The Challenge of Fathers


by Bruce Strom

“Being a father is a difficult and thankless job.” “Today it is harder than ever to be a father.”  Have you heard those statements?  Honestly, I disagree with them.

I think we overcomplicate fatherhood in the same way we overcomplicate life.  Our society pulls in so many directions that I know many fathers who believe the job is too difficult and they walk out or give up.  Honestly the church doesn’t help these fatherhood failure feelings as they sometimes contribute demanding men to step up.  That usually means a lot of activities in an already crowded world.

I don’t think men need to do more.  I think they need to do less.  Sharpen your priorities by keeping life simple.  While Jesus was never a dad on Earth, He is the perfect father.  He is our example and He said we only needed to be like a child if we want to understand the Kingdom.  So next time your wife says your being childish just smile.

Jesus was asked lots of questions about living life, but he didn’t require great theology or superman feats.  He said ‘Love God’, ‘Love Neighbor’.  That’s it.  If we could just learn those simple truths we would be great sons and in turn be great fathers.  Now I’m not saying don’t know your Bible.  It’s your playbook for life so I think it is critical.  But Jesus rightly summarized the play book as Love God, Love Neighbor.

What does that mean?  To love God means to put Him first.  That requires humility.  Let God be God and don’t try to do His job.  I have many male friends who struggle with control.  Stop.  You can’t control most of the things in this world and what you can’t control you need to humbly turn over to God in prayer.  What you can control – your thoughts, feelings, actions – you need to learn to yield to Christ and be continually shaped more into the image of Jesus.  Your heart should break for the things that break God’s heart – injustice, brokenness, sin.  You should care less about yourself and more about others.  That will lead you to love your neighbor.

I grieve over dads who love work, money, praise, honor over their spouse, children and community.  Fatherhood isn’t a difficult job unless you somehow think it is a job.  It’s not.  It’s a blessing.  Humble, sacrificial love should ooze from a Christ following dad.  That dad knows it’s not about him, it’s about a legacy left through one’s family and community because of how you loved God and your neighbor no matter what the circumstances.

A thankless job!  No way!  Only if you misunderstand what your job is.  It is not to receive the praise of others or your children.  Your job is to glorify God.  The only thanks we should want is hearing our Lord say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”  That is what matters.  Our problem is we listen to the wrong voices.  I promise you dads that if you humbly love God and serve others by setting an example and involving your wife and kids in loving God and loving neighbors, then you will be blessed.  We just need to get our priorities straight.

I understand.  I once chased success and achieved it, but at great cost.  I was depressed and my marriage almost died.  I looked good on the outside but inwardly I was concerned about me.  I was interested in my rights and my way.  God radically turned my world upside down.  He called me to give up my identity, my job, my money and live very simply for others.  My sons have only known me as that transformed man who not only talks about loving God and loving neighbor, but really lives it every day in every way.  That is only because I continually must die to my selfish interest, pick up my cross, and follow Jesus.  Honestly it isn’t a chore.  It isn’t hard.  Every day I wake up saying, “This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.”  And then I am.

I pray continually.  I rejoice always.  And I give thanks in all circumstances because God is on the throne and that is all I need to know. Sure life is hard but it is much harder for those trapped by sin and its effect upon our broken systems and broken people.  So I choose minute by minute not to focus on my needs, wants or desires and instead to focus on how Christ can use me to show others the difference He makes.  I will never do that perfectly, but I will strive to do that faithfully.

That’s the best example I can leave my sons.  For my fellow dads – keep it simple.  Love God.  Love Neighbors and have a

Happy Father’s Day.