I think that hands down, being a Dad is the toughest and the hardest and the most stressful and the most demanding job. Ever. In the whole wide world. Here are a few reasons why:
- Dad's are engaged everyday in the biggest fight of their lives. They have a whole lot more people and pressures and influences knocking them down and kicking them around than they do lifting them up and supporting and encouraging. For every effort Dads makes to take a step forward for his family, there is someone or something trying to drag his family several steps back. Media belittles dads, entertainment makes fun of dads, and politics tells dads they're not anymore significant or anymore needed than a mom. I, for one, wouldn't be psyched to wake up everyday when the noise around me said I wasn't important. Here's the reality though: not always, but quite often, when Dads fail, their families fail.
- Dad's have to work their tails off everyday to provide for their families and ensure their physical needs are met. We can debate if it's right/wrong for mom's to work, but that's not the issue. God has instructed men to provide and care for their families to the best of their ability. I'd likely crumble under the pressure and the stress of making finances and daily provisions work for our family.
- Dad's spend their days working hard and facing stresses that the rest of the family doesn't understand, only to come home and be expected to immediately switch gears and play with kids, help with household chores, and give his wife meaningful conversation and attention. I'd imagine it's pretty hard to go from the intensity of business deals and rhetoric to gitchy-gitchy-goo language with kids to "Honey I love you and can't wait to sit on the couch and listen to you talk all about your day." Strangely though, when Dad's don't do all of this, and do it well, they're told they're dropping the ball and not meeting the family needs.
And the list continues. On and on.
I know that the word Dad means different things to different people and that it conjures up an explosion of emotions. My heart breaks for friends who don't have a Dad they know, a Dad they talk with, or a Dad they ever felt love from.
When God looked down from heaven and decided that I should come to be, he extended amazing grace and favor by placing me in the home he did, and with the Dad he did. For me, here are some of the things Dad makes me think of:
- Work ethic. My Dad works hard. The kind of hard that means despite really long hours and unfair circumstances and unethical management, he wakes up each morning (at 4:30 am) to put his best foot forward without complaint or grudge. He does more than his fair share of work. He puts in more than a honest days work. He goes above and beyond - always - because he believes that God never asks him for mediocrity, only excellence.
- Servant heart. My Dad serves his church. He serves the people in his church. He serves the pastors. He serves our family. Maintenance project at church - he's there. Deacon obligations - he fulfills them. Teaching classes - he's willing. Praying with and supporting pastors - he gives his all. Fixing toys and tackling honey-do-lists and helping with homework and attending soccer games - he did it all. And he does it all above and beyond - always - because he believed that God never asks him for mediocrity, only excellence.
- Financial stewardship. My Dad saves his money. My Dad gives his money. My Dad manages his money. I cannot remember a single time growing up that my family went without our needs being met. And, I can remember a lot of times that even our wants were met. My Dad ensures that his personal finances never involve debt. My Dad ensures that tithe and sacrificial giving to his local church are always a regular priority. My Dad made sure that our family took vacations and enjoyed private education. I can't tell you how many times I've heard my Dad say, "Money is never the important thing. It's what you do for eternity with your money because in the end, anything money can buy is all going to burn." He said this and he lived this, above and beyond because he believed that God never asks him for mediocrity, only excellence.
- Godly love. My Dad makes it clear how much he loves and cherishes my Mom. He would verbally tell my brothers and I again and again that he didn't deserve the wife God gave him and that divorce wasn't ever an option, and wasn't even a word in his vocabulary for that matter. Wow. Statistics today show that kind of commitment to be one in a million. But his commitment is above and beyond - always - because he believes that God never asks him for mediocrity, only excellence.
And so here I am today - a wife and mom. I've sure got a long way to go in giving my husband what he needs and what he deserves. But, I can for sure say that my decision to marry Grady was a really easy one. It was easy because my Dad gave me such a crystal clear vision of what a godly man needed to look like, that when Grady entered my life I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt he was the one.
It was easy to say "I do" to a man who clearly loved Jesus more than he loved me; to a man who demonstrated gentle but firm love in his words and actions; to a man who was committed to serving his church and his pastors; to a man who insisted that our wedding vows contain the words "I will never divorce you;" and to a man who, from before we were together, demonstrated a work ethic that is unstoppable.
And now, nine years later, he has the joy of wearing the title Dad for three little ones. And guess what? So far, above and beyond. So far, excellence. So far, the Dad of any little one's dreams. But he fights hard and works hard and loves hard- everyday. And I know it's not easy, but I know I love him deeper each day for his passion to pursue Jesus and be a better man.