The Christian father is called to be the head of his household. He is to lead, protect, provide, nurture and be their role model. Foremost, he is to be one who loves the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind and strength. From that, he serves God in his home as a loving husband and an authoritative disciplinarian, yet a loving, gentle, affirming and encouraging father to his children. As a role model, he needs to lead a personal life with integrity, discipline and rectitude, amongst others. In addition, he is to remain consistent over the course of time.
Oh, what a lofty calling!
I cannot blame you if you feel overwhelmed. The mandate given by God is a high one. However, in upholding the call, men need not walk alone. The issue is that he has a tendency to do so. In general, men tend to put up a “strong-man” front socially. For example, when sharing past experiences, he has a tendency to share only his success stories (showing his achievements). When someone talks about a setback, though none was called for, he voluntarily offers a solution (showing his intellect). Else, he would talk about the latest gadgets (showing his knowledge). He seldom bares his heart to talk about his setbacks (showing his weaknesses).
Whenever men face failures, disappointments or feel overwhelmed, generally men would not easily open up to his peers about them. A man’s heart is a like a high-walled, top security facility, off limits to others. This explains his preference to dwell on neutral topics with his friends (e.g. world politics, latest sporting scene, gadgets, work) because in these, the risk is low for anyone to go near to his heart. Moreover, in these he is able to show that he has a good grasp of world’s issues (and solutions for them). The only problem is that such issues are usually too big or far away, they do nothing for him or his household. Wives cannot understand how their husbands can spend the whole night talking about such topics.
Because men are not used to baring his heart to his friends (“strong-man” image), men suffer when facing setbacks. While the “strong-man” image is needed (because everyone in the household is looking up to him), it becomes a problem if he does have the skill to let his guard down or have a safe place to do it.
First key is to ensure he connects to his Father God daily to seek guidance and strength. If he is not setting aside time daily to spend with Jesus, his Lord and Master, he will become lost, vulnerable and exhausted easily.
Second key is to have accountability partner(s) whom he connects with regularly (have 2 or 3 for each season of life, monthly catch-ups and regular text chats on issues/ joys/ prayers). For this bond to work, a safe environment has to be created by each agreeing to bring their “strong-man” image down when they meet, be vulnerable to bare their hearts about their lives (challenges, failures, fears, joys, victories, direction, etc.), give prior permission to speak into each other’ lives without reprisal, and to uphold confidentiality on all information shared. As a band of brothers through life’s challenges, they commit to regularly pray for each other and give an account of their spiritual walk.
Fathering is a high and lofty calling and often littered with brokenness. By not journeying alone but authentically with a band of brothers, fathers find a safe place to pour out and deal with any setbacks/ brokenness, regain their direction and strengths, and be refreshed again for the next lap. To all fathers, today and every day we want to appreciate and honour you, for your love and your herculean fathering work. Happy Father’s Day!
– Brother Sam Tan, a Father (YCKC Bulletin 21 June 2020)
PS: We invite all men to join YCKC’s “men in prayer for men” at YCKC’s Men’s Online Prayer Night (every Wed 8.30pm – 9pm, see bulletin page 13 for details).
PPS: Father’s Day prayer on page 14 of the bulletin.