Following is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Resolution for Men, by Alex Kendrick, Stephen Kendrick, and Randy Alcorn. This book, and The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer, expand on the message of the Sherwood Pictures film Courageous, challenging Christian families to embrace the power and purpose of fatherhood.
God created fatherhood with an eternal purpose: to reveal and represent Himself. He did not simply realize that earthly fathers were like Him and then decide to call Himself our Father. On the contrary, He eternally existed as God the Father in heaven and intentionally created the role of fatherhood on earth to reveal who He is and to show us the nature of His relationship with His Son.
All fatherhood comes from Him (Ephesians 3:14-15). Every human father is called to be a daily, physical representation of God to his children, to introduce Him to the next generation. When a child looks at his earthly father, he should be able to see these qualities of God.
- a loving Provider
- a strong Protector
- a truthful Leader
- a respectable Authority
- an intimate Friend
This affects how a child thinks. “If my earthly father loves and cares for me, then my heavenly Father loves and cares for me. If my father means what he says, then God means what He says. If my father would die for me, God would die for me.” On the other hand, if a child’s earthly father is harsh or distant, what will the child think when someone says, “God is your Father”?
Naturally, all of us earthly fathers are unavoidably flawed. We are a long way from being like God. And yet it is part of children’s human nature to judge what they cannot see in God in light of what they can see in us.
Right now, this generation doesn’t know what true fatherhood looks like. They rarely see it modeled in the media or at home. And sadly, the result is another generation deeply struggling to understand what God is really like.
The word father means “founder, source, chief, or leader.” The father of a nation, an invention, a company, or a movement is the one who helped bring it into existence. As our heavenly Father, God is the source from which all other things come into being. In Scripture, God as Father is the first Person of the Trinity. Any time you hear the Godhead described, it is always God the Father first, then the Son, then the Holy Spirit. Jesus the Son willingly follows the leadership of the Father. And if you study the life of Christ, you discover that He always speaks the words, performs the works, and carries out the will of His heavenly Father. As God’s Son, Jesus came to reveal the Father to us. The Bible says that Jesus is the “fullness” of the Godhead “in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). So if you want to know what God is like, then just look at Jesus. He represents His Father perfectly.
How well are you representing your heavenly Father? To your son? To your daughter? That is your priceless purpose.
Both the Scriptures and statistics clearly communicate that there is no more influential person in the life of a child than his or her father. Whereas moms are priceless, irreplaceable, and needed beyond measure, they were never designed to be men or to fill the role of a dad. When the Bible states that “the glory of children is their father” (Proverbs 17:6 NKJV), it is revealing an important dynamic of how God has wired the hearts and minds of children.
They learn their identity from you.
When your kids are young, they don’t know who they are, what is right or wrong, or who God is. They don’t know how to live life. But kids naturally go to their dads for answers to their biggest questions: Who is God? Who am I? Am I loved? Am I a success? Do I have what it takes? What is my purpose in life? And if dads don’t teach their kids the truth about these things, then the world will teach them lies.
They learn their values from you.
Kids watch their dads to find what’s important. It’s a dad’s job to keep his children from having to learn the lessons of life the hard way. A father’s wise words and actions constantly reinforce the higher priorities and deeper truths of life. So if he is not there – or if he’s there but not intentional in his training and leadership – his kids will be walking through their most important decisions without the one person who should be loving and leading them the most.
They learn their worth from you.
When a child has a dad who says, “I love you, I’m proud of you, and I’m going to stand with you and always be there for you,” it changes the life of that child forever. Sons who have their dads in their lives do significantly better in school, have better social skills and self-esteem, and are more likely to say no to criminal behavior.
Similarly, when a daughter looks into the mirror, she needs to hear her father’s voice in her heart reminding her that she is beautiful and loved. As a result, girls with strong dads are much more likely to feel secure – and are much less likely to have eating disorders and identity issues or to become sexually active in their teen years. But in too many families, this is not what’s happening.
We need to rediscover God’s original intention of what our homes are supposed to be like. Families should be havens of love and enjoyment. Homes should be places of peace and purpose. But great homes don’t just happen. They are gardens that need to be intentionally cultivated and guarded. A man must let truth, love, and wise discipline become constant ingredients to his fathering. He should carefully nurture his wife, his children, and his own attitude so that his home is a place where his marriage and the next generation can grow and thrive.
That’s why we need a game-changing Resolution.
And that’s what our times are calling for.
I feel like I have been working through Work – Life Balance every day of my marriage. And of course it gets more complicated with every child. And for me, the summer months are interesting, as I work all day/evening for 77 days straight (with 4 days off.) The crazy thing is, it works! Notice I didn’t say it’s easy.
My wife Amy and I were given some strong advice from some leaders in our life when we got married. We were warned about the challenges of balancing our relationship with Jesus, our marriage, our kids, our ministry, and our careers, and our social lives. This doesn’t include how we get involved in our community. How does a young, newly married couple manage?
Well, the more couples I talk with, the more I realize that we barely manage. Most of us fail at this balance, at least for a while. But then there are moments of fresh, clean air, untainted by the difficulties in life. Man, these good times… when everything is going well… those are awesome!
Here are a few wise words of advice that have worked for us! Dads, since I’m one of you, this will probably resonate the most with you. Listen up! There are only 5. (And I’m pretty sure I stole all of these from different folks throughout the years. I can’t take credit.)
1) Leave work at work. As hard as it was to start. This has been Huge for me! We work in a laptop/ipad/blackberry world. But it will change your life if you have the discipline to pick up and leave your office, and leave everything there (obviously not your blackberry). At first I was told it was impossible. Then I tried it….and have been doing it ever since. Try it for a week… see what happens with your time with your family when you don’t work at home.
2) Family First, always. A simple principle to try to live by. We watched an older couple live adventurously with this motto, and it was inspiring. We would say this simple phrase often as we tried to prioritize our schedules. Man, it helped us make tough decisions…
3) Meet your kids where they are. Intentionally move into their lives at some point every day. This means actually getting down on your hands and knees (without your blackberry) and play with your kids. The best time to do this is right when you walk in the door. Put your stuff down, greet your wife, and get down and play with your kiddos! Maybe you can only do this for 5 minutes each one day. That’s still awesome! They will notice it and remember.
4)Go on dates. With each person in your family. Individually. I try to go on a date with Amy, Piper and Lily each month. A fun way to go about it is to shoot for birthday DAYS. For example, Piper was born on the 11th. So, on the 11th of April, we took a date to “old McDonalds.” That’s right, the golden arches! Simple, affordable, but special every month. Just for her. We call them “daddy dates”, and my girls love them.
5) Say “No” to 3 seemingly important things a week. Believe it or not, one of my former bosses told me this one. If you feel like you are getting pulled in too many different directions, then you probably are. Say no to people. And remember to put your family first. By the way, it might help if you keep track of the 3 things you say no to each week. Try texting them to your wife, she’ll like to hear about them. And remember, these things will seem (and may be) important. Say no.
Like a Rubber Band. Like all practices, you can’t do them all 100% of the time, so just relax. Treat all this like a rubber band: be flexible, stretch it out when you need to. But remember, a rubber band always returns to it’s original shape. (Or if you are really with it… like a Silly Band.)
I hope these practical things help bring Balance to your life. When I am doing things like this, I find that I have more time with Jesus and can listen to what he wants me to be doing. And that is something I don’t want to loose sight of…
Husband to Amy, Dad of Piper and Lily
Ridgecrest Summer Camps