In recent days I’ve discussed the importance of fathers passing on blessing and affirmation to their sons. But for many of you, this begs the question: What should a grown man do who didn’t receive these gifts from his own father and sees little likelihood that he ever will?
The most important thing is not to give up on the possibility of reconciliation. Many men, well into their adult lives, have experienced a healing reunion with a father who never affirmed his son as he should have. People and circumstances change. God graciously intervenes into our broken lives and relationships. And for that reason, never dismiss, abandon, or kill your hope. Many fathers in the sunset years of life have found ways to convey long-overdue blessings, love, acceptance, and affirmation on sons who grew up lacking those precious gifts.
Still, the sad truth remains that for some men this will never happen. For a variety of reasons, a man may be left without the opportunity to gain emotional and personal closure from his own father. In that case, the affirmation and blessing of God the Father is all the more important.
Through faith in Jesus Christ, His Father becomes your Father. You are known, loved, and accepted by Him’regardless of your experience with your earthly father. He is a Father to both the physically and emotionally fatherless. There is healing in Him, which means there is hope for you.
There’s a growing tendency in our culture to minimize the importance of the father’s role in the family. In fact, there have even been studies that attempt to demonstrate the father’s place in the family is not that important to the family’s overall health and functionality. It’s just not true!
Of course, there are other ways families can rally to help offset the absence of a father. Thousands upon thousands of godly single moms labor faithfully to nurture their children toward healthy, productive adult life. But even these moms know their love and efforts aren’t enough, that their children need the balancing influence of a male presence. And thank God again for godly brothers, uncles, grandfathers, and others standing in the gap for children lacking their father’s presence. But those exceptions only help prove the rule: a father’s role isn’t optional.
Yet while a father’s role isn’t optional, it is temporary. One expert states that about 90% of a child’s personality has been set in place by age six. What that means, guys, is that every day counts. Every day that passes is a day fathers are impacting their children with some idea of what fatherhood is about’ideas that will greatly influence their understanding of what the fatherhood of God is all about. My point is this dads: be present, and live in the present.
Let me suggest three things that every father can focus on today’and everyday’that are mandatory for accomplishing God’s purposes in the lives of your children.
First, fathers must love God. The only way you can be assured your child will learn the most important truths in life’truths about living with faith, obedience, and joy as a follower of Jesus’is knowing those truths yourself and assuming the responsibility for teaching them to your children. You can’t give what you yourself don’t possess.
Second, fathers must love their own fathers. I know for many men that’s a tall order’and often for very good reasons. Nonetheless, being a good father means being a loving son. If your father hasn’t, can’t, or won’t provide the love you need from him, you must get it from God Himself. Fathers must find healing for their own broken hearts to prevent breaking the hearts of their children.
Third, fathers must love their wives. Parenting is a partnership. And nothing will embitter children more than living with a mother who’s been turned resentful by the callous affections of their father.
If you as a father will set your hearts on these three loves, all the other details of raising children will work themselves out.