If you were listening to new music in the 90’s, you’ve heard the Stone Temple Pilot’s about 10,000 times. They were one of the most influential bands of the Alternative Rock movement.
The Stone Temple Pilot’s lead singer, Scott Weiland led the stereotypical life of a rock star. Full of sex, drugs, and alcohol addiction. But as long as he kept producing good music, fans didn’t really care about that.
They also didn’t care about his responsibilities as a father…and apparently, he didn’t either. Scott Weiland died on December 3rd and his ex-wife Mary, 15-year-old son Noah, and 13-year-old daughter Lucy, wrote a letter to Scott’s fans that was published in Rolling Stone magazine.
In it, Mary Weiland wrote this: “The outpouring of condolences and prayers offered to our children, Noah and Lucy, has been overwhelming, appreciated and even comforting. But the truth is, like so many other kids, they lost their father years ago. What they truly lost on December 3rd was hope.
I knew [Noah & Lucy] would one day see and feel everything that I'd been trying to shield them from, and that they'd eventually be brave enough to say, "That mess was our father. We loved him, but a deep-rooted mix of love and disappointment made up the majority of our relationship with him."
They have never set foot into his house, and they can't remember the last time they saw him on a Father's Day. I don't share this with you to cast judgment, I do so because you most likely know at least one child in the same shoes. If you do, please acknowledge them and their experience. Offer to accompany them to the father-daughter dance, or teach them to throw a football. Even the bravest girl or boy will refrain from asking for something like that; they may be ashamed, or not want to inconvenience you. Just offer – or even insist if you have to.
This is the final step in our long goodbye to Scott. … I won't say he can rest now, or that he's in a better place. He belongs with his children barbecuing in the backyard and waiting for a Notre Dame game to come on. We are angry and sad about this loss, but we are most devastated that he chose to give up.
Noah and Lucy never sought perfection from their dad. They just kept hoping for a little effort. If you're a parent not giving your best effort, all anyone asks is that you try just a little harder and don't give up. Progress, not perfection, is what your children are praying for. Our hope for Scott has died, but there is still hope for others. Let's choose to make this the first time we don't glorify this tragedy with talk of rock and roll and the demons that, by the way, don't have to come with it. Skip the depressing T-shirt with 1967-2015 on it – use the money to take a kid to a ballgame or out for ice cream.”
I cried when I read this letter.
I cried because I felt the longing of his kids. Noah and Lucy didn’t need their dad to be a celebrity, they didn’t need him to win over the crowds. They needed him at a barbecue. They wanted him not to be strung out on drugs at their school play. I cried because I realized my kids don't care how many people listen to me preach…they just want to know that I’m ready to listen to them. I cried because in this letter, I knew everywhere that Scott Weiland failed his kids, that God was ready to fill in the gap. I cried because I heard from Mary Weiland the call of God…to care for the orphan and the widow. To take a fatherless child to the Daddy-daughter dance. To take a kid without a dad out for ice cream or to a ball game..and I felt that compassion lacking in my own life…so I mourned it.
In Isaiah 9:6, the Christ child is prophesied to be called “Everlasting Father,” which is kind of an odd name for the Son of God. Yet, it is a great comfort to know that where I fail as a dad, or when dads disappear to serve themselves instead of protecting & providing, that Christ is a better protector, provider, and savior than any dad could be.
Dads aren’t supposed to be Rock Stars, we’re just opening acts. When you go to a concert, there’s always an opening act. They go out and occupy the stage before the band you came to see comes out. Now, sometimes you have a good experience with an opening act. You end up liking them, downloading their music, telling your friends about them. Sometimes, the opening act stinks. They’re terrible. But you don't walk out of the concert until you’ve heard the headliner. Dads, we’re just the opening act for the headliner, God himself.
