Thoughts Regarding Fathers and Sons
Rev. Tony Cooke
The Top 10 Things You’ll Never Hear a Dad Say:
10. “Well, how ‘bout that? I’m lost! Looks like we’ll have to stop and ask for directions.”
9. “You know Pumpkin, now that you’re thirteen, you’ll be ready for un-chaperoned car dates. Won’t that be fun?”
8. “I noticed that all your friends have a certain hostile attitude. I like that.”
7. “Here’s a credit card and the keys to my new car. Go crazy!!!”
6. “What do you mean you wanna play football? Ballet is not good enough for you, son?”
5. “Your Mother and I are going away for the weekend. You might want to consider throwing a party.”
4. “Well, I don’t know what’s wrong with your car. Probably one of those doo-hickey thingies—ya know—that makes it run or something. Just have it towed to a mechanic and pay whatever he asks.”
3. “No son of mine is going to live under this roof without an earring. Now quit your belly-aching and let’s go to the mall.”
2. “Whaddya wanna go and get a job for? I make plenty of money for you to spend.”
And the number one thing you’ll never hear a dad say:
1. “What do I want for Father’s Day? Aahh—don’t worry about that. It’s no big deal.” (actually they might say this, but they don’t mean it).
I like the idea of a Father–Son Banquet. This is a special relationship, and it’s definitely a two-way street.
The relationship between a Father and his children is something that is very precious to God.
ABRAHAM was chosen by God for a very special purpose…
Genesis 18:19 (KJV)
19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
Malachi 4:5-6 (NKJV)
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. 6 And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers…
Notice here that God was not only interested in turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, but also in turning the hearts of the children to the fathers.
Ephesians 6:1-4 (Amplified)
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord [as His representatives], for this is just and right. 2 Honor (esteem and value as precious) your father and your mother–this is the first commandment with a promise– [Exodus 20:12.] 3 That all may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth. 4 Fathers, do not irritate and provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to resentment], but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord.
Notice again the two-way nature of this relationship… children have a responsibility to their parents, and parents have a responsibility to their children.
1. The Father’s Relationship to His Son
An Old Soldier’s Prayer
“Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory. “Build me a son whose wishes will not take the place of deeds; a son who will know Thee…and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge. “Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high, a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past. “And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously. Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom and the meekness of true strength.
“Then I, his father, will dare to whisper, “I have not lived in vain’.” – Gen. Douglas A. MacArthur
MacArthur wanted more than just a son in the biological sense.
His prayer reflected his desire that his son have certain characteristics… certain character traits built into him.
In one sense, sons – children in general – come into being through a transaction, but MacArthur was after more than this… he wanted a son who had undergone a transformation.
Many men throughout history, even very godly men, have had great success in certain areas—career & achievement—but they’ve had heartache when it comes to the way their children ended up.
1 Samuel 8:1-3
1 Now it came to pass when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel.2 The name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba.3 But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.
I don’t think any of us should try to be God, and I’m not saying that every wrong decision made by a child is the fault of the parents –
- God was the first parent, and his kids made some really unfortunate decisions.
- In the story of the prodigal son, there’s no indication that the son’s rebelliousness and poor decisions were the result of negligence or poor parenting on the part of the Father. Every indication of him in Scripture is that he was a merciful, kind, and gracious father.
However, I want to make sure as a Father, that I do everything I can do have a relationship with my son and my daughter – and to truly bring them up in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord.
In The Effective Father, Gordon MacDonald writes:
It is said of Boswell, the famous biographer of Samuel Johnson, that he often referred to a special day in his childhood when his father took him fishing. The day was fixed in his mind, and he often reflected upon many things his father had taught him in the course of their fishing experience together. After having heard of that particular excursion so often, it occurred to someone much later to check the journal that Boswell’s father kept and determine what had been said about the fishing trip from the parental perspective. Turning to that date, the reader found only one sentence entered: “Gone fishing today with my son; a day wasted.”
