Intentional Fatherhood – The Primary Call on Fathers

We live in a world where the role of fathers is undermined and undervalued. There is no question that our society is living in the consequences of multiple generations that were shaped and formed by absent, unintentional or non-existent fathers (which may well be part of the reason why the role of men in society is questioned, deconstructed and challenged so frequently).

In my view, there is no greater or more urgent call than for fathers to live out the call that God has placed in front of us to do; to live with intention. We don’t have to look very hard to find research that consistently highlights the negative effects of absent fathers on children’s emotional, social, and psychological well-being. Children growing up without involved fathers often experience higher levels of depression, anxiety, and behavioural problems. This absence has also been linked to an increased risk of substance abuse, criminal behaviour, and poor academic performance. On the other side of salvation, the damage of an absent father can often linger long into a person’s relationship with God, specifically with how they view Him as Father.

Intentional fatherhood refers to the deliberate choice to engage in the work that God has placed in from of us to do; to be a loving and active presence in a child’s life. It goes beyond merely providing for physical needs. It is the choice to father our children not in the way our fathers may/may not have fathered us, but to the higher standard of how God presently loves us. This kind of fatherhood doesn’t happen by default but with wilful, deliberate intention.

Jefferson Bethke, a popular Christian author, writes, & I quote

“We have the privilege and responsibility to mirror His sacrificial love to our children, guiding them towards a meaningful life rooted in faith.”

Intentional fatherhood is the call to sacrificially love and lead our families in the same way that our God sacrificially loves and leads us. As we celebrate Father’s Day, we are reminded of a choice; to operate out of our lived experience of how our fathers parented us or we can entrust ourselves to the One who has called us to this role, empowers us in it, and gives us the grace we need to live out the call of intentional fatherhood.

Jon Tyson writes on this, stating:

“It’s not hard for a man to stand out in a world of mediocrity.
Just do things with sacred effort.
Treat your kids like it will be the last time you see them. One
day it will be true.
Treat your wife like you have an enemy seeking to destroy
your marriage. You do.
Do your work with excellence like it’s for Jesus himself. It is.
Worship like you are preparing for eternal life. You are.
We can’t change everything, fix everything, or save everyone,
but we can do what God puts in front of us with sacred effort.
And in a mediocre world, that is enough.”

Fathers, our primary call in this life is to lead your families with sacred effort. This is what God has called us to, but what He promises to empower us in.

By Gareth Stark