Imagine. You’ve just moved your child into his or her freshmen dorm. The orientation sessions are complete. The last load is moved from your car, and the final hug has been given. You close the car door and watch as your child walks away.
Pause for a moment and put yourself in that place. Imagine it.
In that moment, what do you want to be true?
As a father, what you do and who you are from this moment until that moment matters. It matters because decades of research proves that fathers are important. It matters because, out of 7.8 billion people on the planet, you were given the sole responsibility of being your child’s dad. It matters because your child’s conception of God is significantly shaped by his or her relationship with you. It matters because the kingdom of God needs you vibrantly living out and passing on your faith. It matters. You matter.
THE EMBRACE: ATTENTION + INTENTION
A crucial moment in Jesus’ relationship with his Father came on the banks of the Jordan River at his baptism. Mark records that, as Jesus came up from the water, the heavens tore and a voice from heaven thundered, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
The Father turned his gaze toward Jesus and spoke powerful words; words that conferred unqualified identity, offering a tender compassion and absolute acceptance.
But the Father’s words were not all that Jesus received. God also had an intention for His Son. After His baptism, Jesus left the Jordan and was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days He was tempted.
With His words, the Father turned his attention towards Jesus. By guiding him into the wilderness, the Father demonstrated an intention for Jesus. Attention says, “I see you.” Intention says, “I have a plan for you.”
Since the Industrial Revolution, the primary role of fathers has been relegated to financial provision. As men, we bought into the lie that if our families had food, clothing, and shelter, then our responsibilities were met. In recent years, this belief has begun to change. Even still, our cultural “gold standard” is attention; presence at sporting events, home for most dinners, periodic vacations, etc. But as a Christian father, your call is higher than the cultural norms of provision and attention. You are called to intention.
Not until Jesus had passed through the crucible of the desert did He stand in the temple, unroll the scroll of Isaiah, and boldly proclaim, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me…” (Luke 4:18). In the same way, your call is to actively lead your family, preparing them to fully embrace the Lord’s purpose for their lives (Eph 2:10). Remembering the college drop off moment, you are called to prepare them for day the car door shuts.
For many men this type of fathering seems more like myth than possibility. Intention is rarely modeled, and few roadmaps exist. Where to even begin? As a father of two teenage boys, I am keenly aware of the pressures dads face and the unique challenges each family faces.
But the questions remain. They are simple, but profound:
- As a father, what is your intention?
- If fully embraced, how might that intention impact your child’s life?
- What would be the value of that impact?
- What barriers need to be overcome?
- How will you respond?
If you have been prompted to live with greater intention, I invite you to email me at email@example.com. In my role as a Fatherhood Coach at The Center it is my privilege to walk alongside men every day, helping them to discern who they could be as men and how to make changes that create kingdom impact. If you believe that might be helpful, I would welcome a conversation to discover what it might look like for you. Coffee is on me
Richard E Simmons III is the founder and Executive Director of The Center for Executive Leadership and a best-selling author.