The following was written by one of my students. He teaches important concepts that he learned from me and on his own. I publish it here with his permission.
Father Figures – Disappointment and Discovery!
Too often in today’s society fathers aren’t the role models their sons need. Boys grow up idolizing their fathers. “I wanna be just like Dad when I grow up” is their motto. Then as they mature, the weaknesses and the faults of their “Dad” become painfully obvious. Their idol comes crashing to the ground. This is especially difficult when the father has a major problem, like a pornography addiction, abuse, or he can’t control his anger.
This realization can make boys afraid of becoming men, “I don’t want to be like my Dad at all—I don’t want to grow up.” They perpetually want to remain children, afraid of becoming like their father, and afraid of surpassing their once-idolized hero.
This situation isn’t hopeless however. We live with a gospel of hope. When boys learn to look to their Heavenly Father, and He becomes their role model, magical things happen. Heavenly Father gives His sons a sense of identity and purpose. They no longer need so much to look to their earthly Dad for approval or example. They respect their Dad for all that he did to bring them into this life. They love him for all the good he has done, and they want to help him, but they do not need his love or approval to become great men. God gives them that.
In other words, as boys gain a relationship with their Heavenly Father, they begin to see their fathers more as spiritual brothers and less as fathers. In John Locke’s Second Tretiese on Civil Government he called this a natural proccess. We are born into families as dependants on our parents: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. As we grow, slowly we have to break away and become independants. Before the law, and before God, a man is an equal with his Father.
Now I love my earthly father. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to repay all that he has done for me to bring me to where I am. I will forever honor him and respect him. But as a man, I am a different entitiy. I must look to God, just as my father did. And I must face some trials alone. This is my life; I will earn my own salvation, or my own damnation.
Every boy needs to hear his dad say, “Son, I’m proud of you.” We long for it. From building mud forts, to trying to cook deep fried cherrios, we long for praise and approval. Sometimes our fathers don’t give us recognition, and sometimes they’ve behaved so poorly that we no longer value their recognition, but there is one Perfect Father, who never forgets, and who always is there.
There have been times, when my physical father could not have helped me. Times that I have turned to my Heavenly Father in prayer, pouring my soul out to Him. He heard, and He answered. His loving embrace felt like a warm blanket being wrapped around me, and I could almost hear Him say: “Son, I love you. I am so pleased with you. Everything will be okay.” Those precious moments have not come frequently, but have been powerful enough to savor my whole life. His approval makes everything okay. I no longer felt the need to show off or hear earthly praise—His was enough.