A note from Pastor Paul Boutan
“I will be a Father to you. And you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.” 2COR 6:18 As a dad, 2021 has been a big year of transition for me. In May, my daughter graduated from high school and in July, my son will be getting married. These milestones have prompted Amy and I to reflect on our years of parenting. Over the years we did a few things right, even more things wrong and learned a lot along the way. In honor of Father’s Day, I thought I would share some of the lessons I’ve learned from my fatherhood journey. In preparation for this article Amy asked our young adult children how they thought I did as a father. I was both humbled and pleasantly surprised to see their feedback. Zach said that for him the thing that stood out to him was “how available I was, the time I invested in my marriage, and that I made time to be at home with the family.” I would say that was by design, I did not want to be an absent father. I did my best to spend time with both Zach and Samantha as they were growing up. Fishing trips with Zach, daddy daughter dates with Samantha, family game nights and movie nights, and family vacations, along with many late-night conversations. As a pastor, it’s very easy to allow your children to become “ministry orphans.” Therefore, back when Amy and I were dating, we had decided that I would not be gone more than three nights per week. Granted, there may be a few exceptions, but in general I would be at home at least four nights per week. I ate most dinners together with my family. This choice came with a sacrifice, it certainly limited some things I would or would not do with or for the church. With that came some external pressure to be at some or all church functions and the internal pressure of feeling that I was “holding back” the church. While Paul Tsongas was serving as a United States Senator, he was diagnosed with cancer and made a statement I think would help all men balance their priorities. He said, “No one on his deathbed ever said, ‘I wished I spent more time at the office.’” While workaholism is easy to spiritualize in the ministry, the Bible makes it clear that if I lose my family, I lose my ministry. The Apostle Paul clearly spells out the qualifications for ministry among them he says in 1Tim 3:4-5, “He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)” As my children were growing up, they would often hear me say, “Everything I learned about being a father, I learned from God’s Word.” As many of you know, I never had any good father figure in my life until I was 15 and went to live with my aunt and uncle. As a young believer who knew that I would one day become a husband and father having no personal model to draw from, I turned to the Bible. I remember thinking, “If the Scriptures call God “The Father,” then what better example is there for me to learn fatherhood from?” I know that I am not the only man feeling as though you are trying to figure out how to be a good father and making it up along the way. But don’t be discouraged, the Bible and the Holy Spirit can be your guide. God’s Word helps you and teaches you how to be filled with the Spirit so that you can be self-controlled, a servant leader, humble and authentic man of God. You don’t have to carry the mistakes from your past or upbringing with you. You can become a new man as taught 2Cor 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” Thankfully, it seems that was what made the most impact on Samantha. When Amy asked her for feedback regarding my role as a dad, she made the following 5 observations: 1. It’s very impressive that he learned everything he knows about fatherhood from the Bible 2. He was able to be mad and stay calm. I can only really remember one time that he exploded and he didn’t even yell. I knew he was upset and disappointed, but he never took it out on us. 3. How well he behaves under pressure 4. I am always very surprised when I hear of Dad’s past because I could never see him doing that now. It is encouraging spiritually as well. Truly a Saul to Paul transformation. 5. I never felt like he would judge me. As I’ve talked to him about things I’ve struggled with, I know that he’s there to just listen, give encouragement/advice, and that his arms are always open ready for a big hug. Also, after I’ve told him these things, he has never treated me or viewed me differently. I also realized that “managing your own family” applies not only to your parenting but also to your marriage. Over the past two and a half decades, I’ve strived to have a thriving relationship with Amy. We both realize that the best thing we can give our children is good marriage. We know that a happy marriage creates a peaceful and stable home. Hopefully, with God’s grace Amy and I model what a healthy, biblical and loving home looks like. The kind of home I didn’t have as a child, but I found in the Bible, modeled by God the Father. Our home was not perfect. As a dad, I made many mistakes. But by God’s amazing grace, our young adult children love Jesus and still love us. Amy and I prayed a lot, apologized even more, but tried to live an authentic Christian life before our children. I’m pretty sure they would tell you, that we are the same people at home that you see at church. Perhaps, like me you may not be a perfect dad, you may not have had a great model to follow, let me remind you that you have a Heavenly Father. Do your best to follow His example, believe me, your efforts to model His fatherhood principles will not go unnoticed by your children.