I love being a dad. I have a lot of titles, but this is one of my favorites.
Long story short, I grew up much of my childhood without a father in the home. It left some scars, but one thing it did was to make me very intentional to attempt to be a good dad. I remember as a 12-year-old boy praying specifically that if God ever gave me the opportunity, I'd be the best husband and father I could possibly be.
I fall short so many times, but it's not because I don't try. It may be because I get distracted, but it's not a lack of desire.
I was reflecting recently on the role of a dad. It's different. It's unique. It's challenging.
A dad has such a powerful impact on a child—good or bad—intentional or not—by what he does and doesn't do.
(Of course, mothers do also. I can't speak about that role as well, however. But, I know the role of dad well.)
But, oh how rewarding is being a dad! There's possibly no higher reward when a job is done well.
Want to be a great, intentional dad? Gift your child. Give them great gifts.
Not a better car—or another electronic device. Give them gifts that money cannot buy.
Here are seven of the best gifts a dad can give his child:
1. The confidence to say, "No thank you. That's not for me." Dads can give a child the ability to stand for what's right, rather than following the crowd. It's an empowerment to be different. When everyone else is "doing it"—whatever it is—a "gifted" child has that gut emotion of not only knowing the right thing but actually have the courage to do it—regardless of peer pressure and the search for popularity. Dads gift this as they live a model for their child of dependence on God and an independence from having to please others. They gift this by living moral lives even among an immoral culture.
2. The gumption to follow through on commitments. Don't you hate when someone commits to something they don't complete? We all do. Dads have the ability to gift their child a follow-through mentality. They model for them that a promise made is binding, unless providentially hindered. They do this by following through on their own commitments—to their child, their mother, and everyone else in their life. They live a life that exemplifies "my yes is yes and my no is no." They also do this by holding their children to high standards and making sure they are held accountable for their actions.
3. The tenacity to continue after a failure. Years ago we had a business failure. We had put all our hopes in this business for wealth and fame. It didn't work. In fact, God had other plans for our lives as we later learned. It took us a while to recover, however—especially me—financially and emotionally—but we did. I've learned failure is training ground for success. I'm convinced—in fact I know because they've told me—I gifted an example to my boys that when life throws a curve, you can learn again to hit home runs.
4. The courage to face fears. The world is scary, especially to a child. Dads give their children courage as they model facing risk and experiencing adventure, even when afraid. Good dads don't hide the emotion of fear, but they model courage as they move forward in spite of fear.
5. The strength to overcome obstacles. It's easier to always rescue our children. It's easier to always make things right, open all the doors for our kids and never make them stand on their own or struggle for what they want. Good dads gift their children a freedom to explore, freedom to imagine and freedom to fall and then the never-ending support to begin again.
6. The affirmation to pursue great dreams. Everyone needs someone in their corner who can affirm "You've got this! You can make it! Go for it!" Dads are uniquely positioned to be this gift in a child's life.
7. The freedom to discover who God designed them to be. There is a freedom in knowing you are loved by God, secure in your position in the family, and released to live boldly to the glory of God. Good dads invest spiritually in the life of their child. They teach them the truths of faith and grace. Good dads seek to discover and live out who God designed them to be—and allow children to watch the process unfold. And, make no doubt about it—they are watching!
I'm not pretending any of these can't be developed outside a dad relationship or that they are easy. I'm certainly not saying a mom can't provide these things. Absolutely not. My mom did for me.
But, I'm a dad. And, I love, love, love being a dad.
I am saying a dad has a unique opportunity for some of these—and—it's a special blessing for a dad and his children when he's the one doing some of the gifting.
Dad, what's the best gift you're giving your children these days?
Ron Edmondson is the senior pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. For the original article, visit ronedmondson.com.