When Terry Crews tweeted last year that “fathers are important and needed”, he was met with harsh criticism. People accused him of being insensitive towards families composed of two mothers. Not long after, an interview of another man was being conducted on a popular digital platform. The interviewee was discussing masculinity, arguing that the Church, and God Himself, have had a negative impact on modern men. “Men are not encouraged to express their full range of emotions, they are not encouraged to be gentle or tender. Afterall, God himself is quite violent in the Bible” (I’m paraphrasing). And here we have it. Our society’s view on fatherhood and by extension, on God. What are we to do with it?
The answer is: we need to go back to the truth, to ground ourselves in “whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” (Philippians 4:8). In reality, studies have shown that when dads are present, children thrive. Fathers’ engagement in their children’s lives leads to higher chances of academic success, higher levels of sociability, confidence, self-control, and overall well-being for kids. And when dads are absent, children suffer, both emotionally and financially. In two words: dads matter.
But earthly dads can disappoint. They sometimes forget birthdays, graduation days, punish for obscure reasons, or say things that continue to sting years later. They are falliable, yet their role is essential. Two outwardly contradictory characteristics...but they don’t have to be. Because in the middle of it all, there is our Heavenly Father.
The Bible says His love for us never fails: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1) God always provides (Matthew 7:11), is patient (Proverbs 2:6) and gives us wisdom (Proverbs 2:6). More importantly, God never leaves our side (Isaiah 41:10) and He doesn’t hold grudges (Luke 15 and the parable of the prodigal son). God disciplines us but for our own good, “that we may share His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). These never-changing characteristics of God contrast sharply with the idea of an insensitive, violent God, don’t they?
God is not just a Father, He is the ultimate Father, the anchor. Parents are fortified when they look up to him, not just as a model, but as the One who gives them the hope and strength to persevere. And because earthly fathers can oftentimes influence our view and understanding of God, their role is even more important.
With this knowledge in mind, the Lifeline team is ready to lean on God and get to work! We have decided to expand our DadLine program to support the dads in our community even better. Up until now, DadLine was entirely dependent on the generosity of our volunteer dads. Our male clients were offered to participate in weekly mentoring sessions with the objective to help these new dads learn healthy parenting and relationship skills to implement with their children. The name and purpose of the program are staying the same, but we are excited to announce that we will be welcoming a full-time DadLine Program Manager to oversee the program and expand our ability to serve our dad clients! A new website will be coming soon, as well as more information on how to get involved. The question is: will you join us? Will you pray for guidance as we embark on this new journey, hoping to change even more lives?Written by Elodie Takamiya.