This coming Sunday is Father's Day. I suspect that your congregation will include husbands who long to be a father, but to whom God has not yet granted this blessing. Frankly, I'm one of those men, and here are some of my reflections as you prepare to honor fathers this weekend:
- Recognize that we sometimes struggle, too. Some folks assume that only childless mothers struggle. We wrestle with this reality, too, especially when we haven't given our spouse the gift of a child.
- Don't forget that we're in the congregation. We love the fact that churches honor fathers, and we want to rejoice without any twinges of pain —but it's hard to do. At least pray for us, too.
- Don't be surprised if we don't talk about the issue of being childless. Many men are just that way—we'd rather bear our pain alone than allow ourselves to show emotions. Our silence, though, is not always a sign of internal peace about the issue.
- Don't assume that we're simply selfish men who don't want children. Some men do lean that way, but not all of us. Some childless men are among the most giving, sacrificial people I know — they just simply don't have children.
- Understand that adoption may not be the answer for everyone. Some couples who have been open to this possibility have prayerfully and honestly concluded not to go in this direction. The factors behind that decision can be numerous and complex.
- Earn the right to do so before you ask why we don't have children. I've been amazed at how many people know Pam and me at only a superficial level, but still feel comfortable asking us why we don't have children—and then tell us what we need to do.
- Challenge us to get involved in the lives of others who need father figures. Push us. Connect us with young men who need guidance. To be honest, we often have time and resources that others may not have.
- Remember that we're not the only grieving men in church this Sunday. Some men have buried their fathers this past year. Others have never met their real father. Some know their father, but that man never really became a "dad" to them. Celebrate Father's Day fully this Sunday, but be alert to men who may need a friend.
Anything you would add to this conversation?
Chuck Lawless is dean and vice president of graduate studies and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is global theological education consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
This article originally appeared at chucklawless.com.
Listen to the podcast included with this article for more about infertility.
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