Consider this prayer for Father’s Day:
Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts; The whole earth is full of Your glory.
Thank you, Father, for the examples of my dad and other men who invested themselves in my life for Your purposes. Although they were human and susceptible to sin, they stayed true, faithful, and godly.
In this culture of mayhem, may the lives of these godly men be seen again as “normal” for all who love Christ and seek His will. May their faithfulness be re-birthed and celebrated in this generation.
As a young boy, I once asked my dad why he stopped participating in vices that were considered normative in the world of auto repair. I knew the people he worked with considered a cigar or cigarette to be normative, and an occasional alcoholic beverage was just what the guys did when they leaned against a fender at the end of a shift to spout expletives about the troubles of the day.
But dad was different. How come? Was it a church rule or something? After all, we did have the 8-point record system at our church to hold us accountable, but there wasn’t a square to check that said we didn’t smoke, drink, or swear.
So I inquired, “Why did you quit doing those things?”
Dad paused from his work of shining that big chrome bumper that I got to help him hang on the front of the customer’s car. He started wiping his hand on a rag and said in his gentle voice, “Because you boys need me to stop, and someday when you have kids you will understand.”
What a drop-the-mike moment! In just sixteen profound words, my dad gave me one of many life lessons. The primary message for that moment was that being a father is not just about me and what I want to do. Neither is fatherhood simply telling your progeny what to do.
Fatherhood is about daily equipping the next generation with truth—truth that is loving, sustainable and invaluable. I am grateful for my dad.
Where did Father’s Day begin?
According to an Old Farmer’s Almanac article by Aurelia C. Scott, it took a while for the nation to adopt a day celebrating fatherhood.
In 1909, Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Wash., was inspired by Anna Jarvis and the idea of Mother’s Day. Her father, William Jackson Smart, a farmer and Civil War veteran, was also a single parent who raised Sonora and her five brothers by himself, after his wife Ellen died giving birth to their youngest child in 1898. While attending a Mother’s Day church service in 1909, Sonora, then 27 years old, came up with the idea.
Within a few months, Sonora had convinced the Spokane Ministerial Association and the YMCA to set aside a Sunday in June to celebrate fathers. She proposed June 5, her father’s birthday, but the ministers chose the third Sunday in June so that they would have more time after Mother’s Day (the second Sunday in May) to prepare their sermons.
On June 19, 1910, the first Father’s Day events commenced: Sonora delivered gifts to handicapped fathers, boys from the YMCA decorated their lapels with fresh-cut roses (red for living fathers, white for the deceased), and the church ministers devoted their messages to fatherhood.
Before the days of social media, the news spread about the events in Spokane. It struck a chord that reached all the way to Washington, D.C., and Sonora’s celebration put the idea on the path to becoming a national holiday.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson and his family personally observed the day. President Calvin Coolidge signed a Father’s Day resolution “to establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children and impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations.”
It wasn’t until 1972 that Congress passed and President Richard Nixon signed an act officially making Father’s Day a national holiday on the third Sunday in June.
There are a host of studies that show the negative impact of absentee fathers. In a sense, today, Father’s Day helps demonstrate the importance and value of fatherhood—and the gifts beyond material goods that a father bestows on his children and family.
I can honestly proclaim that my dad’s life—his kindness, his integrity, his “fix it” capabilities, and his words are the indelible testimony of a great father.