I read about a little girl who drew a pretty picture. She went in her dad’s office. Crawled on his lap. And said, “Daddy, come and see my picture.”
And the dad said, “Not now, honey. Dad’s busy.”
About 10 minutes later, she came back again. Crawled on his lap. And said, “Daddy, will you come see my picture now?”
And the dad got frustrated. And said, “Can’t you see I’m busy? Don’t bother me right now. I’ll come and look at your picture later. When I’m ready.”
A couple of hours later, the dad came out. And he said to the daughter, “Can I see the picture now?” And the girl said, “Sure.” And it was a picture of her and her brother and her mom standing on the lawn, with the family dog, with big smiles, and on a sunny day. But the dad noticed that he wasn’t in the picture. And so the dad said, “That’s a nice picture, sweetheart. But how come I’m not in the picture?”
And the girl said, “Because you’re working in your office, daddy.”
The dad was crushed. Because it dawned on him that of the most loving and caring people in his daughter’s life, he wasn’t even in the picture!
Not only is there the time issue, but there’s also an issue of discipline… of guidelines… of boundaries…
Discipline: Illustration from Dr. James Dobson
In the absence of parental leadership, some children become extremely obnoxious and defiant, especially in public places. Perhaps the best example was a ten-year-old boy named Robert, who was a patient of my good friend Dr. William Slonecker. The Dr. said his pediatric staff dreaded the days when Robert was scheduled for an office visit. He literally attacked the clinic, grabbing instruments and files and telephones. His passive mother could do little more than shake her head in bewilderment.
During one physical examination, Dr. Slonecker observed severe cavities in Robert’s teeth and knew the boy must be referred to a local dentist. But who would be given the honor? A referral like Robert could mean the end of a professional friendship. Dr. Slonecker eventually decided to send him to an older dentist who reportedly understood children. The confrontation that followed now stands as one of the classic moments in the history of human conflict.
Robert arrived in the dental office, prepared for battle. “Get in the chair, young man,” said the doctor.
“No chance!” replied the boy.
“Son, I told you to climb onto the chair, and that’s what I intend for you to do,” said the dentist.
Robert stared at his opponent for a moment and then replied, “If you make me get in that chair, I will take off my clothes.”
The dentist calmly said, “Son, take’em off.”
The boy forthwith removed his shirt, undershirt, shoes, and socks, and then looked up in defiance.
“All right, son,” said the dentist. “Now get on the chair”.
“You didn’t hear me,” sputtered Robert. “I said if you make me get on that chair, I will take off all my clothes.”
“Son, take’em off,” replied the man.
Robert proceeded to remove his pants and shorts, finally standing totally naked before the dentist and his assistant.
“Now, son, get in the chair,” said the doctor.
Robert did as he was told, and sat cooperatively through the entire procedure. When the cavities were drilled and filled, he was instructed to
step down from the chair.
“Give me my clothes now,” said the boy.
“I’m sorry,” replied the dentist. “Tell your mother that we’re going to keep your clothes tonight. She can pick them up tomorrow.”
Can you comprehend the shock Robert’s mother received when the door to the waiting room opened, and there stood her pink son, as naked as the day he was born? The room was filled with patients, but Robert and his mom walked past them and into the hall. They went down a public elevator and into the parking lot, ignoring the snickers of onlookers.
The next day, Robert’s mother returned to retrieve his clothes, and asked to have a word with the dentist. However, she did not come to protest. These were her sentiments:
“You don’t know how much I appreciate what happened here yesterday.
You see, Robert has been blackmailing me about his clothes for years.
Whenever we are in a public place, such as a grocery store, he makes unreasonable demands of me. If I don’t immediately buy him what he wants, he threatens to take off all his clothes. You are the first person who had called his bluff, doctor, and the impact on Robert has been incredible.”
