Fathers frustrate me, my own father included. But frustration with my own father is over, even though he caused deep pain in my heart.
When I say fathers frustrate me, I'm speaking about the fruit I see in leaders who are driven or diverted or devastated by their have seen this involvement in assessing leaders in America, Asia, and Eastern Europe for nearly twenty years. Universally, no matter what culture I encounter, fathers are frustrating. What I have seen is amazing.
Fathers who live in denial and won't let their sons and daughters face reality, so hurt or grief or shame takes root in the souls of their children and rises up to pull them down.
Fathers who hurt and abuse their children so fear and anger take their spirits prisoner and keep them from being all they could be.
Fathers who desert their children they grow up stunted in their hearts, not knowing how to be men and women because they had no model of loving strength and tender courage.
The fruit of these fathers frustrates me because I know their sons and daughters could be so much more if only they had known good fathering.
So am I blaming fathers for the struggles of leaders in our world today? Aren't leaders responsible for their own issues? Of course they are, but they have to learn what their struggles are and how to fulfill their first responsibility--forgiveness leading to growing fruitfulness.
Leaders can only forgive if they face what needs to be forgiven. Yet most leaders I work with haven't ever faced their fathers' fruit in their lives. Thus they live with their hands shackled by fear or anger or loneliness, driven to find the love they never knew through an empty success.
Are all fathers bad? Of course not. But all fathers are flawed. That's the fruit of sin in our lives. I have tried to be the best father I could be, yet I know I have failed my sons in ways I never intended. I also know they will discover this as they grow older, so I have told them to talk with me once they figure out what I have done to shackle them.
You know the biggest problem with fathers? They are missing in action. Many are present, but absent; but most are just absent. Present or absent, they are missing in the action of entering into intimate relationships with their children through which they teach them how to become men and women.
In the area of leader formation there is no greater need than the need for effective fathering. In the past twenty years I have never met a leader who was not shackled in some way by a frustrating father. Some had good fathers, so the impact was less, but many had frustrating fathers, even evil fathers, who bore their fruit in shackles wrapped around their children's hearts.
Questions to Ponder:
- What about you? How has your father affected your leadership? Do you need to forgive your father so you can find freedom from the shackles of your heart? If you know your hands are held in the shackles of a father-provoked anger, what will you do to find the freedom of forgiveness?
- Read Ephesians 6:4. Why do you think Paul exhorted fathers to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and not to provoke them to anger? What does a father-provoked anger look like in an adult son or daughter?
- If you are a father what are you doing to bring your sons and daughters into your heart so you can raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? What are you doing to grow in the nurture and admonition of the Lord yourself?
- What kind of a father are you? One who is engaged in your children's hearts or one who is distant, distracted, missing in the action of emotionally connecting with your sons and daughters?
- What changes must you make by God's grace so you can become the kind of father to your children your heavenly father is to you? And what must you confess to your children so you can find the forgiveness you so desperately need as a father?
- How has your father affected your view of god? How has your experience as a parent affected your understanding of God. Forgiveness and grace?