Focus On Fathers

Not many weeks ago, I did an article that was written to celebrate the essential role that mother’s play in both our family units and communities.  I selected Mrs. Vergie Peppers as the featured mother, who has in my observation embodied the role of motherhood.  Having witnessed and benefitting from her motherly qualities when I was growing up in New Town, made her the ideal person to feature in the article.  Now that Father’s Day is just a few days away, I would like to repeat what I did for Mother’s Day.  I have given much thought and consideration to who the featured father would be.  I know of quite a few men who would certainly fit into the category of being an outstanding father.  Men like A. B. Jordan, III, Famon Whitfield, Sr., Jackie Hayes, Levan Mitchell, Paul Freel, Timothy Moultrie, John Bumgardner, Jason Gunter, and quite a few others, who would make the cut.  However, there are two men who I am more familiar with in the role of being fathers than any others that I know that captured my attention.  Both of them just happen to be my brothers and that fact made it quite difficult to even consider them.  Nevertheless, when I arrived at the criteria for what constituted being an outstanding father.  I had to lay aside my personal reluctance and worry over what others might say about me celebrating one of my own brothers.  In actuality it was a hard choice between my brothers, Randy and Earl.  However, after much consideration, Earl became the father of choice to be featured in this article.  There are six things that I believe constitutes being an outstanding father that he exemplifies perhaps more than anyone else I personally know.  We are going to briefly consider each of them.

I am of the opinion that before a man can truly excel in the role of fatherhood, he must see himself as being indispensable in the life of his child.  This is not to say that he should think of himself as being God, but the one God set in that child’s life to perform a foundational function that no one else has been empowered and entrusted to perform.  In a true sense, he must see himself as being essential and irreplaceable, the one man above all others that has been positioned in that child’s life to help shape their character, attitude, and destiny during the formative years.  Regrettably, in the lives of far too many children this has not been the case.  My brother, Earl, who’s married to the former Denise Mitchell is the exception.  He has been in the lives of their three children (who are grown now) during their upbringing as Mr. Indispensable.  From the time that they were old enough to understand he established and exemplified this principle and practice.

The next thing that certifies one as an outstanding father that he certainly possesses is the ability and courage to instruct his children in the fundamentals of life. This responsibility covers a broad area of issues and subjects that are essential to learning if one has any expectation of succeeding.  Great fathers may not have graduated from neither high school nor college, but they assuredly matriculated in the school of life and graduated with honors.  They are certified with degrees in experience, application, and often time life-time achievement.  Once again, my brother has proven himself to be very proficient and effective in this aspect of being a father.  He has endeavored to discipline and instruct his children in the right way.  Giving them the fatherly instructions and education to succeed, if they would heed to his counsel and teaching.

The third quality of a great father is integrity (honesty, and character).  Children are some of the first to know if their father is true and trustworthy, especially as they mature to know right from wrong.  Integrity is without doubt one of the greatest ways we influence, instruct, and inspire our children.  Everything else we attempt to do, by way of preparing them for life, will be futile and ineffective if we are not men of character and integrity.  Simply stated, our children will follow our example more than our edict.  I can honestly say that my brother, Earl, is one who first teaches by example to his wife, children, and congregants at Faith Tabernacle Christian Center in St. Pauls, North Carolina, where he has served as the founding and senior pastor for over 37 years.

If one is to be a great father, he must be impartial in dealing with his children (if he has two or more).  He cannot have favorites.  Though they all are different and unique with various personalities, abilities, and needs, he must find a way to be an effective father to each one without demonstrating favoritism and partiality to any one child.  Again, my brother scores high in this category, as both his wife and children will affirm.

I will venture to say that this is arguably the category where most of us as fathers are failing or scoring the lowest.  We are frankly not as involved or related closely to the activities and needs of our children spiritually, socially, educationally, and even leisurely.  This is one of the areas that we mostly look back on with much regret as we age and become grandfathers.  We regret that we gave them much stuff without us; many toys and presents without our time and presence.  We worked and sacrificed to provide for them a better life than we had.  We sent them to college.  We bought them the best that we could afford by way of clothes and even cars.  Yes, we gave them everything, but the most important things that they longed for and needed was our time and presence.  Does this explain why a man is often a much better grandfather than he ever was a father to his grandchildren’s parents?  Perhaps nothing else inspires and encourages a child as when their father shows up for an event or something that they are participating in (whether at school, church, or etc.). Like me this is the area where my brother, Earl, would undoubtedly score his lowest.

This final category of what constitutes a great father, like all the others is derived from the teachings of the Bible.  I find it extremely difficult, if not impossible to talk about fatherhood without including this biblical trademark of being an outstanding father.  Renowned fathers like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Job were men who embraced the practice of intercession.  They prayed to God for their children.  All of the other qualities of being an outstanding father will either change or diminish as children grow into adults.  However, being an intercessor for our children is a lifelong calling.  This is perhaps my greatest quality as a father, as well as my brother’s.  We are both continually and fervently involved in praying for our children as well as others.  It is my sincere prayer that something we considered in this piece will stick with you, if you are a father and make you better at your job.  I have always believed that the saying, “the hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world,” was really referring to fathers.  Men if you are a father, do not be afraid to rock the cradle. Perhaps the child that you are rocking will one day be a teacher, a doctor, a preacher or even the president of the United States of America.