At Living Waters, we often speak of the power of a father to build us up and call us out into adulthood and destiny. Healthy fathers can TEACH us who we are and TRAIN us to live it out. A Father’s FAVOR is vital to our lives and formation, meeting our needs as we grow into adulthood. As humans, we are born with basic emotional needs that we look to our parents to fulfill. Initially, we draw much from our mother, but we especially look to our fathers to meet those needs from about three on.
1. The need for unconditional, expressed love.
Unconditional love is vital for a child, but it must be shown, spoken, and demonstrated for them to receive it well. Otherwise, it can leave kids feeling rejected and plagued with self-doubt. It is not enough for a father to love his kids; he must continually express it in a healthy way that communicates to their hearts that he will be there for them no matter what. A rare hug and an isolated “I love you” isn’t enough. Providing a roof and food doesn’t communicate it adequately either. A father who lives disconnected and can only express love through earning will soon discover that kids would have gladly traded in much of what their father’s work provided for more of his undivided time, attention, and affection. Feelings that exist apart from being communicated and expressed in a meaningful way rarely impact those we love that we desire.
2. The need to feel secure and comforted.
In an atmosphere of unconditional love and acceptance, a child’s self-confidence soars. In moments of pain or failure, kids look to their father for reassurance and comfort, and when that is withheld, withdrawn, or missing, their lives can be plagued by fear and anxiety. But when they feel secure and protected no matter what they or their family face, they find the freedom to be themselves, grow, dream, and explore new things.
3. The need for praise and affirmation.
A father’s celebration builds his son’s and daughters’ hearts to live free of the world’s unrelenting expectations and demands. Those who don’t receive that healthy praise and affirmation will try to gain that approval in other ways, such as an unrelenting pursuit of achievement, desire for recognition, or accumulation of anything that signifies success. While it is commendable to be successful in life, the pursuit of praise and affirmation will never satisfy what was withheld or missing as a child and often leads people into lives constricted by what others think, petrified of failure, and completely out of balance.
4. The need for a purpose in life.
Fathers are responsible for recognizing and cultivating their children’s talents and gifts, encouraging them, and calling them up. When this happens, a child begins to grab ahold of the reality that they are created for something more, and they learn that there is more to their life than self. Without this foundational piece from a father, a person’s life can become rudderless, drifting from one trivial pursuit to the next, or settled into a mundane existence that never reaches its full potential.
These four areas underscore why we deeply value ministering to hearts in the area of fatherhood and father wound. A father’s role cannot be overstated. We celebrate fathers who have poured into our lives and encourage fathers who are in the thick of raising kids right now! Fathers who have laid down or are laying down their lives for their kids’ emotional, spiritual, and physical needs should be honored and celebrated! Even when they fail or come up short, God redeems it! The love of a father who will kneel down before a child, eye to eye and heart to heart, and own their mistakes, and change, marks a child’s life forever.
Healing Father Wounds
The reality for many today is that we haven’t had excellent relationships with our earthly fathers. In the list above, we don’t see successes, but failures and deficits inflicted upon us. For some, our father was present, but a spiritual and emotional zombie, distant and with nothing to give in our times of need. For others, our father left us when we wanted him most, and heartbreakingly, there are those whose father went beyond absent, beyond negligent, and intentionally harmed us.
When any of these things happen, and our earthly fathers don’t meet our basic needs, we suffer a “father wound” that isn’t our fault or our choosing, but their failure becomes a burden we carry.
FATHER WOUNDS CREATE:
- A fear of trusting
- Fear of rejection and abandonment
- A fear of opening our heart to love
Without realizing it, we build walls up around these wounds or act out of pain when others hit them.
If you cut your arm and it was never properly cleaned and cared for, it would develop into a painful wound. Imagine walking through a crowd with a wounded arm that is already agitated and infected. You would walk in such a way that protected the damaged area. Each step you took would be calculated, making sure no one bumped into your place of pain. If someone rammed into you, the pain would be instant and debilitating, and your anger would flare, either at yourself for not protecting it better or at the person who inadvertently ran into you.
If that same injury were cared for and properly wrapped, it would become less painful as it healed and soon be a scar that reminded you of the pain without causing you constant pain.
That’s how God works in the areas our past has left damage and deficit: The place of our greatest wounding holds the potential for our greatest healing when we surrender our past, present, and future to Jesus.
God’s plan, design, and heart have always been to place the lonely, exiled, scattered into FAMILY. (Psalm 68:6)
John 1:12-13 – “But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God— children born not of blood, nor of the desire or will of man, but born of God…”
No Longer Orphans
The definitive work of the Spirit of God was to accomplish this. We Pentecostal/Charismatics have unfortunately made “the work of the Spirit” about other things [speaking in a prayer language, signs, wonders, and miracles, emotions and experiences – all good things]. Still, we’ve sometimes missed the absolute center of why God poured His Spirit upon all flesh. To call us home into healing, to hold a place for us at His family table, and to provide everything our earthly fathers lacked.
When Jesus said in John 14:18 – “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you…” He was speaking of the coming of God’s Spirit to abide with us and be in us.
That’s why the central text on the work of God’s Spirit is Gal. 4:4-7 – “But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive our adoption as sons and daughters. And because you are sons and daughters, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father! So you are no longer a slave, but a son or daughter, and since you are children, you are also an heir through God.”
Why did the Spirit of God come on all flesh? So that we could be reconciled to our true Heavenly Father, healed and sanctified, experiencing what it’s like to LIVE as a son or daughter, fully aware of the Father’s Favor over us.
That’s how Joseph lived in the passage we are studying in Genesis this month:
Our Father’s Favor gives us the confidence:
- …to stand for what was right.
- …to remain resolute when others tried to tear us down.
- …in the things God speaks to us.
- …to be steadfast when those around us hate us unfairly.
- …in God even when those close to us question us.
- …to endure the path from DREAM to REALIZATION.