Fathers, Recapture Your Glory

   Hear those haunting words again: “I wasn’t there,” “He began to sink into himself,” “He might be drifting.”  Lionel Dahmer identified the process known already by psychologists around the world: When a passive father neglects to nurture and mold his children, they begin to sink into themselves.  Children who have been dismissed by their male role models begin to drift like ships without a guiding star.

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Jackson Snyder, June 16, 2002
Adapted from “Star Status Dads”
by Pete Bertolero


Proverbs 17:6; 20:6,7 Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.  6. Most men will proclaim every one his own kindness; but a faithful man who shall find? 7. The righteous walketh in his integrity: blessed are his children after him!

    General Lee took his 8-year old son, Custis, out for a walk on a snowy day. Custis soon got got behind because the snow was so deep. Lee looked back to see how his son was doing and found Custis struggling to keep up but doing a pretty good job for such a small boy.  What caught Lee’s attention was that Custis was imitating his every move, placing his little feet in every one of his dad’s footprints in the snow. Lee later wrote about it: “When I saw this, I said to myself, it behooves me to walk very straight when this fellow is already following in my tracks.”

   Almost every father and man starts out with an awesome advantage: natural admiration from children.  Wise fathers, like General Lee, recognize their privileged position and build upon it by modeling pious character.  They are intentional about making clear impressions in the snow for admiring youth to follow.
   Our Creator instills in children a natural ability to know right from wrong.  And because they’re encouraged to do right, children swiftly recognize what’s wrong!  A child’s greatest disappointment may come when he or she discovers that a role model’s integrity has been compromised by sin: lying, stealing, immorality.  The depth of such wounds may be bottomless. Proverbs says that injuries from a role model’s broken trust “go down into [a child’s] innermost parts.”  If his moral compass isn’t pointing heavenward, the shining role model, be he father or father figure, becomes a fallen star.  When it comes to influencing the younger generation, there is no substitute for personal integrity, honor and character!  Through our integrity, our children -- in fact all youth who are secretly watching our lives -- gain advantage, empowerment and inspiration.  Instead of curses, we pass generational blessings!  All Believing men must maintain our witness and Believing values, despite the culture of moral poverty in which we live for the sake of the generation that will step into our footprints.


Beliefs vs. Behaviors

    Consider our society.  There is very little correlation between its beliefs and its behaviors.  Patrick Morley in Man in the Mirror answers the question of why society has fallen into such a steep moral decline, despite so many “Believing” men.  He writes –

The sad reality is that claims of religious commitment run high, but impact is at an all time low. At the very point when Believers have ‘come out of the closet’ our culture has sunk into a moral sewer. The unfortunate result of this religious popularity is that since the mid-seventies a(n) impoverished value has evolved: cultural Christianity.  Cultural Christianity means to pursue the Elohim we want instead of the Elohim who is …, wanting Him to be more of a grandfather-type who … lets us have our own way. It is wanting the Elohim we have underlined in our Bibles without wanting the rest of Him, too.

   Morely goes on to say –

Cultural Christianity (has) little or no impact on the values and beliefs of our society.  [It} requires Elohim to grant us personal peace and affluence to prove He loves us.  Like the transformer toys …, we often want Elohim to be adjustable – to adapt to our whims instead of us adapting to Him.

In a word, we want to remake Yahweh in our own image. We want Him to be adaptable, conformable, inconsistent, negotiable.  The qualities we want in a Elohim are the exact qualities that erode others’ confidence in our stability. 

   But listen to this: in an extensive two-year study, nearly 80% of students listed parents as their biggest moral influences. No one else even came close.  Therefore, the re-creation of manhood as a vital social role is our most urgent domestic challenge.  On the parish level, wouldn’t each man do well to intentionally make greater strides toward the righteous role model our children and young adults crave and need?  Man, your word, your interaction, sometimes even your look, has a significant influence upon those young people who look at you.  And they are looking.



