Will the real fathers please stand up

On Sunday, people all over America will celebrate our national holiday Father’s Day, a day set aside to honor fathers all over this land. I want to make an appeal to all fathers. Will the real fathers please stand up?

I don’t mean imitators, stand-ins, or occupants of that title in name only. I am not talking about men who only show up to exchange clothes, men who just play the role. I’m talking about real fathers: fathers who are fathers and they know it, fathers who are fathers indeed. A lot of men walk around carrying a title and don’t live up to it, and in doing that they are not living the truth.

There are those of us who remember the game show “To Tell the Truth.” In it, there are three individuals all pretending to be the same person. After a panel of celebrities questions and gives their opinions on which individual they each thought was the real person, the host says, “And will the real person please stand up.” The real person stands up, and everybody laughs when they see how they were fooled.

I’m afraid that a lot of men think that they are real men or real fathers when they are not real after all. Fathers, we may have the outside features — the sideburns, the muscles, the swagger. We may wear men’s clothes and put on men’s cologne and aftershave lotion. But God almighty’s standards for a real father and a real man are different from the world’s standards. The world’s standards for a real father or man are sometimes how good he looks, how well he dresses, what kind of car he drives, what kind of job he has, how much money he makes and such.

I’m not knocking these qualities, because most women want a good-looking man. Not only that, but also most women want a man who dresses well, for nobody is attracted to a slouch, and what woman is attracted to a man who has money but won’t spend it? A woman may look at all of these things, but what the world doesn’t realize is that a real man is not determined by how good he looks. Although how he dresses may say a lot, a real man in the sight of Almighty God is not determined by what kind of car he drives, and having a good job can make him many things but it can’t make you a real man. Having money makes him a spender, but having money doesn’t make him a real man, either, and it sure doesn’t make him a real father.

Men, we set the pattern for the children (Jeremiah 3:4). Whatever habits we have, whatever sins we practice, and whatever life we live is bound to rub off on our children. It is a bad thing when fathers get intoxicated around their children, when fathers curse and swear with and at their children, and when fathers beat and assault mothers before their children. Some fathers even abuse their children mentally, physically and sexually, and it begins a ripple effect. Any man who thinks that physically abusing his wife, girlfriend or children makes him a real man needs to think again. In fact, he’s not a man at all.

A real man and a real father has his head on straight and knows which direction he is headed in. A real father is one who provides and one who resides. He doesn’t just make house calls; a real father lives in the house. A real father never puts anything or anybody (friends, companions, co-workers or running partners) above or before his family. A real father is the man who makes God the center of his life (Proverbs 1:11). To the real father it’s God first, family second and everybody else third.

Men, we can become real if we accept Jesus Christ as our personal savior (Rom. 10:9,10); for only he can make us real men and fathers. Fathers, we are the head of the family and we are the men of the house. I’m glad that all hope is not gone. All fathers are not in the streets, and all fathers don’t abuse their wives. There are many fathers who spend time with their families. There are fathers who bring home the bacon and cook it, too. There are good Christian fathers who lead by example. With all these things in mind, will the real fathers please stand up?

Fathers, enjoy your celebration. Happy Father’s Day.

The Rev. George Ellis is the pastor at Union Grove Missionary Baptist Church.