The Importance of Fathers
Father's Day is celebrated throughout the world on different days, with different histories and traditions. But the American holiday, the third Sunday of June, has its origins in a West Virginia Methodist church.1
“The history of Father’s Day goes back to 1908 when a church in West Virginia held a sermon to honor 362 men who were killed the previous year in a coal mining explosion. This was the country’s first-ever event to strictly honor fathers.”2
“Grace Golden Clayton, the daughter of a dedicated minister, proposed a service to honor all fathers, especially those who had died. However, the observance did not become an annual event, and it was not promoted; very few people outside of the local area knew about it. Meanwhile, across the entire country, another woman was inspired to honor fathers …
“In 1909, Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington, 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. Thus, on June 19, 1910, the first Father’s Day events commenced: Sonora delivered presents to handicapped fathers, boys from the YMCA decorated their lapels with fresh-cut roses (red for living fathers, white for the deceased), and the city’s ministers devoted their homilies to fatherhood.
“The widely publicized events in Spokane 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. However, the holiday did not catch on right away, perhaps due to the perceived parallels with Mother’s Day.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson and his family personally observed the day.
Eight years later, President Calvin Coolidge signed a resolution in favor of Father’s Day ‘to establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children and to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations.’
In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed an executive order that the holiday be celebrated on the third Sunday in June.
Under President Richard Nixon, in 1972, Congress passed an act officially making Father’s Day a national holiday. (Six years later, Sonora died at age 96.)” 3
God decided that the most ideal atmosphere/environment in which to raise children was one that included both a dad and a mom. Much effort has been made by many on the Left over the last few decades to downplay the need for fathers. However, the facts speak for themselves and prove them wrong. Chris Bolinger points out that “Kids who grow up with a father who is present and engaged are less likely to drop out of school or wind up in jail. When a dad has a close relationship with his children, they tend to have higher IQs, have fewer psychological problems, avoid high-risk behaviors (such as sex at a young age), and grow up to have high-paying jobs and healthy relationships.
“Dads also play a key role in the faith lives of their children.
“According to a detailed study conducted several decades ago, a father’s church attendance has a much greater impact on the future attendance of his children than a mother’s attendance. The study found that, if a father does not go to church, no matter how faithful his wife’s attendance, only one child in 50 will become a regular worshipper.
“On the other hand, if a father does go to church regularly, regardless of the practice of the other, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers. Even if a father goes irregularly to church, regardless of his wife’s attendance, between a half and two-thirds of their children will come to church, at least occasionally, as adults.”4
If you had a good relationship with your dad, thank him today. If you experienced pain from the actions of your father, whether through absenteeism, abuse, or the inability to give and communicate love, if you have not already done so, make the choice to forgive him. Clarence L. Haynes, in a great article found in Crosswalk.com, speaks of his need to forgive his dad.
“I didn’t grow up with the greatest relationship with my father. For many years I carried around anger and unforgiveness because of this.
“One day while praying, God reminded me of one affirmation I needed to give to my father. That affirmation was forgiveness.
“He didn’t do everything right. He made a lot of mistakes. I had a right to be angry, or at least I thought I did. I didn’t realize how heavy the weight was that I was carrying around until I released it and forgave my father.
“If you are dealing with a dad who wasn’t the ‘ideal’ father, then this Father’s Day may require you to offer forgiveness. Of all the affirmations you can give...this one will be the hardest. However, if you can truly do this, with all sincerity, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, there is freedom on the other side of it.
“If this is you...then give the affirmation of forgiveness to your father this year. He needs to hear it. And more importantly, you need to give it.”5
If the father you need to forgive is no longer alive, you can still forgive them and be released from your pain and any lingering effects. Writing them a letter is a good way to do so; for some, writing the forgiveness seems to release the pain.
Finally, this Father’s Day, consider honoring a father other than your biological dad. A spiritual father, perhaps, or a man who became a good mentor or role model for you. This could be a neighbor, pastor, someone in business, a teacher, a relative, or even someone you don't know personally who has influenced or shaped you through their podcasts or writings. Send them a card or a note - it’s never too late. Honor is ALWAYS a good thing. And it blesses both the giver and the recipient.
Pray with me:
God, we pray for fathers on this Father’s Day. It’s a hard job to be a father. That is especially so in this current moral and ethical climate. Many dads feel a tremendous weight of responsibility to lead our sons and daughters to maturity through a climate so opposed to You and Your ways. They need the leading, guidance, and direction of You, Heavenly Father, like never before.
You provided faith to Abraham. You completely turned around the life of Job, restoring everything he lost to tragedy. You took a thrown-away, rejected, and falsely accused Joseph and gave him authority over the salvation of a nation. You changed Jacob’s manipulative nature and renamed him Israel—a father of the nation that gave us our Redeemer. You found a defeated Moses on the backside of the desert, redeemed his life, gave him a new purpose, and used him to be the deliverer of Your people in his generation. Today’s fathers need You to do the same types of things in their lives as well, Lord. Teach us Your ways so we may rely on your faithfulness and walk in Your truth. Amen.
We will honor the Fathers who have been used to bless and shape our lives.
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