A few months ago I was asked if I would come and speak this morning about being a good Dad.For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Alisdair Semple I’m 48, I’ve been married for 25 years, my wife Kath and I have four childrenThree boys; Jamie 20, Cris 18 and Robin 14And one girl; Maddy 13Let me start by telling you, why I might be a bad choice for this task, and its all to do with my upbringing. For exampleWhen I was 13 my Dad caught me shoplifting a grotty plastic portable radio from our local garage.He was furious. He made me put it back. We drove home in a heavy silence … then he walked me down to the bottom of our garden to talk to me.I had never seen him so angry. He made it clear to me that if I ever tried anything like that again I would be out of house out of our home and out of the family.It was one of the few times I remember him ever really connecting with me as a teenager. You see, He was often away from home.I didn’t have a Christian upbringing.My Dad was born in Glasgow in 1935 on a rough estate, the Gorbals. Before he was 6 years old his Father had joined a parachute regiment and gone off to war for 5 years.He largely brought himself up and managed to get a scholarship to a Grammar School. When his Dad returned after the war they didn’t really know each other, but then that wasn’t an expectation anyone had. My Dad did well in school, got himself and engineering apprenticeship with Shell working at the shipyards. But, aged 18, he ran away from home to join the RAF … three years later he had met and married my mother and was a fighter pilot.We had one more pivotal conversation at the bottom of our garden when I was 16 years old. These were better circumstances and I wasn’t being told off this time.Instead my father decided to pass on to me the family wisdom that he had picked up through life. It boiled down to two pithy instructions.Firstly, Never piss into wind. Secondly, always wear a condom. That was it.And hence my starting comment, that I might be a bad choice for this task … except to say, that I have learned a bit more in my life about what it takes a good father.And I have had plenty of help along the way. Some of it may be useful to you.
Apart from giving you a little bit of my background, it is worth looking at what has beengoing on in this country during our lifetime, and being 48 years old, I’m looking back some 50 years. And in the last 50 years there have been some massive changes that have happened in our nation.The information I am going to show you is from the government Office of National Statistics and comes from the census that is taken every 10 years. The most recent one taken earlier this year has not been processed yet, but that doen’t matter too much as you’ll see.I’ll start In 1962, the year before I was born. At that point 95% of all parents stayed together for life. Family life was essentially stable, itmay not have always been happy, but it was stable and that’s an important point.Shoot forward 50 years and there is a very different picture now.Roughly a third of all children are no longer brought up by both of their birth parents.The UK is only in a slightly better position than the USA when it comes to this, but in comparison to the rest of Europe we have more children with little or no contact with either theirnatural father or even having a consistent positive male role model in the family.
Why am I telling you this?Why does this matter? Well, because insecurity, anxiety, depression and mental illness come out of family break down, and not just for the adults involved, but often for the children too.Dysfunctional families often breed dysfunctional people who then have ongoing health problems. A sizeable proportion of our ever growing NHS health bill comes from this growing set of problems.In this country, we now have an epidemic on our hands, many of the people you know are caught up in it.Some of you sitting here todayhave already been hurt by it.So, on top of all the misery that comes with family problems, its also costing the countrynshedloads of money.So, happy Fathers day!Well thank you very much MrDoom’n Gloom, this wasn’t exactly what I signed up to when I came out this morning.Do you perhaps have any pearls of wisdom for us? Anything that might help for instance? Well, funny you should ask.We may be in the midst of a growing crisis that is harming the fabric of family life, damaging children and destroying stable relationships.But, this is a crisis that you and I can do something about.And being a good Father can make a real difference, not just to your family and your own kids, but to their friends and families too.So, this is my version of a ‘bottom of the Garden talk’, I hope you are ready …
No 1 Love the Woman you are with.This is the single most important practical thing you can do.Put her first. Make her your top priority.Here’s a little test you can do when you get home. Ask this question. Do I make you feel like you are the most important person in my life?If the answer is ‘No’, then ask the following Question. What one thing could I change that would help you to feel better about us?If you work to change that one thing, you can then go back to the first question again.Now there are some guys here who are thinking, ‘But that’s a life sentence, I’ll never be able to change enough for her’.So, here’s the secret, women do not expect men to be perfect and they are not looking for that, though it might seem so at times.But what really warms up a woman is to find a man who is prepared to do what it takes to demonstrate that he is still seriously interested in her and is prepared to change.That is powerful.Women, the other side of this coin is that you must put your husband, your partner ahead of your children … you need to put him first too.To be honest, this can be a struggle for us … there are times when this can be really hard … but there is help available to make what might seem impossible … actually possible. And we’ll get there in a few minutes.
