Daddy is the title now only assigned to me by my baby girl who is in college. I’m secretly hoping she will call me that when I’m so feeble I can barely hear or see anything at all, and am about ready to step off the planet into the presence of The Father, Abba. Daughters have the right to do that, you know. Her older gorilla brothers label me by the abridged Dad, and I wholeheartedly affirm that older males in America just can’t call their dads, Daddy. Unless you live in the Deep South (I don’t). There, men can call their dads Daddy all their lives, and many do. Between you and me, when my sons call me Dad, I substitute Daddy, with all the positive feeling that goes with being Daddy. They used to call me Daddy after all, and amazingly, they still love me. So I hear Daddy when they say Dad because I want to. Fathers have the right to do that, you know.
I’m dead serious when I say that Father’s Day is a high and holy day for me: a sacrament (almost), my favorite preaching day as pastor, the Sunday I miss the most now that I’m not one, up there with Christmas. I hope it is for you. I love being a dad. The three times it’s happened to me have been highs of emotions as well as worship! FD therefore is an up day of high worship and thanksgiving. (It’s a good thing this is written and not something I’m saying publicly, for you would hear my voice crack, see my eyes moisten; some of you guys might roll your eyes and think I was a really soft dude. And if I saw you roll your eyes, I would be fired up and tempted to pull my gun to plug you at least once.) My sincere desire for every dad is for them to feel the way I do about the joy and adventure of fathering.
But Father’s Day is a dangerous day for men. Why?
Well, what happens to a lot of guys at church on Father’s Day, and why some of their wives let them skip out that Sunday and go fishing, is that we’re smacked in the face by a wicked double standard: on Mother’s Day, motherhood is exalted and mothers almost worshipped; on Father’s Day, men are often bashed and lectured to do better. Call it Jackhammer Daddy’s Day: jackhammer the guys, let ‘em have it with both barrels and men will finally man up and be the type of dads Christian men are supposed to be! The conventional wisdom to motivate men resembles spraying us with an automatic weapon. The shame just lays us down. We crawl away and lick our wounds like ambushed prey, like fresh meat with vultures circling.
So, to survive Father’s Day: for your own good, if you go to a church that typically jackhammers men on this sacramental day, just go fishing or whatever it is you like to do. Take your kids, and celebrate those wild philistines entrusted to your daddy development for an absurdly short time. Bring momma ‘cause she loves seeing you being daddy. Have any influence in your church at all? A bolder idea: take your pastor to lunch before FD and ask him kindly and supportively not to bash the dads but motivate, encourage and celebrate them big time! After all, good dads are an endangered species in America and every one of us already knows we’ve messed up…but we haven’t given up and we’re still in the game and want to be in the game and need encouragement to stay in the game! Being a winsome prophet to your pastor will gain him friends, something every pastor feels every day.
By all means on Father’s Day bask in the privilege of being daddy; it’s a God-role we get to enjoy. Go absolutely wild about the Popsicle stick coasters and hand painted artwork you get as gifts; they’re symbols that you matter! If you can’t be with your kids, maybe even alienated from them right now, well, stay in touch somehow, even if they won’t respond. But never give up moving toward them. Life is complicated: our mess-ups and/or the lies being said about dads by EXs torment us beyond belief. Grace says you’re not defined by the past, but by Jesus’ success. You’re a son to The Father. That status is impossible to change. He will never jackhammer you.
It’s set in concrete: your Father’s mind is constantly fixed on you. He isn’t angry at you in the least since Jesus became your Savior. At the Cross the Father reasserted His rights to you, forever, and through the Holy Spirit is holding on to you so tightly that you cannot tear away from Him. Are you a father? Even if you aren’t, you have a Father, and you were never intended to live without this Father. I’m pretty sure that The Father loves Father’s Day too. No human father can out-father The Father. You can call Him Daddy if you want. Or Abba. It’s a Christian man’s right, you know.