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Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Father's Instruction Manual

Many fathers know that the journey a father should take is arduous. Many of them had fathers who didn't know what they were doing. These fathers may have become the dictator whose children either eventually escaped from or always, but unsuccessfully, tried to please. On the other hand, these fathers may have become the "Santa Claus" who indulged their children's every whim. These fathers abdicate their roles as leaders within their families and put pressures on the mothers to fulfill the role of nurturer and ultimate disciplinarian. Neither group of fathers are what fathers should be.

I believe that the general rules of fatherhood are found in a parable called "The Prodigal Son." Anyone who has read it should know that the story is really about the father. He is the one who gives the example of what a father should be. I believe this is a father's manual. It is also a means of testing. If you are the father you hoped you would be you will follow these characteristics.

Here is the instruction manual:

Love your children even when they hurt you. The son in this story asked for his inheritance before his father was dead. Essentially he said, "Dad, I want to treat you like you are dead while you are alive. I want to go away from you and do what I really want to do. I don't want to live around you anymore." That has to hurt but the father loved his son anyway.

Hope for the best in your children. This father saw his son coming home from a great distance. He must have been looking. He must have been longing. He hoped that his son would remember his love. He hoped his son would come home. His hope was fulfilled. Hope tells what you really think of your children. Hope won't let you forget them. Fathers must always hope for the best no matter what the circumstances. Hope for the best always.

Seek restoration rather than retribution. Fathers can't make their children pay for everything they have done wrong. The goal is restoration not a repayment of the things done wrong. A father may make his son pray for a broken window but he should also address why the window is broken. If it is because his son was playing ball too close to a house, he should take him somewhere they can play ball together. No one ever makes things right by simply paying the price. Restoration comes from an acceptance from the side of the father. The father must receive the son or the son will never be able to pay back anything done wrong.

Celebrate each time your children come home. The father in this story threw a party. It is necessary to keep that welcoming spirit in your home. Their separation wasn't on such good terms. Reuniting had to be. My youngest daughter came home Thursday. She has literally been all over the world. We went to see Toy Story 3 (in 3D) together yesterday. (She is twenty-six but still likes some of the same movies I do.) It was a very special time for me. I always want to celebrate when my children come home.

I know this parable is about our heavenly Father. He gives all fathers an example to follow.

I hope you have a very blessed Father's Day.

Luke 15:22-24 (NIV)
22 "But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.

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