This is not a biological statement. It is a character statement. Any dog can produce offspring. But dogs do not father their offspring; they could care less. Fathering means self-sacrifice.
The first step toward fatherhood for most of us comes with our wedding vows. We promise, but we don’t really understand. We vow to love and cherish for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health. It is a vow of self-sacrifice. I look back at those vows and think, “I had no clue.”
Our son Patrick spent four months in Kenya, Africa, alongside our friend Larry Neese. The Kenyans loved Patrick, but in their culture he was not allowed to teach men because he was not married at the time. He was simply not considered a man until marriage. There is wisdom in that tradition. Many times in our own culture, the experts have researched and read the books and written the books but have not lived the life.
Fatherhood requires living the life. It requires laying aside the self and paying the price for the welfare of the next generation. The next generation will only succeed, will only survive if it has fathers.
The men who established our country are called fathers because they sacrificed in order to bring their beliefs into reality. It cost many their lives and their fortunes, but they willingly, consciously paid the price for those who would follow after. They were fathers. This is what fathers do.
Paul Vitz states it simply: “The world is hungry for examples of non-selfish men.”
Abraham was a father in his nature and in his spirit long before he became a biological father. He was a “father” to Lot. He prayed for children he did not yet have. He saw the future; he built wealth for those who would follow after him. He risked his fortune to rescue others.
Modern ideas of manhood swing from the sensitive, no-conviction, no-commitment male to the independent, promiscuous loner who is left standing when everything around him is destroyed. Family is rarely in the equation.
Marriage and family call a man to fatherhood like nothing else. The nature of eruptions, disruptions, and interruptions require a commitment that will challenge a man to stretch himself, to grow, to make sacrificial choices. It is challenging, frustrating, and difficult. He must become other-centered or he will not be a father, and he will not be a godly man. He must see beyond his own comfort, even beyond his own lifetime.
Fatherhood requires that a man overcome, that he live for something beyond himself, that he live for the future, that he draw strength from the Eternal.
Men, this year, let’s rediscover what fatherhood is all about. Let’s help others, let’s lead sacrificially, let’s earn the respect we desire. Let’s be fathers to our children, to those in our community who have no fathers, to those who will come after us.
I would love to hear from any who would like to add your thoughts to this. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org