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The Difference a Father Makes
(Ampelon Publishing, 2004)
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CBN.com It’s a scene that played out for years in the early California sun – former NFL lineman, Ed Tandy McGlasson, helping his son, Edward, follow his dream of becoming a professional golfer.
This type of morning ritual actually started years ago. Ed was 11 when his stepfather, Dan McGlasson, gave him a crash course on pursuing his dreams.
“He came to me one day and asked me what I wanted to do,” Ed says. “I said, ‘Well, I want to be a pro football player.’ He smiled at me and didn’t say anything. The next day I remember being woken up at 5 a.m. with a Sears air horn. Woke me out of bed. He takes me and drops me four miles from my house. He looks at me and says, ‘Son, if you’re going to make this dream, you’ve got to build a ladder to your dream one rung at a time. If you’ll run every day, five days a week throughout high school, you’ll hit your dream.’”
With his father’s advice and God’s leading, Ed made it to the NFL. He played for the New York Jets, the LA Rams, and the New York Giants. In 1983 he was in training camp with the Philadelphia Eagles when one night God wanted to talk football.
Ed recalls, “And He said, ‘I want you to give this up and preach the gospel.’ And I’m thinking I’m in my dream. ‘No, no. This can’t be You, Lord.’ The very next day, on the very first play, I’m blocking all-pro Nose Guard Charlie Johnson for the Philadelphia Eagles, and I post on my right leg, my good leg. I blow my knee out.”
Ed’s career in the NFL was over. He followed God’s game plan and became a pastor, married and started a family. He turned to the Bible to help him in his new role as a father. Today, after 20 plus years of fatherhood, he shares what he’s learned in his book called The Difference a Father Makes. He explains just how important a father’s words are to shaping his children’s destiny and their identity.
“Our tongue has great power, the Bible says. We can either bless or curse with it. We can speak into our children, ‘I believe in you. You’re a champion.’ Or you can say, ‘Hey you nitwit, did you get your homework done?’
“There’s something in fathers that really determine how we see ourselves. If they’re there and speaking life, we feel great about ourselves. If they’re not, then there’s a question mark. We’re in therapy most of our life trying to figure out: 'what did I do wrong that Dad didn’t like me.'”
Ed points out that not only boys but girls also need to hear from dad…
“Little girls get their identity and how beautiful they are based on how present a father is in their life,” Ed says. “My wife said to me, ‘If you name them beautiful, Ed, they’ll believe they’re beautiful. If you’ll date them, love them and care for them, they’re going to really believe that about their life.’
“Now, little boys have that question. ‘Do I have what it takes? Am I a man? Do I got it, dad? Do I measure up?’ When a father blesses his son and calls him out, you’re answering that question. So they don’t have to get their identity from the money they make, the job they have, the mountains they conquer. They get it because they are the beloved.”
Ed believes that it’s the father’s job to call his children into adulthood.
He says, “God had put inside of me, as a father and every dad, this prophetic-like permission that says, ‘You’ve arrived now. I’m going to treat you and see you and walk with you as a man -- or for a daughter, a woman.’”
For his own children, Ed holds a rite of passage ceremony. His oldest son Edwards was in church in front of family and friends.
“I remember the moment where I declared in front of everyone that I wasn’t going to treat him like a boy anymore from this point on. He was a man,” Ed says. “I remember this little chest stick out and his head went back. He’s a man. I saw that this permission that I gave him wasn’t just words on a page, but had great significance in his life. That’s marked him to this day.”
Today, Edward is closing in on his dream of becoming a professional golfer.
Ed’s two daughters required a more delicate touch: a date with Dad. Jessica, the oldest, was first. Then came Mary’s very special night when she was 14.
Mary recalls, “So he takes me to this restaurant, and it’s just so beautiful and elegant. I ate up every minute of it.”
Ed says, “I brought a promise ring for her, and I hid it in my pocket. I spoke into her what I loved about her life.”
“All you hear is like, ‘I love you and I love you and I love you,’” says Mary. “Then he starts keying into everything that you’re about. He saw [how] I love to dance and I love to sing, and all these great things. He just got inside your heart. Not about what you look like… He made me feel beautiful about who I was.”
Ed says, “Well, then I got down on one knee at the edge of the booth and pulled out the ring. I grabbed her soon-to-be-marriage finger, and I said, ‘Mary, are you willing from this moment to wear this ring I’m going to give you as a token of your promise before the Lord that you’ll hold back your body until your wedding night?’ “Yes, Daddy.’
“I slipped that ring on her finger and said, ‘Now, Mary, what you’ve been waiting for all night. From this moment on, you are no longer a little girl. You are a woman.’ She leaps into my arms. She hugs me with the most amazing hug.”
Some people think that telling a 13-year-old boy or girl that they are a man or a woman is giving them more power over their lives -- a scary proposition. To them, Ed replies, “That’s scary. Of course, it is. It’s real scary. But it’s a process you see in nature too when it’s time for the little bird to get out of the nest and fly on its own. Part of the process is if we make all the decisions for our children, how are they going to learn how to think critically?”
Ed recognizes that many dads need a fresh start.
“You could have blown it as a dad. You can be a dad who’s been disconnected -- might not even have the voice of your kids,” Ed says. “They’re waiting. I’ve got story after story that’s been told to me of people who’ve responded to this message and said, ‘I’m going to go back and get my kids’ hearts back.’ They’re still waiting for that voice. They’re still waiting for that affirmation to come. It’s never too late.”
In Ed’s book, he talks about the four most powerful words a child can hear from their father.
“’I believe in you.’ That’s what they want,” he says. “Imagine a life where you know that the person who’s backing you up is not only smiling over you, but is whispering in your ear, ‘You can do this.’”
So what about adults who have never heard those words from their father?
“There’s a guy who came 2000 years ago Who wants to return those words to you, and His name is Jesus. He came to bring that to us. Not only incredible relationship with Him and His words and all that Scripture promises but the returning of the voice of the Father into the life of creation.”
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