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Fatherhood and Humility

The Former Proceeds From The Latter

by Micah Landers

Recently I received a one-two punch in the gut from a couple of friend’s blogs that sent my ideas on Fatherhood reeling. I read my friend Adam’s blog post about Fatherhood which can easily be summarized with a snippet of a C.S. Lewis quote it employs,

“Fatherhood must be the core of the universe.” – C.S. Lewis (referring to the ideas of George MacDonald)

At around the same time I read a post by David about trusting children with responsibilities which blew me away with this little tidbit.

“Look, we all know that kids are going to see and experience “bad” stuff throughout their lives. . .The real test is whether or not they tell you about their fears, trials, doubts, and temptations. This is not some “Let’s have coffee sometime, I’d like to get to know you better” kind of interaction, although those are important. In our home, this is absolutely mandatory. Are you afraid? Tell Dad. Are you going through a hard time? Talk to Dad. Did you see something that made you feel uncomfortable? Let Dad know. Are you facing temptation? Dad needs to know.

Hiding something important from Dad is breaking one of the most important standards of our home, and jeopardizing the foundation of honest trust with those who love you most and are charged by God to care for your soul.”

While I suggest you read those articles for yourself, I will summarize my experiences processing them. Over the past few years I have looked at and listened to the first accounts in Genesis with new and wonderous eyes. I have had opportunity to ask what relationships were taking place and evolving in creation and the falling. It has struck me deeply time and again that God set up a very distinct, “Good” world in which every detail served the purpose of defining how relationships were supposed to exist. At the core of all this we see that, before anything was created, there was a Father and a Son. This condition was so agreeable to God that he determined to create a planet and a race of sons and daughters. All relationships are the result of one ultimate Father relationship. Every human has a strong perspective toward what a father is, and that usually plays very heavily into his view of what God must be like.

I’ve also been realizing how greatly the Father desires intimacy. A father is responsible to be a sounding board and a burden-carrier for every member of the family. While intimacy is necessary for every interconnected relationship involved in a family, the father should be taking action in making sure that his relationship with each family member is growing deeper, so that they can share their hopes, fears, faults, and joys with him without any fear of his opinion or reaction. It is actually a very heavy task, because a father must carry next to his heart the burdens of those he cherishes.

I’ve testing these two ideas against one another and realizing that a father’s role is one that begins and ends with humility. It is humility that brings God willingly to cherish, explain Himself to, and serve those whom He himself created. It is humility that maintains a fragile and broken connection between a life-hardened man and a growing and exploring child.

The men I would look to as Fathers in the church are those who display almost shocking levels of personal humility when I get some one-on-one time with them. I began to realize a few years ago that the men who (often unknowingly) walk as Fathers are those who are embarrassingly transparent about their own nature and motivations. They invite us to have flaws and still to know one another all the more in accepting their existence.

For a long time I have supposed singles history myself relatively humble. I think most of us do, then we roll our eyes when someone else comes out and writes it in his blog post. But I am now realizing what humility is and what it is not.

Humility is not self-awareness that lends itself to a self-effacement or self-deprecation. Understanding yourself well in relation to others is not humility. Stepping out of the limelight is not humility. Honestly accepting that your a pretty crummy person is not humility. It is possible to be humble from these places, perhaps, but it is probably more possible to be proud of these forms of awareness and therefore actually miss a lot.

Humility is honestly stating your faults and exposing your current heart to those with whom you are building intimacy. It is expressing your current opinion and position on your faults rather than what you know is the proper response to the situation, but recognizing your attitude firmly within the context of your entire existence. Your close friends, your wife, and your children do not want to hear you repeat that you know this is bad and that is good. They want to know how you are processing what you are coming to grips with, even if you’re not 100% right-minded on the situation yet. Humility is admitting not only wrong, but admitting ensuing perspective. Humility thrives when an identity is founded so solidly in Christ that any other perspective cannot shake it.

I am eager to continue to foster an ability for my girls to come to me and share their biggest fears, most personal joys, and darkest secrets. I’m not afraid to be there for them, but often I am afraid for them to truly know me. Obviously a father of children has to keep age and appropriateness in mind in what he communicates, but my first goal is quickly becoming to gain an openness and exposure of my own heart.

 

Micah Landers lives in Oklahoma City with his wife Lisa and their two dancing daughters, Norah and Maranatha. When he’s not reading or writing, he can be found in his garden waiting for green things grow or smoking a pipe and having a chat with a friend.

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