If you are a father, or you know a father, or you are thinking about becoming a father, chances are you just answered the title question with a loud, “You bet they do!!” The good news is that
Help is on the way!
Fatherlessness is a huge issue – that’s an understatement! And it seems to pervade every culture on every continent. Way too many fathers are absent from their families, physically or emotionally, or both, and the results are devastating for not only the families, but society as a whole. This is obvious – I don’t need to quote lots of statistics or list all the readily apparent classes of problems resulting from family abandonment by fathers.
There are more subtle, insidious, issues as well. For example, many men are even reluctant to start families because they are afraid of failing, to the point where several young women have asked me, “Where are the men who are willing to commit to raising a family?”
There are many different factors which contribute in varying measures to the temptation of fathers to “bail” on their families, or to not start one in the first place. Rather than listing even a few examples, I want to instead summarize three of the resulting main hallmarks of a father who has abandoned his family or is teetering on the brink of doing so. He has typically lost (1) hope, (2) confidence, and (3) purpose.
Discipleship programs of “rescue” or “abandonment prevention” employed or recommended by many leaders within the Body of Christ often can be distilled to two lists for the embattled father: things to do and things to not do. Although the specific items on such “lists” are usually based on sound biblical principles and wisdom, a father in a very weak state to begin with often “fails” to perform according to these lists, even though he may have made a serious effort.
Such perceived “failures” are often exacerbated by “whispers” of the devil (sometimes through “friends” or misguided loved ones) who is all too eager to either amplify feelings of failure, or accuse the church, or God himself, of ineptitude in the rescue process. This subtle “kicking the man when he is down” can often lead to even worse “self-medicating” behavior involving alcohol, drugs, womanizing, or all of the above, and in turn leads to more isolation from his family. In short, “failure to perform” leaves the man in an even worse state, and a vicious cycle continues to fortify his defeat.
Let’s face it – fathers and would-be fathers need effective Help, with a capital H!
Fortunately, Help is available:
“Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” [Hebrews 4:16 (NASB)]
Although discipleship is important and can be of immense value in helping a father to be strengthened in his “inner man,” I want to propose a more foundational approach, one that is based not on “performance” but on receiving divine revelation of three basic truths regarding how Abba (Father God) views fatherhood. Once these revelations have “sunk in,” so to speak, the father has tremendous advantage and can more effectively embrace the discipleship program(s) recommended by his spiritual leader(s).
The revelation of these truths is birthed deep in the heart of Abba who wants fathers to be encouraged in a way that goes far beyond what we can imagine or implement with our own approaches based on “behavior modification.” Let me describe these three simple, yet profound, revelations very briefly here and point you to my recent book entitled, “Windows to the Father’s Heart,” for more insights.1 All three are essential, and of course there may be several other related revelations that can serve to strengthen the effect of these three:
- Abba has purposed immeasurable joy and blessing for fathers.
- Abba desires to strongly support fathers.
- Abba has designed incredible legacies for families.
Abba desires to restore the three things we mentioned above that are desperately needed by fathers who are “on the ropes,” so to speak: hope, confidence, and purpose. As these three are restored to a man’s soul through the corresponding revelations of Abba’s heart we just listed, then fatherhood becomes an attractive, irresistible, and expected focus of his destiny.
Restoration of Hope
The very “invention” of fatherhood has its root in Abba’s joy of “parenthood” when he created Adam and Eve (see Genesis 1:27) and then looked on all that he had created and saw that it was “very good (or pleasing)” (Genesis 1:31). [Six previous times in the account of the stages of creation in Genesis, Chapter 1, the writer pauses to declare that God saw that what he just made was good (pleasing), but with the advent of Adam and Eve, the “goodness” level of everything else went up to “very good.”] The Father’s incredible joy in his “parent role” for Adam and Eve was (and is) beyond our ability to measure, but we are certain that this joy was (and is) a good thing.
Because Abba withholds no good thing from him whose walk is blameless (Psalm 84:11) and Adam and Eve were (created) blameless before they sinned, we can be sure that he was compelled by love to share this “good” parental joy with Adam and Eve. Thus, he purposed from the outset to have Adam’s family be tremendously blessed by the joy and blessings of parenthood. This is one plausible reason why Abba did not make us all at once, along with Adam and Eve, but instead designed the multiplication of Adam’s family to be accomplished through reproduction and joyful parenthood.
The sin(s) of Adam and Eve that tarnished their “blameless” walks with God and diminished the joy of parenthood have now been overcome by the blood of the Lamb! Those who have been born again through faith in Jesus Christ have been made blameless by the second Adam and are now inheritors of the full joy and complete blessings of parenthood as Abba intended from the beginning. This is a source of great hope for fathers, and we can summarize the result this way:
The revelation of Abba’s intent to bestow immeasurable parental joy and blessing to fathers restores their hope!
