What my dad did was what every dad I knew in those days did. He rose early and faithfully went to work to earn a living for his family. His factory work was hard and hardly ever exciting, but you could count on him doing it and doing it well just as surely as the sun would rise.
“If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:4). Dad believed that and lived it.
What my dad did seems unremarkable. No crowds gathered for our driveway basketball games, no cameras clicked at the game winning shot. Often it was just the two of us, sweating and laughing, a kid trying desperately to best his dad and a father patiently playing when he’d rather be resting after a long day at the factory.
Our games drew very little attention, but they gave me attention and made me feel special. Perhaps that’s part of what God had in mind when he planned for one to come to “turn the hearts of the fathers to their children” (Luke 1:17).
What my dad did would never make the news – at least not back then. He spanked me. With a belt. Hard! Today, some think that barbaric – that it warps a child (perhaps I’m proof). But, Dad didn’t really spank me often. He didn’t have to, because it worked! I learned to respect authority and do what I’m told (most of the time).
That discipline was what the Father expected. “Our fathers disciplined us,” the Bible says (Hebrews 12:10) and that’s a good thing. “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (v.11).
What my dad did was take me to church every Sunday morning, every Sunday night, and every Wednesday night of my life. There was never any discussion, certainly no debate about whether I would go. It was part of life as surely as breathing.
Church was part of what God commanded Dad to do. “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord,” the apostle Paul instructed (Ephesians 6:4). And so dad did.
As we recently celebrated Father’s Day, I prayed that more dads would do what my dad did.