I spent 22 years of my life observing my father’s actions: the way he treated my mother, his children, and others around him. I concluded that I really didn’t want to grow up and be the same kind of person he was. I also noticed that my grandfather and uncle on my dad’s side of the family behaved a lot like my dad as well. Could that behavior have been handed down generation after generation? Was it possible that earlier generations modeled the same form of manhood as well?
The kind of manhood and the type of father I wanted to model simply wasn’t available to me as I was growing up. So try as I may, I really didn’t have any hope of becoming a different kind of man than my father and his father. Those were the men I caught my manhood and fathering behaviors from. You see, manhood and fatherhood are caught more so than taught. Like a cold virus, you will contract the same virus from the one you are exposed to. Even though I didn’t want to be like my father, it is no surprise to me now that I became just like him.
Why am I telling you this? Because you need to see your own shortcomings as a man and father and then expose your life to someone who models the type of behavior you want to demonstrate in your own life. It is up to you to take the necessary steps to make a lasting change in your life. Otherwise, your children and their children will carry out the family tradition.
The first and most important step is to look carefully at the life of Jesus as a son, how he related to his Father, and how the Father guided him through his life as a man. For all of the talk about being a Christian father, the one thing our heavenly Father wants for us is to be sons. If we learn how to be sons, He can guide us into the role of fathers. This will take a lot of time reading His Word and listening to his voice. Ask him to show you how he functions as a father and how Jesus functioned as a son and as a man.
The second step is to ask your Father to show you men around you that model the character and wisdom you would like to see in your own life. When he shows you someone, go and talk to them about it. Ask them how they learned what they know and how they would help you catch it from them.
A couple weeks ago I was in Michigan visiting friends and watching my daughter play volleyball. An opportunity came up to spend a couple hours with my coach and mentor. Although I hadn’t seen him in nearly a year, I really wanted to spend that time with him. I met him 23 years ago when he was my age (60) and he has been a valuable contributor to my life for all of those years. Now in his 80’s, he still opens me up to the kind of man and father I want to be. Just as importantly, he opens me up to the man and father my heavenly Father desires me to be as well.
It’s time to stop ignoring the things that you don’t like about yourself as a father, husband and man. Replace that bad character and behavior by catching the good from someone who has it. Try it and watch what happens.