I was in a second hand shop the other day and bought a book — yes a real book printed on paper. I have nothing against electronic books, I have a tablet which lets me read books on it also, but I guess I'm of the generation that still likes to hold a book printed on real paper too.

Anyway, a few days later I started reading the book. As I normally do, I read the front and rear covers and normally check to see what year the book was written, information about the author, and those sorts of things — just a curiosity of mine. While looking the book over, I found an inscription in the front of the book and the inscription has more meaning than the book itself.

In 1993 two children, Rachal and Richard wrote this message in the cover of the book:

Dear Dad,I read something today that reminded me of you, so here it is..."A father is strong, yet flexible; wise, yet always learning; a leader, yet serving others."That's you dad! We love you.

We all dream of having the "perfect" relationship with our children patterned after some thing we have seen, read, or been taught. The problem is that many in our world rarely have that kind of relationship. We have been blessed in our family that now as adults our children seem to like us pretty well.

It wasn't always that way when they were growing up. There were lots of times when they probably didn't like us very well, maybe even wished they had other parents who were more like their idea of the "perfect" parents.

That's part of what being a dad is about though, isn't it? A dad is a source of love and protection, but he is also a source of rules and discipline. As the inscription said, "A father is strong, yet flexible; wise, yet always learning; a leader, yet serving others."

The Scriptures instruct us as parents, to "train up a child in the way he should go" (Proverbs 22:6), and from experience I can tell you, that's not always easy.

That's you dad! We love you.
Too often today, it seems that dads try to be "best friends" to their children. Yet dads can't "always" be in that place, because God gave dads a greater job. Sometimes dads have to face up to the fact that there are times while his kids are growing up that they won't like him very well. But, that's how it is supposed to be. No one likes to be disciplined, especially not when they are kids. The Scriptures tell us:
No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening, it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way (Hebrews 12:11 NLT).

Now that they are adults, our children can appreciate the discipline they had while growing up in our home. Occasionally, I'll even get the "Dear Dad" note or phone call. Those are special and meaningful, but I don't believe they would happen today if I had been less than a "real dad" while they were growing up. And that makes stepping up to the plate and taking the responsibility God has given us as dads, more than worth it. It also reminds us that the power to change the world as a dad sometimes has its good days and hard days while you wait for those special days when your own children realize, "That's you dad! We love you."

So Rachal and Richard, your message is still appreciated, even by a different dad than your own.