Not living fathered causes the heart to grow cold.
Some people have great relationships with their biological fathers, many do not. Others relate well to spiritual fathers. Hopefully all Christians are learning to relate well to their Heavenly Father. When I speak of living fathered I’m referring to all three of these areas.
Relating well to all types of fathers is an important part of maturing into sonship.
- It teaches us to receive emotional support and learn interdependence on one another rather than falling into the trap of independence and isolation.
- We can learn from the experience and wisdom of others who have gone before us rather than having to go through the school of hard knocks.
- We are able to experience growth as we overcome obstacles in life with this kind of support.
For a long time I had convinced myself that I never had a father available for me and that I certainly did not need one now. I grew up in a home where my dad was often gone drinking and when he was home he was abusive. In my mid-twenties he went to prison for over twenty years. All my life I thought I had learned to live just fine without a father, but did I really?
I saw the movie August Rush. It begins with August and another boy in an orphanage dreaming of the day some family would come and adopt them. I started tearing up right away, relating to their pain – they just wanted a loving family! Think of the dreams they must have had: a dad to play ball with, a mom waiting with homemade cookies when they came home from school, someone to tuck them in bed at night. The movie unfolds with August finding a way forward in life by never ceasing to believe he had a father who loved him. I believe the same is true of how Joseph in the Bible endured his many challenges. He was sold into human trafficking by his own brothers, he was falsely accused and imprisoned. Yet he kept his heart right and advanced. Deep within he knew his father loved him. His dad had even favored him by giving him a coat of many colors. (Genesis 37)
Unlike Joseph and more like August, healthy fathering was not a part of my experience growing up. So because of this I had to work through my heart issues in this area – pain, regret, forgiveness, etc. – and then learn how to relate to fathers.
Heart Adjustments for Living Fathered
Unresolved issues with the father who raised you can cause you to end up feeling abandoned if:
- He was not safe – if you had to put up walls of protection to fight off being controlled or shamed.
- You could not freely share your problems without being blasted with advice or made to feel condemned.
- Love was not expressed – in healthy physical touch, words of praise and affirmation, looks of approval.
If this describes your childhood it is important to make peace with that. I’ve written a 213-page book that will walk you through this step by step.
God has been faithful to bring a number of spiritual fathers/mentors into my life throughout the years. Part of my role as a “son” was learning to relate to them in a right way.
A Couple of Keys for Living Fathered that I’ve Discovered
- It’s okay to have more than one spiritual father, in fact it’s good. One may be helpful to speak into the type of ministry you do. Another may work better for marriage, parenting, or financial challenges you face.
- Accept them for who they are. Everyone, including spiritual fathers, have areas of strength and weakness, areas of maturity, and areas in their lives that are still developing. Be grateful for what they do speak into your life and do not get frustrated in the ways where they don’t seem to have much to offer.
- Accept the advice they give and be humble enough to try it. Help and mentoring often come in different packages than we expect. Yet, if the spiritual father in your life clearly has victory in an area you are still working on, it is a good idea to try what he is suggesting.
Sometimes we may feel fearful to approach a person to father/mentor us. Please don’t let that stop you. Get some counsel and work that out if needed. God never meant for anyone to mature on their own. Pray and ask God to reveal who could be (or who already is but you haven’t acknowledged it yet) a spiritual mentor to you. We need each other! This is often an overlooked key to maturity.
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