Being a good father comes from the Father

Being_a_FatherAs we come up to Father’s Day, I thought I would end the week by talking about what I’ve learned about being a good father. And this applies whether we’re talking about physical children or spiritual children.

By the way, this picture was taken in Washington with two of my three sons (alas, no daughters). 

First, let me say that this world really needs fathers. It’s no secret that we live in an increasingly fatherless world, yet God seems to be raising up a new breed of spiritual fathers in this hour. It’s prophetic (Mal.4:6).

Jerry Cook, who was a significant fatherly influence to me, said this about our experience with fatherhood and how it affects our image of God as a father…

“Jesus gave us God as a Father…it’s the only title He ever gave Him…
the only one He used for God…but not only do we live in a fatherless world,
we defile the children (with what we expose them to)…they are not safe anymore…
no wonder they hide and are afraid…”

Frankly, the idea of being a good father was always intimidating to me. I grew up pretty much without my own father so when we started having kids I felt so lost, insecure and unprepared. I totally related to what Donald Miller said in “To Own a Dragon: Reflections on Growing Up Without a Father“…

“In writing some thoughts about a father, or not having a father, I feel as though I am writing a book about a dragon or a troll under a bridge. For me a father is nothing more than a character in a fairy tale. And I know fathers are not like dragons in that fathers actually exist, but I don’t remember feeling that a father existed for me.”

But I did learn from my wife’s wonderful earthly father, my spiritual fathers and from encounters with my heavenly Father, and that’s the point I will get to here.

But before we go there, why is a father important, anyway? I will share two aspects here.

We get our identity from our father. The father gives us a sense of belonging. This is why so many are confused today and don’t know who they are. We’ve been given alien identities by our earthly father figures–possibly abused by them verbally or physically…or by their absence and neglect. So, we bring this alien identity into our Christian experience. We don’t trust or feel safe.

But God informs us that we’re His sons! (Gal.4:6-7). We belong to Him. And with this royal identity comes all the privileges and authority of a son in our Father’s house. We’re no longer orphans for He has come to make His home in us (John 14:18, 23).

We are affirmed by our father.  It’s the father that has the power to affirm his son as a man, his daughter as a beautiful and desirous woman (and this is apart from whatever we may do in life). We primarily get our sense of acceptance from our father. This is why so many little boys grow up full of insecurities, trying to prove themselves to some elusive angst in their souls, why so many little girls grow up looking for affection in all the wrong places, so full of rejection and doubt about their worth.

But Jesus declares our heavenly Father’s unfathomable love for us (John 15:9; 17:23; 1 John 3:1), and that He gives us such worth that He paid Jesus for our redemption (John 3:16).

We see this Father’s heart by how He introduced Jesus at His baptism. Did He say, “Behold the Creator of the Universe? The Messiah? The King of kings and Lord of lords?” No, He said, This is my Son, whom I love—my Son with whom I am pleased.” (Matt.3:17 GW). This speaks volumes about the nature of our heavenly Father toward us since He has placed us in His Son.

So, fathers, dads…how do we become a good father so we can love and affirm our children like we’ve always wanted?

You will find what you’re looking for in your heavenly Father’s embrace.

For even if you had a really good earthly father, he wasn’t perfect. But you now have the Perfect Father living inside of you! He will never leave you or give up on you. He will teach you His ways. Open your heart to Him now.

It’s as simple as a prayer, “Abba…Papa…Father…here I am. I open my heart to you…change me.” And He will! He always does. But it will happen over time. And see what He says about you in His word. Believe that He accepts you, loves you as much as He loves Himself!

And to help you navigate this journey, seek out a spiritual father who has learned from His heavenly Father, who will lovingly guide you into the Father’s heart (not just fill your head with a lot of Bible knowledge). A spiritual father is not someone who will control and manipulate you to his own end, but someone who will help form you like Christ. This also applies to spiritual mothers.