   NBC Nightly News did a story on the brain of Jeffrey Dahmer, who was convicted in 1992 of unspeakable crimes. He was serving a 957-year sentence when he was murdered.  Dahmer’s mother wanted Jeffrey’s brain studied to find a biological predisposed to violence. His father wanted it buried with the rest of the body.  This man had been searching his soul since the discovery of his son’s crimes. In his book, A Father’s Story, Lionel Dahmer chose only to include innocent pictures of Jeffrey’s childhood: photos of the toe-headed little boy doing child-like activities appears every 30 pages or so.  Jeffrey was a handsome boy with a charming smile and shy demeanor, like thousands of others.
   What went wrong?  What emerges in A Father’s Story is neglect and divorce; a wife and mother who struggled with loneliness and depression; a father consumed with work – too busy to notice, let alone spend quality time with his son.  With no physical affection or verbal affirmation, Jeffrey began to drift away. Lionel Dahmer writes –

I wasn’t there to see him as he began to sink into himself. I wasn’t there to sense, even if I could have sensed it, that he might be drifting toward that unimaginable realm of fantasy and isolation that would take almost thirty years to recognize.

   Hear those haunting words again: “I wasn’t there,” “He began to sink into himself,” “He might be drifting.”  Lionel Dahmer identified the process known already by psychologists around the world: When a passive father neglects to nurture and mold his children, they begin to sink into themselves.  Children who have been dismissed by their male role models begin to drift like ships without a guiding star.



   Robert Lewis wrote that the typical grandparent is a sentimental, fawning, ingratiating mass of elderly protoplasm!  Ooh, that hurts.  Victor Hugo wrote that though some fathers have no honor or affection, “there is no grandfather who does not adore his grandchildren.”  Proverbs 17:6 reflects this truth: “Grandchildren are the crown of old men, and the glory of sons are their fathers.”  I believe this applies to all the elder men in the church – you and I are ‘church fathers.’  The Bible here offers us two sparkling words: “crown” and “glory.”  Our leaders don’t wear crowns anymore, but the idea still holds great significance.  Older men feel a sense of honor and achievement in the Elohimly behavior of the children they care for: they are crowned with honor! 

   The other word, “glory,” shines with beauty, value and significance. It could also be translated as “boasting.”  We men, especially fathers, should be living reasons for our young people to boast. Shouldn’t we be bragged upon?  Sure!  Young people find significance in learning that they are derived from good, noble, honorable stock, both physically and spiritually.  When this is not so, the damage may be so complete that, even if they do fulfill their life’s goals, young people still experience a deep sense of purposelessness.



   As evidence, consider the testimony of the Bo Jackson,

“My father never seen me play professional baseball or football…I tried to have a relationship with him, gave him my number, said, ‘Dad, call me. I’ll fly you in.’ Can you imagine? I’m Bo Jackson, one of the so-called premier athletes in the country, and I’m sitting in the locker room and envying every one of my teammates whose Dad would come in and talk to them after the game. I never experienced that.”

   Actress Sophia Loren felt the same way.  The subject of her late father came up in an interview and this is what she said:

"He shaped me as a person more than any other man. It was the dream of my life to have a father. And that is why I sought him everywhere. I spent most of my life looking for substitutes for him. I still wonder what he was thinking as he saw me up there on the movie screen. With all the grandiose gifts I have received in my life, my most treasured possession is the only toy my father ever gave me—a little blue car with my name on it." (Miss Loren only saw her father 6 times in her life.)

   A righteous man will deposit a fund of consistency and care that young people will reference their entire lives.  All men and women look to be approved by their male elders, even if these men are dead.  In fact, there’s a great deal of dependence upon the father-image even if that person was never even known.

   Consider this true story and you’ll understand what I mean:

“My father was killed in WWII when I was three years old. I knew in my heart that he loved me; my mother told me that. But I always longed to hear it from him. When my mother and stepfather retired, I came to help them pack. Mom took an old army photograph of my father off of her dresser and gave it to me. She said, ‘Here, this is for you. I know your father would have wanted you to have it.’ It was the same photograph I had seen for many years. As I took the picture from her, I dropped it; the cheap metal frame hit the floor and broke, shattering the glass.

