As Father’s Day approaches, this question will typically get asked of me. The reply is usually, “Oh, nothing really except maybe a new set of golf clubs, or a full-size Chevy pickup with an extended cab.” Dad’s usually want big-ticket items when they get something and I’m no exception—so I usually settle for going out to get pizza or a burger or maybe a new shirt if I’m lucky.
Actually, Father’s Day can be counterproductive for most men. Most dads (I’m top of the list) really don’t need a day set aside to be more self-indulgent, spend more money or treat themselves to something. So what do I want, or should I say, what do I need for Father’s Day? Probably to be reminded of my calling and responsibility as a father. Paul had to remind dads of this in the early church:
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
As I look at this command, I realize how far short I fall when left to myself. This is why I desperately need to be filled with the Spirit. The promise of what this looks like is seen in Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
I would say that patience tops my list. So often I sense a lack of patience toward my children. They are slow, procrastinate and for some reason don’t listen the first time. I find myself usually responding in an impatient way.
Joy comes next. My kids are kids, and kids have one main objective each day (at least mine do): to have as much fun as possible. But I often find myself correcting them for every little infraction, warning them of how much stuff they can break (or how many bones my son can break). Deep down though, it often reflects a lack of joy. God has blessed me with three precious kids and I need more joy as a dad.
How about gentleness? Gentleness is tied to the meekness that describes Christ (Matt 11:29). Do my kids see me in this way—approachable and gentle towards them? It is interesting how often they go to my wife and ask her when they want something. Do I lack the gentleness that they can confide in and rest in?
So what I want this Father’s Day is what I need—for the Spirit to work in my heart and produce more fruit so that I can honor Christ more as a dad. The golf clubs eventually rust; the pickup depreciates and eventually breaks down, but the Spirit’s work has an eternal impact on my family.