On this Father’s Day, I want to say thank you…
To the man who wrestled with my sister and me after dinner every night. Who played “horsie” with us until we got too big, and the horse mysteriously died.
To the man who taught me to ride motorcycles and waterski. Who lectured me when I got my first ticket, but then held me when I cried.
Thank you to the man who’s prayed over me every single day of my life. To my first crush and biggest fan….
My daddy, Cliff Gustafson.
Fathering God’s Way
There are so many things I learned while growing up in my father’s house. But the sweetest lessons I’ve learned came as an adult as I’ve watched the way he lives his life.
Here are a few…
#1 – Love the Lord with All Your Heart, Mind, Soul, and Strength
There isn’t a cell or sinew in my daddy that doesn’t love Jesus! Though he’s not perfect (nor does he pretend to be!), he is sold out to God and His purposes. Whether its jail ministry or visiting with a stranger on the street, Dad can’t help but share what Jesus has done in his life.My father pursues God with a passion that’s increased over the years – it’s never dimmed. Click To Tweet
#2 – Enjoy a Lifelong Love Affair with Your Spouse
One of my favorite things about my dad is his incredible love for my mom – his “Yakima Peach!” Once he’s done talking to you about Jesus, you’ll hear about the “wonderful wife God gave me.” Their love and devotion to each other has been the bedrock of our home.A faithful, loving marriage is the sweetest gift a father could ever give his children. Click To Tweet
#3 – Be Openly Affectionate with Your Kids
My grandpa was a hard-working Swedish immigrant. He loved God with great fervor, but unfortunately, his love for his family wasn’t as easily expressed.
My father determined he would leave a different legacy to his wife and kids. Even with all of us grown, he still goes out of his way to verbalize his love with big hugs and lots of “I love yous.” It’s a rich inheritance I hope to leave behind as well.Dad’s “show and tell” approach to love built a secure and safe haven for our hearts. Click To Tweet
#4 – Don’t Be Afraid to Say, “I’m Sorry”
I’ll never forget the night my dad came to my room to apologize. Tired from a long day at work, he’d made an inaccurate rush to judgment about something I’d done. Later, he realized he’d overreacted.
Rather than rationalizing his actions, he owned them. His apology has never left me.Dad's humility (and ability) to admit his mistake bonded our hearts forever. Click To Tweet
#5 – Know How to Have Fun
One of the hardest working people I know, my dad also knows how to play and have fun. The scrapbook of my heart is overflowing with memories of family vacations, weekends spent camping, and motorcycle rides with all five of us piled on daddy’s Honda 250.I'm so grateful my father was more interested in building a family than building a career. Click To Tweet
My brother and sister and all of our families still reap the beautiful benefits of his availability.
#6 – Genuinely Love People
Dad has never met a stranger – give him five minutes and they’ll be life-long friends! They’ll tell their story and he’ll tell his, then throw in several more for good measure.
He doesn’t just care about people, he cares for people. Whether it’s helping an ex-con get a fresh start or providing food for a single mother…Dad loves people with the love of Jesus – and it’s transformative to watch. Click To Tweet
The Power of a Good Life
1 Peter 2:12 instructs us:
“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”
I have to admit, there were times growing up when I kind of resented my father’s rules.
Why did we have to be at church every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesdays?
Why were we the only kids in youth group who didn’t go to dances and movies?
Yup, it was a definitely a bit restrictive being Cliff Gustafson’s daughter. But it was also all kinds of wonderful.
For my father lived such a good life among his little pagans, that we couldn’t help seeing how beautiful it was to belong to Jesus. So winsome was his Christian walk, we wanted a relationship with God for ourselves.
[It’s important to note, however, that a lot of wonderful, godly parents have children who’ve chosen not to follow Jesus. Free will determines the outcome, not the quality of the parenting.]
I realize that many of you grew up in an entirely different environment. Your father may have plenty of rules but you shared no discernible relationship. You may have encountered hypocrisy rather than humility. Judgment rather than love.
For that, I am so very sorry.
But just like my dad discovered, you have the chance (no matter how old your children are) to become a different kind of father than the one who raised you. It isn’t too late to become the kind of father you always wanted. The one you always needed.
Just turn to the best Role Model of all. Ask the Lord to help you as you pray this simple prayer…
“Heavenly Father, make me like you.”
I’d love to hear from you…What was the most important lesson you learned from your father?