The cry for fathers

Posted: March 14, 2008 by Brian Andrews in Ecclesiology (Church Stuff), Fatherhood, Theology
Tags: , , , ,

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.

—God via Malachi the Prophet, (Mal. 4:5, 6)

These are sobering words which bring the Old Testament to a close. I believe they accurately provide an explanation for much of the destruction we see in peoples lives in America. I see it now in my students, I saw it in people whom I pastored in previous churches, and I saw it and heard it in the stories of inmates I used to visit: fatherlessness.

Christian fathers have the awesome privilege of giving their children their first glimpse of who God the Father is. Fatherhood gets its definition from the heavenly Father (Eph. 3:14). When the father/child relationship is broken, the child misses out on a piece of who God is.

One day when I first started teaching, “Duane,” a 15-year-old, and I were talking. At one point in the conversation, it came out that I was a Christian. I could see the wheels starting to turn in his head. “So are you single?” he asked me.

“No,” I answered, “I have a wife, three kids, and one on the way.”

“Oh,” he said with a slightly disappointed look. I was about to walk away after that. I didn’t want to distract him any further from doing his work. However, my curiosity eventually got the better of me.

“Why do you ask?” I inquired.
“For my mom,” he said.

On another occasion, “Daisy” came to my class in tears. I didn’t know what the issue was, neither did I feel comfortable at the time asking. Weeks later, an innocent question I asked her became an opportunity for her to pour out her life story. Her father, (who was on his way to becoming a pastor), left the family when she was five years old. He owes thousands of dollars in child support. Daisy’s mother recently lost her job. Food stamps stand between them and hunger. “The day I was crying in your class was my birthday,” she told me. “My dad didn’t even send me a card. I guess all the stuff that has happened is the reason I carry so much anger.”

Situations like these move me to tears. Sometimes the problem can seem so overwhelming, we might be tempted to put our heads in the sand. But as Christian men, we can do our part to reverse the curse. Here are just a few things:

As fathers, we must turn our hearts to our own children. It all starts at home. Our kids must experientially know that we love them. We need to be generously affectionate, and reassure our children of our love for them. Our daughters need to experience pure affection from us so that they can know what to look for in a husband. They need to know our unconditional love so they will be less likely to put their confidence in outward appearance, but in who they are in Christ. Our sons need an example to follow so they can navigate the rough waters to come.

Be a father figure to boys and younger men. The apostle Paul did this for Timothy, who was spiritually fatherless (Acts 16:1). Younger guys (and even older ones like me) crave manly input, encouragement and guidance. What a difference we can make in one life just by being intentional. Trust the Lord to lead you to younger men. Several years ago, I was sitting in a church service. I turned around at one point, and my eye caught a younger guy that I knew only as an acquaintance. I knew that this guy had lost his father a few months earlier. In that instant when I glanced at him, the Lord knit my heart to his. I sensed the Lord saying that I was to be a father figure to him.

After the service, I asked him if he wanted to hang out at Starbucks sometime. He agreed, and that led to two years of getting together over coffee. I have fond memories of those times. This young man is now enjoying ministry as a worship leader.

Pastors/elders should father other men and encourage those men to do the same. Paul exhorted Timothy to pass on and multiply what Paul had given him (2 Tim. 2:2). Paul was thinking long-range. He was seeing generations of men that would potentially be affected. Many of us think ahead when it comes to our 401(k) account and investing for the future. We need to have the same mindset when it comes to investing in spiritual things.

Guys, I want to challenge us to ask God for other men—men in whose lives we can invest. What if each of us asked God for one man who would then go and invest in one other man? Of course we can’t do this in our own strength; we need the power of the Holy Spirit. We may also need someone to be a spiritual father to us. But let’s not wait until we think we’re “ready to be a father.” Let’s ask the Father for men and trust Him to supply all that we need.

  1. Brian, thanks for those sobering stories from personal experience, especially “Daisy”. The PK movement certainly manifested a hunger among men to grow in their “manhood”. While the PK movement has slowed down considerably, I pray that such movements are taking place in the local church with ministries focused on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Society has obliterated any sense of gender distinctions and the result has been ugly. God’s way is better!!!

  2. Ben Berzinis says:

    Rick, Thanks for turning me onto your blog site. I have enjoyed reading some of your posts. I wanted to give you a link on an article by Chris Klicka in regards to home school fathers. I didnt notice a homeschooling category but the father category is the next best thing.
    Thanks for being a vessel of the Holy Spirit. Keep bringing it. Peace and Grace.

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