Recovery of Confidence
There is an incredible expectation, and even eagerness, in Abba’s heart as he looks forward to the joy of strongly supporting fathers, not only in their day-to-day activities but also in the progressive realization of their destinies that he has designed for them. This desire is expressed by the Father in a powerful declaration:
“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.” [2 Chronicles 16:9a (ESV]
Again, because Abba withholds no good thing from him whose walk is blameless (Psalm 84:11) and those who are born again have blameless hearts because of the shed blood of Christ, he will provide his strong support to fathers as they grow in maturity, power, and effectiveness. In other words, his eyes have stopped searching; he has found someone to strongly support: you!
Strong support from Abba is unimaginably good! Even weak support from him is entirely sufficient to accomplish any miracle. When a man receives the revelation of Abba’s eagerness to strongly support him in his role as a father, then it becomes much easier to trust in the exchange of their own inability for God’s ability. This exchange is accompanied by the recovery (or perhaps, initiation) of a wonderful companion of hope, namely confidence that they will be a huge blessing (with Abba’s strong support) to their children, and indeed, to their entire progeny. We can summarize this way:
The revelation of Abba’s eagerness and ability to strongly support fathers helps them recover confidence!
Discovery of Purpose
There is such incredible power in having, and knowing, magnificent purpose that the devil surely trembles when a son of God discovers the tailor-made, purposeful, destiny that Abba has delightfully designed for him, and not only him but for his entire progeny as well. God has imbedded an intense desire, even though it may be elusively sub-conscious, deep in the soul of every man to somehow make a difference, and specifically, to leave a family legacy that endures after his productive life on earth comes to an end.
This desire can be traced to a profound, divine, perspective that regards the family of Adam as a “unit,” or “organism,” that Abba regards as “one.” In other words, when our Father looked upon Adam he “saw” all of us, and still “sees” us all as “belonging” to a family that is not just loosely connected via reproduction, but rather has myriad members who have mutual influence that is beyond our understanding at present and may well require eternity to fathom. So, the deep desire in the soul of a man for the well-being and destiny of his progeny is linked to this perspective of Abba and, indeed, serves as evidence that we are made in his image.
To be sure, there is wonderful satisfaction in the heart of a man when he accomplishes even a short-term goal (e.g., conquering a “mountain”), but there is a far deeper desire, even a God-given compulsion, to initiate, or enhance, and then provide for his sons to carry on and amplify, the family legacy. A familiar example is the divinely-directed purpose that occupied King David in his later years regarding the building of a magnificent temple for God. Even though David was not allowed by God to build the temple during his reign, there was an explicit declaration from heaven that his son Solomon would do so [1 Kings 5:5], and David prepared the way for his son to carry out this family purpose.
Not only was Solomon’s temple an example of inter-generational divine purpose for David’s family, but Abba announced that, as long as David’s descendants obeyed God’s commands, there would never cease to be a descendant upon David’s throne [Psalm 132:11-12]. This is a royal legacy that may seem to be limited to only David’s family, and there were indeed many generations of an “empty” family throne because of disobedience of his descendants. However, Jesus does later recover the throne of his ancestor David, and because of spiritual unity with Christ, every believer is destined to sit with Christ in co-rulership as an adopted son of God [Ephesians 1:6].
There is great hope in this spiritual legacy for a father’s descendants who trust in Christ, and it is indeed eternal. But there is also a perhaps more “tangible” legacy on earth for each family that provides a sense of purpose that will be manifested even in those generations far into the future that the father will not see this side of heaven. When a father receives revelation of the legacy that Abba has purposed (and exquisitely designed) for his succeeding generations, then this purpose will stir powerful focus and action on the part of the father to see to it that his descendants are taught and equipped to add to the family legacy. We can summarize this way:
The revelation of Abba’s design for a father’s family legacy throughout succeeding generations helps him discover purpose that transcends his own years!
Restoration of Fatherhood
These very brief insights into the power of revelation of Abba’s heart toward fathers can help to encourage fathers, and those who support them, in a quite a number of (related) ways as they endeavor to win the spiritual battle against fatherlessness. But the primary focus of this short article is to help shift the emphasis from performance of fatherly “duties” to receiving revelation of fatherly joy and blessing as purposed in the heart of Abba.
To be sure, the attention to, and performance of, responsibilities of fatherhood are not to be neglected or relegated to the “afterthought” realm, but rather can be now be viewed in the light of these simple, yet deep, revelations as fruits of the relational roots that can be found in the very tender and loving heart of the Father of fatherhood.
My prayer is that fathers, and the men who are contemplating the start of a family, will be encouraged to resist the devil’s lies and accusations that he uses in his attempt to destroy fatherhood. Instead, may men, and the women who support them, declare loudly the following truth:
“My Daddy can do anything!”
Help is on the way! Indeed, our partnership with Abba to restore hope, recover confidence, and discover purpose ensures victory in the noble, and essential, restoration of fatherhood.
Children are waiting…
1More insights into how and what Abba thinks (and feels!) about you can be found in Steve’s recent book (in both paperback and audio formats) entitled, “Windows to the Father’s Heart,” available in the USA at www.fatherstouch.org/store, and for paperback shipping internationally at www.amazon.com.