Musings on the Responsibilities of Fathers

Today, Sunday June 19th, 2011 is the day in the American culture set aside to give Honor to Fathers. We take time to let our Father’s know we care about the impact they have had in our lives. Perhaps we even take time even reflecting on what they have done in our life. The fact is that being a Father is a tremendous God-given responsibility. A Father plays a vital role in the development of children. Each Father is a reflection to their children of God the Father. And each Father ultimately falls short of measuring up to the full responsibilities. Some fail to measure up intentionally committing great evils, some are absent or neglectful, and others simply stumble; but all falter. Yet, it is important to note that what Fathers do and are responsible for is vital and weighty. In thinking about the responsibilities of Fathers there are four essential responsibilities that come to mind: Authority, Provision, Protection, and Education. There are probably other words that can be added but these four seem to be at the core. Lets briefly look at each.

A Father is to be the authority of the home. As such, a Father provides two elements of authority: leadership and discipline. A father is to be the final say, the one to set the course, provide the vision for the family. He is to consider what is good for each and every member of the family and is responsible to make decisions for the welfare of all. He also is to be the final authority, the one who establishes the boundaries and the consequences. Most of us have heard uttered either in our own families or in forms of cultural entertainment the statement “Just wait till your dad gets home.” A Fathers responsibility really starts with the provision of authority. Sometimes the things we get upset with our Fathers over are the ways we do not like how our Father operated in this responsibility but if we examine it from the view of the weight of responsibility thoughts can change from how our Fathers failed to measure up, to how they attempted to attend to the responsibility of authority.

A Father is the provider for the family. He is the one ultimately responsible to see to it that the needs are met of all in the family. Being the provider goes toward seeing that what is necessary is always address and what is desired at times can be provided, and when not able to be provided, explaining the lack. Sometimes as children we can get our wants and desire confused with what is necessary. We can also disagree with how what was necessary was provided. In general, most Fathers do their best with what they knew how to do to be a provider. Being responsible for the wholeness and well being of all in family is a immense responsibility.

A Father is also the source of protection in a family. He is the one who is to address and deal with any potential threats. Being a protector goes hand in hand with being a provider but is different. A Father needs to be alert for the dangers that could come. They are responsible to know the strengths and weaknesses of self and every member of their family. They are responsible to see to the safety of each family member physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Given that each one of us are created in very unique this responsibility is a unique challenge. The other part of the responsibility is when harm comes, to be able to encourage and build up those in family from the wounds of life and cope with the suffering. This responsibility is very tough and it is very easy to misunderstand or not even depths of what can happen in each family member’s life.

A Father is also responsible to provide education. A Father is responsible for building up all in their family and helping them grow. As such, a Father takes time to understand where their children are at and help them develop. This responsibility also requires a great deal of patience and understanding. It is an area where one can easily fall short, missing the way that best matches each individual. Each Father works at educating and easily falter, as no matter how wise the father, it is easy to miss the most effective way to pass on what needs to be taught and easily frustrated when the lessons go unlearned.

Now, here is the amazing thing. God the Father, perfectly meets each responsibility in our life. We may not always perceive that truth as we often have our views obscured by our perceptions of our earthly Father’s weaknesses. No matter what we lacked in our earthly Fathers, the Heavenly Father lives up to all Fatherly responsibilities perfectly. We may not always grasp, for God interacts with us for what is best for us individually. It may not always match, but He knows up perfectly, for He created us. Our earthly Fathers learn as they go, trying to do things differently than their Dad did and falling short in their own unique ways but most trying to live up to responsibilities in an honorable way. And those that do not try, there will be Justice, for our Heavenly father will see to that in perfectly demonstrating love and matching each responsibility perfectly.

Movie Commentary: The Blind Side- Building up others by acts of faith and love.

