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.
Men, do you want to bless your sons? Here are four essential ingredients for doing so:
1) The first is identity. Everyone wants to know who they are and whose they are. A boy looks to his father to tell him who his people are and what they believe. Tell family stories and history to your kids.
2) The second ingredient is acceptance. Let them know they belong to you and are a part of the family. It gives them a sense of value and self-worth. The son who gets this from his father knows he’s wanted, he’s valued, and that he has a positive contribution to offer the world.
3) Next comes modeling. Boys become men in the presence of men. Being male comes by birth; being a man comes through being around and doing things with you and other men. A son will learn how to manage feelings, control emotions, and respond to the challenges of life by how his dad and other significant men in his life do.
4) Fourth and finally is release. There needs to be benchmarks, rites of passage, significant events and accomplishments in a son’s life where the father recognizes and affirms that he’s becoming a man.
Dad, these four things drive away the fear of adulthood and the concern sons have of not meeting your expectations.
I recently read three pearls of wisdom from a Christian educator that I want to share with you. They pertain to God’s command to parents to provide spiritual leadership for their children.
First, try not to go anywhere by yourself. Whenever you can, take one of your children with you. Errands, trips, sporting events’wherever a father goes with his children, opportunities arise to communicate spiritual truth and wisdom. You have to be in your children’s presence in order to influence them.
Second, don’t buy the lie that ‘quality’ makes up for ‘quantity’ when it comes to time spent with your children. Quantity of time is equally important. When a man becomes a parent he can write off the majority of the next twenty years of ‘free time.’ The majority of that time needs to be spent with his children.
Third, the best way a father can love his children spiritually and emotionally is by loving their mother spiritually and emotionally.
In other words, a father’s spiritual leadership is more about lifestyle than specific, scheduled events. It requires bringing a deep love for God to your everyday life: meals, walks after supper, bike rides, games, earning and saving money, serving those less fortunate, and so on. All these things’and every aspect of life’can be skillfully ‘exploited’ for the benefit of spiritual development if only dads will learn to see and seize their opportunities.