One of the traditions of my family is a promise we all made to the mother of the family. That promise is that come Christmas time we would all put down whatever we were doing and show up for a family gathering on Christmas Eve. My wife is the leader of that event and usually has an activity to participate in, over and above a good meal and opening the gifts. We begin with a family member reading the story of the Christ Child. A few years ago she went around the room and asked each person to tell what family member has had the most inﬂuence on their lives.
I remember the oldest of my three sons say, grudgingly, that I had been the greatest inﬂuence on his life. That was a good moment for me. I presume the other two feel the same way, but hearing that left me with the thought “well done.”
I have tried to be a good Father based on how my Father was with his “brood” of four children. We never saw him drink or drunk, never saw violence to our mother and never missed a meal with the family. We saw him go to church, dress well, and take us to entertainment places like the circus and on road trips cross country.
On those outings, trips he taught us how to handle our money, because the goal of the circus barker and salesmen in other places we went was to get the money that was in our pocket into their pockets. He’d say, “Don’t be in a hurry and don’t believe everything they say”. Sometimes we would take short Sunday afternoon trips into the local countryside to pick up cans and bottles to sell. As I think about it, he was the boss in his own quiet way.
My Dad taught us by example, whereas my Mother taught us with her words. She also taught us by that church-house look, meaning we needed to quiet down and listen to the message. Daddy’s duty was to back her up. He would ask, “Did you hear what your mother said?” We learned well. We stayed out of jail. We stayed in school and, for the most part, stayed on the straight and narrow.
Father’s Day is a day to honor your Father. That may mean different things to different children. The one thing we do know is who acted the part of a Father for each of us. I personally love being a father and, I especially love that I am now a grandfather of seven and a great grandfather of one.
A mainstay in a Black family is the difference a church home makes. When we moved we found a church home and church family. Having a church home gives you a lots of things. For the family where the biological father is no longer there, a church may provide a surrogate father. It provides images of Black role models of men and women in charge, raising money, helping one another, and getting lessons like the lesson of David believing in God so much that he believed he could ﬁ ght a giant and win for his people.
Why do I say a church life makes a difference in a family’s life? It teaches you how to pray and the value of praying. It teaches you how to share your earnings with others for the common good. Your offerings go toward Sunday school where your children learn a moral code set out by the Ten Commandments.
(Exodus 20). It teaches you how to handle your money such as the parable in the Bible of the servants who got money from their master for safekeeping. Two made it grow by investing it, but the third servant buried it in the ground. He didn’t invest it or try to grow it and suffered the consequences. (Matthew 25:14-30)
The Biblical leadership images of David, Moses, Abraham, and others, from which Dr. Martin Luther King and others took lessons are there for your children as an option to Jesse James and other historical outlaws and modern day scoundrels like Trump and the selﬁsh and lost fathers in too many lives of our children. However, there are upstanding men and father-ﬁgures in our communities we can look to. The church is full of men of faith, hope, prudence and love. Their lives are true examples of loving and living. Fathers who live by this example will ﬁnd their children will give them many happy Father’s Days.