Mary Coleman: The worth of a father

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, June 18th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Yesterday marked Father’s Day, and I hope you were able to celebrate with yours. Or, like me, reflect on the man who brought you up and has gone on to glory.

Mary Coleman is here now with thoughts on why we should celebrate fathers year round.

MARY COLEMAN, COMMENTATOR: With Father’s Day just behind us, I think it’s important to consider how we can celebrate fathers all year.

While it is commonplace for the broader culture to denigrate men, I have noticed that Christian women and churches are equally hard on dads.

New mothers for example, are appalled by what men don’t know about caring for babies. Many fathers give up because they are so often critiqued about how they diaper or how they discipline.

Maybe your husband doesn’t have a good track record managing money. Or maybe he works too much in his effort to provide. I have heard church leaders say, “Where are the men? They ought to be more present and more spiritual in the family and in the church.” How often have you said “Amen!” to that? I certainly have.

Then a few years ago, as I sat alone in a church pew on Father’s Day, one of the deacons criticized fathers from the pulpit. I walked out. Truth be told, I sat in the back on purpose, prepared for this very scenario because I heard time and again in the church that fathers don’t measure up.

Even though my husband wasn’t there because he was working, I knew in my heart that his absence was not a lapse in the eyes of God. I certainly did not think less of him, and I was happy he was not there to receive criticism on the day he was to be celebrated. Can you even imagine a preacher criticzing mothers on Mother’s Day?

While I know there are many fathers who neglect their responsibilities, there are many more really incredible dads who are deeply admired by their kids. That’s because children don’t use the same measuring stick we do in determining their father’s goodness. And we certainly would not want them to criticize us the way we criticize their fathers.

So here’s a list of things I have celebrated about the father of my seven children.

He was my partner in giving life to them.

He romped and played with them when I was busy doing chores.

He helped them with homework. He chauffeured them all over the state.

He taught them God’s word.

He went to work every day and he came home from work every day.

He has been monogamous for 35 years and he is still crazy about me.

He repairs broken stuff and lifts heavy stuff. He kills snakes and he cleans the car.

He is sincere, gentle, and humble.

He loves God. And he loves his neighbor.

The father of your children may not do everything on this list. Your own dad may also fall short and the men in your church may not meet your standards. But all men deserve time to grow into their role as dads. They deserve respect and credit for trying on Father’s Day and all year.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Mary Coleman.

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