What are you getting your dad for Father’s Day? It may seem odd to still get your dad a gift now that you’re a grown child.
Sure, your dad isn’t out in the backyard throwing you pitches these days. And he’s certainly not waiting for you in the school pickup line. He’s not the one you’re watching out the window for, expecting his arrival home after a long day of work.
But believe it or not, adult children have not outgrown their need to esteem their fathers.
The fifth of the Ten Commandments actually instructs us to, “Honor your father and your mother….” Did you know there is a promise attached for those who choose to obey this commandment?
“Honor your father and your mother that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12).
This command—full of hope and promise—may be one of the most profound in Scripture. There are unforeseen benefits linked to your obedience to this command:
- Could it be that you will forge a deeper, more meaningful relationship with your father by honoring him?
- Could it be that God will be honored and pleased when you honor your father?
- Could it be that your father is just as desperate as you are to receive approval and affirmation?
- Could it be that the quality of life you experience today is directly tied to your obedience to this command?
- Could it be that a part of your longing and quest to become an adult is connected with honoring your father?
- Could it be that obeying this commandment is an important test of your relationship with God?
There is one especially powerful way to honor your dad this Father’s Day—by writing a tribute, a formal document honoring him for his role in your life. Your parents need a tangible demonstration of your love now. Why wait until after they die to express how you feel? Especially if you’re a parent, you know what a thankless and relentless job parenting can be.
It’s time to thank your father.
Of course he didn’t do everything right. He might not have done much of it right. But the commandment in Exodus 20:12 stands. Consider what you can recognize him for and start with that.
Follow these steps to write a tribute to your dad.
1. Prepare your heart. Spend some time in prayer and fellowship with God. Commit to Him to use this activity as obedience to Him. Don’t get caught up in old hurts. Ask God to help you honor your father by bringing good memories and ideas to your mind.
2. Create a list of memories. Write down the good memories you have about your childhood—events, happy occasions, interesting experiences with your family, things your parents taught you, and more. You will be surprised how, once you start, little things will spark memories.
- What was your favorite gift from your dad?
- What memorable conversations do you recall having with him?
- Where did you go on vacations?
- What did you enjoy doing with your dad?
- What holiday traditions did you observe?
3. Organize your material. You may end up with dozens of items on your “memory list.” Go through the list and select the memories you feel are most important to include in the tribute. Choose the memories that are the most meaningful and vividly emotional to you.
4. Write it. Don’t worry about being fancy here—just tell the story as if you are talking to a friend. You might focus on a few character traits your dad has. For example, strong work ethic: “Thank you for enjoying your career but always enjoying me the most. I now see how hard that balance can be.” Or focus on a specific set of chronological memories. “I remember you teaching me to ride my bike. You gave me a push and told me I could do it. You told me I could do so many hard things in life.” In short, summarize the impact your dad has had on you and recognize him for that by telling the stories of your life together.
5. Present the tribute. Decide if you want to add any photographs, artwork, or other mementos to the document and plan accordingly. Once you have your final document, have it framed to set it apart as a special keepsake. Give it as a gift for Father’s Day. Consider reading it out loud in person to make it especially meaningful.
It will take some time and effort to get the tribute written. But in comparison with all the time and effort your dad has spent on you, I’d say he deserves it. Give it a try. It’ll be a Father’s Day gift he’ll never forget.
For a downloadable writing help, check out our tribute worksheet here:
And for example, read the tribute that our friend Marla Rogers wrote to her dad, even though she never knew him. She explains: “Writing a tribute for a parent you never knew may seem odd, but writing this tribute proved to be a moving experience for me and my family.”
The Skating Breadman
When it came to skating, the breadman made it look easy. He strapped his skates on and floated across the newly lacquered floor like a hummingbird floating around a bright red firebush. The whole town of Lake Village turned out to watch and learn from the handsome, young breadman, because in a town with a new skating rink and no skaters, the breadman held the keys to fun in his hands.
Every other day for the next four weeks, the breadman would drop off his freshly baked bread, rolls, and buns at the local stores and then pull in at the Lake Village Skating Rink to give quick lessons to town folks. From that day forward, he was known in those parts as “The Skating Breadman.”
No one in town knew much about the young man. A few of the old timers tell that he lived in Little Rock with his wife and three children. One man reported that he heard that breadman say that he had served in the war.
“He was a Navy man, I think,” the old timer said as he sat on the shady bench at the local gas station.
A navy man indeed. He served on the U.S.S. Iowa and McGinley. As a gunner’s mate, he shot down kamikazes just before they slammed into the ship. He went into Nagasaki just 12 hours after the atomic bomb was dropped there. When asked about it, he would turn pale, shake his head, and say “It had to be done.” After witnessing the atomic bomb test on Bikini Atoll, he retired, returned home, and began delivering bread.
Contrary to common wisdom, it was not the war that awakened the man in him. It was the young woman in the soda shop. He met Martha downtown and fell immediately in love. They wrote back and forth through basic training, and when he returned home briefly for a two week leave, he and Martha married. He loved her deeply, and during their brief time together before he went to war, their love took the form of a growing baby.
In May, Martha went into labor. As she delivered their first born child, a little girl, she wondered what her husband would think of their special gift from God. When the time came for Martha to feed baby Carla for the first time, a young man walked in the room carrying the baby. When he removed the mask from his face, Martha was surprised to be receiving her daughter from the hands of her husband! It was one of the happiest moments of their lives.
From the Japanese theater to the skating rink at Lake Village, the Skating Breadman worked hard to provide for his family, protect their freedom, and serve others. War had not hardened his heart; instead it softened his heart toward others and toward God.
When the Breadman returned from the war, he and his wife had two more boys just 15 months apart. He and his family began attending church together, and the Breadman came to know the Bread of Life – Jesus! Being a man that people followed, many other family members followed his leadership and became Christians as well. He read his Bible frequently and fell in love with Romans, chapter 8. Life was good for this simple hero and his simple family, and his warrior heart was made more tender by the family that surrounded him.
Unfortunately, his fleshly heart was not as strong. At 41, the Skating Breadman drew his last breath and went to be with Jesus while still a young man. He left behind his soda shop sweetheart, his wartime baby, two sons, and me, his baby girl. I was not quite two when he died, and though I don’t remember him, the stories of his life and legacy as a patriot, a Christian, and a servant of others have cast a shadow across my life and heart. While I never had the privilege of seeing the Skating Breadman perform, his heart for God, country, and others beats within me.
If you’d like more help on writing your own tribute, check out Dennis’s twentieth anniversary edition of his book The Forgotten Commandment.