A Dad’s Gotta Do What a Dad’s Gotta Do
Study Guide – June 18, 2017
Pastor Clay Olsen
Some of the most practical wisdom comes from the practical advice of cowboys from the Old West. Here are some examples:
If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is to stop diggin’.
If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around.
Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from behind, or a fool from any direction.
Don’t interfere with somethin’ that ain’t botherin’ you none.
The biggest troublemaker you’ll probably ever have to deal with watches you shave your face in the mirror everyday.
Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.
Live a good honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll enjoy it a second time.
And we talked about this one in our Men’s Retreat last year…a quote from John Wayne, who said: “Courage is being scared to death – and saddling up anyway.” That kind of goes along with another one of his quotes: “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.”1
Interestingly enough, that applies directly to Fatherhood as well, because really, ‘A Dad’s gotta do what a Dad’s gotta do.” And one of the things we find in the Bible that is not found enough in our culture, or even sometimes in our churches, are the commendations and the reminders about the promised rewards God gives to Dad’s when Dad’s are doing what Dad’s have got to do. And especially when they are trying to be the man they need to be while they are doing what they need to do.
As wild as the Old West was, there was still a lot of emphasis placed not only on ‘what’ a man did, but on ‘who’ a man was. The value of a man came foremost from the reputation of who he was rather than from his title of what he did. It was almost like a carry-over from the Bible’s focus on how the honor of a man is more valuable than the status of a man. Even with wealthy men in the Bible, the thing that defined a man was his character and conduct rather than his job title or income. Do you remember David’s encounter with a wealthy land owner named ‘Nabal’? Even though he owned a lot of land and livestock here is how he was known and described as a man. And this is coming from his wife, Abigail: 1 Sam 25:24-25- “…Please let me speak with you. Please listen to my words. You shouldn’t take this worthless person Nabal seriously. He is like his name. His name is Nabal [Godless Fool], and he is foolish.” (God’s Word Version) Even with everything he owned, Nabal sure wasn’t of much of a man, in terms of value or honor.
Over and over, the Bible values men not according to what they do by way of a title, but by ‘who they are’ by way of their honor and character.
Prov 12:2- “A good man obtains favor from the Lord, but a man of evil devices he condemns.” ESV
Prov 14:14- “The backslider in heart will have his fill of his own ways, But a good man will be satisfied with his”NASU
Acts 11:22-24- “…They sent Barnabas off to Antioch. Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord; for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.” NASU
And even here with Barnabas, also being a wealthy man, his value was defined by him being ‘a good man’ in the eyes of God, or being a ‘godly man’, who then did great things with the wealth that he had, for the blessing of God’s work and for God’s people. And how wonderful that is, when a ‘good man’ uses his earthly goods to do good for the blessing of God’s people and the building up of God’s Kingdom.
So let’s bring all of this into our thoughts about Fathers. When a ‘Dad’ does what a Dad’s gotta do, God honors his perseverance and promises reward for every good thing that he has done for his family.
Eph 6:8- “Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.” NLT
How encouraging to know that a man’s greatest value and honor and rewards are based foremost upon ‘who’ he is; a ‘good man’ in the sight of God and his family and church family, since who he is determines the way he does what he does, regardless of what he does in terms of a job title or status. And mark it down, when God calls you a ‘good man’, it doesn’t get any better than that. A ‘good man’ in the eyes of God is more valuable than all the material wealth in the world. Plus, as we pointed out, when a ‘good man’ then uses his material goods to bless God and others, then those ‘goods’ also become his forever treasures in the forever Kingdom of God.
By the way, have you ever realized that ‘giving’ to God’s work and God’s Kingdom is like directly investing in your personal eternal portfolio that God manages for you? Notice: Matt 6:19-20- “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal…” NASU
Luke 6:38- “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” NLT
Do these statements from God surprise you when He tells you that He is going to return to you whatever you give to Him and His Kingdom…and at an increased return on your investment? Did you know that God wants you to know that when you give to God’s account it’s like giving to your own eternal account? Now, certainly, none of this is meant to instill selfishness about any of our service and our financial stewardship, since a selfish attitude would cancel out the reward anyway, but it certainly is meant to inspire faithfulness in any and in all of our service and financial stewardship. We need to realize that the character of our Heavenly Father, who is our perfect parent, is such that He is anxious to give good gifts and rewards to His obedient children. And these promises from God to reward us for every good thing we do, including every monetary thing we give, are meant to help us understand just how much it pleases God to reward His children for their faithfulness. Remember, we never out-give God. Anything given for God’s glory becomes our gain. And that includes our faithful works of doing whatever is it is that we’ve gotta do.
