In part one we saw that all 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. We’re supposed to get this as boys from our dads.
We considered that God’s original design was to raise his sons via human fathers. We noted that fathers form people and are crucial in the formation of their children emotionally, spiritually, mentally, sexually, and psychologically. Through their physical and relational presence (or absence), fathers make (or break) people.
We also saw that 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 and in destructive ways, both to themselves, and to others.
Our Father, Who art in heaven.
Our Father, God, is the perfect model when it comes to how to father sons. Matthew 3:16-17 records the baptism of Jesus. Most of us know the story. As Dads, I want us to pay close attention to what the Father says to the Son in order to learn what every dad needs to say. But most importantly, I want us to hear what the Father also says to us. We can’t give our sons the security they need if we’re still insecure little boys trying to chase down importance and significance from culture and from other people.
And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16-17 ESV
We see four things here that dads need to say to their sons. They are also things that those of us who are already dads need to hear from God.
- You belong to me, son.
God says, “This is MY beloved Son.” He is MINE. He BELONGS to me. He is in MY group, on MY team, and in MY family. I claim him.
We guys just want to belong. We want to belong to something, to anything, and to anyone. We want to be picked. We crave someone to say, “You are mine.” Guys want to be wanted. I know it sounds shallow, but we do.
I want you to want me.
I need you to need me.
I’d love you to love me.
I’m begging you to beg me.
Dads, tell your sons, “You are MY son.” Make sure they know this when culture tries to claim them for their own. When the world says, “You belong with us,” make sure he knows that he’s already taken. He belongs to a Creator Father as revealed through his earthly father.
Don’t let the world steal away what is yours. Make sure he understands that he belongs to you, not in a possessive and controlling way, but in a valued and desired way. You are not ashamed of him. You claim him. You want him. You will never abandon him, forsake him, or leave him. Make sure he is secure in the knowledge that everyone else on earth might reject him, but he will always belong with you as your son, no matter what.
Dads, did you hear this from your father? Maybe your dad was more consumed with, “This is my beloved job.” Maybe it was, “This is my beloved addiction,” or “This is my beloved hobby,” or “This is my beloved church,” or “This is my beloved sin.”
If so, you don’t need to turn to a demanding culture that says, “You can belong to us.” You don’t need to chase down validation and acceptance. Your heavenly Father offers sonship to you. In Christ, He reaches out to men and says, “I created you. You are MY beloved son. I want you.”
- I love you, son.
God said, ““This is my BELOVED Son.” God loved Jesus and He wasn’t afraid to say it.
We need to tell our sons that we love them. Real men say I love you. Sadly, some guys have never heard the words, “I love you,” from their dads. I’ve had guys tell me, “I know my dad loved me, I just never heard him say it.” That breaks my heart.
Do you know what happens when boys don’t hear, “I love you,” from their dads? They grow up to become frightened and insecure men. Don’t let the rough exterior fool you. They are afraid. They are afraid they are unworthy of love.
Fear and insecurity cause them to act out in very dumb and self-destructive ways in order to hide how insecure and unworthy of love they feel. Remember the “dad-shaped hole?” When it’s not plugged with the love of a Creator through his earthly father, that hole becomes a black hole that sucks everything into it. It uses people and abuses people. It sucks them in, chews them up, and spits them out. There is nothing more frightening and dangerous than an insecure fearful man looking for love. He becomes selfish, demanding, and angry.
The world needs less insecure and afraid men. We need more courageous, secure, and loved men.
What casts out fear? Love. John says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). How does a man conqueror fear? Paul says, “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
Have you heard these words? Will you accept them? Will you overcome your fears and insecurities by trying to prove yourself worthy to a world that will destroy you, or by accepting the love of a heavenly Father who is crazy about you? Hear the words, “I love you, son,” and pass them on to your own son.
- I’m pleased with you, son.
Of Jesus, God said, “with whom I am well pleased.”
At this point in the story, Jesus hasn’t done anything special. This is before he has done any miracles or preached any sermons. We’re still at the very beginning. He hasn’t passed any tests, healed any lepers, forgiven any sins, won any converts, made any wine, walked on water, raised any dead people, or anything. It doesn’t matter. God says, “I am pleased with YOU, son.
