The Salvation Army URL has changed to salvationarmy.org.auFind out more
4 September 2020
"Men at work". Dean (left) with his late dad, Douglas Clarke.
Words Dean Clarke
I’m blessed because I had a great dad. He loved me, cared about me, and he told me so. My dad taught me how to be a dad. I don’t mean that he sat me down and gave me instructions. There was no PowerPoint presentation and I’m too old for a YouTube instructional video or even a ‘Top 10 tips to being a top dad’. My dad gave me lessons on fatherhood by being my dad.
I learnt about the importance of family because my dad was there for the family and for me. He came home at nights and hung around on the weekends. We did things together as a family. When I was a toddler, we migrated to Australia and had no extended family here. Some of my earliest memories are of my family going to parks and playing on swings with my dad pushing us kids or him watching us come down the slide.
My dad taught me to drive. He was patient with my gear-crunching and then firm against my youthful over-confidence. He taught me to believe in myself because he believed in me.
When I became a dad, I put into practice Dad’s fatherhood lessons. My young family moved away from extended family and Dad’s teaching on ‘being there’ became vital for me to practise. I didn’t always get it right – occasionally my wife had to remind me to come home from work and play with the kids. My dad didn’t always get it right either.
I played soccer growing up and Dad often came and watched. I remember being the goalkeeper in one game and it was pouring rain. As the ball was always down the other end of the field, Dad brought out the umbrella and stood next to the goals with the umbrella up, protecting me from the rain.
As I got older, my dad came less often. I probably told him not to bother, but on reflection, I wished he had. So when my kids started to play sports, I did my best to not miss any games and then kept on watching them even as adults.
My dad was of the vintage where actions spoke louder than words. The thinking was that showing love should be enough and saying it is not required. As we both got older, we learnt the power of saying “I love you” as men and I’m forever thankful that my dad not only showed me but also told me about his love. This lesson on being a dad I learnt from another father.
Before Jesus gave any teaching or performed any of his miracles, he was baptised. As he came up out of the water “… a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased’” (Luke chapter 3, verse 22). God the Father declares: You belong in my family. You are loved. Before you have done anything, you are valued.
What makes these statements especially powerful is that God calls me his child and says these things to me. You are family. You are loved. You are valued. Today I’m a dad and a grandad – a Papa actu- ally. Of all my dad lessons, the most valuable is in the words of my Father in heaven. Words I want all my children to hear and know: You belong in our family. You are loved. You are valued for being you.
Dean Clarke is a Salvation Army officer (pastor) in South Australia.