A father’s influence has consequences that go beyond his immediate actions, and where better to find authentic fatherhood than in the church, asks Phil Smith.
I watched my father, Ron, hold his great granddaughter, Matilda. Dad is legally blind and can see faces about 30 centimetres away. Matilda is ten days old and can only see the same distance.
Nothing else mattered in their world. They had eyes only for each other.
She will grow in the blessings of faithful fatherhood, devoted men in her life from generations past.
Two days before this I met Pastor Pete Scazzero, from Queens in New York City.
“Jesus may live in your heart,” he says, “but Grandpa lives in your bones!”
His grandfather pointed a gun at his mother. I can only imagine the emotional and psychological impact on her and her children.
Children and children’s children live with the blessings or the damage of their fathers’ behaviour.
In Torah language, there are consequences for what we do that rumble “down to the third and the fourth generation”.
Many are uncomfortable with Jesus’ “Father God” terminology. Some don’t consider fathers are necessary in a current definition of family. Some of us just don’t want the responsibility that goes with the role.
But it takes a village to raise children and in that village there must be authentic men.
Only a man can teach children about manhood. Fatherhood is necessary; one cannot teach what one doesn’t know. One cannot model something one has never experienced.
Who will call a boy to choose manhood, inviting him to take each new step and promising to walk those steps alongside him? Who will model faithful, loving maleness to girls, demonstrating that we honour their mothers as more than objects of lust, the butt of humour or prized trophies?
Men, truly fathering a child—throughout life—will be the most important thing you ever do. The mother of your child cannot do it for you.
If modelling authentic manhood is important for biological families, it is vital in the family of Jesus Christ—the community of the new people of God.
Where better than a community of servants and disciples of Christ for girls to see strong and gentle men who make and keep lifelong promises? Where better for boys to watch and learn from generations of blokes who are honest about their failings but strong in the grace of God?
As church we have a fabulous opportunity for men to exercise fatherhood, modelling what it means to be a man, for all children.