By Clint Humphrey
Before we jump into the middle of this, I want to take a moment to say thanks to Lara for asking me to write a piece for Father’s Day! Thank you to each of you who have played and are currently playing a role in creating a culture of biblically wise, spiritual leaders. Thank you to each of you who volunteer and give up time away from your jobs, homes, and families to pour into the lives of others in the community and church. Know that I have seen both the efforts to put on the events and write the studies, and I get to live life alongside people who are now showing the fruits of your labor. In Colossians 3 Paul writes to teach and instruct us to “Let the message of Christ, in all its richness, fill our lives. Teach and counsel one another with all the wisdom He gives” and I think that you all reflect that and I greatly appreciate the sacrifice and willingness to do so!
As many of you know, my wife, Shelby, and I have a sweet baby boy, Maverick. At the time of writing this, he is almost 6 months old. We are still in the honeymoon stage of having a newborn. He’s not quite old enough to throw temper tantrums, talk back, or say no. It’s wonderful! Every day is something new with him. We learn so much about ourselves and how to handle each situation in the moment. We never expected that part of parenting. Maverick is the greatest blessing we never knew we needed! So much has changed in us, for the better, and that is some of what I would like to share with you.
When we found out that we were pregnant with Maverick, there were so many emotions. We had been married a little over two years and had initially planned on waiting 4-5 years until seriously considering to start a family. I remember immediately being excited but also having doubts about myself becoming a father. About my wife becoming a mother. Were we ready? Was this the right time? This wasn’t our plan, but if this is what God has for us, He must have had a plan greater than our own. For the better part of those 2 years we had been married, we had walked with some friends through a very difficult pregnancy and even harder time after their first son was born. There were many complications and I remember how hard it was on them. Truly painful, faith-shaking times. Some of our best friends were in the middle of the struggle with infertility, and we tried our best to walk with them through treatments, poor test results, and even miscarriages. Yet there we were, not really trying, but pregnant. Now, don’t mistake the fact that we were excited, and still count our sweet boy as one of the best things to happen to us in our lives. This struggle is one we continue to walk through. Knowing we had success and were blessed, even when those closest to us are still walking through the hurt and disappointment of trying and failing. Wanting and not receiving. If there is a first point to make with what I have to share with you, it would be a calling we have as believers. “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”
I know that for me, as a new dad, I struggle with insecurities of how to handle situations. Even during Shelby’s pregnancy with Mav, we began having conversations about how we thought best to parent. For years I would tell people my biggest fear was snakes, and I’m still not a fan. Creepy, slithery things. Since Maverick has been around, my biggest fear, one of those frightening things that make your stomach knot up, a fear that makes you feel queasy and uncomfortable thinking about it kind of fears, is that we would fail him as parents in leading him to walk in faith with a firm belief that Christ is his Savior. My biggest fear is that through our actions and words, we would cause him to doubt the legitimacy of Christ’s resurrection or that God loves him. So Shelby and I began to challenge one another to look more like Christ daily. If we were to be patient in our decisions and reactions with each other and others, then surely the more that we pursued the Lord, our lives would end up looking more like Him. Before Mav was even born, we talked through how to handle certain situations, or what decisions we might make that would lead our family to glorify God through our lives. It began with the purchase of his first bible, THE JESUS STORYBOOK BIBLE. He’s got to hear the Truth before knowing the Truth. So we can start with reading it to him as soon as he’s born. Then it quickly jumped to what sports would we want him to play? How serious would we be about those sports? If he’s a natural athlete, do we pursue select teams or private coaching as he got older to maybe help pay for college with scholarships? How soon would we get Uncle Lance to teach him piano or guitar? How do we handle the conversation when he decided he wants to travel the world and be a rock star? How much TV would he be allowed to watch? How much screen time would he get as a toddler? Obviously, technology is such an integral part of our world. If we limit him, would he be behind the curve? If we allow him freedoms in the name of education, would it ultimately be a bad influence and be a corrupt thing we have to fight against later on? When should he have his first phone? You’ve all heard the song that says “Mama’s don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys!” Shelby and I completely disagree! This is Texas after all. Some of the wisest, more God-fearing men I have ever met were cowboys. By all means, we would love to raise a doctor, lawyer, banker, fireman, teacher, or soldier. But a cowboy is just fine with us. It’s all kind of crazy sounding though, right? Two kids in their twenties, trying to talk about the best ways to parent without actually having kids yet. Listen, I get it. I know you are reading this laughing to yourself thinking “Oh, to be young and naive again!” But we were! We are! Ultimately, the profession does not matter to us, as long as he is happy and is using his gifts and abilities to serve the Lord. That’s what our conversations should be pointing towards and what the end goal should be through this parenting part of our lives. We don’t want to raise a young man that just wants to ‘be like dad’. We want to raise a godly man, whose life looks like that of a man pursuing a Heavenly Father.
I think, for us, if we talk through things we have had better success knowing what each other was thinking or how we would react. A huge fault in marriages, and often times what cause people to give up on them, is the lack of communication. In the end, we may be completely wrong. Our concerns may never come up or may go totally different than we had planned. And that’s ok!
The bigger issue is that people don’t want to talk about possible problems. We don’t want to face the ‘what if’s’. We don’t want to address what our true feelings or insecurities are about those situations. We don’t want to be vulnerable. Not just as parents, but as people.
