In thirty-plus years of ministry I have seen it over and over again. A young man with no male role model at home struggles with manhood and his place in the world. Without a strong man at home showing them what a man, a father, a husband looks like, they are left twisting in the wind, filling in the blanks on their own. The world is more than happy to fill in the blanks, telling young men that their manhood is tied up in their sexuality. And yet each sexual encounter leads to frustration and the feeling that there never is enough.
As a pastor I have sat listened to young men pour out their hearts. They wonder why their lives are so unfulfilling, or if there is something that will ease their pain or fill that empty spot inside. No matter how hard they try, nothing fills that void until they meet Jesus. It is a relationship with Christ that finally fills that Father-sized hole in their hearts. But does it have to be that way?
No it doesn’t! What our young men need are dads who stick around for the long haul. They need fathers who will model what being a man really is. They need men who will love their wives and show what it means to be a good, loving, attentive husband.
A few years ago Charlie Shedd polled kids and asked them what they felt made a good dad. Here are some of the answers:
- He takes time for me.
- He listens to me
- He plays with me
- He invites me to go places with him.
- He lets me help
- He treats my mother well.
Dads, I challenge you to score yourself using these criteria. How did you do? Do you realize what’s missing from the list? Material stuff. While you are busy working extra hours to get more stuff, your son just wants to play catch in the backyard. While you are dozing in front of the football game on Saturday, your boy wants to help you put brakes on the car. While you are eyeing the waitress at dinner, your daughter is wishing you looked at her mom that way.
And trust me, guys, I have heard it all from guys who fly the coop. “I am a better father since I left the house.” Really? Explain to me how you take time, listen, or do most of the other things that kids think is important if you aren’t in the house. Sorry, guys, I don’t buy it.
Let me say this as succinctly as I possibly can. If you and your wife are having trouble, get help! Leaving is not the answer. Nor is staying in the house and acting like you are doing everyone a favor by sticking around. The answer is in digging deep and asking God to make you the man He wants you to be. Nothing will take the place of that commitment, and nothing less than your all will suffice.
Instead, look at your marriage and your parenting like God looks at it. I love the passage in Isaiah that says, “Still, GOD, you are our Father. We’re the clay and you’re our potter: All of us are what you made us. Don’t be too angry with us, O GOD. Don’t keep a permanent account of wrongdoing. Keep in mind, please, we are your people—all of us.” (Isaiah 64:8-12 The Message)
What kind of pots are you creating? Believe me when I tell you that for every broken pot you leave behind, a pastor like me has to pick up the pieces and try to reassemble a broken life.
Making pots and men… Jerry