Man Up Musings - Man Up Adventures

Fathering A Faith Journey

Nathan Thompson

It was a little more than a year ago when it happened. I was sitting in my prayer closet when I clearly heard God telling me that He was preparing me for an Abraham journey.

Whatever it was that I had hoped to hear that morning when I expectantly sat down to meet with God, I can assure you that this was not it.

“An Abraham journey?”

I was pretty sure I knew exactly what that meant, but just in case God had some other sort of revelation awaiting me in His Word, I grabbed my Bible and thumbed to Genesis chapter 12.

I made it one verse in. That’s all the further I had to get.

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go out from your country, your relatives, and your father’s household to the land that I will show you.” - Genesis 12:1 NET

My suspicions had been confirmed. It was everything that I had remembered it to be. Leaving the familiar confines of comfort, the place I’d labeled as “home.” Walking away from financial predictability. Leaving friends, family, and career. These were the markings of a faith journey.

While it wasn’t staring me in the face that very moment, something inside of me was yielding to this divine idea. I was beginning to feel a “yes” rise up in my spirit.

Then, bursting forth out the rays of faith that were flooding my soul, human reason reared its ugly head:

“How are you actually considering this?! Are you serious?!”

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Although it took a few minutes to put that voice of doubt back in its rightful place, I still continued to ponder the question that my flesh had asked me as it had clawed for the right to defend its comfort.

“Seriously, how am I really considering this? What has led me to the place where I would actually consider such a faith journey?”

Like other Christian men, I have a strong desire to follow God’s voice as I lead my family into His vision for our collective lives. I believe in God’s ability to work miracles; I believe that the Jehovah Jireh of the Old Testament is still “the Lord that provides” today; I also know that God has “plans to prosper [me] and not to harm [me], plans to give [me] hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11b NIV)

Of course, the “yes” in my spirit arose from me wanting to please and serve God and from a deep belief that He will never leave hanging, but all that seemed cliché in that moment- not the right answer, or more succinctly, I wasn’t answering the right question. What I later realized I was asking myself that morning wasn’t WHAT led me to the place where I would actually consider a faith journey, but WHO.

Faith journeys of these magnitudes aren’t just birthed by accident or chance. No, what I realized that day is I had a “yes” in my spirit because I had seen something like this modeled before. I hadn’t just read about this in a Bible, or heard a pastor preach about it. I had seen a version of it first hand.

A Father of Faith

Growing up, I watched my parents make many huge sacrifices for the sake of their faith. While many of those sacrifices weren’t immediately visible to the public eye, they were very apparent within the tight circle of our family. Many of those choices impacted what I perceived to be my “quality of life.” At the time, I was too immature to understand. (It’s funny how someone who is spiritually immature can view blessings as curses when they view situations from the perspective of the flesh.)

For example, I remember my father walking away from his successful secular career to pursue full-time ministry. As a fourteen year-old who was savvy with a calculator, I fully understood the financial implications a career move like this could have on my ability to have the latest pair of Air Jordan basketball shoes. I counted up the cost and my conclusion was, “No. Deal.”

My father kindly explained to me that he had “heard from God,” and that he was confidently “following His will.”

Skeptically, I listened, watched, lived through the initials bumps, and then enjoyed the blessings that followed. Instead of having a pair of Jordans and an inaccessible, always-at-work career man for a father, what God gave me was dad that was present, and now able (and willing) to spend time with me and mentor me. (Being willing is just as important as making the time. Too many men have free time, but aren’t willing to intentionally invest in their sons.)

Now, in a different stage of life, viewing things from a graduated spiritual perspective, I can clearly see the series of faith journeys our family took together as my father led our family courageously. Today, I’m so thankful that I had a father who wasn’t afraid of faith - a father who wasn’t scared of walking away from the things that other men valued to pursue the things that God valued. In the end, our family won big - and we’re still winning.

Personally, I’ve always placed a lot of stock in Abraham for the courage and trust in God he displayed by launching out into the unknown. Yes, Abraham deserves a lot of credit, but maybe some of it is misplaced?

I was reading through Genesis yet again, cruising through some of the flyover country - family tree stuff - when I came across this interesting verse in Genesis 11.

“Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot (the son of Haran), and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and with them he set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. When they came to Haran, they settled there.” - Genesis 11:31 NET

A Biblical Example

The Bible doesn’t give us a ton of detail in verse 31, but there’s enough here to know that there is so much more to the story. What we do know however, is that Abraham was there to watch his father lead his family away from the comforts of their familiar (Ur of the Chaldeans), out into the unknown, and eventually to Haran. (While scholars can, and have, speculated as to why Terah left his home, I will cover this more in my next blog. It's also important to note that the Bible mentions in Joshua 24:2 that Terah served "other Gods." I will also touch on this in my next blog.)

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How is it that Abraham was able to launch out on his epic faith journey? Because he saw his father Terah model what it looked like to walk away from the comforts of home. Abraham had been on an epic journey already once before, so when God spoke to Abraham and asked him to leave all, Abraham was able to answer, "yes." I believe this experience was integral in preparing Abraham and his family to take that big step out into their faith journey. In Abraham’s immediate family, faith wasn’t something that other people did - faith was a lifestyle they lived. When faith is a part of your lifestyle, faith begins to be a part of who you are.

Simply put, Abraham became great because he decided followed God’s enormous vision for his life with incredible faith, but what I want you to see is that it was easier for Abraham to launch out on his big journey because he had a father who modeled it for him.

I’ve yet to meet the man with a son who doesn’t want that son to become great. Sure, there are fathers out there who can’t handle the idea of their son becoming greater than themselves. Those men are riddled with wounds and need deep healing. I’m appealing to you - the man who desperately wants to leave a Godly legacy and see your son(s) stand on your shoulders and surpass you in every conceivable plane of life. How does a son become great?

It begins with you, dad.

Does a son with a father that never has the time or will to play catch with him become a great baseball player? Rarely.

Does a son with a father who never takes him fishing or hunting ever become a great fisherman or hunter? Only if another man steps in to initiate him.

Will your son grow up and do great exploits for God if you don’t model a life of prayer and faith? No.

Dads, if you want your son to be the next Abraham, you better start modeling faith now. You better start hearing God’s voice before you act. Because your son is watching your every move - the good and bad - and will emulate who you are later in life. If you want your son to follow in the footsteps of faith, you better start fathering that faith journey right now.

Identify some of the areas where fear has paralyzed you. Fear can oftentimes be an indicator of an absence of faith. Are you stalling to do something that God has called you to do? Maybe it’s time to trade in some of the more childish, selfish pursuits for time spent intentionally fostering faith and spiritual growth in your son. It doesn’t have to be an enormous Bible study. Living life alongside your son is the greatest way to teach him… if you’re modeling Biblical masculinity yourself.

Some say behind every great man is a great woman. I think great men attract great women and vice versa. I think the saying is more aptly put like this: “Behind every great man is a great father with a great God.”

My point is simply this: If you’re a father, you need to start fathering your son’s faith journey now. You, more than anyone else on earth (pastor, mom, friends) have the power to shape his future. Shape it for his good.

Next week, be looking for the Part 2: Fathering Your Son Toward His Legacy

For HIS Kingdom Always,

Nathan Thompson

A word to older men and fatherless sons…

Maybe you don’t have a son or your son is grown and gone. Get involved in the life of a fatherless young man. It will be the best thing that happened to him - and you.

Maybe your father is dead, gone, or absent. Refuse to believe that you’re a lost cause. Some of the world’s greatest men have been fathered by men who weren’t their biological fathers. Attach yourself to a man who displays (not just talks about) the qualities and character that you desire have.

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