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Going To The Recital Is Not Enough

June 12, 2012

We live in an interesting society when it comes to our relationship to our work vs. our relationship with our family. The range goes from fully separated to fully integrated and over the last few years this has shifted over time. In the sixties and seventies the traditional family arrangement was paramount with one member of the family (usually the father) functioning as the primary income earner with the other parent staying home to care for the children and manage the home. There were exceptions to this for sure but normally this was the pattern. In the eighties we saw more of the two-income households with both parents working once the children were old enough to be on their own. This spawned what we called “latch key kids” where the kids kept a house key around their necks so they could get in the house when no one else was home. Come the nineties we saw the upswing of daycare so parents were both in the workplace much earlier than before but otherwise it was much the same. Into the twenty-first century not much has changed except that we have seen a small return to the more traditional arrangement in some circles.

What this means is that our relationship with our families is competing even more with our relationship with our profession. I have already written on the issue of worshiping your work in another article so there is no need to address that here. I am also not intending to write on the benefits of a traditional family arrangement though I do support that. The issue I want to address is for fathers.

There was a time when men, worshipping their work, would plug away all day long at their jobs and forsake much of their family life in the pursuit of the “American dream.” Unfortunately, this neglect of the father’s duty to the family is still rather common and we see dads with grown children who become completely estranged from their father. In response to that I have noticed that many employers, recognizing that a happy workforce is a productive workforce, have learned to allow for time off so the father can attend their child’s Important events such as a dance recital or ball game. This is seen to be and is a good thing. Dads should be there at the critical points in their child’s life as much for themselves as their children. And, while I am glad that this trend is on the upswing, I am here to tell the Christian fathers out there that going to the recital (or ball game) is not enough.

You cannot fulfill your calling to be a father by only being there at the “important” times. You need to be a regular part of your child’s life on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. There is no time when you are not a father and there is no time when you will ever not be a father. It is now a part of your identity. Deal with it!

I say this not to admonish my brothers but to encourage them with a little bit of Biblical truth:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 ESV)

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4 ESV)

Is there ever a time here when the parent’s duty to honor God and teach their children is put aside for a job or career? If there is I don’t see it. This is our charge as fathers. This is the job our Lord has given us to do. It is difficult at times but the rewards go far beyond the cost. When your children run to your arms yelling, “Daddy!” or when you shake the hand of your son as he prepares to take his wedding vows (something I have not experienced yet,) you can get a sense in which it IS worth it. Even if these things don’t happen you are still obeying the command of your Lord and that is enough.

This means we have to be there for our families all the time. Work normally calls for 40 hours out of our week but fatherhood calls for all of the hours in our week. You cannot find time to be a father; you must make the time. Do you have a job that reguraraly requires 60-80 hours out of your week? If so I urge you to consider finding another job. I understand that there are jobs which are essential to our way of life and require more sacrifice (soldiers, firefighters, etc.) but for most of us this is not the case. Even when this is the case the father should be thinking about how they can spend more time being the dad. For the rest of us, contributing to a company’s bottom line or climbing a corporate ladder are poor and inadequate substitutes for the real job God has called you to do.

As we approach Father’s day this year we will be honoring fathers everywhere and rightly so. Dads, let us also take time to recognize the immense privilege that we have in the role God has given us. By all means, go to the recital, go to the ball game; be there during the important times. But also remember that it is not the important times that make a father. It is the daily sweat, tears, laughs, and sorrows that separate a man with children from a father. Be the man. Be the Dad. It is worth it!

God bless.

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