Year of the Father

This past election year we heard the word “leadership” repeated many times – not just concerning elected officials. We were looking for financial leadership, corporate leadership and even energy leadership. Every day, we heard about a change in the type of leadership America needs.

It all boiled down to the obvious. People don’t get elected or promoted into leadership positions and then instantly, by these mere positions, become leaders. We all know that America’s corporations and governmental offices need true leaders, but where do we find them? Where are leaders incubated?

Leaders are raised and developed in our homes … in our families. It’s time for each of us to acknowledge that America must be changed from your house and my house. One of the most important ingredients necessary in raising tomorrow’s leaders is the proper influence of the father figure.

The greatest classroom is the family. It can be a classroom raising dysfunctional, self-centered adults or it can be God’s ordained training ground to develop tomorrow’s leaders. The servant leader role of the father needs to be reinvented. It’s not a gender issue as much as it is a role issue.

Reinvention of the father role needs to take place because the day-to-day activity of America’s father has changed so much over the past 100 years. Yesterday’s father worked in the family-owned business. Whether it was the farm or the family-owned store, the children were close at hand. In fact, as soon as they could count, they worked with dad in the business. Yesterday’s father knew his children were watching him. He knew he needed to be training them to be productive in the family business in order to efficiently and effectively operate it one day. He didn’t have to think through his leadership training process … it was obviously needed on a daily basis.

The regular presence of the father in the life of yesterday’s child provided the opportunity for “on the job training” in more than the family business. Training the child to be a responsible adult. Showing his boys what it means to be a man. Role modeling character traits for his daughters to learn what to look for in a sacrificial leader and husband. Did they always do it right? Certainly not! But yesterday’s father had the opportunity to train his child without having to work hard to create the time or a training classroom. He spent time with his children.

Several generations ago, there was a cultural shift in the family when the father left the house to work away from the home. Dad became the provider and mom did the parenting. The entire family leadership role was dumped on mom. Then, as material expectations got more grandiose and the act of providing got more difficult, many moms were also forced out of the home into the provider role. This left the children provided with more things, but far less training.

The father is not just an extra set of hands to help care for the children; he’s a different set of hands investing in the development of next generation’s leaders. This is more than the fact of a father being physically present in the life of a child. The two-decade training process of proactively training the child about what it means to be a man in our society today can influence the child’s future marital choices, employment choices, moral choices and leadership choices. A dad’s role and training process can have a huge impact on the future of the next generation. It’s time for fathers to accept the burden.

Our society has changed. Family dynamics have changed. It goes without saying that today’s priorities for the father’s influence must also change. Today’s father must be more thoughtful and proactive.

America won’t be changed from the White House. True change will only begin in your house and my house. And it must start now. This can and must be the Year of the Father.

Sheridan House Family Ministries firmly believes the investment of the specific role of the father is significant. Therefore, for the next several issues Sheridan House’s President, Dr. Barnes, will discuss the unique qualities a father brings to the training of his children. Together, we can change the world … one family at a time. For more details, visit http://www.SheridanHouse.org.

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