It was an NFL moment! The Pittsburgh Steelers trailed Oakland 7–6 and faced fourth-and-ten on their own 40-yard line with just 22 seconds remaining. The 1972 divisional playoff was on the line. Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw threw a pass, but it was deflected. The receiver was knocked to the ground, and the ball sailed backward several yards. Just before the ball hit the ground, Steelers running back Franco Harris scooped up the ball and scored the winning touchdown.
Such an incredible play leaves a lasting impression that far exceeds mere words. It is replay material. Likewise, the way a father deals with other people leaves lasting mental images that his children will replay throughout their lives.
With my own children, I have tried to set an example, particularly in the area God has laid on my heart: demonstrating how to enjoy rich, biblical relationships across ethnic lines. I intentionally seek positive, diverse relationships so that my children will look on my circle of friends with the same enthusiasm that they might when they see athletes from multiple nations joined together in an Olympic event.
I love it when my children see me enjoying treasured friendships with people of varied ethnic backgrounds. If they see these friendships in person, then they are more apt to believe me when they hear me talking about loving all people.
From my daily interactions at our multicultural church and college to my fellowship at home, I like for my children to see a father who knows—and is known by—a crowd as diverse as those God lists in Revelation 5:9 (“. . . out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation”).
I seek to promote this unity of believers by living a life of humility, meekness, longsuffering, and love (Ephesians 4:1–3). Humility allows us to admit both personal and national sins. Meekness protects us from constantly demanding our rights while demeaning others and denying their rights because they have different ethnic backgrounds. Longsuffering helps us to persevere in multiethnic relationships that the culture pressures us to abandon. Love enables us to forgive others because of Christ, who heals us and is greater than any sin that wounds us.
Fathers, remember that the greatest plays follow years of practice. Most champions first dedicate themselves to imitating or exceeding the example set by past heroes. We have a high standard to follow in front of our children (1 Corinthians 11:1). Living a life of love across ethnic boundaries lets the world—and our children—see the validity of our faith (John 13:34–35), which they will replay in their minds for the rest of their lives.