Today we celebrated Father’s Day.
We had lots of fun and lots of laughter, but not everyone has that.
Father’s Day is a spectrum of feelings to many different people.
It’s sobering to those who’ve grown up without a dad, and sorrowful to others who’ve been hurt by their dads.
And your dad is a good gift from your Heavenly Dad, but this privilege is also a mandate.
It is a mandate and charge to the kind of man you will one day need to be.
And I could feel it burning in my heart when I saw the way you huddled around your Dad tonight, so, let me just say this straight into your heart:
Do you know what makes a son a man, and a man a father?
Three simple words:
“I. LOVE. YOU”
It’s in saying these words to others important to you — but not only in saying them, but in living them.
It’s how we love others.
It’s how we live our lives out for others.
I haven’t always got it right. And I’ve failed so many times myself.
But hey listen,
‘I love you‘ may be the simplest words to say, yet the hardest to give.
Because real loving means real giving — ‘Christ so loved the world that He gave.” (John 3:16).
I see it now, Son — that boys become men when they decide to love others with a love that’s larger than themselves. Love that serves not themselves, but others.
And this is what raises a man’s character, and his calibre.
It’s how you truly care, from the heart.
Genuinely, and without any selfish ambition.
It’s how you allow yourself to be strong: a stable anchor for others.
Because you’re called to ultimately protect. You’re called to provide and promote – and yeah, there’s no sissification about it.
Your shoulders will have to be strong. They will one day be needed to uphold a topsy turvy world, whatever that world may mean to you.
So I want you rugged, but gentle.
I need you steadfast, yet sympathetic.
Stout, yet soft-hearted.
You’re called to look at women as mothers and sisters, never as tools nor toys.
You’re called to love those in your life by giving your life to them, rather than taking away from them.
You’re called to love in ways that are holy and not Hollywood.
Loving people in all their imperfections, breaking barriers with your own fears to forgive those who’ve hurt you, rising larger than your own one day, thwarted and challenged trust in those that have betrayed you.
So practice saying this: “Love’s gotten a hold of me, fear’s broken it’s control over me.”
Say it, believe it, then live it.
It’s loving others by giving your life away, with a love that makes others great, and yourself dispensable.
So serve your sisters today. Give them water, give them honour, give them your toys.
Because this is a call to your gender and generation.
This is what makes the lost come thronging in for safety.
This is the only way the world will know that we are His disciples, and experience His love taking on flesh in our flesh.
Because our greatest mark is the mark we leave on the people we love.
So let’s live the next few years of our life together growing that call: growing you to be a father to others in your heart and in your spirit.
And you can practice it with me tonight.
Kiss me on the cheek when you see me first thing in the morning.
Ask me, your eyes on mine, when I pick you up from school – “how’s your day been, Mum?”, not “any snack for me, Mum?”
Open the door to the car for your sister – don’t rush to get in! She’s younger, so always ask, “are you okay, Girl?“, not, “make me okay, Girl.”
I think we might just start with those.
This can be your present assignment. One day it’ll be a ministry. And this is simply most meaningful.