Father’s Day is a notable national holiday. At a minimum, it is a time to be thankful for the man by whom we may enjoy life. For many, it is a time to reflect on the impact dad has (or had) on their lives. For some, it may be a source of pain, noting the actual or virtual absence of a father in their current or childhood home. Regardless of personal circumstances or feelings, the role of father is one of vital importance in the home and in society. Personally, it is one of the most critical roles I have—one that demands time, presence, discipline, dedication, and high standards.
A Short History
According to American history, William Smart was a Civil War veteran who became widowed and raised six children. His daughter, Sonora Dodd, desired a special day to honor him. Later, in 1966, former President Lyndon Johnson set aside the third Sunday in June to honor fathers. Since 1972 (due to a law signed by former President Richard Nixon), Americans have celebrated Father’s Day as a national holiday.
A Father’s Impact
The state of American society is a testament to how critical it is for fathers to show up, be involved, encourage, and set an example for their children. When fathers fail to be present, terrible consequences follow. According to various studies, fatherless households generally lead to higher rates of infant mortality, suicide, teen pregnancy, behavioral problems, and criminal acts by children.
Moreover, the impact of a father’s faith on his children cannot be understated. It’s an unfortunate reality that while Mother’s Day generally rounds out the top three for church attendance on a holiday (third to Easter and Christmas), Father’s Day is dead last. Yet, statistics show that the father’s spiritual disciplines on average have a greater impact on children than the mother’s spiritual leadership. An older study suggests that if a father does not regularly attend church, only 1 in 50 of his children will stay in church (even if the mother regularly attends). Additionally, where a father is first to become a Christian, there is a 93% probability everyone else in the household will follow (compared to a 17% probability when the mother is first to become a Christian).
A Quick Reflection
Fatherhood is a high calling. It’s more than just showing up—it’s about being intentional, supportive, loving, and not shying away from instruction and discipline. It’s constantly being on guard to provide the greatest example to your children. That is, there is no “auto-pilot” for fathers despite the temptation to kick back.
How important is this calling? The role of father incorporates a level of sacrifice found in Jesus Christ’s example. John 15:13, a verse inscribed on the Memorial Student Center at Texas A&M University, states: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” How much more should a father sacrifice for his children? See also Ephesians 5.
Psalm 127:3-5 speaks directly to fatherhood. Perhaps it is the fact that this passage ends in court or the fact that these verses speak of children being a gift from God (and experiencing firsthand the realities of infertility and the loss of a child), but I love this passage:
3 Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from Him.
4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their opponents in court.
Children are, indeed, a gift, and fathers have a special, instrumental role in their children’s lives. Fathers should be held to a high standard even though they will fall short. The poor example or sheer absence of a father can have an impact on multiple generations. I am personally thankful for my father—his unwavering faith, his discipline, his instruction, his love, and his encouragement—and I hope to be a great father to and for my daughters. Happy Father’s Day from Provident Legal Counsel!