Honor Dad, Don’t Beat Him Down

All across America this weekend men will attend church. And most will leave a couple hours later after being beaten up about the state of American fatherhood. What, did you think this day was in honor of you? No. At best it’s an excuse to eat a big steak. And you deserve it after being told that all of America’s problems are your fault, ’cause you are not getting it done as a dad.

Last month we celebrated Mother’s Day. Many churches gave out flowers, and talked about how much we love our moms. Years ago, lots of ladies hated Mother’s Day. But now churches have taken steps to make them feel appreciated. They have special prayer for those couples who want kids, but have not been able to conceive. They have special moments for birth moms and adopted children. They honor mothers who have died. And they never, ever mention Proverbs 31 and the Ultimate Mom.

But it’s open season on bad fathers.

Let me be clear, being a father is a huge responsibility. And we do really stink at it overall. We are failing. But is taking one Sunday a year to drive that guilt home going to actually change anything? If fatherhood is a big deal (and it is) shouldn’t we talk about it more than just one Sunday in June? Is one sermon a year going to fix anything?

I know why there is a difference in sermons between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Every pastor has a mom. They know what moms mean to their kids. Their personal experience leads them to naturally celebrate motherhood. But many pastors are also fathers. They know from personal experience how easy it is to fall short, even when you try hard. So they feel like they do not deserve praise, and have a hard time spreading praise about fatherhood around.

But for most of my life I have heard ought-to-be-better Father’s Day messages, and the world isn’t better for it. It’s obvious that society’s father-woes won’t be fixed by dumping on dad once a year. Maybe we should change tactics?

Pastors, I know it’s late in the game for this year, but as you plan for next year’s Father’s Day how about spending more time honoring what is good about dad than you do harping on what is bad? Let’s celebrate the good dads. Highlight successful fatherhood. And let’s do it throughout the year.