Every man has had authority figures in his life, and much of what a man perceives about God and projects onto God was shaped by those authority figures. At the top of every man’s “authority list” is his earthly father.
How your dad handled your heart has shaped you and contributed significantly to how you perceive God.
Starting from varying degrees of inaccuracy, men must journey individually with God to discover both who they are and who they aren’t and just as importantly…a man must discover both who the Father is and who He isn’t.
For one thing, He isn’t our earthly father. Like us, our fathers were wounded men with wounded hearts. They lived in the same story we live in (the great Love Story set in the midst of a Fierce Battle).
I often hear men say, “Dad did the best he could.” That can be either an excuse or compassion. It all depends on how well the son knows his father’s story. Most thirty to fifty-year-old men don’t know their father’s story and haven’t earned the right to say their dad did his best. What a man discovers from learning his father’s story will very often change his heart toward his father. Misinterpretation and excuses can be replaced with understanding and compassion.
Besides our dads, many other authority figures have had access to our hearts along the masculine journey. Some had a positive impact, but there were others who should have provided for us and protected us—but didn’t. Tough coaches who punished us with extra wind sprints, challenging teachers who enjoyed pointing out when we answered wrong, preachers yelling at us, older siblings embarrassing us, mothers “surviving” us, so-called friends lost in their own small stories betraying us: all of these reflect a reality I continually stress with a maxim I hope you’ll memorize: wounded hearts wound hearts.
If a man lives with an undercurrent of mistrust in the Father in his deep masculine heart, then becoming the Beloved Son will be unattainable, walking with the Father will be impossible, and fighting for the Kingdom will not go well.
This is where many men’s ministries fall woefully short of their mark. Their default is to start with training men what to do (or not to do) and how to live. In other words, they focus on men’s behavior rather than on redeeming and reworking the foundation of who men are and who God is. If they do address the “who you are,” it is usually with a list of biblical truths to memorize or paragraphs of character traits to which we should aspire.
Not all of this is wrong, but it is ill-timed, and therefore not helpful. There is a time for such an education, but learning about space does not make one an astronaut, reading about the ocean does not make one a sailor, and memorizing tips and techniques on behavior will not help a man be holy. It puts the proverbial cart before the horse.
We’ve got to set the horse back out in front, beginning with what the heart of God is really like. Our greatest obstacle to becoming Beloved Sons may well be the lies we’ve believed about our heavenly Father and the belief that he is anything other than good.
In your Time alone with God, ask Him:
Jesus, where did I get my information about my Heavenly Father?
Holy Spirit, what have I believed about God that is directly tied to my relationship with my earthly father?
Father God, what if that information was wrong? What if they were actually lies tactfully played to keep me from the one who loves me the most.