The Importance of Fathers
John Eldredge says that every man has one major heart level question, “Do I have it? Do I have what it takes to be the man I am dreaming of becoming?”
Every boy when they are little has a dream of being epic. Think of the games we play and think of the things we, as boys, dream up.
My son Noah loves wrestling. He loves the WWF/WWE. I have no idea where it came from, but it’s there. He loves the BIG guys. The massive strong giants that enter the ring. He says “Dad, I want to be that big.”
Every boy wants to be strong. I have never met a boy who looked at becoming a fragile weakling that no one respected.
Every boy has a dream of being strong and important. I firmly believe there is nothing wrong with a boy wanting to be strong. In fact, I encourage that in all boys. It’s in our nature to be a defender and strong.
Every little boy has some untamed tendencies, and there is nothing wrong with that. Men have a wild streak in them. They have a sense of adventure that is put in them by God himself. The world does everything in its power to pull that out of boys, and it needs to stay, but it needs to be balanced with love and grace. If you teach a boy to be strong but not to love, he can and will become a tyrant if you’re not careful.
The world is broken. Sin has come in and fractured everything, and often times, those dreams that boys have can become nightmares. You don’t have to look very far. The evidence of this is being played out every single night.
This is why it’s vital that young boys have a Godly influence in their lives. Our society tries to tell you and me that fathers are not needed whatsoever when it comes to influencing children. Women are told “You don’t need a man. You got this.” So we have women who have no desire for a man to be around, and they are encouraged by culture to make this a reality.
So we have no stable true men in the homes, and we can say all day long that men are not needed, but the data that is coming out about fatherlessness in our country is truly heartbreaking:
“Children in father-absent homes are almost four times more likely to be poor. In 2011, 12 percent of children in married-couple families were living in poverty, compared to 44 percent of children in mother-only families.
“The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states ‘Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse.’
“Children of single-parent homes are more than twice as likely to commit suicide”
This data is devastating on a heart-level magnitude. Behind those stats are little boys and little girls with hopes, dreams and desires.
Men are important. We need Godly men to engage and be a part of their children’s lives if we are going to have any hope for the future.
I want to leave you with this story by Fr. Gordon MacRae:
Some years ago, officials at the Kruger National Park and game reserve in South Africa were faced with a growing elephant problem. The population of African elephants, once endangered, had grown larger than the park could sustain. So measures had to be taken to thin the ranks.
A plan was devised to relocate some of the elephants to other African game reserves. Being enormous creatures, elephants are not easily transported. So a special harness was created to air-lift the elephants and fly them out of the park using helicopters.
The helicopters were up to the task, but, as it turned out, the harness wasn’t. It could handle the juvenile and adult female elephants, but not the huge African bull elephants.
A quick solution had to be found, so a decision was made to leave the much larger bulls at Kruger and relocate only some of the female elephants and juvenile males.
The problem was solved. The herd was thinned out, and all was well at Kruger National Park. Sometime later, however, a strange problem surfaced at South Africa’s other game reserve, Pilanesburg National Park, the younger elephants’ new home.
Rangers at Pilanesburg began finding the dead bodies of endangered white rhinoceros. At first, poachers were suspected, but the huge rhinos had not died of gunshot wounds, and their precious horns were left intact. The rhinos appeared to be killed violently, with deep puncture wounds. Not much in the wild can kill a rhino, so rangers set up hidden cameras throughout the park.
The result was shocking. The culprits turned out to be marauding bands of aggressive juvenile male elephants, the very elephants relocated from Kruger National Park a few years earlier.
The young males were caught on camera chasing down the rhinos, knocking them over, and stomping and goring them to death with their tusks. The juvenile elephants were terrorizing other animals in the park as well. Such behavior was very rare among elephants. Something had gone terribly wrong.
Some of the park rangers settled on a theory. What had been missing from the relocated herd was the presence of the large dominant bulls that remained at Kruger. In natural circumstances, the adult bulls provide modeling behaviors for younger elephants, keeping them in line.
Juvenile male elephants, Dr. Horn pointed out, experience “musth,” a state of frenzy triggered by mating season and increases in testosterone. Normally, dominant bulls manage and contain the testosterone-induced frenzy in the younger males. Left without elephant modeling, the rangers theorized, the younger elephants were missing the civilizing influence of their elders as nature and pachyderm protocol intended.
To test the theory, the rangers constructed a bigger and stronger harness, then flew in some of the older bulls left behind at Kruger. Within weeks, the bizarre and violent behavior of the juvenile elephants stopped completely. The older bulls let them know that their behaviors were not elephant-like at all.
In a short time, the younger elephants were following the older and more dominant bulls around while learning how to be elephants.
So, why did I share this? The facts are there. If young men don’t have older Godly men to model true Gospel-centered masculinity for them, we will see the results that are happening currently in our culture. We’ll see young men doing things that destroy rather than build up.
We need Godly fathers (and father figures) to shine a light of hope to a dark and dying world. We need men who love Jesus above everything else and lead their families to the throne of God’s grace. Until this is done, don’t ever expect our world to change, because it won’t.
We need older men to show younger men that, yes they do have it. And the only reason that they have “it” is because Jesus gave it to them as a gift. That will transform the world.
JESUS is the answer!