Anyone who has spent time around men knows that men want to be validated. Men want to know that someone respects them, notices them, appreciates them, and loves them. Men want to know that someone sees them and approves of them.
After four decades of living life as a man and observing other men, I can tell you that men not only want this, they need this. I believe our Creator made us to crave and thrive on acceptance and belonging. You’ve heard of the “God-shaped void.” I think there is a “Dad-shaped void.”
Something else I’ve learned: if we are not given validation, we will take it by force. We will beg, borrow, steal, cheat, lie, use, abuse, hurt or be hurt, and kill or be killed to feel significant. Just look around at the insecure and immature men in our world. Our culture is being carried to hell in a handbasket by men who are thirsty for attention and approval and they are looking for it in all the wrong places.
Who’s Your Daddy?
Our world’s system stands willing and eager to become the father of generations of lost boys. Our world promises men approval and acceptance. It promises us that we will be loved, valued, respected, important, and noticed. All we have to do is…
- Buy this car.
- Date this girl.
- Wear this watch.
- Drink this beer.
- Eat this food.
- Follow this diet.
- Have this body.
- Take this pill.
- Have this hair.
And that’s just the commercials! Once you get into the programming you find out that the really important guys have impressive jobs with impressive titles. The guys who are really special are the guys with power and possessions.
Have you ever asked yourself the following questions?
- Why do I constantly seek the approval of others?
- Why is climbing the social or corporate ladder so important to me?
- Why do I need others to like me?
- Why am I afraid of intimacy and human connection?
- Why do I long to be popular and cool?
- Why do I never feel enough?
Maybe it’s because you’ve got daddy issues. Maybe it’s because you’ve allowed culture to adopt you and become your nurturer. Maybe you’ve swallowed the lie that it will give you the love and acceptance you’re looking for and it has left you empty.
Men of our world are simply following in the footsteps of their first daddy, Adam, who pursued his meaning in what was good for food, a delight to the eyes, and desired to make one wise.
It doesn’t matter if you’re 14 or 40, if you’re a man, you’re thirsty for sonship. God created Adam and us not merely to be humans, but to be sons. Even after men chose slavery to sin and Satan over sonship, God Himself came to us as a Son to redeem us back into the family as sons.
If we don’t receive this invitation and find our sonship in our Creator, then we will seek to get it from our culture. We’re all sons of somebody or something. Who will our daddy be?
The Family Circle
God’s original design was to raise his sons via human fathers. Often, our view of our heavenly Father is filtered through our lens of our earthly father. Fathers are to bring their children up “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Our sons are on loan from God.
Fathers form people. This is a sociological fact found in every culture and in every society around the world from the beginning of human history. Fathers are literally people factories. I am not referring to their role in the formation of a fertilized egg, but to their role in the formation of a person emotionally, spiritually, mentally, sexually, and psychologically. Through their physical and relational presence (or absence), fathers make (or break) people. For good or for bad, fathers form people.
If sons don’t receive the kind of validation and approval they need as sons from their Creator via their earthly fathers, then they will seek it from culture. Sons will exchange true sonship with pseudo-sonship and find acceptance and belonging in things like gold, girls, and glory. Then, the spiral of broken male culture will continue as these boys (who never really grew up) start to have sons of their own. These boys will also claim culture as their father and spend their entire lives searching for sonship from the world.
This is how the economy of “you are not enough” continues to grow and operate. Generations of boys and girls have been growing up in homes where their dads never approved of them. Their entire lives are turning out to be one long and broken journey of approval seeking through money, cars, houses, looks, relationships, diets, sex, drugs, clothes, hair, surgery, career, overtime, education, implants–we’re doing everything we can for somebody to notice us and say, “You’re special. I like you. I want to be with you.”
We have a culture of men (and women) chasing acceptance in unhealthy ways. We’ve become duped into believing that we are what we possess and have power over. “I drive a nice car, that makes me nice.” “I have an important job, that makes me important.” “Women like me, that makes me a stud.” “Other men want to be my friend, that makes me worthy.” “I live in a big house, that makes me big.” I wear expensive clothes, that makes me valuable.”
Men will even go so far as to change their sexual orientation and even their gender to find acceptance and belonging.
Men must solve the acceptance issue.
Before we can even begin to address the issues in our culture or even begin to raise our own sons in healthy ways, we must solve the acceptance issue in our own heart and mind. We cannot give our sons what we ourselves do not have. We have to fully understand and receive sonship from God or we will keep on looking for it in destructive ways. When we as men have finally gotten our arms around this sonship thing, only then will we be able to be mature men who can raise sons who find their meaning in their Creator instead of culture.
In part two, we’ll look at how our Father, God, is the perfect model when it comes to how to father sons.