You know, we can learn a lot from elephants about fatherlessness.
OK, did that get your attention? More about these elephants in a second!
In my last post “Becoming Fathers to the Fatherless“, I discussed the impact and the importance fathers have in they’re families, communities, and to those who don’t have a father in their life. We ended on the fact that God is deeply concerned with the issue of fatherlessness and even gives special attention and care to those impacted by it. In this post I want to discuss what the bible has to say about fatherhood and why God has called us to be fathers to those who have none.
One of my greatest lessons on the negative impact of a fatherless community came from watching 60 Minutes one day.
It was the story of young male elephants who grew up without any male elephants in the herd. These young male elephants grew up to become murderous (they killed over 30 Rhinos) and many raped other female elephants. The juvenile male elephants even formed a gang, were they would terrorize together! The solution was to bring a full grown male bull elephant and let him subdue these young juvenile delinquent elephants. What this adult male elephant did, is actually what God has called fathers to do not only in their families, but also in their communities where fatherlessness exists. (Here is a link to the 60 Minutes video. It’s 13 minutes long and well worth your time. Click HERE)
There are 2 bible passages that bring more meaning to what a father is and what a father is supposed to do than any other verse in the Holy scriptures.
The first is: Proverbs 6:20-23
- First take special note of the two very different roles of the father and mother. The commandments come from Dad, and the law came from mom. Also in verse 23 the commandment from dad is a lamp while the law from mom is a light. Now I’m not going to write a sermon out in this forum but it is very important to understand that when the bible makes differentiation between two things, its because it’s relevant and needs to be heeded. For example, a commandment from dad would be something like “son, make sure the lawn is mowed before I return from work.” Just like that, plain, simple and to the point. However, the law that would come from mom would explain to the child how to make sure he accomplishes what his father requested. In other words, commandments from fathers are like broad brush strokes over particular situations in a young child’s life explaining the do’s and don’ts of life as it pertains to each situation (similar to how a lamp will only light up a small area), while the law from a mother will add detail and color to those commands helping the child understand the importance of that command (similar to how a bright light will allow you to see the whole room). Last example: (Dad talking) Son I expect homework and chores done by the time I get home. (Mom talking) Son, do this first and that second and that third, so by the time dad gets home, you’ll be all done with what he told you to do.”
- The Problem: The problem is when single mothers try to give both commandments and laws to their children. What some moms don’ t understand is that the child is still getting commandments from some other male source….. be it rap music, gang members, drug dealers, etc. If moms laws don’t match the commandments he/she is learning on the street, there will always be conflict and there will always be that mother who says at her child’s court hearing, I don’t know what happened your honor he/she was such a good kid…..
The Second verse is: 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12
- Paul, writing to the Thessalonian church, makes an almost assumptive (meaning he assumes that all fathers were doing this) statement and explains to them why he is talking/writing to them in the manner he is. Let me put his statement in 2015 language.
Yes we came to you, exhorting you, comforting you and charging you up, as any father would do with his children, because we want you to walk in a way that pleases God.
So lets take a brief (really brief) look at the 3 verbs here that a father is supposed to be doing with his children:
- Exhorted: In the bible (that is in the Greek as it was originally written) this word means to come along side someone (in this case your child) to earnestly advise, admonish or urge to action. In short, fathers are supposed to be the ones who give children great courage to accomplish tasks they think are too big for them. Like riding a bike, jumping in the water, over coming body image issues, and generally over coming fear in any area of life.
- Comforted: Comfort by way of encouragement is what is conveyed here. We need fathers to be the voice of comfort and encouragement when their children face bullies or self-image issues, and when they are facing problems understanding a subject in school or problems in relationships. Fathers are supposed to be the safe place of comfort for young people, the voice of logic, reason and understanding.
- Charged: This one happens to be my favorite, because this word in the bible (yes in the Greek) “means to witness or to testify to.” In other words, a father was to pass on the faith he himself had learned by going through life and all of its tests and trails. Like refilling a rechargeable battery you have to connect the battery to a power giving source to fill the empty battery. Fathers need to be filling up their children with faith and strength when life drains them and they no longer want to go on. Besides giving honor to God for 16 years of marriage to my wife, my father played a big role in that when I was otherwise ready to divorce and move on at only 3 years of marriage, my father came along side me and recharged my batteries by sharing with me his faith and life. I’m telling you it works……
Mom’s you’ve been doing all you can to fill in while the fathers have been lulled to sleep by life, by sin, by whatever. But it is my prayer that fathers and father-figures everywhere will begin to wake up and do the job God has called them to do.
On my next post, I’ll discuss how my wife and I came to adopt our newest son Andy, a young man who never had a father, and became an orphan when his mother died.
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Alison Cousin says
I love this message. It is amazing how we can use this message, a lesson learned by elephants to help us in our life. Leave it God to give us an example to use and some of us stlll don’t use it. To God be the glory! Thank you Father!
Parris, you rock!