• Jonathan Deatherage

Charting a course

Updated: Jan 8, 2019

I’ll admit, I was a reluctant dad. Growing up, I never was one of those guys who said, “I just can’t wait to have a family and be a dad.” But, as it turns out, I married a girl who had grown up saying that she couldn’t wait to be a mom. So, we had kids.

The last decade or so has been about me catching up to reality.

For me, being a dad means exploring uncharted territory. My own father and I are very different people, so the ways he was a dad and the ways I am a dad often look very different. So there are a lot of ways in which I am asking, “How do you *I* live as a father in a meaningful way?”

Honestly, the Bible doesn’t even give us a lot of instructions on how to be a dad. We only get snippets and verses here and there. No major section from a letter from Paul on “How to be a Godly Dad.“ Wouldn’t that be awesome! (But we do get a lot on what a Father-Son relationship looks like from Jesus.)

I think it really boils down to this question: What value does being a man bring to the life of my kids?

My mind goes back to Genesis 1:27, which states:

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

How do I reflect God’s image as a male differently than my wife reflects God’s image as a female? How does this difference impact my kids?

I believe that being a male image bearer has less to do with which jobs or activities we chose do to, and more about an inherent design (more on this in another post). At the base line, masculinity has to be about who we are and whose we are (i.e. Christ's), which is then reflected in how we do any job or activity.

Two years ago, when a co-worker invited me to read “Being Dad“ by Scott Keith, I discovered some eye-opening facts on how valuable the influence of a father is in the lives of his children. Keith shares these details from the U.S. Census and other government agencies (page 3):

  • 43% of all children in the U.S. live in a home where there is no father.

  • 63% of all youth suicides occur in fatherless homes.

  • 90% of all runaway children live in a home where there is no father.

  • 85% of child who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes.

Not to sound doomsday, especially for anyone living in a fatherless home. But the facts indicate that having a stable father figure is crucial for the health and development of young souls.

Keith also relates a study conducted in Switzerland in 1994 that revealed that if the father of a family practices his faith that it can be a leading factor in his children subsequently remaining engaged into their adult years (page 3).

  • If both parents attend church regularly, 33% of their adult children attend regularly.

  • If only the mom attends regularly, only 2% of adult children attend regularly.

  • If the father alone attends regularly, 44% of adult children attend regularly.

That convinced me. I owe it to my kids to be a fully alive man in Christ, whatever that means. If I am going to do anything to lead them to a life of faith, I can’t be lazy or passive. I have to know who Christ has made me to be and lead them into what is truly good.

And I've come to believe that God doesn’t give us a manual for being dads because the calling is not different from Christ's basic calling for following him:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

(John 13:34–35)

Christ’s call to me as a dad is to love my children as he has loved me. When I live as a fully alive man in Christ, I can learn to see them, know them, and care for them as Christ has done and is doing for me. It’s a lot to take in, and there's so much room for growth! 

What about you? How is Christ leading you to be a meaningful presence in the lives of your kids?

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