The Frightening Freedom of Fatherhood

We have a fun quote for you today that Jeremy is going to go ahead and read and then expand upon. But the kind of title and problem and question for today is the frightening freedom of fatherhood. And then the problem or question that that becomes is why do so many fathers fail? So Jeremy, what would that quote look like? Or what does that kind of problem look like?

Yeah, so this is a great quote from Jonathan Foer, and he’s a American novelist, and one of his books says, “When you’re a dad, there’s no one above you. If I don’t do something that has to be done, who is going to do it?” And this is a really frightening reality about fatherhood. We know that those of us who are believers in Christ, we know that we are under submission to God and that he is above us. But the fact is, you guys, there’s no one managing you, right? There’s no one that is going to come in and fire you after you have tried really hard for a few years and decided to maybe start neglecting your job. No one’s going to come in and say, “You know what? These kids should be probably somewhere else.” Likely instead of someone managing you or firing you, what’s going to happen is your family is simply going to suffer until you change.

And that that is the frightening reality of fatherhood. Our kids, there is no really plan B, there’s not much of a backup plan for this. If we struggle, if we neglect our family, if we don’t love and care for our children, if we don’t provide then we are the solution. There is not really a great plan B for our kids or for our wife or for our families. And so what does that mean? And one of the questions I’ve really wrestled with over the years is why has God allowed this? This is such a dangerous sort of system. Because there is really the single point of failure, which is the dad and one of the things that this does, and I believe one of the reasons why God allows this to happen is that he cares so much about our development that he’s willing to risk that our failure, our neglect, our struggling with this role is going to eventually mature us.

Seeing the fact that there is no other plan forces men to not abdicate this responsibility but to go ahead and take it on their shoulders and to work it out in their homes. And so this is a really tough reality about fatherhood, that there isn’t a manager. And I know that some people really take a lot of solace from being managed and if you are in a work situation where you’re constantly managed, when you get home there is no manager and so you have to be really sensitive to the fact that you guys, you are the backstop, you are the manager. This is one environment in which you have to have the vision, you have to be the proactive one and there really isn’t another option. We have to sort of take on this responsibility ourselves.

Yeah, and it’s funny when you’re talking, I feel like I realized that this is even so true. Obviously even in our own life as a case study of like I feel like when I am having one of those weeks where I just got a little bit more energy, I’m more active, I’m more training, I’m more doing this, the whole household becomes that. But the minute I step back or the minute I have one of those lazy weeks or the minute where I feel like I’m just tired and I don’t have it for that week, it immediately shows in every other regard. It’s very much like setting the tone because there’s no one above us except for God obviously. But like you said, you’re meaning more the metaphor of managing. And so yeah, I think one thing I would say is it’s very much, every time that happens and I get kind of in that slump, I have to remind myself that yeah, this is actually meant to happen so that I can learn to self rule.

Because you can’t learn to rule others until you can self rule. You can’t. And that’s what we’re created for. I think we’re so conditioned to think heaven is just this babies and harps and wings and floaty cloud vibe thing when it’s literally a place of ruling, of kingdomship, of cities, of community, of princes and dominions and all these different things. And so we as humans are going to rule and we are going to rule greatly and I think in a bigger way than we even think and there will be a proportional inheritance given to how people rule here on Earth. Not salvation, but a proportional kind of way in which we are given to rule. A responsibility, proportional responsibility. And so that’s fascinating to think. And I think that starts with day one of being a father in some sense, for dads at least, that we learn to rule ourselves and that when we can do that then we can enter into truly ruling others.

And I think one caveat that’s interesting there is notice how the dads who are more lording it over other people tend to be people who aren’t self-ruled well. So it’s almost like you are using the oppressive Lordship to hide and hedge against where you haven’t self ruled. Because true rulership is in love, is in service, is in sacrifice, is in giving, like we see in Jesus, the most ultimately perfectly self ruled person that we have ever seen as a full human and a full image bearer. And he was able to self rule and then rule others. And that self rule took him all the way to the cross and then Jesus said, “I’m going to make your enemies a footstool for you as a prize, as a gift.”

There’s so many layers there and there’s so much going on there, but I think that is the truth, you guys, if you’re listening, is it is hard and there is no one above us, but that actually is also the gift. It’s not a curse. It’s a gift. And if you lean into it, it’ll push you constantly into God’s design for self-rule and then the gift of being able to rule and bless and sacrifice for others.

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