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“Every morning, as a dad, I have the ability to change or remain the same. The night before, I have the opportunity to reflect on my previous moments as a father- the good, the bad, the ugly. If I am blessed enough to have another day and awake from my slumber- I have the ability and potential to change and improve as a dad. I don’t have to remain the same, I don’t have to keep repeating the same mistakes, I don’t have to settle for just being good or average nor should my family settle for this. Even though we may have not started well as fathers- we can still finish well.”
That’s a summary of what I walked away with Friday night after viewing the movie “Courageous.” “Courageous” reminded me of what I already knew — fatherhood requires intentionality and courage: the courage to make difficult decisions, the courage to be consistent, the courage to show up at the right places, the courage to protect and model your family values, the courage to make a difference as a dad, the courage to say I’m sorry and correct past mistakes, the courage to love your wife and family through any circumstance, the courage to keep a promise, the courage to be present … the courage to do the things that dads should be doing.
The movie itself is much more than simply about being a good dad. There are many relational connecting points for the audience: marriage, anger and forgiveness, dealing with grief, second chances, honoring your parents, work ethic and provision, true friendship, purpose in life, just to mention a few. Had I ever worked for Siskel and Ebert, I would have given this movie “two thumbs up with a box of tissues.”
To follow up on the movie, a group of dads met Saturday morning for coffee, and discussed the book of Joshua from the Bible. Many times in the book of Joshua, God reminds him to be “strong and courageous” as a leader of people and to stick to the game plan that He has provided. God reminds Joshua in Joshua 1:7-9, “Above all, be strong and very courageous to carefully observe the whole instruction My servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go. This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do. Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Not only does God command Joshua to stick to the leadership plan that He provides in His word, but fathers can also allow these scriptures to guide us and direct us into becoming better fathers. We, too, have been entrusted with leadership and the ability to influence. The role of being a father is not to be taken lightly.
I am very grateful for this ‘cinematic’ reminder on the big screen to pay attention to my responsibilities, my family, and how God desires to use me in those roles. As we open ourselves up to the influence of God and His Word, may our upcoming days and weeks as fathers be courageous and life changing.
The Rev. Jay Montgomery is youth pastor at the First Baptist Church of Carrollton, Ky.