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June-July 2014

Looking for Leaders

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World's Greatest Dad

by Eric K. Thomsen


It all started with the T-shirt my wife and daughter gave me for Father’s Day. The shirt was Superman blue, with bright red letters sprawled across the chest, “World’s Greatest Dad.” I wore it proudly! But one day, the inevitable happened. As I rounded the corner of the automotive aisle of the local Walmart, I came face to face with someone wearing my shirt.

When he glanced down at my chest, his eyes narrowed then rose slowly to meet my own steely gaze. For a moment, I felt like Gary Cooper in High Noon. My hands clinched, and I took a deep breath. Only one man could be the world’s greatest dad!

The moment passed as reality struck home. Our claim to fame was, after all, just a T-shirt—mass produced somewhere across the globe and sold by the thousands if not hundreds of thousands. We grinned sheepishly at one another, and I mumbled “nice shirt” as I squeezed by and headed for the oil filters.

Still, this encounter in the automotive aisle set the wheels of thought in motion. What characteristics do make a great dad? The ability to toss a perfect spiral? The patience to fix squeaky brakes? The energy to keep pace with a hyperactive three-year-old? Are these all part of the formula, or does being a great dad require something more? The following list contains a few paternal principles to make any dad a top pop.

  • A great dad has a BIG mouth! He knows when to speak up. He is not afraid to say, “I love you,” “I’m sorry,” or even, “What do you think about this?” Great dads take time to encourage their kids, to ask questions about their day, and to ask their opinion about big decisions. Most important, a great dad prays earnestly and consistently for his family.

  • A great dad loves sports. From playing catch to ring-around-the-rosie, a great dad really gets into sports, at least the really important ones. He recognizes the value of a fast-paced game of hide-and-go-seek or a final game of ping-pong. As his children get older, a great dad becomes their number one fan, attending ballgames and cheering wildly. To be blunt, a great dad understands that spending time with his children is far more important than watching the latest headlines on SportsCenter, playing a round of golf, or even watching the big game with the guys.

  • A great dad spends a lot of time in his favorite recliner. After all, it is a great place to play “horsie,” to read or tell favorite stories, to snuggle under a blanket while watching a favorite cartoon. (Word of caution: this doesn’t always work so well with teenagers.) The recliner is also a great place to review spelling words, to talk about dating and sex (yes sex…God’s way), and to listen when children voice their frustrations about school, friends, and life in general.

  • A great dad takes time to work on his “six-pack.” No, I don’t mean the abdominal muscles everyone is raving about these days. I’m talking about the six guidelines for living and thinking found in Philippians 4:8. A great dad must focus on things that are true, honorable, just (or right), pure, lovely, and of good reputation. He avoids traps of hypocrisy, deception, prejudice, sexual impropriety, base humor, or anything else that might tarnish his character. He must remember that building spiritual muscles takes just as much discipline, patience, and determination as toning the physical body. It takes time and effort for any dad to sculpt a life his family can respect and admire.

  • A great dad has an eye for the ladies. Not just any ladies, mind you, but the ladies God has placed in his care—his wife and daughters. His kids never doubt that dad loves mom because he demonstrates love and respect…treatment she deserves! He disciplines his daughters with love and teaches them to be real ladies. He teaches his sons to treat women with courtesy and deference. A great dad doesn’t flirt with, comment on, or ogle other women. He holds women in the highest esteem, and his attitude and actions impact every member of his family!

  • A great dad collects stamps. He patiently and carefully stamps out the influence of a godless culture in his home. He monitors the television programs his children watch. He browses the magazines left on the breakfast table, and from time to time, he talks to his kids about the latest fads and fashions and how Christians should respond to them. A great dad also stamps out Satan’s attacks on his home by maintaining a daily family devotional and prayer time. Finally, he stamps out any hint of prejudice, malice, or hate that attempts to slip in the back door of his home. The quality of a dad’s “stamp” collection is directly related to the spiritual and emotional health of his family.

  • A great dad gets wrapped up in a good book. And not just any book. Great dads love the Word of God. Hours before the rest of the world hit the snooze button, my own Dad sought the face of the Savior within the pages of his well-worn Bible. While typical dads snored and sputtered, he memorized entire books—Proverbs, Acts, Romans, and Revelation—no small task by anyone’s standards. And you should hear him preach! I once heard him quote 31 verses without once referring to his notes. I know. I counted. Am I bragging on my dad? You bet I am! By his example, Dad taught me to love and respect the precious principles and promises of the Word of God. A great dad—my great dad—loves the Word of God.

  • A great dad wants to be “King of the Hill.” Oops, I left out two important words! Great dads want to be like the real “King of the Hill.” They follow Christ’s example of service. Just as the Savior knelt before his disciples and gently washed their dirty feet, a great dad lays his life before his family and says with every word, action, and expression, “How can I serve you?” Great dads follow Christ’s example of humility. Things don’t always have to go their way. They don’t have to be right all the time. Their egos don’t make unrealistic demands on wife and children. They model strength under control and follow Christ’s example of sacrifice. The needs of their families, both spiritual and physical, come before their own comfort and pleasure. You might say that great dads follow Christ’s example all the way to the foot of the cross, where they leave their own burdens and frustrations, finding comfort and strength in the arms of a loving Savior. Yes, great dads know and imitate the “King of the Hill.”

After a tough year of service, my “World’s Greatest Dad” T-shirt is wearing thin. A small, ragged hole has appeared in the right shoulder seam, and the fabric is soft and stained…but it is still my favorite shirt! I wear it as a reminder that I hold an important position, one I can never take for granted. I am the world’s greatest dad, at least to my daughter, and I never want to give her any reason to change her mind!


About the Writer: Eric K. Thomsen is managing editor of ONE Magazine. Contact him at


©2014 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists