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Dane Skelton is the Pastor of Faith Community Church and the author of Jungle Flight: Spiritual Adventures at the Ends of the Earth, a book of true stories from the ministry of JAARS (formerly Jungle Aviation and Radio Service). His second book, Papua Pilot: Flying the Bible to the Last Lost Peoples, co-authored with the late Paul Westlund, is now available on Amazon.com and Christianbook.com.
Dad, Daddy-O, Papa, Pops, the Giant, Daddy, Father. Whatever you call your father, I am sure the word abounds in emotions and memories. It can be difficult for us to give our individual definition of the word “father.” When my own dad asked me to write an article for Father’s Day, I was at a loss. All my brain could process was questions. “What do you want me to cover?” “Do you want me to write about the best traits of fathers?” “Do you want me to cover the attributes today’s fathers lack?” I certainly could not write about how to be a good father, nor could I give an account of lacking one. It does not appear to be a daunting task, but putting a generalization of someone you have grown up with into words is not the easiest thing in the world. However, my experience as a daughter is what I have and I have chosen to use it to produce what I call “The Case for Fathers” which I apply to today and use to describe the greatest men in our lives and our need for them.
In today’s society we are often told that men, as heads of the household, are not necessary. With increasing equality for women, the homosexual movement, and the failure of many young fathers to take responsibility for their families the “man of the house” idea has become meaningless. As Kathleen Parker stated in her article, “What’s the newest dirty word? ‘Father’”, “the Pew Research Center recently found that four in 10 American households with children under age 18 include a mother who is either the primary breadwinner or the sole earner (quadruple the share in 1960).” The assumption is then that the traditional idea of a family is irrelevant. What is overlooked, however, is our society’s basic need of a father figure.
My family has always enjoyed watching the show NCIS. The primary character of that show and the hero of anyone who is an avid fan is Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Gibbs is a quiet, strong, wise, protective man that takes care of his team. He, along with so many other TV and movie favorites (think: Bill Cosby from The Cosby Show, Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia, the original Zorro in The Mask of Zorro, and Coach Boone from Remember the Titans) represents something that America always loves to see and, whether we know it or not, needs. Each and every one of them represents a father figure. That strong, courageous, protective, fighting, man that fixes things, gets the bad guy, and assures us that everything will be all right in the end. Feminists would say that these main men are yet another example of our unequal, sexist world, but I think that that is an unfair viewpoint that refuses to take into account our need of a father figure. When people look at one of these men, they say, “he’s a leader” and that leader may be just what that person needs or has always wanted.
Fathers and father figures fill the space in our hearts meant for leaders and heroes. They teach us necessary skills like how to drive a stick-shift and how to mow the grass. They show us how to fight when we are threatened and how to keep on fighting through disasters by example. They discipline us when we need it and teach us to hold ourselves accountable for our mistakes. Fathers fix things and stand guard while teaching us to be grateful for what we have and never to complain. In my experience, fathers are our biggest fans and we would be doing them a grave injustice if we were not theirs.