"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25
Midnight Blue (1963): Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell featuring Stanley Turrentine on tenor saxophone, Major Holley on double bass, Bill English on drums and Ray Barretto on conga. Midnight Blue is one of Burrell’s best-known works for Blue Note Records. In 2005, NPR included the album in its "Basic Jazz Library", describing it as "one of the great jazzy blues records".

He said, She said...

"You are not designed for everyone to like you - Wise Man Phil

FRAGILE: Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Dominic Miller & Chris Botti

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Can All Men Be Kings? (re-post 6.24.11)

 Below is a piece I wrote last year for Father's Day. I hope you enjoy. -sbb

Example: a pattern or model, as of something to be imitated or avoided: to set a good example.

...My Great Grandfather Harris holding my Uncle Simmie 
on his lap in the early 1920's.

This past Sunday, families across America celebrated and recognized fathers that have made a discernible difference in the lives of many. Fathers are many things to us, they are Heroes and hard workers, and they are models of toughness and strength. And as we (i) could review the countless things that our fathers are to us the one thing that remains true is that our fathers are examples to us. Sometimes the examples are good and rewarding and at other times the examples, unfortunately, are poor and with regret.

Fathers are our teachers for daily living

Through fathers (and mothers) we are introduced to our morals, ethics and integrity.

Fathers teach their children to love or to hate.

In the end, fathers are, and should be, the leaders of our lives and families, and their leadership has to do more with their character than their accomplishment. The role that the father plays is as big as it gets. Aristotle said that the family is the first school of human instruction. If men are going to effectively lead their families they have to take serious those words by Aristotle. Children develop morally between the years of five through ten and because of this the impact a father has on his child during this time is almost incalculable. 

Fathers have to be highly responsible and accountable.

The stakes are too high not to be.

My grandfather: George -Birdy- Byrd

This past Sunday our Pastor, Ken Murphy, at Cypress Wesleyan Church, shared with us some of his thoughts concerning fatherhood in a sermon entitled: "The Rough Ride of Fatherhood" 

Sometimes all you can do is hold on....

During the sermon Pastor Ken reminisced about some of the games he enjoyed playing when he was a kid. The one game that stood out to him was a game called "King of the Hill". The premise was simple: each participant fought his, or her, way to the top of the hill while pushing everyone else of the hill that posed a threat or challenge. 

The goal was to win and to conquer.

I think we all see, and play at times, the same game in our everyday adult lives. It's true what they say: "everything we need to know we learned in kindergarten"

Things really haven't changed all that much from our days as elementary school students.

Life is funny, and ironic, that way. 

Jake Bailey: My Dad.
Stationed in Hawaii in the Marines in the early 1960's.

At times fatherhood is a game of King of the Hill. We as men desperately try to protect our plot of land and what we perceive to be ours. In the workplace we struggle and fight to get a head or at the very least maintain the status quo, and in the end we often adopt the mindset that if only we can hold on, hold it together and not get knocked off the "hill" we will, in some way, be alright. And though our desire to win is still the same when we become fathers there are times, often times, we weaken mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually as we try to define, analyze and navigate the new challenges adult life presents us with.

Sometimes fatherhood becomes about surviving, not thriving.

 Me & Dad in Jupiter, Fla. (1989)

To be known as a father implies a few things. First of all it confirms the obvious... children - possibly your DNA, often times not - and at some point a wife or woman is in the picture. In my case there are many children and almost as many women. And though my life has been somewhat challenging at times with two ex-wives, a baby momma, child support, two ex-mother-in-laws and six children ranging from 20 to 18 months in age - I know, I'm exhausted just typing it - the fact still remains the same: I'm the father to six wonderful children. They are a group of young people that depend upon me to be responsible for them, faithful to them and respectful, and loving, to their mother(s) - some people make it easier to love them than others... I will just leave it at that - .

Grandpa Birdy

As we grow as men, husbands and fathers we soon realize that we evaluate and define life and it's wins differently. When it comes to our kids a victory might be not spilling anything at the dinner table, it might be quiet drive in the car or acceptance to a college or university that the entire family had their sights set on. Depending on what season of life you are in as a father you can never underestimate the importance of defining success in different stages of life when it comes to our children and the challenge it is to always remind ourselves that managing our expectations is the key to sanity and our emotional well being.

