Father Knows Best
“Father Knows Best” ran on network television from 1954 to 1963 and is a classic example of American Pop Culture at its best for that decade. Movie Actor, Robert Young, created and defined the role of Jim Anderson. His approach to playing Jim Anderson was perfect; he radiated affection, admitted his own shortcomings and had an uncanny ability to view life from the same perspective as his fictional children.
In 1 Thessalonians 2, the Apostle Paul wasn’t directly writing about fatherhood. He basically reminded them of the ministry he had when he was with them. But then by verse 11 he says something important about fatherhood. “You know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God…”1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 (NIV)
There are few things as powerful as a father’s words.
Paul’s words took place in the context of a relationship. Words separated from relationship are ineffective. Look at what he says about his relationship with them.“Because we loved you so much …” He used a very unique word here that means “to feel drawn to someone.” A father’s words must take place in the context of loving affection.
A father’s words have to be consistent with his life as well. That doesn’t mean perfection; it means authenticity. Our kids must see us fighting the battles we want them to fight. They need to see us committed to the same ideals we place before them.
Several years ago I came upon a list entitled Things My Father Taught Me. In light of celebrating Father’s Day this past Sunday, the following is what I considered the most noteworthy from the list.
• Return borrowed things in better shape than when you borrowed them.
• There are two types of trouble…one is the trouble you knowingly walk into, the other is trouble that just happens…it’s important to know the difference.
• Foul language is a sign of a limited vocabulary.
• Everyone is a friend until proven otherwise.
• Don’t watch the clock when you’re at work.
• Respect the elders.
• Never go to bed angry.
• Family is the most important thing on earth.
• If you don’t know something, look it up and learn it.
• The phrases “I don’t know”, “I forgot”, or “I tried (and failed)” are excuses.
• There is a difference between an excuse and a reason, know the difference.
• Take care of your appearance…even if it is just a t-shirt and jeans.
Since most of you dads are time-conscious, let me suggest three crucial times you can speak into your child’s life.
1. Meal time. Guard it, protect it. Harvard professor Dr. Catherine Snow followed 65 families over an eight-year period. She discovered dinnertime is of more value to child development than play time or school time. At the table, you can affirm, teach, listen, warn, and laugh. Life lessons can be learned there.
2. Travel time. As you shuttle your kids back and forth to school and practice, you have a captive audience. Jesus taught his disciples as they traveled. He was a master at taking advantage of teachable moments. Don’t forget: You won’t always have them in the backseat. Someday they’ll be driving themselves. It will be sooner than you think.
3. Bedtime. It’s easy for dads to miss this time. Either we’re too tired, sitting in front of the computer, or just can’t miss the ninth inning. So we leave it to our wives, and we miss a great opportunity to affirm, bless, pray, and console our kids before they fall asleep. As much as possible, don’t miss this time.