Here are five lies that can prevent people from being the good fathers God intended them to be:
1. “I can’t be a good father because I don’t have one myself.”
The quality of the son isn’t determined by the quality of the father. After all, wasn’t Jesus a son of David? David, the adulterous murderer who had blood on his hands and God said he could therefore not be involved in the construction of the temple? Read Kings and Chronicles and see that whilst some kings followed in their fathers footsteps, there were some like Josiah who didn’t and stood out in the kingly lineage.
This tells us that parental models do not dictate our fatherly effectiveness; it is instead determined by the condition of our hearts. God is a great redeemer and teacher. He can shape us, and the softness and openness of our hearts mean we can learn from his example of fathering, and bring that from heaven to earth to those God places around us.
2. “I can’t father people who are more accomplished than I am.”
Fathering is more than coaching. It is more than mentoring. It is more than teaching or training. It might involve all those things, but these roles, good as they are, focus on the task, skill or job. The ‘thing’. Fathering focuses on the person. Fathering is about championing people for who they are, what they do and how they do it – but never valuing the skill over the relationship.
It means that if someone excels in an area you don’t, you can stand on the sideline of their life and cheer them on and encourage them. A good father wants their sons and daughters to go higher, faster and further than they ever did. They want their own ceiling to be the next generation floor, a springboard into success. In effect, the heart of a father is to take someone to a place where you say to them “you keep going, I’m here, watching and cheering whilst you go on to do things I never could.”
Fathers don’t have to be experts; they just need to love. We all want that for ourselves, don’t we? So we can all do that for others, can’t we?
3. “I’ve failed.”
God is a redeemer. He delights in making beauty from ashes. The redeemed is powerful. After all, in the natural isn’t scar tissue stronger than the original skin? Yes, we learn from success, victory, triumph. But there can be no doubt that there are some lessons we only learn through defeat or mistakes. He wastes nothing and he gets you ready – which means that mistakes, errors, sin, experience… all, if viewed correctly with the perspective of heaven, are a source of wisdom and therefore grace.
God is the God of second chances. In God, there is always a Tomorrow. He specializes in resurrection! Because we go from glory to glory, Kingdom movement is forward movement. So bring your failures to the Unfailing One, and ask him to give you a heavenly perspective on them. Those lumps of coal will become diamonds in your eyes, that you can give to those that you father. Your lessons can become their lessons.
That doesn’t sound like failure to me. That sounds like fathering.
4. “I don’t have children.”
Neither did Jesus. Yet he is called the Everlasting Father in Isaiah 9:6. Therefore, fathering is more than a biological process. It is an attitude; one of impartation, championing, empowering, releasing, shaping, encouraging, supporting, challenging, correcting, teaching, training, preparing, mentoring, providing for, and loving. Yes, loving. Loving someone for who they are and walking with them to help them be the person God created them to be. Lending your strength to them when they are weak, when they are strong, and when they just don’t know.
Jesus did that for us – those of us who were not his biological children. Can’t we do that for others?
5. “I can’t meet expectations.”
Time is important, but fathering isn’t primarily about time. Provision is important, but fathering isn’t primarily about provision. Both are ingredients but first and foremost, fathering is about a heart connection. It is about love. There is also the dynamic of receiving someone as a father. In that sense, the heart position of a son or a daughter is essential. You can’t father someone who doesn’t want to be fathered. So not all expectations placed upon fathers are healthy.
Pain we carry and thinking from an orphan mindset will create unrealistic and demanding requirements we expect from fathers. Truth be told, if our heart is to be fathered and we position ourselves like a son or daughter, with a soft heart of humility and teachability, then we can be fathered by anyone. Because everyone has some thing they are better at than we are. Therefore we can learn something from everyone. Another way of saying it is this: sons or daughters recognize the glory in and on everyone, whilst orphans are unable to. Let me phrase it differently again: sons and daughters wear visors of honor, through which they see the world. Orphans wear mirrored lenses, where they can only see themselves.
The only expectation rightfully wanted from a father is love. That love could take many different forms. Sons and daughters will understand that because of the state of their heart, and place themselves to receive from that grace. That is why wisdom chooses many fathers – we can learn from multiple fathers. To think we will receive everything from an earthly father is to demand too much, and be positioned to be disappointed. Only one Father fails to disappoint, because only he is able to be Father Of All and Father To All.