Welcome to the online home of Timothy Willard, writer, author, speaker, and storyteller.

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What a Father Is

What a Father Is

I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve had three excellent examples of fatherhood: God the Father, my own dad, and my father-in-law.

As I reflect on their role in my life, I’m humbled and honored by their commitment to me as a person, their tough love and discipline in my life, and their willingness to sacrifice so much for me. I’ve needed it.

I’m fortunate to have inherited the role myself. And here’s what I’m learning.

A father is a man …

Who stays.

Who understands it’s never too late for a tickle fight.

Who never tires of telling Dad jokes.

Who knows how to cuddle with his daughters, and his sons.

Who works hard, but always knows when it’s time to call it a day.

Who’s best friends are his children and wife, not the couch or garage.

Who knows how to admit when he’s wrong.

Who doesn’t fear these seven words: “I was wrong. Will you forgive me?”

Who is a friend of solitude and silence, and introduces them to his children.

Who protects his children’s imagination with relentless abandon.

Who delights in the beauty of his wife while his children are watching.

Who understands grace and gives it often.

Who loves mercy, and shows it often.

Who binge watches his kids, not Netflix.

Who never misses a chance to show something beautiful to his children.

Who honors everyone, especially his wife, his mother, and his father in front of his children.

Who isn’t afraid to teach the value of discipline to his kids.

Who respects authority and conveys its value to his family.

Who tells one more story, or reads one more page, before it’s time for bed.

Who fights for his family by giving them his time and attention.

Who says yes to lightning bug hunts even when its past bedtime.

Who honors and respects his elders.

Who protects the weak.

Who speaks truth, in love.

Who gives the gift of faith and hope to his family.

Who isn’t afraid to let his children see him cry.

Who isn’t afraid to let his children know he struggles just like everyone else.

Who understands legacy has little to do with money, an everything to do with the path of virtue he leaves behind.

Who works hard to hone his gifts, but who also seeks out counsel and wisdom in the areas where he falls short.

Who isn’t afraid to let his children know he’s failed.

Who isn’t afraid to say, “Help.”

Who stands for what’s right, even when it’s not popular.

Who pursues his children, even when they veer from the path.

Who gives us the “things” he’d like to have, so his children can have more than he ever did.

Who isn’t lazy.

Who delights in the achievements of his children.

Who shows his love for his children through hugs and kisses, long walks and midnight talks, through back rubs and whisper-tickles.

Who always protects, no matter the opposition.

Who is a friend always.

Who keeps no record of wrongs.

Who never quits, on his children or anyone.

Who gives himself up, over and over again—as often as it takes.

Photo by Julie Johnson on Unsplash

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