Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Our sons had them when they were little - action figures of their TV heroes. Every new generation of kids has their action figures: GI Joe, Superman, Star Wars, X-Men. But recently I caught a story on a TV news show about the best action figure idea I've ever heard of. They were talking about a company, the name of which I didn't catch, who are making custom action figures dressed in contemporary combat dress. It's especially for the children of Americans serving in Iraq. Guess whose face is on the action figure? Your Dad!
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How to be a Hero Where it Counts."
What a cool idea: your soldier Dad as your action figure - your father as your hero. Actually, that ought to be the goal of every father in the world - to be his son or daughter's ultimate hero. And that's not so much about military exploits or what title or position he holds. The hardest place on earth to be a hero is at home. Not at the office, or at the club, or in the community, not at church - at home!
That's where it really counts. That's where they really know the real you. Not your image at church or in the community, not your awards, your connections, your bank account. Kids don't care about all that stuff. They care about the kind of man you are, just like God does. Kids tend to care about what God cares about in a man - character. How he treats people most of the time. How unselfish he is.
King David seemed to understand where real heroism is demonstrated. In 1 Chronicles 16:43, our word for today from the Word of God, He has just come from some great military victories and spiritual milestones, but the Bible says, "David returned home to bless his family." The extent to which a man does that on a daily basis is the true measure of how much of a hero he really is.
And how can you be a hero where it counts the most? Let's start with the Five "As" of a Great Dad. Let's start with Attendance. You're there for the moments in their life that really matter to them. They're always taking attendance, and they're marking you present or absent for those times when they measure your love by your presence. Then there's Attention. A Dad is his son or daughter's hero when they offer their attention on a regular basis. Not when they have to do all kinds of contortions to get your attention, but when you offer it on a daily basis. That means focusing on them mentally and emotionally before you walk in the door. Here's the goal: every member of your family gets all of you, your focused attention, at least once a day.
Authority: that's a big part of being a hero at home, too. Consistent authority; authority that's fair, impartial, that enforces consistent boundaries and consistent penalties. Authority that walks what it talks. Then there's Affection: a Dad whose son or daughter doesn't have to wonder if they're loved because he tells them all the time, even when they're pretty unlovable. Because the times when your child is the least loveable; that's the time when they need your love the most! One other "A" of a great Dad is Affirmation. You don't hammer them all the time with what's wrong with them. Believe me, they already know. What they need from their father is consistent praise for what's good about them; their personal strengths, their personal abilities, their positive qualities. If you can't see them, they never will. And a Dad who raises a child who feels like they're never good enough is no hero at all.
The Apostle Paul sums up the mission of a great Dad in three action words in 1 Thessalonians 2:12. He talks about a father who deals with his children, "...encouraging, comforting and urging..." That's what every child needs. That's what God created a father to be. When a man doesn't run from the hard work of a happy home, when he gives it his best, he deserves an action figure with him on it because he's a hero where it really counts - at home.