What’s a Father?


This is a perplexing question for a generation growing up without fathers. For the first time in America’s history, the majority of births today from mothers thirty years old and younger are born outside of marriage. Cumulatively among all births in America, four out of ten are from a single or unmarried mother.

Isaiah 38:19 says, “…the father makes known to the children [God’s] faithfulness.”

This mentoring method is quickly becoming a foreign concept. The messenger is missing. Thus, the message is missing too.

In the Bible, fathers are spoken of as the founders of families, generations, and nations. The term father connoted leadership – family, government, priestly, and advisory.

America is facing a fatherless crisis of unparalleled proportion. It is crazy. It is sad. Most of all, it is confusing to a young child who deserves not only the loving protection of an earthly dad, but also an understanding of an Eternal, Heavenly Father.

How does fatherlessness impact a culture? Study after study reveals a painful picture of spiraling sin, incarceration, abuse, unemployment, debt, Etc. Either America changes her way or she forfeits her future.

Change is possible. It’s the eleventh hour, but it’s not too late. America only needs some bold conviction. Selfishness, shallowness, and sinfulness can be replaced with responsibility, virtue, and righteousness. God can send redeeming revival!

In Isaiah 36-38 tells the story about the great spiritual reformer, King Hezekiah. Although his father before him did not fear God, Hezekiah courageously led a new, redeeming future for his nation. It wasn’t easy. It didn’t happen overnight. But God changed the course of a nation.

How can a more biblical culture of fatherhood return to a nation?

Elevate God, the Father

Have you ever thought about how a generation prays based on their reference of a father? As a youth specialist for over two decades, it has become glaringly apparent to me in recent years. The majority of current youth (even a large number of their parents) tend to pray to “Jesus, the Son” rather than Jesus’ “Father.” The prayer usually starts with “Dear Jesus” rather “Dear Heavenly Father”.

When the disciples inquired of Jesus about how to pray, he said,
“When you pray, say:
‘Father, hallowed be your name…’” (Luke 11:2)

This generation needs to witness mentors in relationship with God the Father. Calling on the name of the Father through Jesus Christ, the Son, elevates and models a trusting witness.

Many in this generation have not captured or understood Jesus’ words, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” Too often Jesus is not presented in a fatherly notion. Savior? Yes. Hero? Yes. Father? Less. Culture needs to know the heart of the Father in Jesus more.

Furthermore, this generation needs to know the gift of the Father, in the person of the Holy Spirit, who was sent to their side to guide them. Let it be known that the person of the Holy Spirit was sent as a gift from “the Father”! (John 14:26)

Celebrate God the Father. Whatever we celebrate, we elevate.

Esteem Fatherhood

In my early youth ministry days, I loved seeing a dad wear the t-shirt, “World’s Greatest Dad”.  It was usually the gift of a loving spouse, thankful son, or proud daughter.  Unfortunately, I haven’t seen the shirt in recent times.  Why?  Is it less relevant?  Perhaps it should return.  Esteeming a faithful father can be honored in other meaningful messages too.

Here is a t-shirt list worth developing and giving to a worthy dad:

  • Dad Loves Mom…On Promise (for dads’ who marry and remain married to mom because it was a promise…no matter what.)
  • Faithful Dad (for dads’ who are spiritually, emotionally, and physically faithful and integral to mom.)
  • Fatherhood Rather Than Sporting Good (for dads’ who exemplify that fatherhood is more valuable than making sporting good of people, places or things.)

You, your family, friends and church should esteem good models of fatherhood when evident before you.

Recently, Chick-fil-a sponsored a documentary through ESPN called, “The Book of Manning.” It highlights the storied Manning (Archie, Cooper, Peyton, and Eli) football family. Throughout the presentation one thing is clear – the elder, Archie Manning, made his life mission to be a better father than a college or professional quarterback for the sake of his family! He esteemed fatherhood as a greater prize. The Manning’s won.

Media portrayals of responsible fatherhood are important. However, it needs to advance from applause to personal conviction.

Establish a Fresh Standard for Faithful Fatherhood

When a fatherless generation lacks a point of reference for solid fatherhood, they struggle to approach the Heavenly Father. Their context has too much pain or void to approach God, the Father, with a request, cry, or worship moment.

Recently, Isaiah 38:19 struck me deeply. We need fathers, even if surrogate mentors, to speak of God’s faithfulness lest a generation not know Him and suffer loss of contentment, confidence, and courage.

Individuals, churches, communities, and organizations can establish a fresh standard that elevates and esteems fatherhood.

The emergent generation needs fathers. Faithful fathers!

What’s a faithful father? He is at least ten things…

  • reflector of God’s love.
  • interested more in a good name than fame.
  • servant-leader for his family.
  • submissive to God.
  • consistent influence.
  • keeper of promises.
  • model of Christ-like devotion.
  • guardian for his family.
  • provider for his family.
  • faithful to the wife of his youth.

We must answer the question with our action and our voices. We must not let a culture of fatherlessness prevail. The cost is sorrowful, if not unsustainable.

Ask God what he would have you to do. Put your conviction in action. Hezekiah led a nation back to the Father.

At COMPACT Family Services, we are working to redeem fatherhood for the fatherless, fragmented and family.

One thought on “What’s a Father?

  1. Such a GREAT POST Jay!
    I am father to 3 rowdy boys and a gorgeous little girl. I am absolutely determined to make sure these little people know that the most important promise I have made to God is to encourage, love, lead, serve, and protect their mother and them… forever.
    Thank You for your timely words of encouragement and wisdom!

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