A Father's Legacy
Happy Father’s Day! On this day that we honor fathers, I want all the men of our Church to reflect upon what legacy we are creating and leaving behind in our lives. Think carefully about, “What is the legacy we want to leave in life? As a father? As a husband? As a disciple and follower of Jesus? What is our legacy?”
I’m always struck whenever I go to Mt. Zion cemetery and look at the gravestones. I often walk around the cemetery to look at the names, see how long people lived, and think about what legacy they left behind. There are some gravestones that always strikes me as odd – a gravestone with a golf club next to the name, or a gravestone with the New England Patriots logo. Now, there’s nothing wrong with golf as a hobby, or cheering on the Patriots, but when we put something on our gravestone, I would think that one places something extremely important, something that summarized the person’s life. If a golf club, or being a fan of some sports team, is the legacy that a person leaves behind, I must question whether that person truly lived up to their potential as a child of God.
So, what about each one of us? What is the legacy we are carving out in our own lives and leaving behind for those we love?
During these tumultuous times in our country, when we are wrestling with the history of racism, listening to many people share stories of the racism they face today, and seeing millions of people protesting the systemic racism that continues to exist in our society today, whether in housing, education, health care, and especially the legal and prison system, we all have to take a careful look at ourselves. What do our children see in our witness and life during these challenging times? Jesus loved all people, but especially stood on the side of the marginalized and outcast of society. His first words in his public ministry were prophetic words from Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
When people look at our lives, will they see a legacy of one who stood up for the oppressed, listened and empathized with those who felt marginalized, and brought good news to the poor?
I’m afraid that too many men have accepted the low standard that our contemporary society has created for us – the idea that “boys will be boys” and therefore, it’s ok if men focus on sports, creating a religion out of the Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots, drinking Bud Lite, entertaining themselves with superficial hobbies.
God calls us to so much more!!! He expects us to become the spiritual leaders in our households as well as in society, acting as models of the virtues that Christ has incarnated. He expects us to become men of humility, love, compassion, sacrificial service, mercy, and grace. Our children should reflect on our lives and see people reaching out to the marginalized, generous to the poor, ready to help those in need. We are called to something much greater than the expectations of society; something meaningful and full of purpose. We are called to become icons of Jesus Christ Himself!
Of course, fatherhood implies being good husbands who are loving and supportive to our wives, fathers who are present and available to our children, teaching our kids what is essential and eternal in this world, caregivers who are supportive to our families. Yet, above all of these responsibilities, the father’s greatest calling is to act as a spiritual leader in his family, one who himself is striving for the Kingdom of God above all else, and one who is inspiring and leading his family, along with everyone else in his sphere of influence, towards the Kingdom of Heaven!
On Father’s Day, I want all the men and father figures here today to think for a moment about our legacy. When our wives reflect on our lives, when our children ponder the legacy that we will leave behind, one day when our friends will eulogize us, will they talk about a person who led his family and others closer to God? Will they be grateful to God for a husband and father and friend that showed them how to walk a virtuous life? Will our children fondly remember how we prayed with them, how we brought them to Church each week, how we reflected the Christian virtues of mercy and compassion, how we incarnated God’s love in concrete ways especially during divisive, uncertain and trying days like today? With our friends and colleagues see in us an honest and generous person who lived his life for others, all others, especially for those who are different than ourselves?
I’m afraid that too many fathers will be remembered for sitting in their chair and watching the ball game, for skipping church to play golf on Sundays, for wasting their time at the casinos and other careless hobbies, for being the tough guy who didn’t have time for the one thing essential. Why is it that throughout history, women have often fulfilled the role as pillars of faith in the family, women have been the ones who attend the services and worship God, women have been the ones who seem to seriously work out their salvation? Now I truly thank God for the blessed women of history who kept the faith and loved their families and the world in sacrificial ways! Yet today on Father’s Day, our call is to honor our fathers by reminding them and challenging them to rise up to their role as spiritual leaders of our households! Act as godly men and fulfill our calling as saints!
Let all fathers, together with the mothers, not give in to the weak image of parenthood that contemporary films and movies too often ridicule, and which prevails in our modern society. Instead may we struggle and sacrifice, setting an example of holiness by sincerely seeking first the kingdom of God in our lives. As the old proverb says, “A father is worth more than a hundred school teachers.” May our legacy be one of teaching our children and family and others what is most important and eternal in life!
Ultimately, the most important lessons that a father can teach his children, and by far the most lasting legacy we leave our progeny, are for fathers to place God first in their lives, to teach their household to fear and love the Lord, and then to journey with their families and friends on this path that leads into the heights of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Let me conclude with a beautiful “Father’s Resolution” which I adapted from the movie a wonderful movie about fathers, called Courageous.
A Father’s Resolution
I do solemnly resolve before God to take full responsibility for wife and family, and to set a godly example for them in society.
I WILL love them, protect them, serve them, sacrifice for them,
teaching them our Christian Faith as the spiritual leader of our home.
I WILL be faithful to my wife, to love and honor her, and
be willing to lay down my life for her as Jesus Christ did for me.
I WILL bless my children and teach them to love God with all of their hearts,
all of their minds, all their souls, and all of their strength.
I WILL raise my children to respect of all people, especially those who are different then themselves, and treat everyone with kindness and love.
I WILL fight against the injustices of the world, acting as a peacemaker, showing mercy and grace to those who society may think don’t deserve it, loving especially those who feel marginalized, and walking humbly before God.
I WILL work diligently to provide for the needs of my family,
and set an example for them in generously providing for others in need.
I WILL forgive those who have wronged me and reconcile with those I have wronged.
I WILL learn from my mistakes and repent from my sins,
walking with integrity as a man answerable to God.
I WILL seek to honor God, be faithful to His church, and do His will.
This is my resolution as a Father.
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Happy Father’s Day!
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