Dad’s, Sing Like You Mean It Because Your Kids Are Watching

[This was written by a man in my church named Keith McCracken. May we be inspired by the example of Keith’s father.]

My father was a wonderfully eccentric man. He was a quick witted recluse and a virtual Picasso of mechanicalia. He worked third shift (11:00PM to 7:00AM) for 37 years (without missing a day or ever being late) so as to avoid having his talents ?supervised into obscurity.? To most people outside of his family he was hard to understand and blissfully unconcerned with anyone else?s opinion of him. But despite all of that he was very overt about his faith in, and love for, our Savior Jesus Christ.

Though I hold many cherished memories of him, perhaps the most vivid was his excitement over singing certain hymns. By all accounts he possessed at best an ?average? voice when it comes to uniqueness and tonal quality. But he sang his favorites with a conviction that was beyond convincing and was by far one of the loudest and most joyful voices in a congregation of approximately 350. I remember looking up at him and ?checking him out? while he was singing? ?Is he for real?? I would wonder. When he would catch me looking at him he would simply ?lock-eyes? with me and sing all the louder while he broadened his grin to match proportion with his pleasure.

He wouldn?t just sing hymns at church either. I can think of many times when the two of us would be welding up a go-kart frame or swapping an engine on a Saturday afternoon and he would spontaneously break into a hymn. In my teens and early twenties I actually found it annoying given the perplexity of some of the situations we would be deep into. But then again I would eventually come around and sing with him anyway. I just never managed to muster the joy he got out of it. I didn?t think about it then but I can see clearly now that he was blessing me with rich God honoring doctrine. That he was lovingly cramming truth into my psyche that would not return void in my soul.

The now heart-softening aspect of these memories is that I am standing here in my church singing these same time impervious truths in front of my children. I catch them looking up at me and I wonder if I am anywhere near as good an example as he was. I get caught up and overwhelmed when I recognize the blessing that God had granted me in an earthly father. How diligent Dad was to bless me in an eternal way without ever making a point to tell me that he was doing it.

Jack McCracken passed away on March 9th of 2010 from pancreatic cancer. The last day I saw him alive was March 8th. We were alone and I was brutally tired from all that had preceded. He could not speak or even open his eyes but the nurses assured me that he could hear so I just prayed for him and encouraged him to trust in Jesus and look for him to come soon. When my nephew arrived I felt comforted that dad would not be alone and I decided to return to my parents? house and get some rest. I asked my nephew for just a few moments alone with dad and I grasped his hand firmly, kissed his forehead and said: ?You did a fantastic job as my father and I am so glad I got to be your son. Thank you for taking me to church. But more importantly thank you for going to church and being joyful there. Thank you for singing like you meant every word? You have no idea how that still affects me? I love you dad.

I stepped back and whistled a ?call? he had taught me when I was very young. It would not have been discernible to anyone in a crowd but it meant ?I am right behind you? and ?I am coming.? I hugged my nephew and thanked him for coming then drove to my parent?s home. Three hours later I was awakened by a phone call from my nephew telling me that ?Grampa was gone.? I slumped back into my chair. I wept bitterly. Then I cried out to God for comfort and without much thought I began singing one of Dads favorite hymns??Jesus paid it all.? As I was singing I began to hear Dad?s voice singing with me? Not as any kind of haunting specter or communion with the dead kind of thing. Much more like a perfect echo? I began to envision his face and felt like I was a little kid again looking up at him. His grin was broadening and his voice was getting louder. I began to thank God over and over for the gift he had given me in my earthly father and the gift of salvation that he had granted to both dad and I. I just laid on the floor and prayed then cried, then sang then prayed some more. I have no idea how long I spent in that state but I can tell you that God granted me peace through it.

Now almost two years later I am still unable to sing a lot of those ?old-Baptist? tunes without experiencing the ?echo? of my father. I count it a privilege to sing these rich truths in tribute to the one true God; but I also experience the benefit of knowing I am fulfilling the scriptural command to honor my earthly father as well.

