His job required a good bit of travel. Extended business trips came with the position. He and his wife did their best to work through the challenges associated with being apart and with raising their two sons and one daughter. She and the kids had their routine down when dad was gone. On his return, there would typically be a couple of tough days but the family would adjust to their secondary routine fairly quickly.
On one trip, Dad called his daughter to wish her a happy birthday. Her response caught him off-guard. She said, “Daddy, it does not seem like a birthday when you are not here. And you have missed my last two birthdays.” When he hung up the phone he was convicted of putting the wrong things first – his focus was on providing well financially versus investing well relationally. It was a wake-up call for him as a husband and father.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. – Psalm 68:5. God’s very nature is that of a father and dads have a responsibility to reflect that nature in the home. Even dads that are physically present in family can leave fathering voids in their children’s lives if they are not emotionally engaged and spiritually leading. Through the ministry of Jesus the Christ walking on this earth for a window of time, God conveyed the significance of His physical presence; then He sent the Counselor to help all navigate emotionally through the distractions He knew the world could stir up; and as the Father, He remains accessible spiritually through prayer. Similarly, dads have a window of time, 15 to 18 years to be physically present as much as possible and to provide kids with the emotional and spiritual grounding needed for life.
Fatherlessness has increased from 6.9% in 1960 to 43% in 2010. Growing up fatherless is behind 63% of teen suicides, 71% of high school drop outs, 71% of teenage pregnancies and 90% of runaways and homeless youth. This is a wake-up call for dads to invest relationally in family and emulate the Heavenly Father in the home. This is also a wake-up call for churches to invest in dads, to resource and train men for the fathering journey. And this is a wake-up call for communities to look to the Church for solutions.
Prayer guide: My Father, thank You for Your example. In sharing the moniker “Father” with me, I have the opportunity to be Your representative in family, to reflect Your triune nature through my physical presence, emotional engagement and spiritual leadership. What my life and 50 years of statistics reflect is that the opportunity must be embraced as a responsibility. Thank You for the wake-up call. Help me be the father You call me to be in family and the spiritual father You expect me to be in the church and beyond. Amen.
A faithful father prioritizes physical presence, emotional engagement and spiritual leadership in family.