I have been thinking of two incidents concerning a father’s behavior and it’s long-lasting consequences.
The first experience has to do with a young lady whom we shall call Beth. No, that is not her real name. Beth is the daughter of a fairly well-known Texas pastor. He pastored a church that, from what I understand, was considered a “large” church by Texas Baptist standards. Usually, that means over 600 attenders, maybe up to a little over 1000 Sunday attenders/members. She was a master’s student when I met her, and she was complaining of the lack of suitable men to date at the school. To be fair, there were three women to every man at that time.
I was a seminary student, and I told her I would set her up with one of my friends. She vehemently said, “NO! I refuse to date one of those preacher boys.” I asked for further explanation. She said that even though her dad was an excellent preacher/pastor and a loving father, he was a horrible husband. His wife always 3rd to 4th best of his time. She was always second chair to the kids and his work/church. Beth told me that she wanted a man who would love her more than his job, even prioritizing her above the kids.
Secondly, I had the chance to speak with one of our community leaders the other day. We’ll call him Joe. He’s a youngish man, somewhere in his 30s, maybe 40s. He runs at least one profitable business, is a mover and shaker in his housing association, has a beautiful family, and seems to be the epitome of success. I found out that he goes to one of the most “happening” churches in Tarrant County. I was impressed, so I asked him about his involvement with the church. He told me that his family went on many mission trips, digging water wells in poor countries, and other humanitarian endeavors. I complimented him on his service, to which he responded that he didn’t go at all. It was his wife and kids that went. He “paid” for those trips. Also, he said there was no way he was going to travel to some poor, dangerous country, and possibly not return home to his children.
While I compliment him on recognizing that his kids benefit in having a living dad, I feel sorry for Joe. I feel sorry for Beth. I feel sorry for Joe’s family and Beth’s dad.
I feel sorry for all men that believe their jobs hold a priority over their wives. I feel sorry for dads that remain absent from their children’s lives, excusing themselves by “bringing home the bacon.” We don’t know the damage we do.
I think Scripture can help us out here.
Ephesians 5.25 explicitly tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. Jesus loved the Church by sacrificing himself for her. The husband who sacrifices his wife upon the altar of his vocation, is not fit to be married. He isn’t even fit to call himself a “man.” We may be male by nature, but we show we are not men by our lack of self-sacrifice for our mate. Working 70 hours a week does nothing but separate us from those that need us most. Our family would dearly benefit from a pay cut, if they can have a raise in our quality time spent with them.
When Lorie was pregnant with Darren, one of my deacons told me, “Tim, the best thing your can give your son is a daddy that loves his mama.” Wiser words I have not heard. Guys, our wives need us more than they need our paycheck. Our children need us sacrificially loving our wives more than they need that PS3.
Secondly, our children need our participation in their lives. Whether we are present or absent, father’s have the greatest impact upon their children, more so than any other source. If we prioritize work over them, there is a horribly great chance that they will grow into adults that do the same. The greatest thing we can give them, is not a long life of not-so-quality time. But instead, a life (however long or short) of hands-on quality time. It is 100 times more meaningful if a dad goes on that mission trip with his family, than just cutting a check for the cost.
Guys, when are we going to get it? When will we stop this tragic male behavior, and step up and be men? Our families are desperate for real Men in their lives. We have to move beyond the tragic male behavior.