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Originally published Friday, June 15, 2012 at 5:17 PM

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Blessed are those lucky enough to have a good father

When you compare Father's Day with Mother's Day, which day gets more of your energy? Some feel they do not have to give as much thought to the gifts they give on Father's Day.

Special to The Seattle Times

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Dads can get the short end of the stick when it comes to Father's Day gifts and attention.

When you compare Father's Day with Mother's Day, which day gets more of your energy? Some feel they do not have to give as much thought to the gifts they give on Father's Day. They hope a call or a card will suffice.

Even in church, Father's Day has a different feel from Mother's Day. In my church, Mother's Day has the third-largest Sunday attendance — right after Easter and Christmas. Father's Day does not have the same fill-the-pew effect.

It is a good thing to honor our fathers. The Ten Commandments are clear about honoring our mothers and our fathers. Christian scriptures remind us to give honor where honor is due. Certainly we owe a debt of gratitude to the men who loved and sacrificed for us.

This time of year can be difficult for those whose fathers recently died, those who never knew their fathers, or for those who always wanted to be fathers, but through no fault of their own remain childless.

For those who wish the day would hurry and pass, all the retail ads encouraging us to buy for dad can feel like a knife being twisted in the heart. To those who love them and leave them, my advice is man-up to your responsibilities and do the right thing.

Yes, some dads fall woefully short in their fatherhood responsibilities. Being a sperm donor and a father are very different things. A father is available, loving, and financially responsible for his offspring.

Sperm donors and deadbeat dads do not care who raises their offspring — the state, a neighbor, or a distant relative. Before we rush to judgment, there are deadbeat, too. It is not fair to paint only fathers using the absentee-parent brush.

There are many more stellar dads out there than deadbeats.

Having a good father is a gift of God's grace. A good father is not afraid to show love, is patient, forgiving, funny and believes in his children. A good father leads by example and is present to help rear his offspring.

A good father provides discipline, but would never cause physical or psychological harm to his child. Every good father willingly sacrifices for his children, and we, their progeny, must remember to say thank you.

We are tempted to think that a good parent is one who gives gifts. I believe nothing beats the gift of time.

Good parents know the latest Nintendo or Xbox game is no substitute for spending time with their children shooting hoops, kicking around a ball in the park or talking at the kitchen table while eating peanuts in the shell.

In Scripture and in church, God is often called Father. I often wonder whether that is so we can bring God down to our level of understanding, or to encourage our earthly fathers to live up to a higher standard.

If it is the latter, men have some really big shoes to fill! I actually think it best not to confuse the two. God is neither male nor female, and God's grace and mercy go way beyond the goodness that any of our fathers can exhibit.

While God's care goes beyond that of our earthly fathers, we can thank God daily for our fathers, uncles, brothers, sons, and men friends.

And let us not forget to honor those men who stood in the gap when our fathers were absent.

I am incredibly blessed not only to have a good father, but to have a great father. So, happy Father's Day to my dad, Julian, and to all fathers everywhere.

The Rev. Patricia L. Hunter is an associate in ministry at Mount Zion Baptist Church and senior benefits consultant for American Baptist Churches in the USA. Readers may send feedback to faithcolumns@seattletimes.com

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