Your Voice: To all the fathers showing up every day, keep plugging away

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Cleve and Carol Turner are parents of Chris Turner, director of communications for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
(Photo courtesy of Baptist and Reflector)

Your Voice: To all the fathers showing up every day, keep plugging away

Father’s Day is not like Mother’s Day — and not always in the best way.

I was sitting behind a dad and his son during church on Father’s Day several years ago. The son was probably about 11 or 12 years old. The sermon majored on how fathers “need to pick it up,” supported by a healthy dose of dead-beat-dad statistics. It was a depressing sermon and as I looked around the sanctuary, I saw a lot of dads I knew who were plugging away, trying to do their best for their families and their kids. The pastor missed his audience but his sermon left an impression.

“Dad,” the son said to his father loudly enough that I could hear, “How come mom got roses on Mother’s Day and you get a lecture?”

Unfortunately, I’ve heard similar sermons through the years from different pastors who exalt “Proverbs 31 women” on Mother’s Day and a month later remind men of how they are following Adam’s path of failure. It feeds the specter that whispers to virtually every man that he is letting someone down.

Great dads out there

Yes, there are fathers out there who leave much to be desired, but it’s wrong to project those failures onto dads working hard to be great fathers. Fortunately, there are a lot of great dads out there plugging away hoping they have a positive lifetime impact on their children.

I’m fortunate. My dad is one of those kinds of fathers.

My dad is about as uninteresting as they come. He’s even-keeled, low maintenance and doesn’t get worked up about much if anything. He’s a committed husband, father and Christ follower.

My dad (and mom) sensed a call to international missions, applied to the International Mission Board, shut down his business (and his second career after serving 20-years in the U.S. Navy), and before you could blink was in Guatemala serving mission volunteers and leading prayer-walks among unreached indigenous people groups. Now retired from overseas missions, my dad continues to serve others and be a man dedicated to prayer.

My dad may also have the greatest mechanical mind in the universe. I’m convinced the man sees the world and everything in it as a series of those exploded schematic images.

Years ago, I busted up the plastic components in my car’s steering wheel that mechanically operates the turn signal. Pieces wedged in the steering mechanism when turning corners and prevented the wheel from turning back. It was a safety hazard, so I removed the pieces and tossed them under the seat. The turn signal flopped on the steering column like a dead fish. A year later my dad found the bits and reassembled the mechanism using rubber bands to hold it all together. Rubber bands! I drove it that way for several more years and sold the car never having had another problem.

I am so confident in my dad’s ability to fix anything that I have him listed in my phone’s contact directory as “Help Desk Dad.”

One might assume my dad missed a significant amount of my childhood serving in the Navy and floating around the world on an aircraft carrier, but it never felt that way to me.

When my dad was home, he was fully engaged: ballgames, Boy Scouts, riding dirt bikes, motorcycle camping trips, crawling down the intakes of A7 Corsair jets while my dad did quality assurance inspections, or hitting ground balls to me while I tried to memorize Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” (It didn’t work but I got better at fielding ground balls.)

And I’ll never forget running onto the court my senior year of high school to play rival Christian Brothers, and there in the stands was my dad with a long banner that read, “Smother the Brothers!”

Living example

My dad also taught me how to work. Raising a pole barn, splitting wood, cutting grass, shingling a roof and working on a car. My dad taught way more than I ever caught.

However, what I realized when my daughter was born is that I did catch a lot of what it means to be a father because mine was a living example of what fatherhood is supposed to be. I’m just trying to do what he did.

So, Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there showing up every day for Dad work. It’s not an easy calling, but men, keep plugging away.

EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was originally published by Baptist and Reflector.

Don’t drown yourself in bad news

By Tony Martin
The Baptist Record

After Daddy died, I had another 12 years with my Mamma. Even though I didn’t live close, we kept up with each other, and I’d make it home when I could.

One thing that bugged me, though, is that anytime I was at her house, the television would be tuned to one of the 24-hour news channels. Maybe Fox, maybe CNN, but always something.

Mamma was a rock-solid Christian, a strong woman, but I could tell that a lot of what she was seeing was scaring her. She was genuinely afraid of what was happening in the world.

I said, “Mamma, don’t be watching this stuff all the time. You’re just seeing the same thing over and over. You don’t need to do that to yourself.”

