LESSONS FROM MY FATHER
A few months ago I was blessed to do a reflection on my father which was quite an eye-opener for me. It was called “Lessons from my Father” whom I loved dearly and greatly respected. I guess the first thing that came to my mind was my father was a church of God preacher of the strictest, severest, “no nonsense” kind – the kind that controlled you just by a look, one look! When the look didn’t quite work then he would open his mouth – only then you would have preferred that he used corporal punishment instead of yelling at you. His voice thundered! When we misbehaved all mom had to say was, “wait till your father comes home” and that literally was the end of having any kind of a good day. Dad laid down the law! Dad was the sheriff! He could draw his belt swifter than any Western cowboy could draw his gun. Somehow he/they did not realize that “sparing not the rod and spoiling the child” had more than a physical, actual, literal interpretation to it. They seemed especially anointed especially to administer corporal punishment. Heaven help us!
The story is told of my brother misbehaving in church, while my fearsome dad was preaching, so it is claimed that my strict, Pentecostal, Church of God father calmly stopped his wonderful message, took my brother outside, took off his belt, whooped him and calmly came back inside and continued his message as if it was nothing. Can you imagine doing that today? Needless to say that was a different day, a different time, a different culture and a different mindset. However, this was the dad of my early formative years. He was a character!
Thank God I lived to see my dad change over the years. As he grew older he became more mellow, gentler, more loving, kinder, more affectionate and considerate. He became more of a Jesus type father to us. He became less temperamental, more approachable and genuinely interested in us as individuals and most delighted in our various chosen career paths. Of course, I followed in his footsteps and became a preacher, so we always had a lot to talk about and to share. Somehow it got through to him that he had to change, if he wanted to keep his family and have his kids around him as he grew older. He had the wisdom and the good sense to change, to adapt to his changing family, to modify his behavior to become a better parent and a more approachable and acceptable dad.
Lessons that I have learned from my father are - we don’t always get it right as fathers, but we can sure learn and even allow our kids to teach us. As I grew older I had to help teach my dad how to respond to me as a more mature individual and to change some of his antiquated ways. He didn’t always get it right at first or overnight, but he was wise enough to be reeducated and learn a different way of relating and interacting. Yes, he taught me how to be tough, but I also learned from him that it is more Christ-like to be both tough and tender and that our sons and daughters need to see and have both in manifestation. He didn’t always get it right, but he was always there.
Fathers, our sons and daughters need us especially in these hard and difficult times. They are crying out for our love, acceptance and our validation. I am my father’s son, but I am also my children’s father. They too are worthy of love, respect, dignity, affirmation, and admiration. As I was worthy of my father’s love so too are my children worthy of my love.
Fathers let us never curse but bless our children. Discipline yes, but never denigrate or destroy their self-worth or self-esteem. Even when they don’t fully measure up to our expectations, may God give us grace to help them exceed, excel and live up to their highest potential. The admonition still stands, ringing loud and clear, “Fathers do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4 NIV). Let us ever seek to be godly fathers, fearfully instructing our offspring in the righteous paths of godliness. Fathers, this church needs you! This generation needs you! Our communities need you! We love You! Happy Father’s Day.
Leroy V. Greenaway
Presiding Bishop – Northeast Region
In collaboration with our District Overseers, the Church of God of Prophecy submits to the wisdom of continuing to ‘Shelter in Place’ for the safety and protection of the flock. This is to be observed until further notice and the present virus is better contained. Should the need arise to meet, we are advised to meet in groups of no more than 10, while we strictly observe the protocols of social distancing, wearing of masks and aggressive sanitizing of our hands and surfaces frequently touched.
Please let us patiently observe these practices to keep each other safe and alive. We are reminded that we are indeed our brother’s keeper. Stay home! Stay Healthy! Stay Hopeful! We shall soon get through this! Premature re-openings of our churches seem not to be the wisest way to go at this point. Let us continue to pray, caring for each other and staying connected.
Leroy V. Greenaway
Regional, Presiding Bishop — Northeast Region