Updated: Jul 12, 2021
Sister Sybil Mack
It’s June and a time to celebrate Father’s Day and to recognize all men who have experienced the Joy of biologically and spiritually reproducing children.
I want to give recognition to my dad, James A. Bettis, who to me was the Mohammed Ali of
dads, The Greatest! Seriously, my dad was outnumbered almost from the start. After he and my mom were married, they had a daughter, then a son and then another daughter and then another and then another and then a son. Yes, six children in total; nevertheless, he carried the extraordinary weight of our family with smooth resolve and strength of character that we respected and loved.
Every now and then, I’m sure my dad probably got a little overwhelmed by all the children in our home, but God knew exactly what He was doing when He gave my dad six children. Fathers are one of God’s instruments. As we know, scripture tells us that the Cultural Mandate (Genesis 5:1-3) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) both require fathers.
Bless & Protect
Fathers are pillars in the development of a child's emotional well-being. Children look to their fathers and mothers to lay down the rules and enforce them. Children also look to their fathers to provide a feeling of security, both physical and emotional.
“What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent…If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11–13)
My dad wore his heart on his sleeve when it came to his children. He was raised by a single mother and he witnessed the struggles his mother went through every day. This was not something he wanted his children to experience, so he worked each day of his life for our family. We lived a simple life and didn’t have a lot, but we never knew it, because we were happy. As Jesus says in Luke 11, if we want to bless in simple ways, how much more does our Heavenly Father want to bless in profound ways? As God the Father wants to bless his kids, so earthly fathers are to bless theirs.
"Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." (Proverbs 1:8) "Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching.” (Ephesians 6:4)
Discipline means instruction that is both corrective and formative. Holistic discipline teaches while correcting. With my tenacious, aggressive, playful brothers, my father had to continuously teach them what their hands were for. When correcting them, he also explained to them that God gave them hands to love, protect, build, and serve. So, when a man is harming, he is not loving or protecting; when he is breaking, he is not building; when he is taking, he is not serving. He was able to punctuate this fact by being the example. Setting the example is probably the most terrifying of the responsibilities of a father because children are always watching and waiting to repeat your actions and especially repeat your words back to you. My father provided nurturing to a point, and provided the necessary discipline when situations required it.
“Train up a child in the way he should go. And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
“As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:13–14)
My wonderful dad realized that his children were human and would make mistakes as part of growing up. He always used the Good Book words of wisdom and promise, The Mighty Holy Word. He never ceased in teaching, exhibiting compassion and demonstrating unconditional love to our family constantly. Unfortunately, my dad is no longer with us here on this earth, but he is definitely missed. I thank him, because his teachings are just as warranted today in the raising of my children and I welcome the celebration Father’s Day each and every year to come.
The thing is, fathers, the only reason you endure to bless, protect, discipline, set an example, and love your children is because you have a Heavenly Father who has done all this – and so much more! – for you.