Father’s Day Musing: On Honoring Fathers

Yesterday was Father’s day in the United States.  It is a day set aside for honoring our fathers.  Other places in the world also set aside a day just to honor their fathers, for example in Brazil it is on the second Sunday in August.  Honoring our fathers is something that should be an ongoing basis but there is one day set aside for special honor. 

Our father’s play an important role in our development.  A father influences his children with both good and bad.  The love of a father helps orient a child and his approach to the world.  The wounds a father creates through his own selfishness are significant for both boys and girls.  Generally fathers actions can fall into loving, helpful choices, neglectful absence choices, and sinful hurtful choices. There are some father’s who actively seek to harm and damage their children for  their own selfish and evil purposes and desires.  Yet, it is clear that fathers are to be honored regardless. Of course what honoring a father looks like differs dependent on the father and the choices taken yet generally compose of three elements: homage, devotion and reverence. 

Homage:  This involves both recognizing and praising a father for the contributions in your life.  This is a focusing on how a father has contributed to your development as a person socially, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. 

Devotion:  This involves showing respect mingled with love or awe. It is displaying that you not only care for your father but that you also show that he is important to you by your words, actions, and deeds.  This includes things such as spending time with your father, helping your father as requested, and any other way that is an appropriate display of respect and love. 

Reverence: This involves  yielding or submitting to their judgment or preference out of respect. This is being willing to ask your father’s advice and listen to your father. This involves setting aside your own thoughts and ideas in deference.  This means that your father is always your father. 

Now granted as been stated our fathers are not perfect. They often have a mix of loving behavior, neglectful behavior, or hurtful behavior.  And some fathers even have done evil things to their children. Yet, we are still to honor our father’s.  So the question becomes how do we honor our fathers not just for the good that they do?  It is worthwhile to examine what the differences may be in honoring fathers who are loving, who are neglectful, who make hurtful choices, and who choose evil purposes.

Loving actions:It is east to honor a father who has engaged in primarily loving responses and builds up his children, teaches them the love of God, and generally attends to the child’s needs.  Yet, it can be tempting to focus on self and the errors that even the most loving father makes rather then the good he has done by faithfully doing what all father’s should.  So it is real easy to give such a father homage, devotion, and reverence and the only barriers to such come from our self. Giving a father honor who has been essentially honoring will certainly bring you benefit, for following his example your relationships benefit.

Neglectful Actions:Even the best father’s have moments where they neglect their children.  A father can easily get caught up in his own world of providing for family or other things that can get in the way.  It is important to note the some felt neglect is actual and some of it is simply a matter of perception. Regardless, neglect does wound, but let the wounds heal, don’t hold on them but forgive and release. It can actually be an honorable action to discuss with your father the felt and perceived wounds. However, this should not be done in an accusatory manner but rather with the intent to honor in mind.  Forgiving our father’s four their faults is key.  Showing homage, devotion, and reverence in spite of the wounds is true honor and loving behavior.  Now, it is real tempting to both focus on how a father has lacked and communicate that lack to others.  The incidents of real or only perceived neglect can become a focus point and even denigrate to the level of evil speech and such conduct is dishonorable.  Rather a person should find ways to honor their father inspite of the wounds.  True honor comes when it is not deserved.  

Hurtful Actions:  It is also true that most fathers at some point do things that are focused on self and are purposeful actions to hurt their children.  Such actions are usually temporary and not ongoing.  They are the times that your father simply made other choices rather then looking out for their child’s best interest.  Some common forms of ways father hurt their children are by criticism, inappropriate anger, attempts to control, attempts to manipulate, attempts to draw worth from child, failing to keep promises, and other self-directed choices that cause pain to their child.  Again, honoring a father hear involves a process of healing, forgiving, and letting go.  Sometimes directly discussing these wounds are appropriate and can bring honor. But sometimes working through the hurts is best done without direct engagement over the past wounds.  It can be a very honoring thing not to remind your father of his failures.  Ultimately the question should always be, what brings more honor to my father in terms of dealing with any past wounds be they from neglect or from selfish, hurtful actions.

Evil Actions:Now fathers who commit great evil against their children are the hardest to understand how to honor.  The men that abuse their children in the most selfish means for their own personal evil desires clearly do not deserve honor.  Yet, there are steps that can be done even to honor such men.  The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:21 “Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.”  This principle is key.  A person who honors an evil father can do so by at least praying for him.  Seeing that any physical needs are addressed can be a way of doing good.  Direct confrontation maybe appropriate if done so in an honorably confrontive manner.  Ensuring that the same actions are not followed can bring honor to an evil father.  Helping others who have been hurt by evil fathers also can be a way of bringing honor to your father.  Ultimately, forgiving any great evil done is a difficult but high form of honor toward such a man.  A person need not have a physical relationship with someone to honor them.  Rather, not putting an evil father in position to make further evil choices is a form of honor.

For any action of hurt or pain that we felt in relation to our father the key is to find a way to do good and bring them honor.  Honor can include to how we interact with others as well as our fathers.  Honor involves whether we hold on to the wounds or forgive and release the pain.  It is not always easy and often we may need the help of God the father. But if you find ways to honor your father, you will be blessed.  This is something God has promised and his promises are sure.  So I challenge the reader to examine their life and choices.  How have you honored your father?  Are you holding on to wounds of the past? Are you speaking ill of your father?  Do you appreciate the love your father has shown you?   Our relationships with our father impact us every day.  They also impact our relationship with God. The more we are able to walk in actions and attitudes of honor, the more we grow in knowledge of God’s love. And honoring the dishonorable that has occurred is a very act of worship that ultimately gives honor to God the Father, who is always honorable and worthy of praise.


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