Although Father’s Day may not stack up into overall commercial importance as Mother’s Day, yesterday we honored all the fathers out there and for good reasons. It is hard to be a father. As a father of 4 of my own, the stress and burden I feel each day to raise my children up the right way, provide for their every need and to protect them from the craziness that is out in this world is so much sometimes.
Now take that burden and magnify it even more for single fathers. Being a father is tough even when you have a healthy wife to help share the load with you. How much greater is it for a single father who has to do it all alone? A ton! I know, because I speak from experience.
For the last 9 months, I have been raising my 4 children virtually by myself. In addition, I am also a full-time employee at a Church. Therefore, I can emphasize with so many dads who are working their tails off for their children, with little or no help at all, while also holding down a steady job. So from one single father to another, I salute you! I realize how hard it is when the breaks are far and few between.
I understand how drained you are when you get back home after working all day only to work on homework, prepare dinner and then have to get your children to various actives. It’s a lot! I know that. I get it. However, I do know that my work and commitment to my children is not labor in vain. I believe that one day I will look back and realize that the time and effort I put into my children will reap huge benefits and that they will be better off because of how I loved them and equipped them for their own lives. It’s hard, yes! But it will be worth it.
So to single fathers, I say, “Keep it up”, “seek God” (Matthew 6:33) and take care of your children. Your self-lessness will be rewarded one day. I know it. I believe it.
Because of what single fathers do and sacrifice, this provides churches a great opportunity. All churches who have single fathers in your congregations (there are some in every congregation), I want to encourage you to seek out those fathers, support them and encourage them. We hear many times of dead beat dads who renege on their responsibilities as fathers. But most single fathers are the really solid ones who are busting their butts day in and day out. They are the ones who wake up early to make breakfasts, lunches and dinners all by themselves. The ones who have to call in sick to work because their children are sick that day. They are the ones that sign their children up for sports and extra-curricular activities and then bust their butt to get them there on time. They do all this and many more by themselves.
I could go on and on about situations single fathers encounter (there are probably some future blog posts out there for me to share). But unfortunately, like so many other things in life, we never really know how it feels to be in a situation unless you are in it yourself. We see them on Sunday morning and they look like they have their act together and we think all with them is ok. While all may be “ok”, that doesn’t mean they don’t need help. That is why I am encouraging churches to don’t just emphasize with single fathers, come around them, support them and help take care of them so that they can continue to give their all for their children and raise them up in a godly way. Seek them out and bring a home-cooked meal that isn’t mac and cheese…their children will thank you for it. Call them up and ask come over and fold their laundry that has been clean on the chair for a few days waiting to get done. Ask them if you can babysit so they can have a night out by themselves or with their friends.
There are so many things churches can do for single fathers. What I believe we so often fail to simply offer help because they are guys. They can do it because they are MEN! They are strong and tough. They don’t need help. Those kinds of stereotypes cause us, the church, to miss a huge ministry opportunity. And wouldn’t it be a shame if we miss some real opportunity to make an impact on a whole group of men and their families because we assume something that isn’t quite right? Let’s not assume any longer and reach out to some dads who are giving it their all, but really tired because they are doing it all alone. Let’s partner up with them and walk along side of them so that their impact on their children can be even greater.
How is your church/ministry helping single fathers? Share your thoughts and experiences below so that we can all learn and benefit from each other.