If you’re like me, I often feel like I’m not a very good opening act and that makes me really thankful that Jesus is going come out and rock the show in my kids’ lives after I’ve blown it. If you had a bad experience with your dad, you need to remember the headliner is still taking the stage. The Everlasting Father. Don’t leave the building because your opening act was awful. If you’re a dad, you may not have fans. But you have a family. And that’s a million times better. Just ask Scott Weiland’s kids.
In Ephesians 6:1-4, the apostle Paul instructed children to obey their parents in the Lord and told fathers to bring up kids in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, not provoking them to anger. Dads, that means your kids learn obedience to a loving authority from you. As you protect and provide for your kids emotionally, spiritually and physically, you are teaching them how God loves them and how they should respond to his love.
Want to know what it means to provoke your kids to anger? Just read Noah and Lucy Weiland’s letter to their dad. When he stepped out of the role of caring for his kids, they ended up down “in deep-rooted disappointment.” Provoking your kids to anger is to remove yourself as placeholder for God, and insert your own interpretation of what a Father should be. It is to reject your role as a protector and a provider, and abandon your kids to protect and provide for themselves. Physically, emotionally, & spiritually.
Maybe one of these descriptions fits your dad:
You had an absent father, who abandoned your family.
You had a passive father, who never engaged with you, never led your family anywhere…just kind of went to work, and chilled in front of the TV.
You had demanding father, who expected you to be perfect…and got angry when you didn’t live up to his expectations.
You had an enabling father, who simply gave you everything you ever asked for…who always bailed you out of trouble…and now you realize it ruined you…because you never felt the consequences of living in the real world….and you never learned to take care of yourself.
You had an abusive or angry father, who was always hurting you, screaming at you, communicating in every way he could that you were worthless.
...and now, when you hear the idea that Jesus is called “Everlasting Father” it makes your stomach turn a little bit.
Maybe, every mention of a male figure in authority causes deep-seated mistrust. Maybe, you are rejecting God as Father because the one who was supposed to be a place-holder for him left that place empty…or filled it with something ugly.
I understand. But I have good news for you this Christmas. Those who walked in darkness, have seen a great light. (Isaiah 9:2) For unto us a child is born and his name shall be called “Everlasting Father”. Here’s the good news about the Everlasting Father….the Headliner Dad.
1) JESUS IS BETTER THAN YOUR DEMANDING FATHER.
He doesn’t say, “Prove yourself, then I’ll love you.”
He says, “Look how I’ve proved my love for you on the cross. I’ve forgiven you, now come into a relationship with me.” (John 8:11, Romans 5:8-11)
2) JESUS IS BETTER THAN YOUR ANGRY/ABUSIVE FATHER.
Instead of walking on eggshells around him, wondering what will set him off, He is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (Psalm 103:8). He doesn’t discipline us out of angry punishment, but he died to remove the punishment for our sins SO THAT he could discipline us for our peace. (Hebrews 12:10-11)
3) JESUS IS BETTER THAN YOUR ABSENT OR PASSIVE FATHER.
He’s not emotionally checked-out. He is active in your heart, constantly reminding you of your place as his child because of what he’s done for you. (8:15-16, Galatians 4:6-7, Isaiah 9:7)
Years of abuse and neglect are not overcome in one sermon or blog post. I’m not suggesting that. My wife grew up in a broken home with an absent Dad. 10 years after we were married, we were still feeling the effects of that. Two of my children were neglected and abandoned, we don’t overcome that with one hug and some smiles for the camera.
That kind of darkness buries itself deep in the heart. But into the darkness…the light has shined.
Trust this Father.
Trust that this everlasting Father is a better Dad than the one that failed you and I promise you, because he promises you, as you learn to walk with him, you’ll grow more and more sure of his love for you…even if it doesn’t happen in an instant.
Finally, Dads - heed the words of Mary Weiland, “Progress, not perfection, is what your children are looking for.” So make progress by pointing your kids more to the father that is perfect. And remember, Dad, you aren’t supposed to be a rock star, just the opening act.