Victory may arrive in the area of a spouse's promotion at their workplace or a breakthrough health wise. The win might present itself in our personal vocation or in our ability to provide and protect our family. 

Wins can be financial and they can be emotional. 

And at the end of the day, "wins" can be tough to come by; like fatherhood it can be a rough ride between victories, no matter if they are small or large. 

In the end, it's a rough ride indeed.

My Dad...

And though the ride can be very difficult there is good news.

There is hope.

Below are some reflections and thoughts from Pastor Ken that will help us win those tough seasons of manhood and have victory during the rough ride of parenthood.

My Five "Suns" (Summer 2009)

1. Your Dad was, and is, imperfect... appreciate the good and forgive.

Forgive your Dad for whatever he did, or did not, do. Forgiveness frees us and it will free you. It will also free your relationship with your father to become all that it is capable of becoming. Remember, you and I are not perfect; someday we will need to be forgiven too. Colossians 3:13 states; "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."

2. Your life will be summarized someday by a single sentence.

In the book of 1 & 2 Kings the book reviews the actions of 40 Kings over 407+ years (627-587 BC) after the reign of King David. First Kings opens with the death of David, followed by the reign of Solomon and the building of the temple in Jerusalem. The book then records the death of Solomon and the division of the kingdom into northern and southern halves (Israel & Judah). This division resulted from a foolish decision by Solomon's heir, Rehoboam. Despite advice from his older advisers, Rehoboam chose to follow a policy of harsh rule, leading to the northern tribes to rebel. First Kings then begins a chronicle of each king who ruled Israel and Judah, giving each king a rating of either good or bad, depending on his faithfulness to God and the covenant. The purpose of the both of the books is to contrast the lives of the godly and the ungodly kings throughout the history of Israel and Judah and to demonstrate the consequences of doing good or doing evil in the eyes of God. At the end of each king's reign the scripture states that "he did evil / he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father did." The two pints that stand out is that it doesn't matter what you think or what others think, the only thing that matters is what God says and what he knows to be true about us. Secondly, we often, especially as men, live out our lives much like our fathers did. More times than not we follow the modes of thinking and entertain the behaviors that were displayed by our fathers. In the end, in examining the reign of these forty Kings it summarizes how they lived in respect to what God had commanded and asked of them.
2 Kings 15:1-3 states:

 "In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah son of Amaziah king of Judah began to reign.  He was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years. His mother’s name was Jekoliah; she was from Jerusalem.  He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Amaziah had done."  

In all there were 40 Kings that were evaluated in the books of 1 & 2 Kings. Thirty failed... they did evil in the eyes of the Lord, just as their father did. Ten Kings succeeded... they did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as their father did. That is a success rate of 25%. The path that is the life of a committed Christian and a follower of God is a narrow one, but it is a rewarding one.

Remember, not only will one sentence define us someday, most likely when we have passed away, but are actions can become examples that our children will live by at some point when they are adults.

What does our "one sentence" say about you, about me?

Me & Logan... Day 1

3. Success in Fatherhood has a lot to do with the hand off.

The last point characterized the importance of the example the father provides for his children. It is equally important to pass on a legacy of faith to the next generation. We do this by word and deed. Christian Parenting Magazine states that the #1 fear of Christian parents is being incapable of passing on a legacy of faith. For non-believing parents the major concern it is "are my kids going to make it and be OK". In both instances there is a concern, and fear, that are children's future will be safe, secure and productive. In the end, parenting is a relay race and more times than not the race is ran hard, but we must be careful that at the time of the hand-off that we don't drop the baton. And as Christians we must be ever mindful of the fact that there is no guarantee that "our" faith will be accepted by the next generation. The faith baton doesn't naturally fall to the next generation.
Exodus 18:20 states:

"Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform."

Deuteronomy 4:9 says:

"Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them." 

In the end, we teach our children by the way we live. It is important not to be overly concerned if our teenagers aren't listening to us because more importantly they are watching us like a hawk. What are your actions teaching your kids?
Finally, Deuteronomy 6: 4-7 states:

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." 

It is impossible to give what you don't have. If you don't have God in your heart you will never be able to pass it on to your kids. 
Get Christ in your heart... and then pass it on.

