As I was preparing for this blog and contemplating fatherhood, I came to the realization that fathers affect us whether they are present or absent. This may not be profound or revelatory to you, reader, but for me, it was something that changed how I thought about the role that dads play in their children’s lives. And it also changed how I viewed the groups that I will expound on later in this post.
“ I realize now that boys and men need conferences and community and support in the church just like girls and women do. ”
To give some context, however, let me start by pointing you back to a previous post: earlier this month, Susan wrote about fatherhood. In her story—which you can check out here—she provided some startling statistics about how fatherly absence can affect kids. Those numbers should unnerve us. Even so, maybe it helps to think about people in your own life that have had fathers leave, have affairs, or abuse.
Several of my friends have experienced this. I can see evidence of the hurt, shame, and anger it has caused in each of their lives in various ways. One became very nervous and insecure. Another sought male attention from other places and ended up getting very hurt in the process. Still another admits that she feels like she needs constant male approval.
I don’t blame any of them. But the consequences of their absent, abusive, and adulterous fathers are clear.
“ Promise Keepers is an organization that was founded in 1990 and aims to 'reunite, rebuild, re-imagine, and inspire the hearts of men.' ”
Constantly, I see ministries aimed towards women—ready to help them in any stage or season of life. I see ministries, conferences, groups aimed towards teenage girls. I love it. I think that the church is doing a wonderful job raising up godly women and girls. Often, however, I wondered in the back of my head: what about guys? Being a girl myself, I never really thought about it too much. Guys probably just did their own thing, I thought. And plus, most guys I knew didn’t seem very open to being vulnerable like girls were, so I never really worried about it.
Now that I am older, I see how unhealthy it is for men to withhold emotions in order to present themselves as “masculine.” I realize now that boys and men need conferences and community and support in the church just like girls and women do. And I am glad that the two groups that I am writing about today minister to that need. These groups focus on helping men to be the best fathers, brothers, sons, and husbands they can be.
Promise Keepers is an organization that was founded in 1990 and aims to “reunite, rebuild, re-imagine, and inspire the hearts of men,” according to their website. They organize gatherings for men that feature well-known Christian leaders and artists, such as Shane & Shane, to bring men together to worship and grow in their faith. In past years, they have held large gatherings where thousands of men come together. Due to Coronavirus, they were not able to do that in 2020, but are still planning a gathering for 2021.
“ 'He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.' (Malachi 4:6) ”
Their website features numerous resources, but a particular spot on the site that I found to be encouraging was the “PK Stories” tab. Under that tab are several videos, quotes, and stories from men who have gotten involved with Promise Keepers, and each one sparks joy. One that stands out is a quote that reads, “When the man of the house comes to the Lord, the rest of the house follows.” A powerful statement, it reminds me of Malachi 4:6: “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.”
The Promise Keepers’ blog also features stories and devotionals about the importance of fatherhood and fatherly love. It also has audio and video sermons, along with categories like “Culture” and “Values.” It is not a resource that should be overlooked.
While the goal of Promise Keepers is to grow godly men—whether they have children or not—the heart of the National Fatherhood Initiative is to help men be better fathers. Their mission, stated succinctly at the top of their website, is to create “a world in which every child has a 24/7 Dad.” The Initiative was founded in 1994 to assist fathers in all stages of parenting. They have written and designed a variety of curricula that speak to all fathers—single fathers, co-parenting fathers, military fathers, Christian fathers, even incarcerated fathers. The lessons can be implemented in group settings, as well as one-on-one by trained mentors.
Like Promise Keepers, the National Fatherhood Initiative also has a blog. Theirs, however, features posts filled with advice for fathers during the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, webinars, podcasts, and explanations of their resources for dads. It is practical advice, things that dads can do even without a lot of outside resources. And it is filled with love. One post that stood out to me was this one. It asks hard questions, but it shows how necessary those questions are in strengthening father-daughter relationships.
“ The National Fatherhood Initiative: Their mission, stated succinctly at the top of their website, is to create 'a world in which every child has a 24/7 Dad.' ”
Much more could be said on the National Fatherhood Initiative. There is a lot of information to dissect on their website, and a lot of resources to comb through. For the sake of time and our sanity, I will refrain from going into every corner of their site. It’s enough to know that this group is working tirelessly to help fathers all over the country. Their passion to making present, hard-working fathers is evident.
The last thing I want to leave you with, reader, is an interesting YouTube channel I learned about recently. “Dad, how do I?” was created by Rob Kenney, a father of two who comes from a “fractured background” (according to an interview he did with Yahoo! Lifestyle, which you can find here). His videos are practical tutorials for things that kids—of all ages—who don’t have a father figure present may not know how to do. He shows how to tie a tie, how to check your car’s oil, and more. His content is wholesome and gentle, yet practical and easy to follow.
“ Being a godly person isn’t easy, whether you are male or female. Thankfully, if we are saved, we have the power of the Lord to help us and the Holy Spirit living inside of us. ”
Kenney’s videos don’t have to do with giving advice to fathers or helping men grow in their faith. Kenney is simply showing the skills he learned from fatherhood to help kids around the world and be a (albeit virtual) father figure to them. And that says a lot about the kind of character men should aim to have.
Being a godly person isn’t easy, whether you are male or female. Thankfully, if we are saved, we have the power of the Lord to help us and the Holy Spirit living inside of us. And if we are God’s children, we should obey His commands.
Here is a portion from Psalm 78:4-7 that speaks directly to the importance of godly fathers (and mothers); speaking of the necessity of telling our children what the Lord has done for us, the psalmist says: “We will not hide them from our children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His powers and the wonders He has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob, and established the law in Israel, which He commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and in turn they would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God, and would not forget His deeds, but would keep His commands.” Commands to be treasured and obeyed, for sure.