The Making of a Father

Jun 04 2024 The Making of a Father

I want to tell you a story of a young boy. His parents divorced when he was young…I don’t remember his exact age, but he was too young to remember his father, anyway. He and his mom moved to a new town to live with his grandparents in a little bitty house. Across from this house there was a church that he’d get dropped off to every now and then. His mom didn’t stay, but somehow, he knew he’d be just fine there. When he was about 7, his mom announced she was going to marry again. So, this little boy moved again with his mom and a new stepdad to a new town and a new little bitty home, this time without indoor plumbing. Life was difficult, but the new family managed. Some years later, they moved down south. Work was hard and pay was little for the stepfather–some nights the little boy collected soda bottles to earn money for dinner. Back then, a couple of recycled bottles would buy a pack of bologna, a loaf of bread, and a six pack of soda. The little boy grew up, never hearing from his father or being desired by his stepfather. When he turned 18, the boy decided to phone his biological father for the first time since he left to tell him about graduation. His dad told him he was never his son and never wanted to hear from him again.

Well, that little boy was me. You may have never heard this story before­—I don’t talk about it often—but I wanted to share this to show you that even if you didn’t have the best father (or any father) growing up, you can still learn to be a present, effective, and loving father with your kids. My life changed when I was introduced to Jesus. I didn’t have a model to follow from the men in my life, but through reading the Bible and learning to follow the Man I read about in the Scriptures, I learned what a father should be—and created four priorities that guide the way I live today.

I believe the most effective fathers are the men who live by these same Four Priorities. They aren’t perfect, but they consistently work towards loving God first and foremost (Priority 1), taking care of themselves mentally, physically, and emotionally (Priority 2) so that they can nurture emotionally healthy relationships with their family and loved ones (Priority 3), and also do what they can with the influence God has given them with those who don’t know Jesus (Priority 4).

So the question is, how are you doing? Remember, no one is perfect. Well, except Jesus – and he was crucified for it. All I’m asking you is–what are you doing with what you’ve been given? You’ve been given this life. This family. This season. Take some time to think through and describe what your relationship with Jesus Christ is like. How are you doing taking care of the mind, body, and soul that God gave you? How’s your relationship with your spouse and kids going? What are you doing to influence the lives of others who don’t know Jesus?

Listen, this exercise isn’t meant to make you feel bad if you fall short in one or more of these areas. It’s meant to be a wakeup call to be the best father you can be. You’ve got to model it out first so that your kids can “get it” too, and pray for God’s grace to fill in the gaps. If you find yourself a little depleted in one of these Priorities, then grab a copy of The Four Priorities and make it point to get back on track. Better yet, ask someone if they’d like to read it with you. If you’ve already read it and you need a tune up in one area, work on that Priority over the summer!

Punky and I consider it a great privilege to pray for you — specifically, for a need or burden you might have, or to celebrate what God is doing in your life. This is one way we can stay connected to do you and do life together. Just send me an email and let us know how to pray — and we will!

Warmly in Him,
John Tolson