The Uniqueness of Fatherhood

Last week I traveled up I-95 to Baltimore, Maryland to spend a few days together with my Dad and my son. This was a special few days as we got to watch the Orioles on back to back nights take on two of the greatest villains in American sports, the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees (they went 2-0 by the way). I loved the trip. In part it was because of the baseball but primarily it was because of the unique relationships that this trip represents. It was a special time as 3 generations of Brian Burkes put on their baseball gloves and headed out to a ballgame. For me it was a special build up to Father's Day as I was there with my father and the one who calls me father.

Not too long ago I decided that Father's Day was possibly my favorite holiday. Not because it was a day that celebrated me as a father, but because it was a day that I could celebrate fatherhood as a father.

In a world of specialization we often end up working hard to become really good at one or two things. If we are successful then we become known for those things and become those things for the people around us. When I'm at the jail that I work in, I am a Chaplain to the people around me. They come to me for spiritual advice. When I am at my church, I am a preacher to the people around me. They come and listen to the things I have to say about God and life.

But when I pull up into the driveway and step into my home, the specialized box of my day job ends and the whole world opens. I cease to be one thing to a lot of people and begin to be all things to just a few people. I am still their Chaplain who speaks with them about spiritual things and their preacher who proclaims to them the greatness of the gospel, but that is just the beginning of who I am to those kids. Despite me barely passing high school auto-mechanics (it was an attendance issue), I become a master mechanic. Despite me only knowing how to scramble eggs and scoop ice cream, I become a great chef. To them I am a World's Strong Man, a magician, a comedian and the world's greatest soccer player. I become these things to those children for no other reason except for this magical position I hold called "Daddy. "

I have found these early years to be quite enjoyable and simultaneously extremely heavy with responsibility. In this short span of time I will be their protector in the time of their greatest vulnerability. I will be their educator while their minds are absorbing information the fastest. I will be their discipler as the foundation of their spiritual world view is shaped. I cannot imagine a relationship that will require more from me than this. And so I embrace the name. I cherish the opportunity to be all these things to those I have been given.

This Sunday, no matter what other circumstances may befall me, I imagine I will spend most of it smiling. I will be relishing the reality that I am called a title by a few little ones that has been important enough for centuries of the faithful to call the Almighty God of heaven and earth. On Sunday I will be thankful, joyous, honored, and blessed. On Sunday I will be called "Father."