People from time to time ask me and others engaged in Abiding Fathers and Padre de Corazón, ‘just what do y’all do and what are you about?’ We explain in several ways that we are about engaging, equipping and encouraging the next generation of fathers to be the dad that God wants them to be. But last week, I was visiting with a gentleman who explained our purpose in a very visual way, a parable. Hope I can do it justice.
There were a group of people dedicated to pulling children out of a river that were subject to drowning. Daily they would tirelessly execute this much-needed mission. They were applauded for their efforts and rightly so. One day, one of the men told the other workers that he was going upstream. They asked him why, when they had so many lives to save here. He answered, ‘I am going upstream to find and stop the man who is throwing all of these children in the river.’
Wow, it hit me when he said this. There are so many ministries and governmental programs that are dedicated to fixing certain problems that exist in the lives of children. Hunger, abuse, depression, poor education, health issues, suicide, crime, drugging, you name it. These missions are all well and good and much needed, but they are ministering to the symptoms. What this man was saying is that we need to go to the root of the problem, the majority of which is created by the absentee or abusive father.
That’s what God has us doing in this ministry. Moving upstream; discipling and engaging men to be the dad that won’t throw their children in the river or under the bus, so to speak. My 50 years of teaching in prisons, juvenile detention centers and homeless shelters has convinced me beyond any doubt that the number one issue in America today is the absentee father. With God expanding our ministry to other countries now, we are finding that this exists there also. Be the Dad Movement is dedicated to discipling ten million dads by 2030 with Biblical truth.
Fathers need to first understand their role from a biblical standpoint so that they can fulfill their role. The highest calling for any father is discipling their children, family, and the next generation for the gospel of Jesus Christ. It includes love, prayer, modeling, mentoring, teaching, listening, disciplining, blessing, providing and protecting. These require being present, and when present, to be engaged and pro-active.
To be very frank, most families, Christian and non-Christian, have lost their way and Biblical truth is not being utilized in their discipleship within the family. As one former Board member stated, ‘My regret is that I raised my children, but I didn’t disciple them’. The scripture that is so revealing in all this; “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6.4 ESV). Not being present and engaged leads to provoking your children. It then multiplies itself into negative, even deadly actions that could have been prevented.
Examine your effectiveness as a father, or a mother. In the long run, it never has been about you. It is only about your children and the next several generations. Discipled children become awesome, effective leaders of their own families. Is that not what you want for them? Join with us in whatever way God leads you to help us move upstream, engage fathers and wipe out the chronic need for all these downstream programs. If it’s done God’s way, it could happen you know.