Father's Day is within sight. This means Dads can expect a book or a power tool, a round of golf or an afternoon in the hammock. But what America becomes in the coming years will largely depend on the gifts that Dads give their children.
Rumor has it there's an election this fall. So just for a moment, set aside your political affiliation or your religious denomination as there may just be some common ground with the two presidential candidates.
Both President Obama and Governor Romney firmly believe in the importance of Dads pouring into their children. When that happens, our country wins.
Here are some gifts fathers can regularly give their kids.
The Gift of Active Involvement
We in the Christian community are highly aware of the value of a father's love and the stability it offers children -- after all, our God calls himself "father" and promises to never abandon us, to keep his promises AND to meet our needs. So when an earthly dad isn't or can't be involved in a child's life, the absence is felt on many levels. This gap is very often filled by churches and faith-based organizations, as they flesh out fatherly love with grace and truth. This is one of the truest forms of faith (see James 1:27).
It's encouraging to see clips of Mitt Romney laughing with his family members. I love to see video footage of President Obama coaching his daughter's basketball team. But for us when we spend time with our children, there are no cameras or reporters observing. It won't be for a photo-op. Others may never see what you do, but your children know who you really are.
When your son or daughter takes the stage, the court or the field, that glance into the crowd is a subtle search for significance. Your absence deflates them. Your presence shouts that they have value. They can pick your voice out of a crowd with the precision of a piano tuner.
The Gift of Encouraging Words
A number of years ago, a preacher named Bill Glass addressed a group of hundreds of prison inmates. He asked this question, "How many of you had parents who told you that one day you'd end up in prison?" Nearly every one of the inmates raised his hand.
We shouldn't be surprised. What a parent says to their children is prophetic, for better or worse. They live up to the belief we have in them. Solomon reminds us, "The tongue has the power of life and death" (Proverbs 18:21).
Maybe you had a dysfunctional heritage. It's time to break the cycle. Dads you have the opportunity to unleash potential or squelch it. Your children need to hear you say, "You've got this!" "You're beautiful!" or "I'm so fortunate to be your father."
The Gift of Spiritual Direction
Fathers you can help to pave the way for spiritual understanding and growth within your children. When your faith is genuine and life giving to you, your sons and daughters will be attracted to it. A father's faith is an important link in passing on a spiritual legacy. In Christianity, if the father is the first to become a Christian there is a 93 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow (suit).
The Bible paints an incredible picture of some of God's divine attributes mentioned in Scripture.
I disagree with both candidates on various issues, but not when it comes to investing in your children's lives. Both actively participate and encourage their wife. Evidently they realize that Dads who love their wife create a stable and secure home. In spite of the high demands of their jobs and campaigns you still get the genuine sense that family is important. While both Obama and Romney are good fathers, they aren't perfect fathers. There's only been one and He is the one who deserves the focus of fathers.
Our nation is only as strong as it's families. For decades it's been easy to habitually pass the blame for society's ills onto the government. But this Father's Day -- regardless of which side of the aisle you are on, realize that for lasting change to occur, don't look to the White House, look to your house. Your home is where it must start.
There you have it, some good examples of fatherhood -- Obama, Romney and God -- not necessarily in that order. So this June (and November) take solace in the fact that there is a perfect heavenly Father who gives love, joy, peace and grace. He also specializes in giving second chances to Dads.