Dusty Like Dad
At the first church that I pastored, I had the job of mixing feed to supplement my income. For a period of about two weeks, each day that I came home from work, my two boys, ages 2 and 3 would look at me, smile, and would say, “Boy, dad, you sure are dusty!” I would reply, “Yes, I sure am dusty.” Then I would get cleaned up.
I didn’t think too much of this until I was washing my car and saw my oldest son doing something very strange. He was picking up the gravel and stones that were in our drive and rubbing them into his pants. I asked him, “What are you doing?”
He replied, “I want to be dusty like you dad!”
I realized that if a child would look up to his father for being dusty and want to copy his father, a child could look up to his father and follow him for anything. What are you passing on to your son?
“My father didn’t tell me how to life; he lived, and let me watch him do it.”
– Clarence Budington Kelland
“There is just one way to bring up a child in the way he should go, and that is to travel that way yourself.”
– Abraham Lincoln
“You don’t raise heroes; you raise sons. And if you treat them like sons, they’ll turn out to be heroes, even if it’s just in your own eyes.”
– Walter Schirra Sr.
“A boy loves his mother, but he will follow his father.” So the question to you men is — where are you leading your children?
On August 13, 1995, one of the greatest legends in baseball, Mickey Mantle died.
“God gave me everything and I blew it. For the kids out there, don’t be like me!”
“Recent media reports tell the sad details of his life off the field: How teammates taught him to drink, carouse and be irresponsible. How liquor destroyed his marriage and crippled his family. How he taught his sons to drink until they, too, became alcoholics. How the bitter fruit of his lifestyle caused tremors, “and I should note, that his constant drinking was the cause of the liver disease and cancer that eventually took his life according to Doctors. The words of Steve Wulf in his Time Magazine article in the obituary section are sobering. “Though Mantle had been sober for more than a year, 42 years of drinking caught up to him on May 28, when he entered Baylor Medical complaining of stomach pains…” You know the rest of the story. (Mike Randall, Editor of The Baptist Bible Tribune.)
The reason Mickey Mantle said, “God gave me everything and I blew it. For the kids out there, don’t be like me!” is because, as he looked back on his life, he realized he was a poor role model and accomplished little of lasting value. He did not want kids to be like “the Mick.”
Before he died, his former team-mate, Bobby Richardson, led him to the Lord.[i]
“A godly father is the unseen spiritual submarine who lurks below the surface of every activity of his child’s life. A man who has put on the full armor of God and with that armor, goes to warfare on his knees for his children, is a force to be reckoned with…we cannot be with our children 24 hours a day…through our prayers we have the ability to affect situations even when we are not physically present. You may be undetected but that does not mean you are ineffective.”
2. The Son’s Relationship to His Father
“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”
– Attributed to Mark Twain
When I was …
- Four years old: My daddy can do anything.
- Five years old: My daddy knows a whole lot.
- Six years old: My dad is smarter than your dad.
- Eight years old: My dad doesn’t know exactly everything.
- Ten years old: In the olden days, when my dad grew up, things were sure different.
- Twelve years old: Oh, well, naturally, Dad doesn’t know anything about that. He is too old to remember his childhood.
- Fourteen years old: Don’t pay any attention to my dad. He is so old-fashioned.
- Twenty-one years old: Him? My Lord, he’s hopelessly out of date.
- Twenty-five years old: Dad knows about it, but then he should, because he has been around so long.
- Thirty years old: Maybe we should ask Dad what he thinks. After all, he’s had a lot of experience.
- Thirty-five years old: I’m not doing a single thing until I talk to Dad.
- Forty years old: I wonder how Dad would have handled it. He was so wise.
- Fifty years old: I’d give anything if Dad were here now so I could talk this over with him. Too bad I didn’t appreciate how smart he was. I could have learned a lot from him.
22 Listen to your father who begot you, And do not despise your mother when she is old. 23 Buy the truth, and do not sell it, Also wisdom and instruction and understanding. 24 The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, And he who begets a wise child will delight in him. 25 Let your father and your mother be glad, And let her who bore you rejoice.