For the last several weeks, I’ve meditated on the Apostle Paul’s words to the church at Corinth, “…though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers.”
The Message translation says it like this: “…there are a lot of people around you who can’t wait to tell you what you’ve done wrong, but there aren’t many fathers willing to take the time and effort to help you grow up.” (1 Corinthians 4:15)
As I look around me today, nothing has ever been more true and more evident in our society: our homes, our schools, even in our churches. As it was at the time of Christ’s birth, there has been an all out war waged upon man-kind. The enemy’s utmost goal has always been to destroy man. People underestimate the enemy. The enemy knows that if he can reach man, he has the potential to destroy every relationship in that man’s life.
Interestingly, the most bless-ed or most destructive relationship experience that any man can have – and the most lethal to his emotional and spiritual growth – is the relationship between a father and a son. The same way we as believers are supposed to obtain our spiritual identity from a relationship with our heavenly Father, is the same way a son is to obtain a sense of identity from his earthly father. Sadly, if enough damage is inflicted upon the psyche and emotional well-being of a young man, his ability to trust father-figures, including the heavenly Father is greatly diminished. Unfortunately, every traumatic experience a child endures from an early age carries with it the potential for stunted emotional growth, and the likelihood of onset of a dysfunctional existence.
We learn to trust and not trust and accept or fear others as children, based mostly on the “filters” ingrained in us subconsciously, by our parents. If an unnatural fear, penetrated the mind by an overbearing or abusive father, that young man will shun and cower in the presence of most adult men, at least until a trust is established.
Years and years of abuse, neglect, and disapproval will ultimately drive a man to self destruction. Any attempt to intervene by an older, wiser gentleman (or father-figure) will initially always result in rejection by that younger man. He has no reason to believe that the older gentleman is acting out of a pure motive, and thus will reject the man’s attempts to mentor and even befriend him.
Conversely, a man who grows up with trust issues – consequential of the parent/child experience – will carry those trust issues into his spiritual life, ultimately being unable and unwilling to trust a Spiritual Father.
Foolishly – and often times through an innocent form of ignorance – a man will cycle through bad relationship after bad relationship, attempting to gain approval from one-night-stands, girlfriends and short-term relationships, and even attempts at marriage in pursuit of a level of acceptance and approval, which should have come many years prior…from his father.
It took me so many years to come to grips with my Dad’s rejection. The approval I sought just never came. I finally gave up – and in some ways I grew up, realizing he just wasn’t willing (and therefore incapable) step into those shoes and be a father. I grew up, watching so many young men – my contemporaries – with their father’s hand and voiceof blessing being active in their lives. And the results and the contrasts were astonishing. Night and day.