Does your son know that you are pleased with him no matter what? Does he know that your acceptance of him has nothing to do with his performance or lack thereof? Have you told him that you are pleased with him just because he is who he is?
What about you? Do you know and feel this and accept this from your Creator? Or are you still trying to earn and achieve acceptance and approval? Are you trying to make people pleased with you?
Do you want to know where you can find large numbers of broken males gathered together and searching for acceptance and approval based on performance? You can find them all around our country in the stands of little league baseball fields, football stadiums, and gymnasiums. They’ve allowed themselves to be adopted by a world that says that a man’s value is based upon his performance. Now, they’re raising their sons the same way.
It’s sad to hear these men unleash their anger, shame, and disapproval upon their 9-year-old sons who just can’t measure up to their dad’s expectations. What is more sad is that no amount of excellence or performance will ever be good enough. Think about Tiger. Think about Michael Jackson. What will it profit a man if he gains all the awards and trophies in the world and loses his own son?
I really want my son to play hard and take advantage of the opportunities that he has, but at the end of the day, I want him to know that I am pleased with him even if he drops a pass or misses a tackle. I want my son to know that my acceptance of him is not based upon what he does or how he performs, but who he is as my son.
“I am well pleased with you, son. You are enough just the way you are.”
Hear it first from your Father. Then go and do likewise.
- I’m proud of you, son.
For this point, we’re going to fast forward through Matthew’s gospel to chapter seventeen where we see another Father/Son moment at the end of Jesus’ ministry. By this point, Jesus has done a lot. He has preached a lot, healed a lot, and obeyed a lot.
He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” Matthew 17:5
The statement is almost identical, except the Father adds, “Listen to him.”
The context of this passage is Jesus hanging out on a mountain with three of his closest friends when his Father shows up and tells the guys, “Listen to him.”
Imagine three of your closest male friends right now. Got them in your mind? Okay, imagine that the four of you are on a camping trip. All of the sudden, imagine that your dad walks out of the woods and joins you around the fire. Now, imagine that your dad looks at each one of those three guys and says, “If you want to do well in life, you listen to my son. He knows what he’s talking about and he’s doing it right. He’s wise. He knows his stuff. Listen to him.”
Wow! Wouldn’t that be special? Wouldn’t that be affirming? Imagine being a bricklayer, or a loan officer, or a car mechanic and knowing that your dad was passing business cards out to his friends and saying, “My son does good work.”
These are words that affirm a son’s progression. They are words that express that a dad is proud of what his son is doing. Certainly, he’s pleased with his son and accepts him no matter what. We saw that earlier. However, dads also need to look for progress in their sons and make sure they validate the positive qualities they see in them. What is rewarded will be repeated. The result of this kind of fatherly validation is that boys don’t have to chase validation anymore.
Do you need to be adopted?
There are no perfect fathers. If your father struggled to accept, affirm, and validate you as a young man, don’t throw him under the bus for your fears and insecurities. He was doing the best he could with what he had. He probably didn’t receive a whole lot of time, talk, or touch from his dad either and has his own inward wounds and issues to struggle with.
Regardless, we all need adopted by a heavenly Father. Paul says in Romans 8:14-15, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” That word, “abba,” means “daddy.” Will you accept and embrace His love, acceptance, approval, and validation?
The above verse says that when God’s Spirit testifies to your spirit that you are a son of God, you don’t have to be a slave to the false identities of this world anymore. You don’t have to chase sonship from culture. You don’t need to get hair plugs, or lipo, or take testosterone pills, or buy sports cars you can’t afford to impress people you don’t like. You don’t need to live for anyone else’s approval but God alone–and He already approves. No man has to live life feeling unloved, unwanted, or unappreciated when there is the love of a dad who would gladly treat you as his son and tell you these words…
You belong to me, son.
I love you, son.
I am pleased with you, son.
I am proud of you, son.
Dads need to say it. We also need to hear it.