From dude to dad

By Donald Brazile

A wise man once said, “Being a father is like shaving, no matter how well you did it today, you have to do it again tomorrow.” You see, it’s far easier for a man to have a child than for a child to have a father. Fatherhood isn’t something you learn exclusively through books, movies, lectures, or online. It is gained through relationships, circumstances, and being present. As you’ve probably figured out by now: It’s possible to get so caught up in trying to manage things that we forget to be a part of things.

It’s a truth that is potentially lived out every morning as you get the kids off to school, race to work, and cruise through the day, checking things off your “Dad-to-do” list. Later you stop to reflect, “Did I truly connect with the ones I love today?” It’s a hard question to answer, but more likely than not, you were just caught up in the endless loop of Do, Done, Repeat. Since being present is more than just showing up, keep this phrase on the wallpaper of your cellphone as you go “fathering” along: Whatever you’re doing — the job in the end is to be present.

Secondly, a huge part of fatherhood is taking responsibility for what you’ve created, for who you love. My dad raised nine children, and he did a wonderful job of what fathers should do: He took responsibility as best he could. This month, we should honor the men who are responsible dads, and we should seek ways to shift the culture to make it more common for them to do so.

Another thing about fatherhood — it isn’t always a success story. A quick read through the Bible is a somber reminder that good fathers do not always produce good children. King Jehoshaphat, a very good man, was the father of Jehoram, who turned out to be a father’s worst nightmare. Then, there’s the story of the two prodigal sons (yes, two). A seemingly good father raised two immature and disappointing sons: The younger was self-centered and the elder brother was not much better, refusing to attend his younger brother’s “recovery” party after he returned from his extended “Spring Break.” Here’s the biblical end of the matter: Fatherhood is something you’re called to do. Regardless of the end result!

Dads, there’s no doubt you have and will make a thousand mistakes. At times you’ll push too hard; other times, you’ll not push hard enough. You’ll be critical when you should remain silent, you’ll often be skeptical when you should have trusted your child, and way too often, you’ll deny your children time with you by staying compulsively attached to your work. You see, it takes a lot of practice, perhaps a lifetime, to transform into manhood and true fatherhood. Maybe that’s part of what Paul was rolling around in his head when he said, “Not that I have already obtained it, or have it all figured out. But here’s one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind, I reach forward to what’s ahead.” (Philippians 3:12)

Being a father doesn’t come naturally; you have to grow from being a dude to becoming a dad. This month is a good time to remind ourselves that it’s high time to man-up, own up, shape up, and keep prayed up as we keep reaching up to the hard and holy calling of Fatherhood. Happy Father’s Day!