For a lot of us, we grew up in homes where Mom was the caretaker, and Dad was the character builder. If we were sick or got hurt, Mom was there to take care of us. If we were taking leaps of courage or having to deal with bullies at school, Dad was there to instruct and help us through those moments. You remember those, don’t you? Your first soccer game, or your first dance or piano recital and he was there to cheer you on and congratulate you. The first time you put your toes on the edge of the pool and dad was standing just far enough out in the water for you to have to jump into his arms. When you came downstairs, and he told you how good you looked for your first date. When your first car broke down or had a flat and dad showed up to fix it. When you walked across the stage at your graduation. When he held your hand and walked you down the aisle at your wedding. That moment when he finally held your first newborn baby. Remember how much joy you had knowing dad was there and how much that meant to you? We all want dad to be there for those moments. We all want our fathers to see us for who we are, and acknowledge our gifts and our passions.
We all want to make the right decisions.
We all have a need for approval.
We all want to feel valued.
We all want to be accepted.
We all want to be loved.
The reality is that this topic may hurt for some of us. Just mentioning ‘dad’ makes you cringe. The thought of ‘dad’ makes you flinch or become angry. When you think about ‘dad’, all you can think about is the void that was left. When I brought up all of the times where ‘dad’ should have been there, you came up blank. There weren’t many memories like that in your childhood. Often times when you wanted ‘Dad’ to be cheering you on or celebrating your accomplishments you were met with disgust or anger. ‘Dad’ didn’t agree with your choices and he was sure to let you know. For a lot of people, ‘dad’ wasn’t even around. It was either disinterest, distance, or death that separated them from their father. To some of you, ‘Dad’ is what your kids call your ex-husband. When you hear them talk about ‘Dad’ you become filled with either rage or heartache.
For these people, Father’s Day stings. Instead of loving on dad by grilling in the backyard, going on a road trip, or just going to get his favorite donuts with him, totally different emotions come flooding in. For so many, just the thought of ‘dad’ leaves them feeling…
If you are reading this and think that any of those apply to you, know that there is a better truth and that God wants more for you. He HAS more for you. He IS more for you! If you read this and immediately thought of someone who you know may be walking under the weight of those words on them, reach out to them with the truth of the gospel and a tender heart.
Friends, know this: God has not left us. He has not abandoned us. He has not moved on from us. He will not walk out on us. He is not trying to hurt us. He is not trying to scare us, embarrass us, or intimidate us. He has promised so much more for us! We are given many certainties about God through the scriptures and that’s where I would love for you to run to in times of doubt or hurt. We are given a promise in Psalm 27. “Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.” I understand that your earthly father may have let you down, but know that your Heavenly Father loves you and wants His best for you! For many, you had a father in your life that caused a lot of hurt and pain. They left you feeling unloved or unloveable. I want to encourage you and even plead with you to let that go and begin living in a new truth. Dig into what the Word tells us. God loves us, more than anyone ever would. He loves us despite our failures. Despite our doubt. Despite what our enemies try to tell us. Listen to this incredible passage as Paul is reminding us of the love that our perfect Heavenly Father has for YOU. In Romans 8 it says, “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love?” Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Paul even reminded some of the churches of this through his retelling of Old Testament promises. In 2 Corinthians 6, he reminds the people about Gods love for His people from the books of Ezekiel and Leviticus. “As God said: I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
You see, there is nothing more comprehensive than the love of God. He made you. He sees you. He approves of you. He values you. He wants more for you. In those times where your earthly father let you down, please remember that you have a Heavenly Father that has always been there. He always will be. No one will ever love you more, give you more, be present for more, or want you more than your Heavenly Father.
As believers, we are given some responsibilities with our faith. We are not called to accept, believe, and then go our merry way. In the spirit of what we just read, and in knowing that we are loved, I want to let Paul bring us back to where we started. Our calling as believers. This is one of my favorite scriptures and I hope that through this long winded post, that if nothing really hit home and if you are still following along that you would take this and run with it. We will all be better off for knowing it and applying it. In Colossians 3 he writes, “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”
When God created us, he designed it so that our passions and gifts would be our contributions to the greater good in the world for HIS glory. We weren’t created to grind our lives away into a job that we hate, a circle of friends that tear down more than they build up, or to retire into our unhappy lives, burying ourselves in our own self-loathing. No. We were created with purpose and with passions that build up those around us, all to give glory to a perfect Heavenly Father. All to praise Him. We were created to share in what is now and for what is to come. To share our faith with those around us. I love that the scriptures charge us to live as examples of Christ, not just in our words, but our deeds. How we work brings glory to God. How we treat those around us, how we share our faith, how we love on those in need, and how we give more of ourselves with cheerful hearts, brings glory to God. And praise God, that through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, one day we will share in that glory with Him!
Coming into Fathers Day weekend, a wonderful day for all of us dads to eat all the bacon we want, spend a little more time on the lake, floating in the pool, or playing with our kids, this is also one of the hardest days of the year for MANY people around us. As your days come and go, I urge you to be aware and tend to those around you who are in the midst of the storm. Take time to celebrate your father and your husband, the father of your kids. But friends, please do not forget to reach out and love on those who may be hurting from the void of being fatherless.
As children, make sure Dad knows you love him today. Call him or go see him. Thank him for each of those moments where his wisdom greatly impacted you! As wives, thank your husband for all that they do. A lot of times we have jobs we may not enjoy or may not be good at, but they provide for our families. That sacrifice needs to not go unseen. Thank your husbands for being role models for your children. Thank them for being present and cheering on your children. I promise neither of you will be able to judge the influence that his presence has in the moment, but your kids will forever remember the little things. If you are single, pray for the man to come. Pray that if the Lord may have someone for you, they would look more like Jesus than anyone you’ve ever met.
Again, thank you for following along! If any of this hits home with you and you feel like you want to need to talk to someone more about it, please do not hesitate to reach out to myself, my wife Shelby, Lara, or any of the church leadership! I love you, and am so thankful for your willingness to pursue the Lord and to love those around you!