FATHER'S DAY: Rise up, O men of God

GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP) -- This Father's Day is a little more special. Our son is now a father.

It happened on April 12. The fifth-generation "James" came into the Richards family. He will go by his middle name, Graham. His great-great-grandmother was a Graham who was born in Wood County, Texas, in 1898. This new addition to our other three grandchildren is a blessed time.

Father's Day conjures up precious memories. I was blessed to have a godly, loving dad who has been with the Lord 25 years. He loved me without reservation.

Dad was a firefighter, funeral director, chief civil deputy sheriff, director of security and a bivocational minister of music. With all of the hats he wore, the one he wore best was "Dad."

He never grew tired of supporting me. He set the example for me to follow. He loved Mother. He never forgot a birthday or anniversary. I never saw him get angry at her, speak to her unkindly or touch her in a harmful way.

Mother worked outside the home. She was a registered nurse and worked over 30 years delivering babies. But her first priority was being a homemaker. She loved Dad. She sacrificed for me. When she had to work evening shifts, Dad and I would eat at a restaurant. In the 1950s and '60s not a lot of people ate out. With all of Dad's good qualities, he couldn't boil an egg and would not eat leftovers.

We ate a couple of nights a week at the Capitol Steakhouse in Monroe, La. One night when I was about 8 or 9, we were eating at the restaurant and a man who was sitting at a table near us began using vulgar language. Dad calmly asked the man to not use those words because I could hear them.

The large imposing man immediately stood up challenging my dad. I thought I was going to see my dad die before my eyes. Instead, the man froze and then walked out of the restaurant. I was so proud of my dad.

I used this as an illustration in a sermon once when my dad was present. After church, Dad told me the rest of the story. The owner of the restaurant, George Camporis, kept a handgun under the counter. When he saw potential danger, he placed the gun on the counter. The disruptive man saw it and decided to leave. Although this altered the story, it didn't diminish the stand Dad took to protect me.

In this day with all the talk of "toxic masculinity," he was a gentle soul who was strong, courageous and kind. He was a man's man.

Debate is raging about women's roles. Let me say that with an incredible wife, two loving daughters, a precious daughter-in-law and two awesome grandgirls, I'm all for women. I want to see all of the women in my life excel to the highest potential God has for them. I say this for all women.

But the problem we are having in our churches and the culture in general is not with women. It is with men.

We need men who will follow the biblical order of being the "heads" of their homes. Ephesians 5 is about Christ's relationship with the church. The analogy used is about the relationship of husband and wife. Jesus is Lord of the church but men are not "lords" over their wives. In almost 46 years of marriage, I have never been called "Lord Jim."

Headship is not about my rights. It is about responsibility. While Jesus is Lord of the church, men are to be leaders in the home. Leaders provide direction. Leaders set examples. Leaders love and care for those they lead. Men, be the one who leads in family worship. Set aside time to pray and read Scripture daily with your loved ones. It is time for men to step up and fulfill God's calling on their lives.

Being a father is more than biologically producing offspring. Being a father means giving time, resources and influence to those God has placed under your leadership. The feminization of our culture has caused some men to shirk their God-given role. It is time for men to live the old hymn "Rise Up, O Men of God":

Rise up O men of God,

Have done with lesser things.

Give heart and soul and mind and strength,

To serve the King of Kings.

Lift high the Cross of Christ,

Tread where His feet have trod,

As brothers of the Son of Man,

Rise up O men of God.

We need men to answer the call to preach. We need men to answer the call to serve the church. We need men who will lead their homes. As we observe a day this month recognizing fathers, my prayer is that all men will rise up to serve the King of Kings. And by the way, happy first Father's Day, Nate!

Jim Richards is executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. This article first appeared at the Southern Baptist TEXAN (www.texanonline.net), the convention's newsjournal.
Download Story