One of the words I heard very often as a child was the word ‘strict’ used so many times to refer to my father. I too soon realized that he was a very strict man. He had a reputation for being straight forward, uncompromising in his beliefs and very orderly. You only needed to have one encounter with him to know this. Even in his eighties, his lifestyle has remained unchanged. I am sure that some of my attitudes and behaviors today, can be traced back to him.
My father would often tell us that if we think he is strict, we should have met his father. We heard so many interesting stories about my grandfather but one of them always stood out. If my father or his siblings committed an offence on Sunday, being the Sabbath Day, my grandfather would postpone the discipline and on Monday, it would be meted. He held the values of his Sabbath Day but at the same time, he would not let an offence go unchecked. Grandpa was a Pastor, Dad is too. I come from a generation of Pastors and this apple did not fall far from the tree. I would have loved to meet my grandfather, I often wonder if he would have been one of those grandparents who spoil their grandchildren, but from the stories I have heard, I doubt it. I am sure the phrase ‘Spare the rod and spoil the grandchildren‘ would have followed him to the grave. He was a disciplinarian and was particular about the way he raised his children and my father in his own unique way walked in the shoes left for him. He even had a rod of correction (ROC) for each one of us with our names clearly labeled on it. Each time, it was to be used, we would each sort and bring our factory reset stick (aka ROC).
Many years back, when we all used land lines, long before cell phones became the ‘thing’, I was sitting with my father and the phone rings, he answers the phone, hands it over to me and says “the call is for you”. I collected the phone and it’s a girl on the other end. By the way, I was probably about 14 years old then. He stayed there and did not move while I took the call. As you can imagine, that was the shortest call I have ever received. It was more of a ‘hello’, ‘okay’, ‘thank you’ and ‘bye’. After the call, my dad looks at me and says “Seek ye first the Kingdom of Book, and all others will be added to you, including a woman”. While that seemed like a weird thing to say coming from a father, I got the message that some things are more important and deserve all our focus and attention at each stage of our life. But more interestingly, I also learned that he had the Bible so implanted in his heart that every example he would use came from that source. He also taught us humility as a way of life, he did not just teach us, he lived it!
My wife recalls that her dad always said, ‘His word was law’. Those were his words on marble. She goes on to recount that without a shadow of doubt, she knew who was in charge and trusted that he will not knowingly lead her and her siblings in the path of danger. In the good old days, the sign ‘Beware of Dogs’ had many underlying meanings including the indication that within these walls lies precious jewels that I am willing to protect with my last breath. A father acting out his unique expression of ‘God’ness, as he plays the role of protector and provider; becoming a little child’s closest resemblance to Black Panther, Captain America or Iron Man. My father in-law is an amazing man, anyone’s wish for a father in-law. I watch him give of himself to those he calls his children, even bleeding in the process and yet looking for ways to do more. Sometimes you wonder what is wrong with him? But then I realize that deep down, it is the father nature acting out. Anytime, I look at his children, I can clearly see him in them.
A Father’s presence (negative or positive) is expressed through the lives of his children.
A father’s relationship with his children is one of the most important relationships that exist. Fathers are the first image of God their children see and this often affects how they see and relate with God as they grow through life. The good fathers of old talked less but were present and modeled lifestyles worthy of emulation. A friend recently told me that while his father was not the talking type, he always remembers walking into the room every morning and seeing his father on his knees. That image is implanted in his memory for life. We fathers of today seem to talk more, but we should balance the talk with our presence to enable us model the talk. As I remember the story of the dying man’s wish, I encourage fathers not to sacrifice their responsibilities at home in exchange for the pursuit of money and other distractions of life.
With the current trends of negative world events such as rape, hate, racism amongst others, I can not help but think that what we have today are more men with children than fathers. Fatherhood is a responsibility, not a title you get for birthing a child. It is an intentional act with eternal value. God is looking for men like Abraham who will ‘command’ their households after Him and teach their children to walk in the way. More than ever before, the world needs fathers to rise up and teach boys to be Men and girls to be Women with a consciousness of their self worth and full knowledge of Who they are, and Whose they are.
My grandfather did well with my father and I will let you be the Judge on if my father did well with me. I am certain of one thing, it is my responsibility to raise my children in the way and I am committed to taking daily steps to achieve this goal. I believe that the examples I live out will put my son in a position to do same. To all of us fathers and prospective fathers, we owe it to our sons to make them into the men that God wants them to be, but more importantly, into the Fathers that God wants them to become.
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