Whether it is rampant sexual abuse or horrific school shootings, there are events that happen that drive us to search for the deeper reasons behind why problems arise in our culture. As Christians, we believe that our core problem is when we reject God and follow our own “wisdom” and impulses. That said, there are times when we can identify a specific source of chaos in our culture. And this can be helpful as we seek to respond to our dysfunctions. I want to make that argument that a core problem that exists in the United States is the problem of men not living out our God-given calling.
This is demonstrated particularly when you take a glance at statistics of what happens in fatherless homes. Just as a quick survey of the statistics, 71% of high school dropouts, 71% of teen pregnancies, 90% of runaway and homeless youth, 63% of youth suicides, 85% of youth in prison, and 71% of adolescent substance abusers come from homes that don’t involve a father.
Along with that sobering truth, it is worth noting that 33% of children in the U.S. grow up without a father. Back in 1960, only 8% of children grew up without a father in the home. We can argue about what has caused this dramatic increase, but the problem exists regardless of its cause. The (secular) evidence clearly points to the conclusion that men (particularly as fathers) have a massive impact on our society.
For those of us who are Bible-believing Christians, this should come as no shock. In God’s Word, we are given the message that men are disproportionately responsible for the plight of their families. The man is called the head of his home—a position that certainly includes authority, but is more focused on responsibility.
In Colossians 3:21 and Ephesians 6:4, Paul specifically addresses “fathers,” seeming to assume that the men will take the lead and the responsibility for their children. In fact, as early as Genesis 3 God holds Adam responsible for the sin of mankind, despite the fact that one could argue that Eve was the core perpetrator. All of these Scriptural messages point to the reality that men have a massive responsibility in the context of their families and in the context of society.
While this might seem daunting, this is actually encouraging news. If you are a man, this means that if you walk with Jesus then it will have a disproportionately positive impact on the people in your life. With that in mind, I want to share five straightforward ways that men can seek to live out the unique calling that we have.
Take the Lead in Church Involvement. There are too many families in which the mother is dragging a reluctant father to church. As men, we must set the tone for our families that involvement in the body of Christ is important. Children will pick up on these cues. Take the lead on how your family engages with God’s people.
Demonstrate Your Pursuit of Christ. Set an example for your family on how you are pursuing closeness with Christ. Don’t be afraid to let your family see you reading the Bible or to let them hear you pray. Share at the dinner table how God has been guiding and convicting you. Of course, in order to let your family observe this, you have to be doing these things. Set the tone and allow others to see it.
Be Physically Affectionate. This applies to both your children and your wife. Show that warmth is not solely a feminine quality. Hug and kiss your children to bring them reassurance that they are secure with you. Show affection to your wife to reassure her, and so that your children can observe how a true man treats a woman.
Make Time for Things to Happen. It is wonderful to have purposeful times of family devotions and prayer, but much of our meaningful family time will happen when we have simply carved out enough space for meaningful interactions to happen. Make time to do family activities, to show up at your kids’ sporting events and recitals. Take them to the park (or just on a walk). Spend enough time together that meaningful conversations can just “happen.”
Articulate Big Truths. Make sure that your kids have a list of things that “Dad always said.” And makes the items on that list count. Let it be things like, “Dad always said that real men treat women with respect,” or “Dad always said that Jesus is more important than anything else in life,” or “Dad always said that no one is ever too busy to pray.” It is true that life lessons are more often “caught” than “taught,” but don’t miss opportunities to articulate the things that you want your children to have internalized long after they have graduated from your home.
The world needs Jesus. He is the only one who can offer the redemption and healing that we all need. And men have a unique role in pointing their families—and society—to the one we need. Take up the challenge. God is with you. The world needs men.