I decided to write this all out first as a means of expressing for myself what is sometimes difficult to verbalize. And secondly as a means of encouragement to the fathers in this church. Please sing like you mean it on Sunday morning. I am not asking you to ?fake? anything? but rather embrace the very meaning these songs were written for. Seek to express your joy in your Savior Jesus Christ by singing in response to what he has done for you, and in agreement with the truths imbedded in these songs. Neither am I encouraging you to do this specifically for your children?s benefit but first for yourselves with the added comfort of knowing how much it will affect your children. I am simply encouraging you to worship in spirit and in truth. Sing strong because that is what God wants from you. Trust God to bless your children with the echo.


  • Jason says:

    Thank you for your words. I wish more men would take to heart the message to "sing like you mean it." In my church, too many men quickly scurry for the back of the church to refill their coffee, hit the bathroom, or visit with friends when the music starts, not recognizing the importance of offering musical worship to God. I want to instill that joy in my children as well.

  • Adam Jones says:

    Thank you Keith! This is incredibly encouraging. What a blessing to have a father like him.

  • Elaine says:

    Absolutely beautiful, Keith! Ron is much like your dad – always singing loud, picking out harmonies, etc. When they were younger, I would catch looking at him like, "Ah…Dad? What are you doing?"

    Thankful the Lord in His kindness gave you such a dad and your children such a grandpa. What a gift! What a legacy!


  • Adam Ford says:

    Seriously amazing post. I've shared on multiple channels. Thank you for this.

  • redmestic says:

    Thank you, Keith. What a blessing and a timely reminder as we are in the beginning stages of raising our family.
    ~ Audra B

  • Richard says:

    Wonderful. Singing praise to God is a powerful, generation-spanning testimony. Thanks!

    BTW, it should be "Dads", without the apostrophe.

  • C.J. McMurry says:

    Thank you Stephen!!! That is an awesome story!

  • Bren says:

    Why don't dad's sing out today? Is it cultural, or are our songs less inspiring? Discuss…

  • Liz says:

    My dad, too, was a powerful singer in church! I always remember him singing “Living for Jesus” with a harmony that was beautiful ! Thanks for that memory! They were BOLD for Jesus!

  • Johanna Wayne says:

    This is not easy to do but I think dad should learn how to be natural most especially when they are with their kids. VZ 58

  • Aimee Byrd says:

    I love to see men at church singing with meaning. Thank you for this.

  • Bob says:

    Unfortunately, I can’t sing at my church. I don’t know the tunes and they don’t hand out the music.

    Otherwise – an inspiring article.

  • Wendy Clark says:

    Love this! Thank you!

  • Kay says:

    A powerful and encouraging testimony. May his tribe increase. P.S.: It's "Dads" (plural), not "Dad's" (possessive).

  • justindbaker says:

    Thanks for sharing this Keith and Stephen. A beautiful story that challenges me, and hopefully my other dads!

  • John Morgan says:

    Through my tears I write this. I long for a legacy like this. My dad, ninety, sings every day. Mostly 'when you're smiling.' it's not Worship, but it preaches. It embodies his lifetime of optimism. He does truly love Jesus, and I know I will miss him deeply when he's gone. My tears are for my children, and for your loss, Keith. Your words inspire me, and as a result, I am redoubling my choice to be a bold proclaimer of biblical truth and passionate love through song. Thank you Keith, and thank you Stephen, for reposting.

  • Jael says:

    "Unfortunately, I won't take the effort to learn the tunes of the songs sung at my church, so I'm going to blame the leadership since they don't put the actual music in my actual hands every week. That way I can get out of the Biblical commands to sing to God in the company of his people."

    There. Fixed that for ya.

  • Walter Schmidt says:

    A variation of this story can be told by many adults/children whose Godly father sang or even whistled his testimony in musical form within his child's hearing. Praise God for the living/singing faith of our fathers.