   Sick at heart, I reached down to salvage what was left. Behind the photograph I found a letter long since forgotten. It was from my father to his three-year old son, the last letter he had written before he died. In it he said he loved me and that he longed to come home and be with me. I had heard the words I needed from a father who was long since dead.”

   Why did this older adult yearn to hear his father say, “I love you”?  And why was he so excited to share his discovery? Because, as the wise father of the Proverbs wrote, “The glory of sons is their fathers.”  Why does an unkind word from dad pierce a young person’s heart?  Because “The glory of sons is their fathers.”  Why does a three-year-old run joyfully into father’s arms at the end of the day as if the king had come? Because “The glory of sons is their fathers.”  Why does even the famous ache for the affection of a father figure?  Because “The glory of sons is their fathers.”


How to Recapture the Glory of Sons

   If you’ve lost them, I’ve got good news for you.  Men, it’s not too late to recapture your crown and glory.  Although some damage may never be undone, it’s not too late to start afresh and get it right.  Paul of the Bible was never a biological father, but he was the father figure to many adults throughout Asia.  He writes to his “spiritual children” regarding his fatherly nurture.  Men, here is a first lesson in starting over:

1 Thessalonians 2: 10You are witnesses, and so is Elohim, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of Elohim, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

He says that, as a father figure, he has been a blameless caregiver of integrity.  He has encouraged and comforted, urging his “children” to live lives worthy of the Almighty Father in Heaven.  He reminds them of their calling into Yahshua’s Kingdom and persuades them to seek Yahweh’s glory rather than their own.  He admonishes them to follow his Elohimly example.  I’m sure that he would agree; that:

   Each one of us men may begin anew with those who are watching us, young or old.  Men, we start with ourselves.  We choose Elohimliness over worldliness.  We choose peace instead of conflict.  We choose encouragement rather than detraction.  We choose to pray and praise rather than criticize.  We choose to take more time for others even if it means less for ourselves.  We choose to see the young people who intersect our lives through the eyes of Yahshua rather than through the eyes of the past.  We write them.  We talk to them.  We correct them in love when needed.  Even if, as adults, they let us down time after time, we choose to see them again in the light of their highest potential, just as when they were children.  

   Urge the young people in your sphere of influence onward to the same worthiness and righteousness to which you aspire.  Sometimes that means abandoning the role of a  “sentimental, fawning, ingratiating mass of elderly protoplasm” and being tough in our love.  Our loved ones will come to respect the changes in us, though it may take time, consistency, and effort.  


Make a New Start

   Change your image with the others in your world; make a new start if need be.  Yahweh will forgive your sins against the children and, since he is the Almighty Father and cares for you, will rewrite history entirely to set all things aright.  If you will forgive, you will be forgiven.  That’s the Bible promise.  The poet Goethe writes, “The happiest man is he who is able to integrate the end of his life with it’s beginning.”  Through the Almighty Father, a human father figure can reconcile the faults of his youth with whatever age or stage he finds himself in today.  In committing to reconciliation, he will regain integrity and become an object of emulation and respect rather than disdain.  Your effort will certainly pay off, even if payment is received after you are but a fond memory.

   Men, fathers, grandfathers: happy fathers’ day.  May each one of you acquire righteousness and receive accolades. 

 For our fathers, who have given us life and love, that we may show them respect and love, we pray to you, Heavenly Father…

For fathers who have lost a child through death, that their faith may give them hope, and their family and friends console them, we pray to you, Heavenly Father…

For men, though without children of their own, who like fathers have nurtured and cared for us, we pray to you, Heavenly Father…

For fathers, who have been unable to be a source of strength, who have not responded to their children and have not sustained their families, we pray to you, Heavenly Father…

Yahweh our Father, in your wisdom and love you made all things.  Bless these men, that they may be strengthened as Believing fathers.  Let the example of their faith and love shine forth.  Grant that we, their sons and daughters, may honor them always with a spirit of profound respect.

Grant this through Yahshua our Savior.  Amen. 

Now your children can learn Hebrew