This post stems from an email conversation I had with a friend this morning in regards to the post I wrote a few days ago about manhood lessons. I may have written this same stuff another time, but that’s okay, it’s worth repeating.
Robert Lewis teaches in Men’s Fraternity that boys need to hear three things from their dads: 1) I love you. 2) I’m proud of you. 3) You’re good at ________________. Let me add here that these things need to come from the dad’s heart and must be lived out in his life. I’ve shared before that my parents divorced when I was about 5. My dad would sometimes come and get us on Sundays. He was and still is a very social person (liked to be the center of attention), so he knew a lot of people around town. We would go to the bowling alley, and he would say stuff like, “Here’s my pride and joy” or “meet the boss,” etc… While that should have made me feel good, it had the opposite effect because it wasn’t lived out. He didn’t do things that told me that I was his pride and joy. If I was his pride and joy, why did I always play second fiddle to softball, golf, bowling, and dog shows? Why did he not attend my graduation from high school or either graduation from college (though in the same town where he lived)? Empty words don’t fill an empty heart. Again, we have reconciled and there has been forgiveness. I only use this as an example from my life experience.
At least twice in the book of Matthew, God gives us an example of what Robert Lewis is saying. Matthew 3:17 says, “And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased’.” Matthew 17:5 says, “While He was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is My Son, who I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!'”
Can you imagine having affirmation from your dad like this? Can you imagine your dad telling your closest friends: “This is my son, and I love him. Listen to him because he knows what he’s talking about. He’s really good at what he does.” I would just settle for my dad telling me that from his heart, without telling my friends…
I won’t hold my breath on that one. However, I have learned to find my significance from my Heavenly Father. I don’t have to work to impress Him. He loves me just the way I am. Don’t get me wrong, he doesn’t want me to stay this way. He wants me to grow, but He meets me where I am and gently guides me along. He has even given me His Holy Spirit to counsel me and to affirm me when I have pleased Him or convict me when I’ve sinned. Shouldn’t we take a lesson in how to love our sons according to how God loves us. Won’t this help our sons to have a healthy view of who God is?
Ouch, I think I may have just hit a nerve. Many of us don’t have a healthy view of God because of how our fathers treated us, so we pass this along to our children. Men, let me encourage you to draw near to God and He will draw near to you. He will heal the hurts of the past, and make us whole.
Men, we have a choice to make. We can perpetuate the cycle or we can shut it down. Our sons can grow up confused like we have or we can teach them a different way that is found in an abiding relationship with Christ. Let’s affirm our sons and those other boys in our lives who don’t have fathers around. Let’s let them know that we love them, are proud of them, and that they are good at something. Let’s bring honor back to the title of “Father.” Let’s honor God by teaching our sons and other boys, by example, to be men after God’s own heart. We can change the course of history.
A few years ago a group of men came together at our church to call a boy from a single parent home into manhood. We gave him gifts and told of their significance. We each wrote him a letter. We prayed for him, and each of us touched his shoulders with a sword. We told him that we loved him, that we were proud of him, and affirmed him in what he is good at. He knows that even to this day he call on any one of us. This is one young man who didn’t leave the church after high school. He still attends and serves faithfully. The growth has been phenomenal.
Once again, I’ve said more than I intended when I started out. Please, let me reiterate that I’m no expert. I’m just a dad trying to navigate the rough waters of fathering in a fallen world. I’ve had my share of failures when it comes to fathering, and I mess up daily. I’m just sharing what I’ve learned from others and from life experience. I have a little guy at home who is trying to be like me. I just want to try to be like my Father, so I can be a good example to him. Fortunately, my girls want to be like their mom, so there is still hope!! :-)
On that note, you may be thinking, “you’ve talked a lot about sons – what about daughters?” Well, I’ve learned that little girls need something different from their dads, and I’ll have to get to that another day. We still have to set the example of being a loving father, but we speak to them in a different language. It’s called shopping…. Just kidding.
By the way, I’m guessing the majority of my readers are women, so please feel free to pass this along to men you know. However, please do so in love, not with a “here’s what you need to fix your problem” attitude.
All praise and glory to our Heavenly Father, who loves us just the way we are! May He bless you and keep you today.