Today’s post comes from Ryan Sanders, the Director of Outreach for our friends at Manhood Journey, a fatherhood ministry helping dads build godly men. If you enjoy this post, check out their eBook Identify and Destroy. It covers these six obstacles and how to remove them in more detail . . .
There’s one thing that distinguishes great church leaders from good ones . . . the ability to spot guys who need help and help them. It’s 2 Timothy 2:2 stuff. I haven’t been great at this task in life. But I’m committed to getting great at it. If you read this blog, my guess is, so are you.
At Manhood Journey, we work with dads. Most of them resemble one of the six dads you’ll read about below. Sure, they have their issues. But seek them out, who knows, God could use any of these guys to build your church.
Here are the six types of dads and how you can help each of them . . .
- The “I didn’t know it was my job” dad – Many well-meaning dads in your church simply don’t understand how vital it is for them to intentionally disciple their sons. This dad might say something like . . .
“I make money, am a decent husband, and play with my kids. But as for their spiritual development, my pastor gives them direction, the teacher gives them knowledge, and my spouse shapes their character. I’ve got other stuff on my plate. At least I’m not just sitting back and letting the internet raise them.”
If a dad believes his purpose is to drop his son off at the right spot, with the right people, at the right time, he’s missing the point. Help this dad avoid self-pity, resist becoming the victim, and find mentors to walk with.
- The “I don’t know where to start” dad – When we’re sitting still, we tend to keep on sitting still unless a force of change helps us get moving. Here’s the secret to guiding this dad: it doesn’t matter how or where he begins. It only matters that he starts.
Encourage this dad to ask his child for prayer requests or read to them from the Bible . . . just start. Encourage him to get accountable with a friend and to ask his wife, “I’m looking to be more engaged in our kids’ growth spiritually; do you have any ideas before I try a thing or two?”
- The “I’ll let someone else do it” dad – This dad relies on two experts: his wife and ‘the professionals.’ Your job is to show this dad his role as a father is his God-given assignment. Get him talking and connecting with his child. Encourage this dad to ‘audit the leadership’ around his kids . . . to regularly ask questions about the content, directions, and talks they’re hearing.
Sidenote: help this dad understand he doesn’t have to quit his day job to be a dad. He simply needs to be more intentional and take hold of the moments he has with his family day in and day out.
- The “Who am I to talk” dad – This dad says, “I’ve got my own issues. Who am I to talk?” One of the most effective tools Satan uses against fathers is guilt. Guilt over how we’re living now, and how we lived in the past.
For some dads, this may mean actually accepting Christ’s work and grace for the first time. But beyond salvation, you can help this dad own his faith.
Help him know how to make what Manhood Journey’s founder, Kent Evans, calls the ‘gospel pivot.’ How to leverage his past mistakes as appropriate teaching tools and ultimately point toward God (not himself) as the family hero.
- The “I’ve got plenty of time” dad – If you are a father of young children, it’s almost impossible for me to explain how little time you really have. The hours are long but the years are short, right!? Now don’t get negative on me, turn this into a positive by exercising urgency.
This dad needs different advice from the other dads. Encourage him to create margin . . . to carve out time to just be present . . . with no agenda. If he’s around and alert, teaching moments happen without being rehearsed or lecture-y.
- The “My kid’s too far gone” dad – If you know a dad of a teenager or older, there’s still hope. God is the author of redemption and restoration. This dad needs to hear two things from you: how to resist despair and reassurance that his situation can be restored. Encourage him to connect with his child in the simple things and just be present.
Any of these dads sound like the dads at your church? Every single one of these six dads needs you. The intentional father changes everything. From his home to his church, everyone benefits from the dad who knows his purpose. You shape that. Imagine the home where dad isn’t the passive observer, but he’s the passionate lover of his wife, the confident caregiver to his children, and the fearless follower of Christ.
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