  • Dennis says:

    Like John above, I had to shed a few tears over this. My daughter shared it with me after an, ummm, episode this morning. In many ways, I came late to the game in being serious about fatherhood and my faith. I've missed so much joy. But joy I have now. I especially like the part about the special 'call', something my daughter and I share that makes people look at us strangely, then laugh. So yeah, dads, especially younger ones – DO THIS! God will bless you in ways untold. Spend a few minutes in Isaiah 12.

  • Keith McCracken says:

    John,_You are quite welcome.__-Keith

  • Anar says:

    "I am not asking you to 'fake' anything"

    I'm glad you include this, because for me as a kid growing up in church, I often got the impression that some of the older men were faking the enthusiasm when they sang. How could I tell? Maybe it was because of their *inconsistency*. Many would be "into" the music during worship, but rarely ever express enthusiasm about music, art, or beauty anywhere else in their lives. I'd wonder do they really care or is it just out of duty? So I guess I'd argue for extending "sing like you mean it…" to something more holistic and inclusive of all life… maybe "live like you mean it."

  • Ron Wells says:

    Thank you for your inspirational message. I am frequently enlightened and encouraged by your blog, and pass the postings along to others. But this article was especially moving. Thank you for opening up and sharing!

  • STL says:

    I loved reading this–thank you.

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  • Harmony says:

    I'm sure it's both, Bren. I'm a woman but I can say that I have a hard time singing enthusiastically many contemporary songs today, while the grand old hymns bring out a heart of worship. I think many contemporary songs are embarrassing to sing, especially for men, as they tend to focus on me, my feelings, and being "in love" with Jesus. But also, older generations had more musical heritage; now we "appreciate" music and listen to lots of it, but singing seems more out of the norm for men.

  • Thanks for sharing bro

  • Danny White says:

    I'm a thirty year old! I was baptized in the Holy Spirit on March 4th, 2012. Ever since I've been able to Sing prophetically. Its so Awesome! I allow The Holy Spirit to flow through me. The songs can be in a different language, that is not of my knowledge. There are also unlearned songs that can be understood. Songs about how our soul is like glass, and how God sees through me. Songs about waiting, resting, trusting, and yielding on thee. He'll have me sing songs about being hollowed on thee. He has me sing about being knighted in Him, being a light to those that need Hope, through the gift of healing. Oh! How he has me sing about His wonders, and how we should love one another daily. Another thing neat, is how The Holy Spirit told me that I'm also a Son of David, just like Jesus. Another thing God has enabled me to do is take corporal prayer to the next level. When we pray in a group, The Holy Spirit gives me visions, depicting a situation with a fellowship member, without my knowledge, but God's knowledge. Every now and then The Holy Spirit will give me a word of knowledge for someone in our fellowship group. All in all, I don't listen to the car radio much anymore, I just sing in The Spirit, as He'll take your voice to different octaves, you never knew you had. I want to encourage each and everyone, to Wait on the Lord, Notice your surrounding atmosphere, You'll start feeling, an awesome sensation, like butterflies in your stomach. Next thing, is when you start to notice a shift within, as God's refreshing love pours on you. Like a warm, or cool sensation. May your discernment kick in as you're feeling God's waves, as He shows you who you are, as He shows you your hidden talents, as they're used to magnify Him.

  • Edmond Long says:

    In April of 1973, my Dad suffered an aneurysm on his carotid artery. Ultimately, he recovered almost fully. While he was in the hospital, before surgery, the aneurysm enlarged and he almost died. They kept him in ICU for several days to strengthen him for surgery. One day, and ICU nurse reported what was to her a most unusual thing. She told us she had seen people in ICU do lots of strange things, such as cursing, screaming, crying out, and other anomalous actions. She said our Dad was the most unusual. He was singing hymns! When he recovered, my Dad went back to being the pianist at Black Jack Baptist Church (he served for 37 yrs.). Maury Long, Sr. was and remains my model for what a godly man, husband, father and friend is. To borrow Stephen Mansfield’s term, he was a manly man, and he could sing!

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