A father’s words
We’re not talking about the prayer before a meal. The blessing pronounced by you on your children for their health and well-being for life is the subject we are addressing. It is a lost art in the American culture as a whole. While it can be a ceremonial act, it goes much deeper. Did you receive a pronounced blessing on your life as a child? If so, how has it impacted you? And if not, would you have wanted this spoken into your life? Would it have made a difference?
As I was writing this I ran into two friends at lunch. The discussion turned to the subject of a father’s blessing. One shared that he had never heard the words from his father; “I love you” or “I’m proud of you”. He visited him when he was nearing death. His father opened his eyes and the last words to his son were; “it has been nice knowing you”. I could see and sense the sadness in his voice and eyes when he told me this story. Sadly, it is a commentary too often repeated in our nation.
Love, hope, and belonging
Bill Glass states in his book, Champions for Life; “Children need a parent, especially a father, who speaks the words of love, hope and belonging in their lives”. A ceremonial blessing dates back thousands of years to certain cultures and is practiced even today. Jews celebrate bar mitzvahs when Jewish boys become 13 years old; they become accountable for their actions. A girl becomes a bat mitzvah at the age of 12. Only if more children had a similar blessing; maybe we’d have fewer children in juvenile court.
Biblically, the father blesses his wife and children, as recorded as far back as Genesis. Since the father possesses a ‘priestly role’, he is bestowed with the privilege of blessing. God the Father spoke these words to Jesus “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17).
Notice – it was spoken, directed and personal. Why did Jesus need this blessing? He was about to undertake the three-year mission of great works, temptations and sufferings ending in His death on a cross for the sin of the world. Besides being God, Jesus was fully man. His Father knew what He was to face. The blessing was an announcement to those present and also to His Son – “you are special, well equipped” for the life that lay ahead.
According to John Eldredge, author of Wild at Heart, young sons need to hear their dad confirm to them – “you have what it takes”; and daughters need to know from him – “you are lovely”. Otherwise, they will seek approval in all the wrong places.
Bless your family
Before we get to Father’s Day, realize that success or failure can depend on receiving or not receiving the blessing. You can’t be with your children everywhere they go, but your blessing can. Your challenge before Father’s Day is to bless your family; a blessing that will be the greatest gift to yourself and your family.
- Take one-hour over the next 24 hours in a prayer closet; just you and God. Address each child and your spouse (or future children and spouse). Ask Him to show you how you may specifically bless them, even daily. Use the time to confess your “fathering failures” and praise Him for the areas in which you are succeeding.
- Over the next week, no matter what the child’s age, prayerfully compose a hand-written letter on good stationery to each child and your spouse. Tell them all the wonderful things they mean to you and what you see in them. “I love you” is always good for starters!
- For every child over ten, design a “ceremony of blessing”. Be creative. Invite friends and family. Record it and present it later as a keepsake in a special chest or box. Write out your blessing. Use scripture you claim for them. Read it over them. As the priest of your family, lay hands on them and pray an anointing. Use holy oil if appropriate.
You, as father, are a “hope dispenser”! Be liberal; spread it around.
Did you think Father’s Day was all about you? Turns out, the real blessing of your life are all around you. Be bold. Abide!
You can read more in The Journey From Fathers to Dads by Bill Dotson. The previous excerpt is from Chapter 11 “Blessing, It’s Every Kid’s Dream Maker!” Pick up a FREE copy at the next Fathers Forum.