Sunday, June 21, 2009

Albert Martin on Fatherhood

from effective fatherhood part 1


Now you see, in this age, that is radical. We live in the age of no-commitment, live-in relationships. No strings attached one week bed-downs. The day of do-your-own-thing- ism. Assert your own rights mania. That’s the age in which you and I live. And the idea that, if you father a child, you are committed for life to a relationship of deep, intense, sensitive, self-giving love that seeks not its own--I say that is utterly radical in the mindset of this generation. But it is absolutely essential for effective fatherhood. And I want to press the question on the conscience of you dads here this morning. How much do you know of that love? Can you say as the Apostle could, we were gentle as a nurse caring for her children? Amidst all of the holy assertiveness and the principled toughness of a real father, do your children know you to be so tough and, oh, so gentle? Not sinfully pliable, melting into a little glob of unprincipled back-downs, because they shed a few tears and learn how to manipulate you with their tear ducts. I’ve seen fathers like that, and could hardly look at them without the shame that I was one of their sex. Children, manipulating with whines and tears. But I’ve also seen fathers of whom I’ve been ashamed because I’ve wondered if they were all stone and no heart. Everything by the book! But no sensitivity to the peculiar cycles of the child’s emotional development and reactions and the problems and pressures impinging upon that child. Everything was run like Camp Lejeune, as though the children were a bunch of little marines. No, my friends, what is desperately needed above all else is this intense, sensitive, self-giving love that will make us gentle in our bearing, that will make us selfless in our disposition. How many fathers father children, only to calculate their relationship to those children in what the children can give back to them in the way of prestige and standing in the community? The feeding of their own ego! Fathers driving their sons to be little pro ball players before they’re twelve. Why? So they can sit in the stands and feed their own un-mortified ego,
and practically cursing a child because he struck out in the 9th inning with men on bases! Beating the child down emotionally and psychologically! Why? Totally self-centered! And, when the child gets older, driving him to get straight "A’s" Why? To feed the ego of that parent! That’s all! Not concerned about character molding! Just feeding on un-mortified ego. Total self-centeredness, that is a stench in the nostrils of Almighty God! One looks almost in vain to see that kind of arduous labor among fathers who are so willing to leave so much of the development of the children to mamma. When the Word of God says in Ephesians 6:4: Fathers, nurture them. Not mothers! Fathers, nurture them!! "Oh, but I put in my 8 or 9 hours." So does your wife, and many more. "Well, when I come home from work, I like to relax a little." So would your wife! But you have only so many years to mold and shape those precious children, now, in the name of God, when are you going to get away from your thumb-sucking? Your self-centeredness? And get alone and cry to God that He will mortify that cursed selfishness and baptize your heart with deep, sensitive self-giving love.
You, young ladies, what are you looking for in your future husband? Don’t look at his pretty face. Don’t look at the size of his shoulders. Don’t look at his ability to fill a purse with money. Don’t look at his shiny car. You know what you should look for? You look for a man who manifests a heart beating with this kind of sensitive, self-giving love. And if he’s only five foot four and weighs 190 lbs., a little dumpy, a little out of shape, a little bald, he can have a lot of drawbacks, but I’ll tell you one thing, fifteen years down the road, on a Father’s Day, if, when you gather for your meal, your kids can lead in prayer and say, "O God, thank you for a daddy who has shown by his life that his heart is full of self-giving love," I tell you, you’ll feel that the guy is six foot two built like an Adonis, and second cousin to Rockefeller. That’s right! That’s the truth! That’s the grace needed above all else.
And you young men, seeking to become desirable marriage partners, what graces are you cultivating? "Oh", you say, "I pump the iron to look good." That’s all right. A little bit of that
won’t hurt you. Don’t make it a god. "Well," you say, "I’m working hard at my job to be a good provider." Good! Good! Fine! But what are you doing right now to step across the grain of your native selfishness? What are you doing right now to cultivate sensitive, self-giving love? What are you doing right now? What do you do right here at church? Do you break yourself away from that young lady who’s caught your fancy and go find one of the little kids and, Lord knows, we’ve got them all over the place. They’re coming out the seams, the drapes. Are you finding little kids and taking an interest in them? Coming down to their little world of innocuous little nothings, until, in their eyes, you’re somebody special, because you count to them. You girls, you look for a fellow like that. Walking down an aisle and slipping a ring on his finger isn’t going to change him from the self-centered, egoistical prig that he is, into a selfless out-going sensitive father. Do you see how relevant all of this is?

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