Where does your encouragement come from? Establishing core groups of dads in churches that meet together regularly has been foundational for the mission of our ministry – to encourage and equip dads to be faithful fathers. And being a part of several of those groups has provided personal encouragement to me over what is now twenty-plus years of ministry.
The writer of Hebrews said, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” - Heb.10:24-25. The early church indeed met together regularly to hear, process and grow under the word of God. Relationships were strengthened in Christ and with others and all were encouraged in the Way. They were not just good people doing good things. They were God people seeking to obey what the Lord had put on their hearts. They had matured from the religious activities of gathering, studying and praying into a relationship that empowered them to glorify the Father where He had them. It was a new direction for the Church.
In the early 1990’s, an organization called Promise Keepers began filling football stadiums with men seeking a new dimension of church. Before each event, there would typically be projects in the local community for men to engage in. Then during the event, men were encouraged to draw closer to Christ and go back to their churches changed – changed from ‘good guys’ willing to do some worthy work to ‘God guys’ willing to accept responsibility to be more Christ-like in their marriage, family, work and community. It was a new direction spiritually for many men.
As the disciples followed Jesus, I imagine there were folks that would have said they were good guys. They were with their rabbi, or teacher, learning from Him and doing what He said. The disciples probably would have agreed, they were doing some good stuff as they sought to understand their teacher. Then Jesus went to the cross, died, rose from the dead, appeared to His disciples and sent them the Holy Spirit. At Pentecost, they were empowered to accept responsibility as Jesus’ representatives in the world. It was a new direction spiritually for them.
Similarly, us dads are disciples of Christ and charged to be the Father’s representative in our homes. Every dad I have talked with has said he wants to be a good dad. But who defines what ‘good’ is? Good can be relative to experiences in the childhood home or to what is witnessed among friends and acquaintances. It is a low bar. To raise the bar, the charge is for each of us to set a new direction spiritually to become the dad we are called to be. Tips include:
Spend more time reading the Word of God than watching the local or national news;
Reflect your relationship with Christ in marriage every hour of every day;
Lead your family to church and in spiritual discussions between Sundays;
Be alert to the devil’s schemes against you, your home and family, and rebuke them;
Engage ‘battle buddies’ that will stand arm-in-arm with you to rebuke the enemy and encourage you through any valleys.
Prayer guide: Thank You Lord for Your word and for the men You have surrounded me with. You are an awesome God! As I reflect on the “Stand in the Gap” event on the National Mall in Washington D.C. in 1997, and this year’s “The Return” sacred assembly on the same grounds, I am encouraged by Your love and sovereignty over our times. Yet, as an American I am burdened with the state of our nation, this one nation founded under You. I cry out to You, O Lord, to raise men up that will encourage one another to stand in the gap in Your name to repair broken homes and dysfunctional families, men that will exemplify the discipline needed to raise a godly generation. I cry out to You, O Lord, to turn the hearts of fathers to You and strengthen marriage as the foundational relationship that points to You and is passed on to the next generation. I cry out to You, O Lord, for an epiphany among the leadership of our nation at the local, state and national levels, that they would perform their role as servants to You, Lord. And as man of You, I confess the sins of man today, including myself and my father’s house. I pray for strength to repent and do my part to stand in the gap where You have me, to stay under the influence of Your word and live out a personal, passionate and growing relationship with You. Boldly and expectantly I lift up this prayer in the name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.
A faithful father raises the bar to be the Heavenly Father’s representative in the home.