The Most Important Bible Verse for Fatherhood (FOR ME)
I was asked by a friend recently to write a devotional for a devotional book that he and some other men are putting together for dads. He asked me to pick one verse that I could say is the most important verse for me in my fatherhood journey. Here is what I wrote:
He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. – Psalm 18:34
Psalm 18 holds a special place in my heart. I stumbled upon it during an incredibly difficult time in my life, after my older brother had died of a drug overdose, my mom had been shot, and my aunt had died of cancer. It wouldn’t be but a few more years that I would go through my own short journey with cancer, which was– I believe with all my heart– facilitated, if not caused, by the inordinate levels of anxiety that I had been carrying for years.
I grew up in church, and like most Americans in the 21st century, feminism cast its shadow over my entire church and adolescent experience. What I mean is, growing up in church, I heard that Christian men should be kind, gracious, generous, loving, gentle, humble, etc., but I was never taught that we should be strong and powerful. (Well, at least not enough for it to stick.) In fact, I would dare say that most evangelicals during the time I was growing up were more willing to entertain the idea that an effeminate man could be godly than that a powerful man could be.
After going through my journey with all the aforementioned struggles, and surviving, I realized that my choice really was a binary one– I could choose to be a passive, defeated, depressed and addicted man, or I could choose to claim the strength that God offered me through the power of the Holy Spirit and a sound mind soaked in biblical truth. By God’s grace, I chose the latter, and ever since that point, I have been on a journey to rewire my mind, and to understand that God made me to lead, build and to be strong in the face of adversity. I don’t make any claims to have arrived, but at least I’m moving in the right direction.
By the way– lest anyone misunderstand– confidence and arrogance are not the same thing. Confidence means that you know your strengths, and that you don’t let your weaknesses drag you into despair. You realize that there is grace for you and that you are growing, even in those areas where you are weak.
How does this relate to fatherhood? You could ask my 3-year-old daughter who constantly exults in how “strong” her daddy is (one time she was convinced that I could pick up the whole house if I kept working out and drinking protein shakes). As dads, we set the emotional tone in our home. If we are passive, we will allow our homes to become toxic. If we are overbearing or cruel, we cause our homes to become places of fear and insecurity rather than gardens of growth.
This does not in any way negate the truth that kids (and wives) need a dad in the home who is kind and gentle and generous and quick to apologize. What it does mean is that we operate best when we are full of confidence in the power that God has entrusted to us by virtue of simply being grown men. It also means that maybe sometimes we need to pull back and not show all of our emotions, especially when those emotions are volatile. We need to be the ones with confidence, so that we can fill our wives and our kids with the overflow of that confidence. That is the most profound way to have a home that resides in the blessing of God.