Five Kinds of Fathers
Let’s do a diagnosis test. In his book, The Intentional Father, Jon Tyson lays out five different kinds of Fathers. I’m going to describe each, and then ask where you, or your father, falls on the spectrum.
- The Irresponsible Father: This father has zero responsibility with his kids. This father takes no responsibility for raising his children which means he gives them no time, no money, no involvement. He is selfish.
- The Ignorant Father: This kind of dad has no idea what he is doing. He brings chaos and hurt into his child’s life without even realizing it. He doesn’t know what it means to be a dad and he has no interest in learning how. As a result, his own brokenness is projected into the life of his kids.
- The Inconsistent Father: He is just that, inconsistent. He is torn by personal ambition. He has the ability to be a better father, but he prioritizes his career and hobbies. After his binges of selfishness, he attempts to fix everything, but it leaves his kids with no stable sense of identity or security in the life of the kids.
- The Involved Father: This is where many of us are and strive to be. This dad shows up to events, he teaches his kids about moral purity, he gets a lot of things right. But what he doesn’t do, because of the busyness of life, he doesn’t seek to understand who each of his children are and why God made each of them unique. He is a noble father, but he misses an important layer. That leads us to the fifth kind of dad.
- The Intentional Father: This, Tyson says, is the dad we should strive to be. He is deeply invested in his children’s lives, he wants to help them reach their redemptive potential. He seeks to understand each child and form them into young people who can fulfill God’s purpose for them. Listen to this: “He sees parenting as central to his call before God and does it with all of his might.” That is the mark of an intentional father.
Which one are you? Which one did you have? The Barna Group recently did a study asking men if they felt prepared for fatherhood and here is what they found: 52% of all U.S. Dads, and 44% of practicing Christians felt “Somewhat prepared,” or “Not prepared at all” to become a father. Let me just state, that is a lot of men who don’t feel prepared to become fathers. If the intentional father is where we should aim then what does it mean to become a good dad? How do we get there? Paul has been giving us clues in this letter to the Philippians. It’s the way Paul has been speaking to the Philippian Church as an intentional, spiritual father figure. He wants them to grow in their love of Christ Jesus. Then we get to Philippians 4:8-9, some of my favorite verses and they are verses we should commit to memory:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9, ESV
These words, offered to the church of Philippi are instructive for all Christians, and especially fathers or future fathers. As a spiritual father, Paul writes to his spiritual children and says, “Let this thought pattern dominate your life then put it into practice. Become a 489 Christian, become a 489 Father, then the church and the world will be blessed!”