Father’s Day is a time when we honor our fathers and fatherhood itself. We commend the men among us that live lives marked by integrity, commitment and sacrificial love. Sadly however, the statistics are staggering of the number of children in the U.S. that will never experience this kind of figure in their lives. According to the U.S. Census Bureau approximately 24 million children, 1 out of every 3 children, live without their father in the home.
The reality is that these children need someone to step into their lives to show them that men can be trusted. They need someone to not just tell them but show them what the Father’s love actually looks like. That God as our Father is not a deceiver or manipulator and will be true to His word. Whose job is this? What does that even look like? The truth is that as a man that claims Christ as his Savior, it is his job.
What if the men we honor on Father’s Day each looked around and found a young person who is in the need of a male mentor or friend? There are children all around us – in our churches, in our schools, the children of our co-workers – who would benefit from a Spirit-led man investing in their lives. What does this look like? It means stepping outside of our comfort zones and potentially making ourselves uncomfortable. It means adding one more thing to our already full schedules. It means explaining to our kids why we would be willing to invite this young man or young woman into our family lives. Yet it also means taking a risk by sowing into another person without asking anything in return and believing for a great reward through the Holy Spirit’s working. It means walking with a young person through hard things and knowing that you did the right thing. It means listening to the Spirit’s prompting to speak truth and love into a child who may not hear it any other way.
It can be as easy as offering to help a struggling student with math homework once a week, or practicing baseball on Saturdays with a young athlete, or showing up at a student’s play that she practiced for all semester. It means communicating with the parent and offering to step into the gaps as a man and as a family. Can it be messy and hard? Yes. Does that decrease the need for it? No.
The other urgent need today is for strong men to start walking beside struggling fathers. There are so many young dads who want to be in their children’s lives but feel completely inadequate and overwhelmed. They need someone to step into their lives and through relationship, bring guidance and assistance. They need to hear “you can do this” and hear the confirmation that their fear and weariness are not unique but, in general, universal to all fathers. This will mean carrying yourself with humility and grace as you navigate a mentoring relationship.
So what if Father’s Day this year looked a little different in your congregation? Instead of giving out a men’s devotional or a special gift card to one lucky dad, what if you gifted your fathers with a challenge and commissioned them to go and invest in a child in their community who needed some support? Or challenged them to look around and invest in building a relationship with a young man who could be struggling as a father? That could look like starting an organized ministry or connecting with one that is established in your community like Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Or it could simply challenge them to look around and ask the Lord where He wants them to invest.
How might you challenge your fathers this month? And what can you do as a congregation to stand alongside these men to support them as they step out in obedience?