June 21, 2020
For this Father’s Day Mission Yearbook entry, I decided to rely heavily on one of the National Council of Presbyterian Men’s Bible Study Guides prepared by Presbyterian men for Presbyterian men. There are 24 of these study guides; 23 are based on books of the Bible and one on “Some Biblical Bases of a Brief Statement of Faith.” The guide used for this Minute for Mission, based on 1 Samuel, is titled “Fathers, Brothers, Friends and Others: A Study of Male Relationships,” authored by H. Michael Brewer and edited by Curtis A. Miller. The other references also come from the study guide.
Brewer says that “our relationship (or lack of relationship) with our fathers has a lifelong impact on our personalities, our possibilities, our outlook on the world and our self-image.” He further says that while most Christian fathers would unhesitatingly give their lives for their children in times of crises, too often we commit our time and energy to other priorities. I was reminded of a time when my son was off at college and I decided to straighten up/clear out some of the things in his bedroom closet. I came across a model airplane I purchased for the two of us to put together when he was a child; it was still in shrink wrap. I cried. My job as a university administrator required a considerable amount of my time. On another occasion I came home from the office around 7 or 8 p.m., and my young daughter gleefully rushed up and hugged me around the legs and said, “Daddy is home early,” and asked if I was going to stay. I did. I had planned to — really. Nevertheless, their mother emphasized that she appreciated the unusually large amount of time I spent with the kids. Those two experiences with my children, and others, cause me to suggest to fathers of young children that they spend as much time with them as possible, because “you won’t get it back.”
David Popenoe, a former sociology professor at Rutgers University, felt that fathers serve as role models for their sons and help their daughters learn how to relate to males. In “The Vanishing Father,” he writes: “Fatherly play — quite different from motherly play — teaches children about challenge, boundaries, managing emotions and self-control. … Fathers contribute not only to their children’s independence and individuality, but paternal involvement in child care seems to play a major role in instilling compassion and empathy in children.”
Gary Smalley and John Trent stress that we should honor our children. In “The Gift of Honor,” they define honor as a decision parents make to place high value, worth and importance on their children, viewing them as priceless gifts and granting them positions in our lives worthy of great respect. Love involves putting that decision into action.
Without providing suggested methodology, Brewer emphasizes that the Church has an obligation to help men become good, or better, fathers — and that fathers have a responsibility in instilling and nurturing Christian ideals in their children.
Dr. Robert W. James, Moderator, National Presbyterian Men’s Ministry
Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, June 21, 2020, the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
Today’s Focus: Presbyterian Men
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
Father in Heaven, thank you for the blessing of fatherhood. We pray that as fathers, biological or otherwise, we will accept and understand our responsibilities; that we will take them seriously as we seek and follow your guidance in fulfilling them. Amen.