A Better Vision for Fatherhood by Looking to The Father


Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. – John 5:19

God is a father. God is THE Father. God has a Son, Jesus. God has many sons (Rom 8:15). I am one of those sons. Like THE Son, I should be doing what I see THE Father doing. I am also a father. As a father, I should be doing what I see THE Father doing.

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The state of fatherhood in American culture isn’t pretty, generally speaking. We’ve all heard the stats on fatherlessness, abuse, abandonment, etc. As a result of this, many of us carry father wounds. Then, we become fathers ourselves and feel inadequate for the job. In our angst, we either imitate what our earthly fathers did (even if we hated their example), or we completely react against our earthly fathers (e.g. my dad yelled a lot, so I’m never going to raise my voice). In either situation, our point of reference is our imperfect earthly father who has father wounds of his own.

The words of Jesus in John 5:19 point us to a different point of reference. The first thing Jesus does in this passage is acknowledge his total dependence upon God. The second thing he does is acknowledge that God is worth emulating. These two things give us a new starting point for casting a vision for our own fatherhood.

In my own journey as a father, I have learned to ask two very important questions: What do I see The Father doing and how can I do that? By approaching fatherhood this way, I no longer have to be limited or defined by the wounds or inadequacies of my earthly father. Even the most wounded man can still be a stellar father if he is seeking to do what he sees The Father doing.

I have come to see myself as a sort of earthly ambassador for The Father in the lives of my children. They call me daddy, but I frequently tell them that their true Father is God and He loves them more fully and more perfectly than I ever can. Of course, they know that I love them beyond words, so they know that God’s love must be incomprehensibly wonderful if He loves them more than I do.

It’s a sobering thing to realize that you are a window through which your children see The Father. It makes you wish that you didn’t have wounds and brokenness. The view through a broken window usually isn’t very clear.

But take heart. We don’t have to be flawless in order for our children to see their true Father. All we have to do is follow Jesus’ example and do what we see The Father doing. As we cooperate with the Holy Spirit in this endeavor, our children will start to see The Father more and more clearly.

So, what do we see The Father doing? As I read the Scriptures, I picked out a few things that stood out. I see The Father training, testing, disciplining, speaking, embracing, blessing, creating, redeeming, rebuking, and imparting wisdom. This is not an exhaustive list, but just something to prime the pump and get us started. You must continue searching the Scriptures yourself in order to add to this list.

As fathers, the more we endeavor to gain a clear vision of The Father, the more we will be able to cast a vision for our own fatherhood. No amount of imperfection in our own fathers or ourselves is too great to prevent the goodness of The Father from shining through to our children. Don’t buy the lie that you are too flawed or wounded for the job of fatherhood. On the contrary, you were made for it, and the best way to excel at it is to do what you see The Father doing. What we need is a vision of The Father. We need a FatherVision.

 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. – Matt 23:9

What do you see The Father doing in the Scriptures and how can you emulate it? Is there a particular passage or principle from the Scriptures that God is impressing upon you as a specific point to be working on?

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Adam has a passion to see men understand and embrace fatherhood. He believes that this begins with men first catching a vision of the Fatherhood of God, and then we cast a vision for our fatherhood. Adam is a husband and a father of 4. Adam is also an avid adventure cyclist. When he’s not towing his kids around on an epic bike camping adventure, he’s sharing his thoughts about fatherhood at www.fathervision.com

  • Awesome article. We need more fathers willing to live and stand like this.

  • Adam, thanks for sharing this great article. With a 14 month old son now, I am always thinking about my actions around him. I want to set a great and Godly like example for him and it’s going to take a solid effort on my part everyday. Keep up the mission brother!

    • FatherVision

      Thanks Bryan. Indeed, fatherhood does take effort, and it’s the most rewarding effort I know of. Enjoy your little dude. Let him know how much you delight in him. If your delight in your son is great, imagine how much greater is the delight of our Heavenly Father. If he experiences an earthly father that delights in him, it will be much easier for him to believe the truth that his Heavenly Father delights in him as well. Blessings upon you as you engage that most sacred of callings we refer to as “fatherhood.”

  • Never thought about telling my kids that He can love them perfectly than I can, Rather than getting down on myself when I fail. Good stuff!

    • FatherVision

      Good point. All earthly fathers fail. It’s just an unfortunate truth. But you’re absolutely right that the appropriate response to our failures is not to get down on ourselves. Rather, it’s to look to the one Father who doesn’t fail and ask him to show us how to do what He does. As we mature into this approach to fatherhood, our failures should be less common, and the failures that do occur should matter less.

      We have an enemy who would love to immobilize us and rip our families apart. One of his favorite tactics is to remind us of our failures and send us on an all-expenses-paid guilt trip. If we go on that trip, then we loose heart and give up. The enemy wins. However, he looses if we reject the lie that we are our failures, and look instead to the Father and ask him to help us do what He does.

      You are absolutely right that our kids do have a Father who loves them perfectly, and I encourage you to tell them that often. I do. I tell my kids that my love for them is bigger than the ocean, bigger than the whole world, bigger than the universe, and God loves them even more than that. They eat it up. And the best part is that it’s absolutely true!

  • Jesus talked about his Father. Jesus spent time alone from in prayer with His Father. I want my kids to know my struggles and hear me praying about them. Our meal time prayers go beyond blessing the food. We ask for forgiveness of specific things, ask for guidance in specific decisions both big and small. And, we try to let our kids see us serve a Big God. We allow (and ask) God to take us out of our comfort zones. Great post.

    • FatherVision

      Thanks Eric! It sounds like you are nurturing a great culture in your family. Keep up the great work.