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My struggle to become a father

Loving my own five kids came naturally to me. They had my DNA, were in my home and wanted my attention.  We had affinity, proximity, and need.  It was natural to play with them and hug them.  And they have all turned out wonderfully (four are in their 20’s). When God challenged …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Loving my own five kids came naturally to me. They had my DNA, were in my home and wanted my attention.  We had affinity, proximity, and need.  It was natural to play with them and hug them.  And they have all turned out wonderfully (four are in their 20’s).

When God challenged me with the thought, “this is a fatherless generation,” I felt he was talking about a great multitude of young people who needed re-fathering.  Without affinity, proximity, or obvious need, I was at a loss as to how to engage with them.  And assuming I could find them, how would I know what their actual need was?

Specifically, I’m not a “huggy” guy.  Young people with father wounds often have an affection deficit.  They need hugs and the kind of affection that tells them, “You really are very special.” 
Like a lot of dads, I’m more motivated to help them make a plan to aid them in finding where they fit in life.  I watch Gary Black or Michael Hindes love on young people and think, “That comes so naturally for them – I can’t do that.”

But, what I’m seeing is, God’s given me everything I need to be successful at this re-fathering process.  Earlier this week, Tana from the Jan 07 WR squad gave me a hug, as did Emily’s friend Nicole – I think they know that they’re special to me. And the day before, when the Lord told me to give a father’s blessing to a group of our young leaders, I did so.  What would have been unnatural 10 years ago more or less flowed.

The point is, I can grow into this new role by stretching my comfort zones.  I’m going to be a slower ramp-up than Black or Hindes.  But God isn’t asking me to be them.  And as Karen and I have committed to coaching the Jul08 World Race squad, I’m finding after a couple of months that I’m starting to love those guys.

If their generation is ever to get to greatness, many more fathers have got to embark on this awkward path of growth that I’ve committed to.  We don’t need dads who have got it all together, we just need the ones who have recognized the vast tide of fatherlessness and are committed to try and do something about it. 
Maybe you’re one.  Let me tell you, the stretch is worth it – there’s no higher calling.

Comments (17)

  • dad, i just love you so much – i admire how much you do try and require more of yourself. And you do such a good job of fathering all my friends who need it. And thanks for always choosing me first..:)

  • this is what I love about you Seth, you will push yourself through discomfort to obey and serve God! you are one of my heros!

  • 5 1/2 years ago, when I started being one of the pastors in our 20something ministry, I discover all the things you’ve seen in those who need “re-fathering” (very cool term. Like you, I found they need lots of love & attention, as well as affection. More of them than I care to count (especially the men)have told me that I’m the only “old guy” (read: adult male) who’s ever REALLY hugged them. Their relationships with their Baby Boomer parents is that broken &/or non-existent.

    (We Baby Boomers said we were gonna change the world – I don’t think this was what we had in mind back in the 60’s)

    I’ve become more & more gentle & loving as I’ve felt it was safe to be so. This is a sex-soaked society (non-intentional alliteration), so being warm & carng can easily be misinterpreted. One of the things I’m keenly aware of is that God loves through me when I hug someone. I know it may sound curious, but all I know is all I know. I know that my love is imperfect, but His is. So I just ask Him to channel His love through me.

    For some reason, He favors me & does just that. I can feel it. And I can feel those young adults who are love-starved responding to Him in me.

    In the final analysis, this isn’t about you or me & what our comfort zones are; it’s about the young adults you & I minister to – if this is what they need, then it’s what we need to give them.

    Please keep being the person you are to your peeps. You will not only heal so many, many wounded souls, but you will help bring about the breaking of generational curses in so many of the lives of our young adults.

  • Ha! This cracks me up!! You are a prince, a friend, a father and you know how to speak life into barren places… like the fatherless heart… please, Seth, keep being you!

  • God (YHWH) as Father was a revolutionary teaching of Jesus in the Gospel, the Hebrew Scriptures have VERY few statements to
    that effect.

    But in one of the most precious ones in the Hebrew Scriptures (OT), following David’s joyously performed dance (highly organized as well – Seth) as part of the procession and installation of the Ark in Jerusalem. Nathan the prophet comes
    to David to tell David

    “..when you are gathered to your fathers..”

    That YHWH would be Solomon’s father. Effectively adopting him
    and in that adoption he would establish his throne forever.

    All fathers pass away eventually, but God our heavenly father is always there to establish us.

  • Oh Seth, how many times have you listened to me, watched me cry, and given me that word of encouragement, prayer, pat on the back or hug that I needed?!

    You’re a great dad with 5 great kids that I’m blessed to call friends. And you’re a pretty fantastic spiritual dad too! Wouldn’t be where I am without you 🙂 Thanks for giving prayers and hugs and dealing with “feelers” like me. haha!

  • Dad, I pray frequently that the Lord will give you cities in heaven to lead. You have walked through my every season with me and have faithfully returned me to the Lord whenever he has asked you to. I’m grateful for your example and pray I can be half the parent you are. Love you with all my heart!

  • From one who is physically fatherless, know that your spiritual fathering with me in the times we’ve had has absolutely shaped and shifted how i see myself in the Kingdom. I’m thankful for you, and am thankful on behalf of this fatherless generation who don’t even know how much they need dads yet. We are blessed to have you….

  • At the risk of sounding like an echo…

    I shout a huge ‘Amen!’ to what you said about hugging, it’s so important, and even more so in this age where things can be misinterpreted because there needs to be *some* hugs that are pure, innocent and heartfelt, and we don’t turn the tide by backing away.

    But more than that, I just wanted to say what a blessing you’ve been to me, thousands of miles away on the other side of the pond, and how I’ve felt so blessed and challenged and fed by you, you manage to model Jesus in writing and it’s a fantastic example.

    So here’s a virtual e-hug coming your way! (not as good as the real thing, obviously…)

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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