Which brings us back to Dads and back to the Old West. Think about the word ‘dignity’. ‘Dignity’ refers to the quality of being worthy of esteem and respect. In the Old West ‘dignity’ was connected with doing what a man had to do in order to benefit others depending upon them. And again, ‘dignity’ was not only determined by what you did, but by ‘how’ you did whatever you had to do, as in: how a man treated his wife and his family; how a man treated his brothers and sisters in the faith; how a man treated his neighbors; how a man worked at his job, regardless of what it was. You see, even in his employment, the dignity was not first attached to what his job was, but to how a man did whatever he did for the service of his family and his community.
One of the most fascinating passages of Scripture is one we are familiar with since it relates to doing our work or jobs as unto the Lord, and then, once again, God promising us to reward us for that work, whatever it is. But what’s often overlooked is ‘who’ it was that the Apostle Paul was originally writing to. (or to be prepositionally proper: ‘to whom it was’ that Paul was originally writing…) First the passage: Col 3:22-24- “Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” NASU
Who were these brothers and sisters that Paul was telling that as they did whatever work it was that they had to do, and did it heartily as unto the Lord, that they would be personally rewarded by God for that work that they did? Paul was talking to Roman slaves! And the thing about being a Roman slave is that you didn’t have a lot of Vocational choices to consider and prepare for as you thought about your career. No, that was already determined for you – your career was: ‘Slave’. But what Paul, or we should say, what God did for these Christian slaves, and for those Dad’s who were Christian slaves, was that God brought great dignity and value and meaning to everything they did; for as they did whatever it was that they had to do in a God honoring way, God said they were now working directly for Him. God was keeping their ‘time card’ now. And God was going to see to it that they were richly compensated with great inheritance rewards when they came into His Kingdom and were now working directly for the Lord and directly in the very presence of the King of the world.
Part of the point here is that in our culture people get very hung up on what the title of their job is or what status their vocation holds or what income level others will recognize them as having, and on and on. It is a great blessing that we live in a land of freedom where often there are choices and opportunities for choosing various jobs and income levels and such. We should be thankful for that. But at the same time, there are often times when a Dad simply has to do what a Dad’s gotta do in order to provide for their family and help others as best he can. And in that attitude, and in that spirit, there is great honor and value and dignity in a Dad like that.
And if you think about it, much of the work environment in the Bible and even throughout history was not so much about having career choices about what they did as it was about Dad’s doing whatever was necessary for the sake of providing for those depending on him. And again, as far as the dignity aspect of it all, they didn’t attach ‘dignity’ first with the job itself, but first with the character and the honor of the person doing the job. Was he a God fearing man? Was he a devoted husband and father? Was he a moral man? Was he a man of integrity in his business life and social life? Was he a committed man of faith? Was he a kind man to his family? These are the things that determined the value and the dignity of a man…a husband…a dad. And wherever these were found in a Christian Dad, you found an honorable and truly wealthy man.
Many God fearing men and dads have worked hard and faithfully in jobs that weren’t necessarily their dream job or even their choice. My own Dad worked hard at several jobs, not because he had a passion for that kind of work or something, but because he had a passion for God and for his family. And he had the kind of character that put others first before himself. And in that great sense of responsibility and faithfulness there was a great air of dignity and honor about him that people could sense just by being around him, even without having any idea about what he did for a living. The message of his life came through in the kind of man he was…a good man in the eyes of God and everyone else who ever spent time in his presence.
Again, we live in a very unusual time in history and in a country where people have vocational choices that others in the past would never have imagined. And we should be thankful for that. But the focus of manhood and fatherhood in the Bible is still foremost on the character of the man over the title of the man. Fatherhood is about faithfulness in being a Dad who does whatever a Dad’s gotta do for the glory of God and for the gain of his family. And we are to commend every man, every Dad, who carries this sense of accountability toward his God and this sense of responsibility toward his family, because our Heavenly Father is certainly proud of each and any of His sons whose first concern is to give of himself for the sake of his family.
And when you think about it: That’s being just like our Lord – He gave of Himself for the sake of His family.
So Dads, just saddle up and keep doing what a Dad’s gotta do, for that blesses your family and pleases your Heavenly Father. And soon, every good thing you have done is coming back to you.
1. Cowboy Quotes and Sayings, cowboyway.com