4. Fatherhood is not defined by DNA. 

Terrell Pryor mentioned in his post Ohio State career that, and I quote, "Tress was like a father to me..." You don't have to be a child's parent to take on the role of father in a child's life. I have seen many men take on the role of father in many different circumstances. These men are to be commended and applauded.

Fathers, like children, are known by the company they keep.
(my dad is in the middle)

5. Be man enough to seek help.

Wherever you are in your life seek help if it's needed. If you're in trouble seek help. If you need advice seek it and ask for it. Nowhere does it say that if you are in trouble that you are to go it alone. Real men seek help when it is needed. There are many scriptures and clever little quotes that I could share, but there is nothing more clearly stated in God's word about the pursuit of wisdom than Proverbs 9:10 and Proverbs 4:4-9:

 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
   and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding
-Proverbs 9:10 

My father taught me,
   “Take hold of my words with all your heart;
   keep my commands, and you will live.
Get wisdom, get understanding;
   do not forget my words or turn away from them. 
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
   love her, and she will watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
   Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
Cherish her, and she will exalt you;
   embrace her, and she will honor you.
She will give you a garland to grace your head
   and present you with a glorious crown.” 
-Proverbs 4:4-9 

A friend's father...
This picture is of Ward Weber's father.
I think the picture is magnification and says a lot without saying a word.

It can never be overstated; fathers are important.

We can never truly understand how important fathers are, but we can measure the devastation when they are not present. Statistics are sometimes just numbers and we can make statistics say anything, but as you will see below there is no discounting the pain and devastation when a father is not present. With that let me share some alarming statistics when it comes to a fatherless home:
  •  80% of all juveniles that are arrested for a serious crime either have a parent or sibling that is incarcerated. Most of the time it is a father and/or brother.
  • 30% of all female-headed households are living in poverty. 50% of all black female-headed households live in poverty. Our country's current level of poverty is 6%
  • Approximately 70% of juveniles that who end up long-term correction facilities grew up without a father in the home.
  • 70% of all black children are born out of wedlock.
  • A recent study by the Dept. of Health and Human Services found that children from a broken home are 20 to 40 times more likely to suffer health problems than children living with both parents.
  • Fatherless children display more anti-social behavior, do worse in school and are twice as likely to drop out of school than children from intact families. They are also more likely to use drugs and become sexually active at an early age.
  • More than half of the teenagers who've attempted suicide live in a single-parent home.
  • By 1999, there were 721,500 parents in federal and state prisons, and they were parents to 1.5 million children.

My Dad... and Mom
Fathers are important.

The loss of a father due to death, incarceration or irresponsibility is felt emotionally, mentally, physically, financially, and spiritually by the family. The statistics I just shared are just a snap-shot of the consequences that are barred by the countless families that are missing a father. In the end, nobody ever has, or ever will, escape the consequences of their behavior.

Finally, in the book "All the King's Men" by Robert Penn Warren published in 1946 was a novel that portrayed the dramatic political ascent and governorship of Willie Stark, a driven, cynical populist in the America South during the 1930s. Its title is drawn from the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty. 

The central theme of the novel is that all actions have consequences, and that it's impossible for an individual to be a bystander and a mere observer of life. The same standard applies to fathers. The role that fathers need to play in their children's lives makes it impossible for us as fathers to stand on the sideline and be mere observers as our kids experience childhood. In the end, there will be consequences for everything we do and don't do; some will be good and some will be bad, but both are determined by our actions or in-actions.

We as fathers must be involved.

We must be active participants in raising our children.

(L-R) Ryan, Bryce, Dad, Reese, Logan, Addison & Austin

And to answer the question, the answer is yes.

All men can become Kings.

When a man decides that others are more important than him, that he is who he is not because of his position, performance, prosperity or popularity, but because of how he treats others, and when a man decides that his families well being and future is more important than any of his personal wants and any, and all, of his perceived needs he entertains, then and only then, will he (will I) be on his (my) way to becoming a King.

A King to his (my) wife, his (my) children and his (my) friends.

It has taken me many painful years to understand those truths. Now I hope I can pass it on to my children.

I want them all to be Kings (and a queen) someday.

sbb 24.6.11

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