Forms of Fatherhood – Part Two

Some time back I was continuing an intense and in-depth conversation with a young father and husband who lives in another nation and not in Canada. He made a comment in his email about still struggling to relate to God as his Father. We had spoken about this in person a number of times over the last 6 or more years. His comment got me to thinking once again about God our heavenly Father and how our relationship with Him is helped or hindered by our relationship, healthy or unhealthy, with our earthly father. And, I remembered reading some information about fathers in a book I finished in early January. I will summarize my findings and thoughts…

We are living with a “fatherless generation.” I don’t just mean kids who are raised by single moms. Fatherlessness is more complicated than that.

Types of “dad’s” today ( we looked at the first four lot time)…:

1> DEADBEAT DAD

2> DISTANT DAD

3> RELIGIOUS DAD

4>”IF ONLY” DAD

5> GOOD DAD

This dad may go to church every Sunday. He may have fun with his kids on the weekend, taking them to soccer games and the lake for fishing or whatever. But he is not the spiritual leader in his home. He is not a spiritual cultivator.

He provides for his kids, but he isn’t providing what they truly need: spiritual direction. For whatever reason, these men treat God like he’s in the mothering category. They often defer to Mom for spiritual things. 

The interesting thing about this guy is he can be found intimidating his daughter’s new date, but he can’t be found instigating his daughter’s new faith. He can play the macho part but not the part that requires spiritual vulnerability.

Now, don’t get me wrong. These men have fun. These men prioritize their family. These men make many memories and many moments that are to be applauded. They just haven’t prioritized the faith of their family as a personal responsibility. I think deep down you’d find that there’s a desire to be a spiritual leader, but maybe they missed it. Maybe they just don’t know what it looks like. But at the end of the day, they are active, good dads, but they are passive spiritual fathers.

6> FAITHFUL FATHER

I’ve found God to be unpredictable in his methods. He’s always on the move, always shaking things up in our lives. Sometimes it’s hard to know what exactly He’s up to. But one thing is for sure. God wants our hearts.

That’s what he is after. He searches our hearts. He guards our hearts. He even delights in us when our hearts are broken and honest before Him. He wants to transform every crevice and every corner of our hearts, and I think that’s at the core of what a faithful father does.

A faithful father is still dating his wife. He is still pursuing her heart. The same goes for the kids. So, the faithful father doesn’t just ask: “How was your day?” He wants to know: “How is your heart?” And this is true no matter what age the children might be. He is grounded in God’s Word. He asks for forgiveness often. And he strives to give more than leftover energy to both his wife and children.

He is patient and relentless, like our Father in heaven. He does not just focus on surface-level stuff. He is interested in his family’s inner lives. 

Since the main goal of life is to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, this dad has made this the highest priority for the hearts, souls, and minds of his children. He wants them to have life, and life to the fullest. 

In the end, it all comes down to Jesus. I’m not saying faithful fathers are perfect. I’m saying that for a faithful father, Jesus doesn’t just describe him. Jesus defines him. So what if we looked to Jesus as our role model for manhood?

He was humble, He was strong, and He sacrificed everything. Jesus was marked by an unconventional, unconditional, unbelievable love this world had never seen before.

If we have a skewed image of what it means to be a man and a father, it affects everything: our family, our friends, our future, our legacy. A man’s ability to lead his family is completely dependent on his ability to follow Jesus.