by Dean Rizzo, Spring Canyon OCF director
There are certain moments in a lifetime you never forget. For me, the memories of formally giving a father’s blessing to my children in person continues to give me joy as I recall each event.
Many of us have not received a spoken blessing from our fathers or mothers, and for some, emotional wounds persist from not receiving caring and affirming words spoken into our lives from them, particularly in our American culture. As the Rev. Chuck Stecker points out in Men of Honor Women of Virtue, “Understand that for the most part, our parents have not known the blessing. It’s been lost in our society, our culture and our churches.”
I first learned of spoken blessings as a current practice only within the past ten years, having read many times the stories in the Bible of this ancient Hebrew practice among the twelve tribes.
Stecker, of A Chosen Generation Ministries, introduced to me the biblical custom of a father’s spoken blessing, and I still use the Preparing the Blessing guide he gave me.
At OCF’s Spring Canyon conference center, we continue this powerful tradition every summer during each of our Father-Teen Adventure (FTA) program weeks.
At the ceremony where I blessed my son, with other FTA fathers and sons watching, each father blessed his son by figuratively knighting him with a broadsword. It symbolically communicated the power of our words as we invited them alongside us to be men who follow Jesus Christ.
At my daughter’s blessing, each dad first had a special private dinner with his own daughter, giving them flowers and a small gift to commemorate the event. Later, with all the fathers and daughters, each dad touched his daughter’s head while tenderly, lovingly speaking God’s blessing on them as their earthly fathers, assuring them of God’s unique plan for them.
For those who have grown up without the benefit of receiving a spoken blessing into their lives, it’s not too late to seek out and receive a father’s blessing that is missing from your life. I’ve watched profound healing, joy, and peace come into the lives of men and women who receive a father’s blessing from sincere men trained to bless them as representatives of a father no longer alive or possibly a father that is reluctant to follow this old tradition. Ask a godly chaplain, pastor, or organization such as Stecker’s ministry to speak a father’s blessing into your life.
I encourage all fathers to embrace the biblical tradition of blessing. A mother’s blessing will be equally powerful to the children of those whose husbands are unable or unavailable to give a blessing. My formal blessing spoken over my children’s lives has powerfully cemented our relationships ever since, so that even now when we talk, I still bless them as a part of praying for and encouraging them.
Whether you learn from a new digital Bible on a portable electronic device or from an old tattered Bible, even in this modern age you will find tremendous joy in using God’s Word as a spoken blessing.
Dean has served as the director of OCF’s Spring Canyon Conference Center since 2002. His wife, Sue, was an active duty officer who introduced him to OCF and Spring Canyon after they were married. He credits an OCF Bible study at Fort Bragg with leading him to Jesus Christ and regards Spring Canyon’s Rocky Mountain High program as one of the best discipling experiences in his life. Dean and Sue are blessed with four children.