I’d like to tell you that she took her only child’s counsel, but her viewing habits never changed. The world outside her house was dark and threatening.

‘Beacons of hope’

I’m a journalist. Navigating the stormy seas of today’s news cycle without capsizing into the ocean of despair is quite the task. Let me offer some beacons of hope.

  1. Most stories don’t matter

In the grand tapestry of life, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture when we’re fixated on every little thread, especially the frayed ones. The truth is, much of the news is like fast food for our brains: quickly consumed, rarely satisfying and often leaving us with regret. The trick is to differentiate between the news that truly impacts our lives and the noise that clutters it.

Remember, just because it’s loud doesn’t mean it’s important. Prioritize what genuinely affects you and your community, and let the rest fade into the background noise where it belongs.

  1. Challenge yourself to love easy-to-dislike people

This one’s tough, but oh, so rewarding! Loving people we don’t like, especially those who seem to embody everything we stand against, is a radical act of kindness. It’s not about agreeing with them or condoning their actions; it’s about recognizing their humanity beneath the layers of differences.

When we see someone vilified in the news, it’s a golden opportunity to practice empathy and remember that everyone has a story, fears and dreams. Love doesn’t mean approval; it means understanding and compassion.

  1. News shouldn’t be 24/7

Our minds were not designed to be bombarded with a constant stream of information, much of it distressing. It’s like trying to drink from a firehose; eventually, you’ll drown. Setting boundaries around news consumption can be incredibly freeing. Allocate a specific, limited time each day to catch up on the news, and then move on to activities that replenish your spirit and joy.

  1. Guard your mind. Guard your heart

The news can be a battlefield, and your peace of mind is the territory at stake. Be vigilant about protecting it. If you find your spirit getting dragged down, it’s time to step back.

This doesn’t mean ignorance; it means wisdom. It’s recognizing when exposure is turning into poison and choosing to detox.

Fill your heart and mind with things that uplift and inspire you, and disengage from sources that drain your joy. Your mental and emotional well-being is precious — treat it with the care it deserves.

  1. God’s Got This

In the whirlwind of global events, it’s easy to feel like we’re in a boat about to be swallowed by waves.

Faith amid chaos

But here’s the thing: God is the master of the sea and the storm. The belief that “God’s got this” doesn’t imply passivity; it’s a call to faith. It means trusting that even in the chaos, there’s a plan, and goodness prevails. It’s about finding peace in the knowledge that we’re not alone, and that every storm runs out of rain.

So, take a deep breath and relax. Focus on what you can control, and leave the rest in His capable hands.

Navigating the news without losing our peace of mind is about selective engagement, empathy, setting boundaries, self-care and faith. Each of these strategies not only helps us to maintain our sanity but also transforms us into beacons of hope and love in a world that desperately needs it.

We’re all in this boat together, steering toward a horizon of hope.

EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was originally published by The Baptist Record.

“The need and urgency to evangelize the unsaved have never been greater,” said Rick Gage, who started Go Tell Ministries in 1989. “Life is brief. Life is uncertain. Death is sure. Christ may appear at any moment. There has never been a greater opportunity to reach the lost than now.”

“Students form their habits for college during their first 6 to 8 weeks in being enrolled as freshmen,” said Morris Baker, Baptist Student Union director at the University of Mississippi. “And those habits and attitudes and actions stick with them for a long time. If we can get them plugged in early on, then there is a greater chance that they can be retained throughout their undergraduate career.”

“There is no end to our need for grace and no end to grace’s supply.”

Paul David Tripp
@PaulTripp on X

“There is a sneaky enemy that erodes your effectiveness. Distration doesn’t sound scary, but the fight against it is vital to your ministry.”

Lifeway Research
@LifeWay Research on X

“The ‘you’re enough’ ‘believe in yourself’ type of sermons don’t largely connect w/the next generation, because they hear those messages every day at school, in culture, on social, etc.

What’s a message they RARELY hear? You’re not enough. You can’t save yourself, but Jesus can.”

Shane Pruitt
@shane_pruitt78 on X

If the church wants to reach the students of this day, the plan cannot be to try to out pace the world in terms of entertainment value and flash.

Gospel truth and gospel love has been Christ’s plan from day 1. We have to chase gospel-grounded ministry, not trends.

Daniel Ritchie
@DanielRitchie on X

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