The Dad Dilemma

This may say more about me than I would really like, but this is what comes to mind when I hear people start talking about what it means to be a man.

We're men! Men in tights! Yes!

We’re men! Men in tights! Yes!

That odd reference aside, the idea of being a father and being a man have changed in the past few years. And from what I’ve heard, one day that men cringe at over others (at least when it comes to sermon topics and speeches) is Father’s Day. Ah, the grand day when men are told to “get off your duff and go be a dad.”

Often times, when I hear these speeches from presidential podium, pulpit, Senate floor, or otherwise, the phrase, “go be a dad” is often shouted, but the “how?” question is rarely answered. How many men have been shown how to be a dad by the time their own kids enter the world?

The bygone days when a son would take his father’s occupation upon himself are mostly gone, so the apprenticeship model isn’t there to fall back on anymore. More than ever, men are expected to work long hours because competition for jobs is fierce and the corporate world can often be cutthroat. We’ve all seen the portrayals of the hard-worked father having to choose between keeping his job and providing for a family and attending some sporting or artistic event.

In fact, the whole concept of what it means to be a man is different now than it used to be. A man is no longer defined primarily by his position, occupation, and station in life. Ask any two people what being a man means, and you’ll more than likely get different answers.

So, the answer to “how do I do this dad/man thing?” ends up pretty open-ended. So here’s what I learned from my dad, and maybe it’ll help.

Being a dad/man means…

following Jesus and standing up for what’s right.

respecting others, caring for the hurting, and seeking out justice for those not receiving it.

caring for the earth, sometimes with dirty hands, and sometimes simply separating the recycling.

having curiosity and seeking out answers to deep question, and trying new things.

using your skills and talents to benefit others and looking out for their best interest over your own.

really, being like Jesus.

Being a man doesn’t take proficiency with weapons, driving a stick, owning the most camo or even having the widest swagger. Interested, hobbies, and particular skills have nothing to do with it. And being a dad is similar, from what I’ve seen in my own father.

Be like Jesus. Play. Laugh. Love. Cry. Wrestle. Discuss. Encourage.

I can’t think of a single better compliment to a dad than to hear their child say, “My dad shows me Jesus.”


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