Luke 7:36 – 8:3; 2 Samuel 11:26 – 12:10; 12:13-15; Psalm 32
I want to welcome all of our dads and grads here today. Today –as we all know – is Father’s Day. It’s also the day we chose here at ZLC to recognize our high school and college graduates. And we’ll be doing that a little later on in our service today. By any measure, graduation is a major, major milestone. In some ways, it’s kind of scary. In other ways it’s quite liberating. It is what we call a rite of passage. If you’re a high school grad – you really are considered an adult now – so you can start acting like one. If you’re a college grad – perhaps you’re moving on to a career – or at least hoping for a job of some kind – or maybe pursuing another degree. But for what you have just accomplished, we want to congratulate you.
But because today is also Father’s Day, I want to talk today to all of the men who are here today. Well – what I have to say is for everybody – but my message today is geared for all of the men here today. So before we go any farther, let me invite you to watch this video clip.
(The video from Skit Guys can be viewed at the following website. I think you’ll enjoy this.) http://skitguys.com/videos/item/fatherhood
I love the question the man at the garage sale asked. “Hey! What’s it like being a dad?” After raising two boys of my own, and a young girl from Africa who came to live with us when she was 15 – you would think that I would have all the answers by now. Well, I don’t. I have experience, but not all the answers. It’s like I’ve told you before. I was the perfect father. And then I had children.
Okay men – and ladies – what I want you to know is that being a dad – being a good dad – doesn’t always come easily. And I am in awe of the responsibilities that come with the job. And as that video tried to show – being a dad sometimes means being a font of wisdom – being an encourager – being a role model – being someone who is fun to be with – and I think to top it all off – a good dad is also a man of faith.
We have a lot of baptisms at this church. Six in the month of June alone. [Three Saturdays in a row – and another two weeks from tonight. How good is that!] And when I meet with parents I show them a video. I’d show it to all of you now, but I think one video in a sermon is enough. The bottom line of that video is that this church has approximately 40 hours a year to share the good news of Jesus Christ with each child – and to teach each child what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Whereas in the home – moms AND dads have 3,000 hours a year to teach their children about the love of God in Jesus Christ – AND to serve as role models for their kids of what being a disciple of Jesus Christ looks like.
One of the best lessons you as a dad or a mom could ever teach your kids is that they are loved and forgiven. Our Old Testament lesson and our Gospel reading are both great lessons on what it means to forgive and to be forgiven. Teach your children that. Teach your kiddos about the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ on the cross. Teach them that because of that – God gives us the forgiveness we all need as a gift. Teach them that.
And then show them what it means to forgive others. And if I might throw this in – this I think is one of the most important things that husbands and wives can do for each other. To forgive each other. So learn what it means to forgive each other. Your children will be watching – and they will learn from what they see and what they hear – and sometimes from what they can sense. Forgiveness is a way of life, and around here we call it “Livin’ forgiven.” So teach them. Show them.
One of my approaches to pastoring is to build a church that will attract men. I think that’s important. In too many churches the one demographic that is missing is the men. And in too many other churches – there are no children. And when that happens – that church does not have much life left.
But I think that a church that is a place where men feel welcome – where men feel comfortable being – is a place where you will find children. And around here, we’ve got lots of children. Lotsa kids! With that, let me throw some statistics at you.
“Did you know that if a child is the first person in a household to become a Christian, there is a 3.5 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow? 3.5 percent! If the mother is the first to become a Christian, there is a 17 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow.
“But if the father is first, there is a 93 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow.”[i]
I tell you, dads, it’s an awesome responsibility God has put into our hands. But you know something? Your kids – your family – are worth it.
But still, it’s not easy. And yes, you will make mistakes. That’s about the only think I can guarantee for you about what it means to be a dad. You will make mistakes. And that’s OK. So did all of the rest of us.
So – although you are far from perfect – somehow you are still going to manage to love your child – and tell them that you love them. We are role models for our sons – to show them what it means to be a man. And let me tell you this. You will teach your sons how to treat women with love and respect – by the way they see you treating your wife. By how you love and respect your wife.
And you are a role model for your daughters. You will model for them what they someday will want to find in a husband, yes? You want to be the kind of dad – the kind of man – that your little girl will one day want to have walk her down the aisle. And yes – when my daughter got married – when her father was not able to get to this country from Liberia for her wedding – she asked me to be the one to walk her down the aisle.
And now I am speaking to every man in this room today when I say –you have a great and awesome responsibility and purpose – that great and awesome job of being men of influence in the lives of those who are closest to you. Your kids. Your kids’ friends. Your nephews and nieces. Perhaps even the children next door. And if you’re blessed enough to be a grand dad – well those grandkids need you to be a man of influence as well. And to the extent that you are being the best father, the best grandfather – the best uncle or man next door you can be – well then let me affirm for you that you are making a difference.
No, it’s not easy. No one ever said it would be. But being a dad – being a man of influence – is the toughest job you’ll ever love. It takes time. It takes commitment. It takes rearranging priorities. You don’t have to be a perfect father – or a perfect mother. You just need to learn what it means to be good mother. A good father. Maybe even a great mother – a great father.
SO men – let me thank you today for the manly way in which you approach life – loving your wives – loving and cherishing your children. I think you deserve a day off today. Do whatever you like. Tell ‘em Pastor Randy said so. Fall asleep on the couch. Take control of the remote controls. Have fun today. And remind the important people in your life that they are loved by God – because that’s your job. And then tell them that they are precious and special in your sight too. Amen
[i] Polly House, “Want your church to grow? Then bring in the men,” Baptist Press News, April 3, 2003. Found in Homiletics, May/June 2013, p.56.