More Churches Should Be Like Danny Tanner

Did you ever watch Full House growing up? Not the recent reboot, but the original with Danny Tanner, the father of three young girls who was trying to raise them with the help of his family and friends. A lot of the episodes had a similar theme to them. Throughout the episode one of the girls would be dealing with some sort of issue that comes with growing up, and at the end of each episode, either the dad or one of the other characters would be in the kids’ bedroom sitting on the bed trying to help them navigate the ups and downs of life. After eight years of fatherhood, I can now say I’ve had one of those moments.

My eight-year old daughter had a school project that she was really excited about. The project was to recycle things like cardboard boxes and plastic bottles and make something useful out of them. She had decided to make a claw that could pick things up from far away.

Unfortunately, she had been working on the project for three days at school, and it wasn’t coming together. She wasn’t allowed to bring it home, and the teacher had told them, once they started it, they couldn’t switch to something else. Oh, and they only had one more day to finish it.

I didn’t know these details until the night before. As I sat on my daughters’ bed to do our normal nightly prayers, my eight-year old didn’t want to pray. When I asked her why, she started filling me in on all the details and tears started to stream down her face. This project she had been so excited about, now had become the source of her greatest pain.

I had never seen my daughter filled with so much anxiety and fear. Her tears quickly turned to sobs, and nothing I said was making her feel any better. I quickly discovered this wasn’t about a failed project, it was about the fear of being judged.

In her mind, she was going to fail and everyone was going to make fun of her. They had already been asking her what her project was supposed to be, and this had embarrassed her. Their projects were coming together, and hers wasn’t. To make matters worse, the projects were going to be displayed outside the room for everyone to see. So now, not only would her classmates be making fun of her, but the rest of the school would be as well.

I told her not to care what anyone says or thinks, but she does. I told her everyone fails sometimes, but she never had. I told her it was going to be ok, but she didn’t believe me. In that moment I saw her as broken as she’s ever been, and my heart broke for her.

Every bit of it was because she was worried about what others may say or think about her.

And as I thought back upon what she was going through, I couldn’t help but think about broken people and their view of the church. Their fears of being judged, and their fears of what people may say or think about them. And how those fears many times keep them from experiencing the love of Jesus.

My daughter didn’t need me to tell her she messed up. She didn’t need me to say you should’ve known this wouldn’t have worked. She didn’t need me to say you should’ve told us sooner. She needed me to love her and to show her a better way.

So, that’s what I did.

And that’s what so many churches need to do a better job of.

That night we all got out of bed, we found some sturdier cardboard, we modified the design, and I gave her the tools to make it work. Danny Tanner would’ve been proud. The next day she came home with a smile on her face, and a little closer to her father.

Let’s hear your Full House story. Tell us about a time you shared love in the comments below. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get emails on church leadership, growth, and sappy dad stories delivered to your inbox each week.

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2 thoughts on “More Churches Should Be Like Danny Tanner

  1. L Jackson

    Great analogy, Travis. Just as your heart was broken for your daughter and you wanted the best for her, God is broken for us and wants the best way for us. He equips us and gives us the tools we need if we seek Him. You are a good daddy, Travis.

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