THE BEST DADS teach their children not only with their words but also with their actions. It’s easy to say the right thing, but it takes a lot of determination and morals to do the right thing.
My dad, Kenneth W. Hagin, wasn’t a perfect dad, but he was and still is as close to a perfect dad as you can get. Growing up, I learned a lot from his words, but I learned even more from his actions.
As we celebrate Father’s Day, I want to pay tribute to my dad and share four of the many invaluable lessons he has taught me over the years. I believe these lessons will be helpful to you too.
LESSON #1: HOW TO FORGIVE
My dad is the most forgiving person I have ever known. His forgiving nature is one of the qualities I admire most about him. When people have publicly humiliated him or have said the most awful things about him, he walks out the scripture in Colossians 3:13 (NLT) which says, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”
My dad modeled that fathers forgive, and they forgive quickly. Because my dad has a forgiving nature, I never had a problem knowing that my Heavenly Father would also forgive me.
First John 1:9 (NKJV) says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Some people are scared to go to their Heavenly Father when they mess up because they think He isn’t going to forgive them. But we can go to the Father without fear, fully assured that He will always forgive us. It’s His nature.
LESSON #2: HOW TO FORGET
Forgetting is an often-overlooked skill. We can forgive, but it’s not always easy to forget. One definition for the word forget is “to disregard intentionally.”
There have been times when my dad and I were out to eat or at the mall, and people walked up to him and said, “Pastor Hagin, I’m so glad I ran into you. I need to ask your forgiveness.” He looked at them and said, “For what?” The person recounted what they said or did against him. Then he told them he had no recollection of what they were even talking about!
He knows that to let go of bitterness and be blessed, we must choose to forget on purpose. It’s easy to dwell on the negative and grab on to a victim mentality. But we can choose to let go and grab on to a victor mentality. We can do that only by forgetting offenses—the wrongs people have done to us.
The best dads teach their children not only with their words but also with their actions.
LESSON #3: HOW TO FIGHT
I think all dads want their children—male and female—to be able to defend themselves if the situation calls for it. Life is full of hard knocks. Those times may require us to know how to fight physically, but also how to fight emotionally to keep ourselves from feeling defeated.
One of my favorite childhood memories of my dad is when he taught me how to box. We would be in the kitchen with my mom while she cooked dinner, and he would say, “Come on, Denise, let’s box.”
He wanted me to know how to defend myself so I would be prepared if I ever found myself in a situation where a little physical action was needed. He told me to never start a fight, but if someone threw the first punch, I was to come back swinging.
My dad knew that fighting was not only a natural principle but also a spiritual one. Just as we learn how to defend ourselves in the natural, we must learn how to defend ourselves spiritually against our enemy—the devil.
Ephesians 6:12–18 teaches us as Christians how to arm and defend ourselves in spiritual battles. One way is by using the sword of the Spirit—the Word of God (v. 17). My dad taught me to never go into a fight with the devil silent. We can knock the devil off his feet in any spiritual battle when we know, believe, and speak God’s Word.
I’ve seen the enemy try to back my dad into a corner many times. But instead of feeling sorry for himself, he took the Word and fought with tenacity, because he knows we always triumph in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 2:14).
LESSON #4: HOW TO FOLLOW
When I was a little girl, my family and I would go to a place in Oklahoma with huge desert sand dunes to ride three- and four-wheelers. Some of those dunes were very steep. I would tell my dad I couldn’t do it; the dunes were just too scary looking. But he promised me that as long as I followed him and didn’t let off the throttle, I would get to the top. He asked me to trust him. I did, and I made it to the top.
That was a significant lesson in my life because it taught me how to follow my Heavenly Father. If I could trust my earthly father not to let anything happen to me, I knew I could trust my Heavenly Father to have my best interests in mind. I could trust Him to take care of me.
For Christians, a successful life comes from following our Heavenly Father. Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice . . . and they follow me” (John 10:27 NLT). When life is difficult and scary, and you can’t see the future, simply follow the One Who knows the future.
When I was 23, I had an event happen in my life that shattered my entire world. My dad took me aside and reminded me of our times at the sand dunes. He said, “If you’ll just trust your Heavenly Father like you did me, I promise you, He will take you to the other side.” His words proved true. My dad taught me that the most important lesson in life is to follow my Heavenly Father wherever He takes me.
Research shows that young children learn by copying their parents. Fathers, what are your actions teaching your children? What are you teaching them about the Heavenly Father? As an earthly father, you are a reflection of Him. If you feel as if you haven’t been doing the best job, it’s OK. It is never too late to change.
To all the dads: happy Father’s Day!
Denise Hagin Burns
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