Millennial Fathers…Please Forgive Us
Anyone else sick of snowflakes?
I’m tired of these panty-waisted girly-men, having to worry about their feelings, protect their safe spaces. I’m tired of having to worry about how they feel or if they’re offended?
It’s getting a little old.
I wish they’d get up off the couch, put down the video game controller—you know they’re gamers—get out of their mama’s basement—you know they’re living there rent free—and get out and get a job and become a productive member of society. Quit thinking that the world owes you something, that you deserve anything. I’m sick of it!
Interesting that was so easy to write.
These are the things men of my generation say and think frequently about men of the younger generation. You’ve heard it. You’ve thought it. Maybe you’ve said them yourself.
Are these the things we should be saying?
Perhaps a different message might resonate.
The Call of a Godly Father
The Psalmist declares my call as a father loud and clear…
He ordains that we fathers should teach our children all that the LORD has accomplished, His glorious deeds so that our children will declare them to their children, not yet born. (Psalm 78:1-8)
He gives three reasons, 1) that they might put their hope in God, 2) that they will not forget Him and will follow His commandments, and 3) that they will NOT [emphasis mine] be like their fathers, a wicked and rebellious generation.
The Psalmists says,
Fathers, teach your children about God so that they will teach their children about God so that they will grow up and follow God and NOT be like us, their fathers…who did not follow God.
Israel fell away, every few generations it seems. They drifted, and the fathers allowed it to happen. Either one of two things happened. The fathers taught their children and their children turned from God anyway or, more likely, the fathers were not obedient in teaching their children the ways of the Lord…and the children walked away.
The single most influential person in the life of a child is the father. The Bible declares it. Reality well affirms it. The future of the child, his well-being, and most of all, his faith, hinges largely upon what the father does or does not do.
It is a serious call.
The Presence of a Godly Father
As the Psalmist reminds us, “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)
This is us, me, my generation and older. We labored to build the house. We rose up early and went to bed late, eating “the bread of anxious toil”. (v. 2) We worked hard, rolled up our sleeves and got our hands dirty and most of all, taught those same things to our children.
Our nation is on the tail end of a colossal shift, a dechurching that has rocked the foundation of our society and the church. The Millennial generation supplanted the Baby Boomers as the largest generation though they will be passed by Generation Z at some point. The Millennials are the most unchurched generation in the history of our nation.
But they didn’t become unchurched on their own…they had help/unhelp from us.
It is my generation and older who are the caretakers of this unchurching of America, both catalysts and stewards of the process. We walked from God. We walked from the church, not our children. They never knew Him.
We embraced the values that flow naturally from Christianity, values such as hard work, personal responsibility, commitment, being a responsible citizen and a productive member of society. At the same time, we attempted to instill these within our children…absent the foundation, God.
We abandoned the foundation of the godly values we so cherish, attempted to instill them in our children absent God, and then ridiculed them when they rejected those values and embraced their own thoughts, beliefs, and opinions that are in some ways, antecedent to the things that we hold so dear.
There are few things more vital in the life of a child than the presence of his father.
Many fathers of my generation and older were present, yet absent.
My father instilled in me a great work ethic. He taught me to be a man of my word. He taught me the value of education. He taught me to achieve, to obtain, to set goals…all good things. He never taught me about Jesus, not once.
In hindsight, I don’t think he knew the Lord himself in those days. He did the best he could and taught me what he felt was necessary to become what he thought I should be, the image of him. And I did, that’s what I became…a responsible, law-abiding, hard-working, morally-upright man…who would’ve split the gates of hell wide open had I died in my sins.
And I would’ve taught my children in the exact same manner apart from the saving grace of the Lord Jesus.
I would’ve taught them to eat the bread of anxious toil just like I did, to get up early, go to bed late, to labor in vain.
Praise God it is now the LORD that builds my house.
Prayers for a Godly Father
We don’t need better religion.
We don’t need better music or more talented worship leaders. We do not need more charismatic (in the non-theological sense of the word) pastors or better facilities. We have no need for a better coffee shop in the foyer, with an even quirkier name (HEbrews I bet), or a broader selection of mocha-choca-chinos.
We don’t need more programs.
Forget more Sunday School. We don’t need more Vacation Bible School or more engaging youth groups. We don’t need a to schedule more summer youth camps or to take our people on weeklong mission-vacations to hand out water bottles with Bible verses to absolute strangers.
We do not need any more of the trappings of religion.
What we need is for fathers to set their hearts to become what God would have them be…leaders of the Church, their families, and the nation.
We need fathers to teach their children all that the LORD has accomplished and the church to exhort them to that end.
Appeal to a Godly Father
Here is my message and I pray that it is one of reconciliation.
Young fathers—Millennials fathers—I pray that you would forgive us, the fathers of my generation and older.
Forgive us for sacrificing you on the altar of professional achievement, work, position, and authority, for partaking so diligently of the bread of anxious toil. Forgive us for being absentee fathers, even in our presence. Forgive us for insisting you conform to our way of thought and then ridiculing for becoming your own.
Most of all, forgive us for not teaching you about the Lord Jesus.
The last verse of the Old Testament concludes with a surprising hope. Speaking of the Day of the Lord, when Jesus will return one day in power and authority and consummate that which He has already established, Malachi assures us that before then, “He will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers.” (Malachi 4:6)
This is the last prophecy from before Christ, that God would reconcile fathers with their children and children with their fathers before the Day of the Lord. What an amazing thought!
Fathers from my generation and older, know that it’s never too late to reconcile with your sons, your children, to ask that you forgive them for not teaching them about the Lord and to rise up and claim that which God has lain before you.
Young fathers, your call is clear.
Teach your children of all that God has accomplished so that they may hope in Him, so that they may not forget Him and will keep His commandments and most of all…that they will not be like their fathers…us.
Truth sometimes comes with a touch of pain.
Author - Founder
Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).
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