I had a great Father’s Day. I hope you did too.
After a busy, busy week of travel, officiating two outdoor weddings in the hundred-plus-degree Texas sun, and hosting close friends in our home, it was good to have a relaxing day of Sabbath rest.
After worship and lunch, my wife and I napped, and I watched the entire final round of the US Open golf tournament. Having renewed my interest and pursuit of golf this year, I was captivated by the excellence of pro golfers once again. With five or six players in contention on the back nine, it was one of the best major tournament finishes in recent memory.
I’ll also admit that I like watching the US Open because the course is usually very difficult and the rough very high, and the scores are not super low. Those conditions have a way of “leveling the field,” even for the pros. No double-digit sub-par rounds in this competition.
The players actually looked human as the course humbled them. Matt Fitzpatrick from Sheffield, England, won with a score of six under par. Note: Why did I cringe that a Brit won the US Open when I think it’s totally appropriate for a Yankee to win the British Open next month?
Sometimes our hypocrisy knows no bounds!
Father’s Day vs. Mother’s Day
As a pastor, I grew pessimistic, even cynical, about Father’s Day and church attendance.
Comparing worship attendance on Father’s Day to Mother’s Day each year was really no contest at all. It appeared to me that attendance on Mother’s Day would skyrocket, with moms apparently making it clear that one of their wishes was for the whole family to worship together.
Nothing like that happened on most Father’s Days.
It seemed like the dads wanted to celebrate in ways that didn’t include worship. Maybe that is true, but it could also be that Mother’s Day enjoys a more favorable placement on the calendar not impacted by summer travel and other considerations. I remember being frustrated a few years ago when our children’s ministry scheduled an all-afternoon Vacation Bible School workday on Father’s Day! That would have never happened on Mom’s Day!
However, since this past Sunday, I’ve had several encouraging reports from pastors about this year’s Father’s Day. Worship services were full or fuller than usual in several churches.
So maybe things are turning a bit.
What does it mean to train our kids?
Maybe dads and moms are recognizing the high value of family worship.
Hopefully, pastors and churches are using these cultural and calendar milestones to celebrate life, parenting, and family in the best of ways. As you do, remember too that not every person is called of God to be a biological parent. It’s great if you are, but its fully possible to have an abundant, overflowing life of meaning without marriage and parenting. See 1 Corinthians 7. If you are not called to parent biological children, we are all called as believers to “parent” others, using our influence to encourage them toward Christ in every way we can.
During worship on Sunday, the church I attended dedicated a newborn baby girl. The pastor and church did a great job praising God for this new life. The parents, grandparents, and church family all dedicated themselves to nurturing faith in this great gift of God. I’m sure you and your church do the same.
During the dedication, the pastor pointed us to Ephesians 6:4: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (NIV). He went on to explain that the word training here means to teach, guide, and discipline those in your influence toward the best life found in Christ Jesus.
Then he shared something that was new to me.
He indicated that the word has a rich, personal nature to it. It carries the idea not just of transferring information but doing so across the bridge of deep, loving relationship. The pastor said it meant something like “teaching someone in your care what to do while also teaching them why you love to do it.” It means conveying the inspiration and motivation of love, gratitude, and awe for Christ while also teaching the how-tos of discipleship.
That’s a great insight into parenting.
Encouragement to lead your church
Children and others we influence need the inspirational why as well as the practical how. During worship, I had some moments of reflection, confession, and recommitment about how I serve as both a dad and as a minister. Remember, the spirit of your ministry at home and in public is as much caught as taught.
Take some time today just to be with God and to enjoy his company.
Relax and rejoice in his total adoption of you.
Ask the Spirit to express through you an overflowing, joyful love for Christ as you offer practical truths and ideas for how to know and follow him well.
And last, never doubt that people are listening to you when you preach and teach. Push past the jokes about preachers and sermons. Your people are coming on Sunday to hear from God through you. In most cases, the people love God and love you, and they trust that God has a message for them through you.
So pray much, study diligently, and BRING IT!