My point is this. It doesn’t matter what your experience has been with fatherhood, or whether you had a good, bad or absent father. What you’re looking for is found in the Father’s embrace. We love like Him by receiving His love. Our transformation come by receiving, not by trying harder.  I wrote about this before

Finally, we know that the goal of our Christian life is to become like Jesus. But we don’t become like Jesus by focusing our lives on Jesus; we become like Jesus by focusing our lives on what Jesus focused His life on. And Jesus focused His life on being a Son, abiding in His Father’s love and revealing His Father so that a world of spiritual orphans could see what He’s really like and want to become His sons and daughters.

And that’s how you become a good father.

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 39 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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18 Responses to Being a good father comes from the Father

  1. Like, Like!! Amen! Calling all fathers. The earth needs you. We all need you.

  2. Hey, what? No photo? Happy Father’s Day, Mel!

  3. Amen! Fathers play such a significant role in their children’s lives. How they treat them, speak to them, and train them up is what will help create who they will become as adults. I love this quote my pastor just posted “One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters.” [English Proverb] Our father’s teach us more than any teacher or inspirational figure ever will.

    But if we lack that father in our lives we will always find the validation, love, guidance, and worth that we need in the arms of our Almighty Father. We are so blessed that even if for whatever circumstances our father is absent that we have a Father who we can always turn to. Thanks for this post Mel. Have a blessed weekend!

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks, Anna. Yes, I think most fathers want to be a good role model, etc., they just feel so inadequate or don’t even really know how. Or worse, they try to give some superficial macho example because they think that’s what a real man is supposed to be. It’s sad, really. The answer, again, is learning from our heavenly Father. He changes our hearts, changing us from the inside-out, making us more loving, both to our children and with our wives. A good father is a good husband. Then we will know what it means to be a father in a family, what our kids really need from us. They don’t need us to give them lots of junk, work endless hours on a job so we can give them money, or give them the best education. And we shouldn’t try living vicariously through them so we end up driving them by our own unmet needs. No, all they really need is our unconditional love and attention. They need us to be for them instead of only thinking about us. That last point alone would change the world! 🙂
      A good father thinks legacy, that his ceiling would be their floor. Watching them fly further and higher than he ever imagined. There is so much to be said about this, but it starts and ends with receiving everything from our heavenly Father.

  4. Ah, there are the Wild men!

  5. Cindy Powell says:

    “It doesn’t matter what your experience has been with fatherhood, or whether you had a good, bad or absent father. What you’re looking for is found in the Father’s embrace. We love like Him by receiving His love. Our transformation come by receiving, not by trying harder.” Amen. Spot on as usual … and a good reminder for me today! I so love the way He loves us. And I love the way He enables you to communicate that love. Happy Father’s Day to you Mel. Hope you get to enjoy it with your family and with your forever Father 🙂

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks, Cindy. As we’ve talked about before, it’s the joyful frustration of tying to put words to something that defies description! As far as Father’s Day, Maureen and I will do something together but two of our sons live 2,000 miles away in Washington and other one moving farther away to southern California to go to school, so I’ll be content with phone calls. They are coming to visit in August so we’ll do something fun then. And I get Father’s Day with Papa God every day so it’s doesn’t get any better than that. 🙂

      • Cindy Powell says:

        Amen! Sorry you won’t actually get to be with your boys, but glad you have some time planned soon. What part of SoCal is your son moving to?

        • Mel Wild says:

          He’s going to University of California, Irvine for his post-graduate studies. Got a REALLY good offer from them (they’re basically paying him to go to school!). But he’ll be there for three years. He used to live in San Diego before living in Washington so he’s lived in the general area before…

        • Cindy Powell says:

          Cool–sounds like an awesome apportunity for him! I grew up in Orange Count and used to work about 5 minutes from UCI 🙂 I’m about 45 minutes away now. It’s a nice (although very busy!) area. One of my favorite churches is out that way (in Laguna Niguel) and I still make the trek out to their Sat night service least everyother month or so. All the best to him! 🙂

        • Mel Wild says:

          Thanks. Yeah, he said if they weren’t paying his housing he wouldn’t be able to afford to live in Irvine! But it will be a good adventure for him. I’ll let him know about that church, too.

        • Cindy Powell says:

          Ha, ha – I can’t afford to live there either. But good for him! God Bless!

  6. Kathleen says:

    “Our transformation come by receiving, not by trying harder” Amen and Amen!
    Happy Father’s Day 🙂

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