I confess – I love this time of year, spring has arrived, footy finals are upon us and so is Father’s Day. That one day of the year where you can officially be honoured and spoilt for being Dad (+ get some more socks and undies) and honour the men who have a Fathering role in your own life.
It’s the time of year when we watch men giving their all on the field, to claim victory and belt out their team song. It’s good stuff. Fatherhood should really be approached in the same way; consistently get the fundamentals right and execute with relentless determination to win the title in this most important area of life.
What comes to your mind when you think of the word Father?
We live in a time where Fathers are generally getting more involved in the lives of their kids. The days of leaving it all to mum, with children ‘seen and not heard’ are long gone. Though you could probably build a case to say that we have strayed a little too far on the level children are being seen and heard. It is certainly a good thing that us Dads are much more involved, more hands on. I can hear the Mums cheering about this. Though I can’t help think that with this being the case, why are our children, families and society seemingly heading at pace in the wrong direction in many areas? Australia, like many other Western nations has a crisis of Manhood and an increasing culture of Fatherlessness that is imbedding itself and having a devastating generational impact. As Patrick Morley says “So goes men, goes marriage, goes families, goes Churches, goes the nation.”
Fathers who are focused on raising their children with love, integrity and intentionality are unsung heroes in our society (so are Mums but they had their big day in May!).
Sadly, much of the mainstream media, TV shows and movies portray men and Fathers in particular to be fairly unimpressive characters these days. This mindset has crept into our thinking where sadly we can find ourselves laughing along with it. Even in Churches, where authentic masculinity can be hard to find or masked under the ‘niceness’ that we portray. This breakfast cereal Ad I recently came across is refreshing because it’s not trying to be politically correct.
In Australia there are hundreds of thousands of boys walking around in men’s bodies. ‘Why?’ you ask. The answer is because they haven’t been shown what manhood and Fatherhood really is. I know this because it was me until my mid 30’s. Boys learn what Godly masculinity is from their Fathers and other men in their lives. Girls develop their understanding of relationships with men primarily from their Fathers.
Maybe you’ve heard the story of men’s prisons where many Mother’s Day cards are sent out from the inmates, however it’s a very different story on Father’s Day.
I am showing my age here but I remember watching Aussie folk rock band Weddings Parties Anything singing their signature song – ‘Father’s Day’ at a pub in Wollongong in the early 90’s. This classic song is a lament of the heartache of being a Dad with limited access rights to children and also celebrates the love of a Father for his children.
Whilst there are some causes for concern there is much to be hopeful for. The hearts of Fathers are turning. The Kingdom of God is never under threat.
Men, whilst these points are not a definitive word on Fatherhood I have noted a few things that have helped me over the years as a Father.
• Love their Mum – The love in action you show the Mother of your children speaks volumes, whether your children are young or adults. It provides them with a sense of strength and security. Even if you are no longer living with their Mum this still applies and will help your children flourish by the example it sets. Loving their Mum will set a positive example to your son of how to treat women and his future wife and your daughters how they are to be treated. When you really start to drill down into the impact and significance of Fatherhood its huge isn’t it! Fatherhood is a terrifyingly exciting God given privilege.
• Iron Sharpens Iron – If you are not already doing so can I encourage you to intentionally grow yourself as a man and Father. Moreover, if you’re not a Father yet, start doing this now! It might sound strange or even selfish to focus on growing yourself this way but unless you keep developing and growing you will stagnate and go backwards – You can’t give what you don’t have!
If you are a Father and know deep down you are yourself unfathered, ask God to Father you. He wants to and He will. Seek out men whom you know are good Fathers and ask them to mentor you so together we can reclaim what has been lost and forgotten. “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls…..” Jeremiah 6:16
There are some great resources out there such as the Fatherhood Foundation and some great books ! As Charlie ‘Tremendous’ Jones says “You are the same today you’ll be in five years except for two things: the people you meet and the books you read”
• Rites of Passage – Look into rites of passage for your son(s) and / or Daughter(s). They have the distinct effect of calling them out into manhood and womanhood. Brian Molitor has written some excellent books on this for boys and girls rites of passage.
• Time -To children time = love. The clip below shows a Dad intentionally pursuing his daughter’s heart through ‘dates’ with her Dad.
• Ask for help – if you need to work through some things that you haven’t been able to move on from I would encourage you to go and see a Christian Counsellor.
• Discipleship – It all starts at home. Discipling your family first then others as you go and grow. Deuteronomy 6 has some choice words on this.
“Fatherhood is a terrifyingly exciting God given privilege”.
Remember perseverance is a team event. You are easier to pick off if you are alone and isolated! This is true for all of life and especially Fatherhood.
“Iron sharpens iron and one man sharpens another”. Proverbs 27:17
Families come in all shapes and sizes. Your Father may have been your natural Father, a Stepdad, Grandfather, an uncle or family friend who had a key role in Fathering you. Whatever comes to mind when you think of Father, may this Fathers Day be a great one for you and yours.
And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the Fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their Fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse. Malachi 4:5-6
CEO of the Australian Institute of Family Counselling (aifc)