This weekend is Father’s Day.

After working with youths for more than 20 years, especially young men without fathers (absent or passive) in their lives, I have come to see first-hand the importance of fathers.

As you can read from my previous Father’s Day posts about letters, gifts to fatherless youths and DreamMakers, our church and I have endeavoured to demonstrate and express the love of God the Father to these young people.  

Throughout the years, I have tried to spiritually ‘father’, disciple, mentor some of these young men.  I have been successful with some, more to their credit than mine. I have also failed in other attempts.

I have come to realize that some are not used to being fathered.  To clarify, these young men do fancy a mythical father but their notion of fathers is one exclusively of affirmation, attention, encouragement and love.  They have a figmental and fictional image of a proud pat on the back, an affirming rub on the head, words of encouragement or the identity and security that come with a superhero dad.

However, what is not in their psyche is the training, discipline, correction and necessary nudges forward or simply yielding to a ‘No’.  They cannot grasp that fathers come in a full package.

So I have learnt to ask and discern: “Do you really want a father or a cheerleader?”

Hebrews 12:7–11 (NLT)

7 As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father?

8 If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all.

9 Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?

10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness.

11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

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