The Blind Spot is a must see movie.  The movie brings to the big screen the story of Mike Oher and the Tuohy family.  It tells how the Tuohy’s came to reach out to Michael Oher and his life was changed, as was theirs.  The movie was filled with excellent acting from all members of the cast with Sandra Bullock leading the way.  This is a movie you leave impacted emotionally.   The movie does show that it was not just the Tuohy’s involved in changing Michael’s life but many choices along the way. There was “Big Tony” Henderson, Mrs. Beasly, and Miss Sue all who made choices that helped Michael.  Now the reality is that the movie is powerful but the story alters from the facts to fit the director’s vision.   The full details of the story can be read in detail in Michael Lewis’s book: The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game.  A sampling of the story can be found in a New York Times article written by Michael Lewis titled: The Ballad of Big Mike. It gives a fuller grasp of the elements of the true story. Regardless the movie in the film is powerful. 

Now the film gives a perspective related to the change fighting with the director John Lee Hancock’s viewpoint. In an interview, John Lee Hancock indicated that he did not feel the Tuohy’s faith was a major factor in the story; it was simply part of who they were. In his mind, it could have been anybody.  The story was about the way a young man was helped and how both touched each other’s lives. It is a story about actions that changed a life and the relationships involved.  Many of the lines used by the director/writer in the book are quotes taken from statements made by those involved.  Not at some level, John Lee Hancock also alludes to social trends and the lives of those who do well compared to those who do not.  It showed the real dynamic of acts of love not being trusted by others, and being fueled by motives of secondary gain.  Rather, the movie significantly displays that lives were touched as people responded in keeping with who they were. That this story has such strong impact that it reflects acts of love even if you remove the contributions of faith to the story. 

An interesting element of the director’s take on the story was the focus on protectiveness.  A measure of “protectiveness” is added as a measure of intelligence to portray that Michael Oher had a profound sense of protectiveness and loyalty. He cared for others and truly needed to connect with others.  Family is seen as the primary need and a comparison is even shown between those that reach out in love to those that use and destroy (Tuohy’s versus drug dealer/gang.) Ultimately, Michael was shown to care so much about others that he would protect at cost to his own self.

Another element the direct highlighted was that we all have blindsides or blind spots.  Michael constantly is protecting himself from the painful memory of separation from mother.  Near the end of the film the character talks about surviving by simply closing his eyes.  Emphasis was also pointed out toward how others can be blind to real need and giving is just a superficial part of being in society and giving out of surplus.  The Tuohy’s though went beyond that, and like the Good Samaritan reached out when others may not have.

Personally, the film for me showed the importance of giving in such a way that builds up another, reflecting the love of Jesus.  It did serve as part of the inspiration of the giving challenge issued in an article written on Black Friday. The Tuohy’s gave and it touched Michael Oher in a way that built him up and touch not only his life, but now the life of millions of other people.  Their act of love ultimately draws attention and glory to the King of Kings.  Sure, they are now famous, but famous for living the life of people following God’s lead and helping others.  Their actions were not an act as evidenced by the reaction of Sandra Bullock to exposure to the family. In an article by Terry Mattingly, Sandra Bullock stated “This family, they were themselves for no other benefit other than because they wanted to reach out, lend a hand, and had no idea that they would get a son in return” and she also as indicated that she regained “faith in those who say they represent a faith. I’ve finally met people that walk the walk.”   For those of us who follow Jesus and entered into the kingdom of God, that is words the uplift.  As Leigh Anne Tuohy stated in that same article “We absolutely believe that none of this was a fluke. This was God-driven from the start.” Life was lived in love in such a way that others see the actions and see ultimately Jesus as faith and deeds match.  The Tuohy’s in their actions truly reflected Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

So for any reading this commentary, if you haven’t seen the movie please do so.  And if you have, take a look at yourself and whether you follow Jesus or not, examine how to walk in love of others by giving in ways that touch others beyond the superficial and in a way that builds them up.  Michael Oher’s life was changed by such actions.  It is not about whether a person is built up enough to develop worldly success, rather it is about touching a person that elevates and enables them to walk with confidence into the journey of life.  


Sean, Leigh Anne, and Michael