, then children.
(This is the best picture I have of my dad. I think he was younger than I am now, somewhere in his early 60’s)
That’s the right order, you know. I feel sorry for couples who lose sight of that when the first baby arrives and suddenly the spotlight gets shifted to that bundle of energy and never quite gets shifted back to where it belongs. When the children come second, or even first, the marriage is going to be in trouble.
I frequently remind the couples who come to my office that when the kids are all gone, they’re going to be left with each other. Sometimes they get kind of excited about that. Other times, one or both will look at me in utter dismay. They have nothing to talk about but the kids. Nothing to do but attend the kids’ events. Nothing to plan for but what the kids want, need, or are doing.
That’s bad for the marriage, and believe me, it’s bad for the kids. And it’s bad for each individual’s relationship to the Lord.
I always knew that my dad put my mom ahead of us kids. Never seemed strange to me. I also knew that he put God ahead of all of it. He was a pastor, and sometimes he got called and had to leave during the dinner hour. That was unusual, though, because he made sure the people in the church knew that it was important to us that we all eat together in the evening.
Our family was far from perfect. There were five of us, all strong-minded and opinionated and willing to speak up–carefully–in a good discussion. My dad tolerated no disrespect, but he enjoyed it when we could discuss history and politics with him intelligently. He enjoyed talking about the Bible with us, too.
Some say that women tend to marry men who are like their fathers. Meh. In some ways, yes, but certainly not 100%, any more than I am 100% like Terry’s mother.
So what about the younger men in the family? Well, I can tell you that they love God, that they love their wives, and that they love their children. We’re not very involved in the day-to-day lives of all of them because of the sheer geographical distance. But we love the rare visits we have, and I can easily see my own kids in their kids.
And I know all my children love their dad. The respect him. They know how hard he worked to provide for all of us. They miss him, those who are so far away. My son-in-law lives nearer, and we see them much more often. He loves his kids so much. There is joy just in watching them interact when he teases, which he does with great enjoyment. He’s a good and godly dad.
Fathers have been given such a great responsibility in God’s Word. They are to be the head of the household, the spiritual leader, as well as the physical provider. It’s a heavy duty, but God gave men broad shoulders so they could carry the load 🙂
I love the men in my life. I’m thankful for each one of them.
And I wish all the rest of you a blessed Father’s Day today.