I was a non-commissioned officer in the United States Army during the Viet Nam
era; a military musician and squad leader. For twenty seven years I've been
preaching the gospel (five churches). I'm involved in writing and editing for
two periodicals, and I hold a few gospel meetings. Yet, the most difficult and
challenging work of my life is my role as a father. I've been one for over half
of my life, and while I cannot hold myself up as a model or an expert, there are
some simple do's and don't I would ask young men and young fathers to consider:
Don't take a briefcase home at night.
Early in my preaching work I thought I needed a briefcase. I went to J.C. Pennys and got one. Each afternoon before leaving my office I promptly loaded it with sermons in progress, lesson material, commentaries and correspondence. Though I could see some disfavor in my wife's countenance when I carried the thing in each evening, I was faithful in forming the habit. After supper and the evening news, I opened my brief case and worked for an hour or so. On some occasions, till after everybody else was asleep I worked out of this briefcase. I don't remember exactly when, but I soon decided this wasn't a good habit; that I was not only a preacher but a husband and father. After that enlightenment, I still worked occasionally in the evenings when necessary. But I started spending more time talking to my family, playing games with my kids and helping around the house. Were I to start all over again today, I wouldn't have brief case! Think about it fathers.
Don't back down from the tough decisions.
I'm not talking about where to go on vacation or what color the new car should be. When your little kids begin to turn in to teenagers you'll have much deeper matters to deal with. You may have to draw some lines in the sand, or deal with the issues of dancing, dressing and dating. Think about all issues with moral/character implications and decide what you will stand before the questions come up. State you case, communicate "the law," and don't be pressured, intimidated or compromising. And, don't push all this off on your wife. She should be involved, but you shouldn't "pass the buck" to her. Be the head!
Do be a "hand's-on" dad.
I've never known of a man to suffer any loss of his masculinity as a result of changing a diaper, sweeping a floor, washing laundry, or "having tea" with his little girl! I taught all three of my children how to play baseball, took them fishing, taught them how to drive and applied hundreds of band aids. It didn't hinder my career, ruin my social life or hurt me in any way. It created some great memories and made my wife very happy. And, teach them! Talk to these precious beings about God, His Word, His Son and all the involvements of discipleship.
"The words that a father speaks to his children in the privacy of home are not heard by the world, but, as in whispering-galleries, they are clearly heard at the end and by posterity." -- Jean Paul Richter
By Warren E. Berkley
The Final Page
From Expository Files 3.8; August 1996