I was around nine years old, when my dad and I took an evening trip to Kmart. My dad wanted to get a country music album. I can’t remember the artist or the car we drove, but I’ll never forget what happened.
My dad has never been the type of guy who enjoys spending money on himself. When you look up “frugal” or “thrifty” in the dictionary, it should say, “Ron Cunningham.” So it shocked me that he splurged on this album. As we sat in the car after the purchase, Dad counted his change and looked at the receipt. He discovered that the cashier had given him too much change. He said, “Wait here.” He went back inside the store to settle the account and give back the excess change. Dad is a model of integrity.
Focus on the Family recently released a curriculum titled The Family Project. I watched all twelve sessions of this curriculum in three days. It caught my attention and never lost it. In the “Fathers as Image Bearers” session they share, “The presence and participation of the father changes everything.” Children need fathers. Dads provide safety and security in the home.
I may be present in the home, but what is my participation level? Am I an engaged dad or an observing dad? I think most dads relate to being exhausted and “checked out” from the family, even when they are at home. As I heard Pastor Tommy Nelson say years ago, “When dad goes passive, the home goes dead.” Making a living and taking care of a family is stressful, but I never want that to be an excuse for being an observing dad. We dads must engage in our homes.
Why is this so important? It’s important because Dad exemplifies our relationship with our heavenly Father. Ephesians 6:4 puts it this way: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” I like how Eugene Peterson puts this in his paraphrase of The Message. He says, “Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.”
I have a son and a daughter. My daughter holds my hand all the time, and she still calls me Daddy. She’s eleven years old. She knows I love her calling me daddy and never want that to change.
Carson is a different story. He’s my boy, and his attitude is: “We fight together, Dad.” I’m his karate practice partner. I’m the one he elbows and knees. This is how we bond. He’s not a hand holder unless we’re in a crowd. When we’re surrounded by tall people, he automatically reaches for my hand. More than simply not provoking our children to wrath, that verse in Ephesians encourages us to guide them daily through our participation and presence in the home.
Excerpt from Chapter 3 of The Power of Home by Ted Cunningham. Learn more at thepowerofhomethebook.com.
Ted Cunningham is a graduate of Liberty University and Dallas Theological Seminary whose previous books include Fun Loving You and Trophy Child. He has also co-authored four books with Dr. Gary Smalley. Cunningham founded Woodland Hills Family Church in Branson, Missouri, where he has ministered for more than thirteen years. He and his wife Amy have two children.
Copyright © 2015 by Ted Cunninngham
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