All month long we have been listening to a
group of local exemplars as they drop knowledge on the topic
of fathers and fatherhood. This week I spoke with Bob Lyons,
who is in his 30th year of ministerial leadership and
currently serves as the senior pastor of Greater St. Maryís
Baptist Church. Lyons and his wife Shirley are the parents
of four children, who now range from 41 to 53 years of age.
This is the final installment of a four-part
series on fatherhood styles and wisdom.
Perryman: Pastor, a part of your
professional duties involves mentoring young fathers, so
what does fatherhood mean to you?
Lyons: Oh, leadership. Responsibility.
It means that Iíve got to be the forecaster. Iíve got to
look beyond the obvious to provide, protect and also keep
balance within family,
Perryman: Please elaborate on what you
mean by balance.
Lyons: Well, whenever thereís struggle
on one end, such as when kids are having growing pains or
kids not following the order of the house and the mother
becomes frustrated. She is trying to make sure sheís the
mama bear and now the kids and mom are butting heads. And as
dad, Iíve got to try to sort that out to keep balance,
whereas the respect for mom as mom and also the respect for
self stays in place with the child. A lot of times, you see
the tensions developing and you steer around that. And,
continually, you have to steer around that so that many
times the rest of the family doesnít even know that the
problem even existed. You saw it because you were looking
further down the road and were able to defuse it before it
turned into something bigger.
Perryman: What memories of your dad do
you have from when you were growing up?
Lyons: My father was 17 and my mother
had just turned 15 when I was born. Although my father was
in my life it was not until I was grown, in my mid-20s, that
he was really recognized as father. While I
knew who my biological dad was, my parents
were never married and so grandmother was actually the
father in my life.
So all the older men in the church served as
father figures to me in a little town in Oklahoma where I
was raised. They paddled my butt, gave me lectures about
what to do and what not to do, and how to act. And the
strongest father figure I had from about the fifth grade
until 12th grade, graduating high school, was my football
and basketball coach. They all became the father figures in