No 2 Make time for the kids that you’ve gotWhen I was about 35-36 I got talking to an angry guy at a party.Early on in the conversation I told him that we’d just had our 4th child. It was like I had pressed a button. That was when he became angry.He told me that he didn’t know his Dad. He’d been a third child out of 4 children and he could not ever remember a time when he was growing up that he had some good 1:1 time with his Dad … he’d hated his child hood and he didn’t like his family now.Within the next few months I started to take my children out, one at a time, for breakfast on a Saturday morning, I’d take some card games and we’d have about 90mins to talk about the week, play games, and eat breakfast. I pretty much let the children choose where we went. For many years in any given 6 week period each of the children had some dedicated time with me. That has changed over the years especially when my older two boys didn’twant to get up that early on a Saturday any more!Now, this breakfast thing may not work for you, but ask around to see what other people do, and if you hear something you like, steal it and use it.Some of us lead very, very busy lives, but the truth is … you only get to spend quality time with your children if you regularly spend a decent quantity of time with them. It’s great to do things together as a whole family, but don’t neglect regular 1:1 time with them too.
Learn from the best.Here’s the point in this bottom of the garden talk that we move from the practical to the profound.The truth of the matter is that if you want a good marriage, a good relationship and healthy and developing kids, you have got to invest a lot of time, energy and emotion into them.That’s a lot of giving out. Unless you have a rechargeable source of power, at some point you’ll just run out. Even the Duracell bunny gives up in the end.So where do you get that energy from, what is the source of power that enables you to keep going, to keep giving out?Well, Jesus told a story about a Father with two sons.The oldest one did everything by the book … reliable, responsible, eager to please you know the sort.But the younger one didn’t want to play that game … he was unreliable and irresponsible in fact, a bit of a rebel. It’s a Classic situation really.The story has a couple of twists in it, the first is that the Younger son says to his Father:I can’t stand it here any more, I wish you were dead – I want my inheritance now. That would be outrageous behaviour today, in those days it was a massive insult.So the first twist is that the Father, instead of taking offence and kicking the ungrateful son out, instead gives him the money and lets him go.The predictable happens. The young man goes party crazy and girl mad, blows everything and then discovers that all his so called ‘friends’ just disappear right away when the money has gone.He’s left starving, gets a job feeding pigs, which for a Jew is about as low as it gets.At his lowest ebb he finally comes to his senses and decides its worth going back to his Father and offering to work as a hired hand.This is what happens:
This Father, he is scanning the horizon for his wayward son. He knew it would go badly.He is there waiting.He has compassion. And then he runs.This is the second twist in the story – by rights he should have sent his servants to bar the way and disown the son who had so dishonoured him.
There is a lot that could be said about the details in here.But it is enough to say this, Instead of the rejection that he deserved, this wayward son is given unconditional love.Learn from the best? Friends can give us good advice, but we need something more than ideas.The Father that Jesus was talking about in his story, is what we all need.The story is what Jesus used to illustrate what God is like and how he sees us.This is where the energy comes from to be the man that you need to be. And it is available, unrestricted, to any wayward son who knows its time to get back with his Father.Regardless of your background or upbringing, no matter how good or bad your own Father was, you can still learn from the best. There is a perfect Father who waits for you.
So here are three ways in which you can grow as a Father … that you can be a better Dad.So we’re just about at the end of this bottom of the garden talk. My own Dad is now 75, and in the last 10 years he has really begun to speak in a way I never expected, and we are closer now than we have ever been.And so here is a Final thought.You might think, well it’s too late for me, it’s too late to change, I’ve made my mistakes, I’ve missed my chances.Maybe so but not entirelytrue. You see, God promises that he will bring good out of any mistakes that you have made, if you will choose to trust him with them.And you can choose to trust him today. It’s Father’s day, and the perfect Father is at work here right now, standing, scanning the horizon, full of compassion, waiting, for you. To move towards him
FATHER’S DAY<br />‘Growing as a Father’<br />Luke 15:20… while he was still a long way off, his Father saw him …<br />
What’s the big picture ?<br />In 1962, 95% of all parents stayed together for life <br />Today, about 65% of parents stay together for life<br />10% of children are brought up in step-families <br />25% of children are brought up by single parents <br />Children tend to do better in stable families <br />
How to Grow as a Father<br />Love the Woman you are with<br />
How to Grow as a Father<br />Love the Woman you are with<br />Make time for the Kids that you’ve got<br />
How to Grow as a Father<br />Love the Woman you are with<br />Make time for the Kids that you’ve got<br />Learn from the best<br />
Luke 15: 20-21<br />But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. <br />The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ <br />
Luke 15: 22-24 <br />But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.<br />
How to Grow as a Father<br />Love the Woman you are with<br />Make time for the Kids that you’ve got<br />Learn from the best<br />It’s never too late to start doing something right<br />