In June, 1942, General Douglas MacArthur was named National Father of the Year. The honor came just three months after he moved his family to the Philippines to lead the U.S. Pacific campaign of World War II, a level of honor and responsibility realized by few men. His statement in receiving the award truly revealed his heart and priorities.
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“By profession I am a soldier and take pride in that fact. But I am prouder — infinitely prouder — to be a father.
A soldier destroys in order to build; the father only builds, never destroys. The one has the potentiality of death; the other embodies creation and life.
And while the hordes of death are mighty, the battalions of life are mightier still. It is my hope that my son, when I am gone, will remember me not from the battle but in the home repeating with him our simple daily prayer, ‘Our Father Who Art in Heaven."”
In the early days of that war and campaign, MacArthur acknowledged his dependence on a Heavenly Father when he composed “A Father’s Prayer”:
“Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, brave enough to face himself when he is afraid, one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.
“Build me a son whose wishes will not take the place of deeds; a son who will know Thee — and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge.
“Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fail …”
“Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.
“And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously.
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“Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, and the meekness of true strength.
“Then, I, his father, will dare to whisper, ‘I have not lived in vain."”
What is your Father’s Prayer for your children? You’ll probably never achieve the level of accomplishment of General Douglas MacArthur, but when all is said and done, what will make you whisper “I have not lived in vain”?