Leading up to Father’s Day, we’re honoring everyday heroes—real dads who are great examples of Championship Fathering. This week’s example is an amazing story that demonstrates fatherhood at its very best…
It starts with a boy named Gage, whose biological father left when he was very young. Gage rarely saw his dad and was often left waiting for him to show up.
Gage’s mom had a close friend from college who had three children of her own, and who was married to an everyday hero named Ivan. The two families occasionally spent time together, so Gage and Ivan got to know each other.
As Gage grew older, like many fatherless kids he started thinking about what he was missing. So, at age five, with his mother’s encouragement, Gage approached Ivan one day and asked him, “Will you be my father?”
Ivan responded, “I would be honored to.”
I suspect that Ivan was caught a little bit off guard, but when he said “Yes” to that young boy’s request, he meant it. Gage graduated from high school this year, and Ivan has truly been his dad for all those years.
Even though he was plenty busy with three other children, Ivan managed to attend Gage’s little league games, choir performances and spelling bees, even if it meant taking off work. He invited him to come on family outings and vacations. Ivan has taught him about manhood—accepting responsibility, being honest, sincere and trustworthy.
Even though they are of different races, Ivan will often introduce Gage as his son, and he doesn’t care who hears it. Gage says that really makes him feel special.
Dad, I hope Ivan’s story inspires you like it inspires me. There are all kinds of lessons we can take away from Ivan’s example. Of course, it starts by giving your best to your own children. Then, I hope you’ll take action as an everyday hero for other kids around you who need your fatherly influence.
It’s a huge thing when you tell a child, “I’m honored to be your father.” It’s important for two reasons:
First, it reminds you of your responsibility to love them, serve them, and sacrifice for them. It creates a sense of duty. You’ll find the strength to play catch with your son after a 10-hour day, or stick it out when your teenager is suddenly hard to love. You’ll always be there for them, because that’s what fathers do. And telling them
Second, kids need to hear and see your pride and commitment. When you affirm and claim children through spoken words, written words, actions, and prayers, you’re giving them a confidence and a strong sense of belonging that will help them as they mature.
This Father’s Day, renew your commitment to love your children, coach them, and be a great model of character for them. Then step forward and encourage another child who may need you. Chances are, it probably won’t involve the kind of commitment and sacrifice that Ivan has made … but it might! Don’t let that stop you. I feel confident that, just like Ivan, you won’t regret it.
Does Ivan inspire you, too? Or are you doing something similar with another child? Please tell us about it in the comments below or on our Facebook page.
Action Points for Everyday Heroes:
- The next time your child asks you to do something for him or her (and it’s not an unreasonable request), respond by saying, “I’d be honored to.”
- As you receive Father’s Day gifts this year, respond with something like, “Thank you. But it’s really a privilege just to be your dad.”
- Whenever you introduce your child to others, do so with great pride: “This is my son.” “This is my daughter.”
- We all know unfathered children—a neighbor, a family friend, a boy or girl at church or on our child’s team. Invite one to join your family in an activity or find some other way to encourage that child and be a fatherly influence.
- Wherever you are, keep a watch out for children outside your family who may need a fatherly influence, and be willing to speak a word of encouragement, give a gentle challenge, teach a skill, or do other common father-actions.
Carey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers who to make the Championship Fathering Commitment. NCF believes that every child needs a dad they can count on, and uses its resources to inspire and equip men to be the involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need. Subscribe to his weekly email tip by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a great dad who loves, coaches, mentors, and inspires my children.