Are you a 12-minute Dad? If so, stop it now; you are laying the groundwork for regret, later in life. Recently, I read the findings of a survey that was done among dads of children between the ages of two and twelve year olds. The survey showed that these dads spent 12 minutes a day with their children. That report went on to say that 12-minute dads contribute greatly to 12-year-old delinquents. Think about it! We are reading and hearing more and more about children who are growing up in homes with missing fathers and the problems that this is causing among the youth of our day and especially among young boys.
Being a father is an awesome responsibility, and one that should not be taken lightly. Children need a father to be an active participant in their lives. In today’s world, where so many demands are made in providing for, keeping up and providing all the things we think matter in life, it becomes easy to neglect those things that really matter! Often too late, the results of that kind of neglect are seen, and a lifetime of regret begins.
As a teacher for many years, I observed the difference in small children whose fathers attended PTA meetings along with the mother and child. As a church pastor for many years, I saw the difference in young children whose fathers sat in the church house with them. Too often and too late, I saw the ugliness in young children whose fathers were absent when they were needed the most!
There is a story in the Bible that speaks well to what I am writing. It is about a man named Zebedee and his two sons, James and John. The man and his sons were fishermen. One day when the father and his sons were mending their nets, Jesus passed by and called to the boys to come and follow him. The story says they left their father in the boat and followed Jesus. This is a remarkable story! Much is left for the reader to think about! Nothing is said about the father’s reaction to watching his children walk away to follow the One that had called to them. Nothing more is said about their father. Evidently, he did nothing to hinder the boys who did great things in their lives. Later, the boys who were called “Sons of Thunder” became great preachers and did great things, but their father was absent from their lives. As far as we know, he never heard or saw his sons in action. Old Zebedee, busy in business!
I recall such a time in my own life. I was the father of three young children, two boys and a girl. I was pastor of a small church congregation, was teaching in a public school and was taking correspondence courses to further my education. Besides all of that, I was building a new house that was near completion. Yes, Busy! One morning while on the way to school with my children in the car with me, I overheard my younger son say to his brother, “I wish Daddy would take us fishing some time.” The older son said in a hushed sort of voice, “Dad is too busy to take us fishing.” His words found their target. After school that day, I went to town and bought a fishing pole for each member of my family. When I arrived home, I announced to all, “Let’s go fishing.” In the weeks ahead, and even years, we made fishing a regular activity.
Ah, the memories that were made along the rivers, creeks and lakes. The children are grown and have children of their own, and one has departed for his eternal home, but beautiful memories of our times together remain.
Dads, are you listening, as you read? One of the great lessons that longevity of life teaches is that there are things that we think matter, and there are things that really matter! Fortunate is the man that learns that lesson early in life!
Mr. Shepard is a native of Darlington, S.C., and a current resident of Piedmont, S.C. and author of “Mill Town Boy” and “Bruised”. He has been sharing his tales of growing up in Darlington for decades, and we are delighted to share them each week.