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KEEPING THE FAITH | There is a difference between being a father and being a dad

It is much easier to become a father than to commit to becoming a dad. A father is biological, whereas a dad is behavioral. The role of fathering can be considered an act of nature while being a dad is all nurture.
The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin

You can be both a father and a dad! You may wonder: What’s the difference? 

Well, it is much easier to become a father than to commit to becoming a dad. A father is biological, whereas a dad is behavioral. The role of fathering can be considered an act of nature while being a dad is all nurture. A dad is someone who’s there when a child needs him most, in good times and bad, when guidance and the gifts of an open ear and caring heart are most important. 

Every child needs a dad who may or might not be his or her biological father.  

Dads come in all ages and stages of life. Grandfathers and uncles, cousins and big brothers, family friends, teachers, clergy, coaches and mentors can play the role of dad at critical moments in a person's life.

Foster and adoptive dads are among the most special people because their gifts are the timeliest in the life of a child. Opening your doors and hearts to children whose needs are great and emotions fragile takes a certain blend of kindness and leadership.  

The impact of positive parental guidance, love, support and direction cannot be overstated. Proverbs 22:6 asserts, “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”

I understand some of us never really had the chance to know our fathers — death, alcohol/ drug abuse or even abandonment. Some may have feared their father's coldness but deeply respected his hard work and dedication to family. Many men live up to what's expected of them, others stumble. Few do not try to do their best. As I tell my own children, “I’m not perfect, but I am perfect for them!”

Consider the following short modern parable: 

SON: “Daddy, may I ask you a question?”
DAD: “Yeah sure, what is it?”
SON: “Daddy, how much do you make an hour?”
DAD: “That’s none of your business. Why do you ask such a thing?”  
SON: “I just want to know. Please tell me, how much do you make an hour?”
DAD: “If you must know, I make $30 an hour.”
SON: “Oh! Daddy, may I please borrow $10?”

The father was furious.

DAD: “If the only reason you asked that is so you can borrow some money to buy a game or some other nonsense, then you march yourself straight to your room and go to bed. Think about why you are being so selfish. I work too hard to deal with such this childish behavior.”

The little boy quietly went to his room and shut the door. The man sat down and started to get even angrier about the little boy’s questions. How dare he ask such questions only to get some money? As the man had calmed down, and started to think: Maybe there was something he really needed to buy with that $ 10 and he really didn’t ask for money very often. The man went to the door of the little boy’s room and opened the door.

DAD: “Are you asleep, son?”
SON: “No daddy, I’m awake.”
DAD: “I’ve been thinking, maybe I was too hard on you earlier. It’s been a long day and I took out my frustration on you. Here’s the $10 you asked for.”

The little boy sat straight up, smiling.

SON:Oh, thank you daddy!”

Then, reaching under his pillow he pulled out some crumpled up bills. The man saw that the boy already had money, started to get angry again. The little boy slowly counted out his money, and then looked up at his father.

DAD: “Why do you want more money if you already have some?”
SON: “Because I didn’t have enough, but now I do. Daddy, I have $30 now. Can I buy an hour of your time? Please come home early tomorrow. I would like to have dinner with you.”

The first time I heard this now popular illustration was at a time management seminar in 1992.  This was before cell phones and texting were common modes of communication. During the conference break, many of us retreated to a payphone. We understood the message. We called home with a commitment to make more time for family. 

Sometimes as fathers we can get caught up in the role of being a provider that we can overlook what is most important: time. Making ourselves available for those we love. Please don’t become so consumed in making a living that you forget to live your life. Every memory is a subjective vision of the past.  All of us recall our parenting moments with a blend of joy and regret. The pleasure was balanced with pain. Life has been described as a vapor that dissipates quickly. The gift of time is well spent when shared with those you love.

I encourage you to reflect upon the life lessons we've learned — good or bad — from our fathers and dads. Let's honor them by imitating the good, overcoming the bad, and conveying a message to our children, in both word and action, that they are loved and valued. 

If your father has passed away, one of the most significant ways to heed the commandment "Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother" is to make a contribution in our parents' name to a charity, such as your church, which reflects the values we've learned from those who paved our paths. 

My role of being a father and a dad was greatly influenced by my own God-given gift: Lewis Macklin Sr.! I have always considered it a high honor and blessing to share his name. By his selfless example, I embody the role of fatherhood as both an obligation and opportunity. My Dad is someone who shows his love in little ways that mean a lot: in bits of wisdom shared; reassuring hugs and smiles that say “good job;” in quick reminders; a silly joke; and all the special ways of being there for his family. 

Whether he’s helping out, giving advice, solving a problem or just having fun, he puts love into everything he does. Thank you for being the best Dad anyone could have! 

Proverbs 17:22 indicates a cheerful heart is good medicine. Indeed, laughter is good for the mind, body and soul. I love to hear my Dad’s robust belly laughter. This week’s missive will conclude with an offering of dad jokes for the occasion of Father’s Day gathered by family and friends. I hope these jokes and short puns presented as a one-liner or question and answer evoke warm memories of times shared. Enjoy a laugh or even a groan or two- but always keep the faith! 

Tracey Boamah: Did you hear the rumor about butter? Well I’m not going to spread it!
Anthony Turner: The past, present and future walked into a bar …  it was tense!
Mark Rheins Jr.: How do you track Will Smith in the snow? You follow the fresh prints.
Bishop Paul J. Pegues III: Nothing up my sleeves but arms!
Tim Cassidy: Kid: “Dad, I’m hungry!” Dad: "Hi, Hungry!”
Ashley D. Macklin: What’s the best day to tan? Sunday! (Wonder where she heard that joke?)
The Rev. Robert A. Johnson: How does a penguin build its house? Igloos it together! 
Phil Nunes: Wanted to be a baker … but couldn’t raise the dough.
George Stephens: If you mess with my coffee you’re grounded!
Janice Olu: Did you hear the story about the cheese that saved the world? It was legend dairy.

Finally as my friend David Jones observed, a joke doesn’t become a dad joke until it is full groan!

The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin II serves as the lead pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, chaplain for the Youngstown Police Department, President of the Baptist Pastors Council and the local coordinator for the African American Male Wellness Walk of the Mahoning Valley. He resides in Youngstown with Dorothy, his partner in marriage & ministry. They share the love and joy of 6 children and 7 grandchildren and their mischievous canine Sir Winston.

— All biblical citations are New Living Translation unless noted otherwise.