Father’s Day comes with mixed feelings. Some are thrilled to celebrate how their Dad loved them and who he shaped them to be. Others still have wounds from difficult or even dangerous relationships with their fathers. The good news is that both scripture and science promise that anyone can learn to be a great dad!
Dr. Ken Canfield, founder of the National Center for Fathering, studied the strongest fathers in various communities to find out what they had in common. Surprisingly, his research showed that many of the best fathers had grown up with terrible fathers themselves.
Dr. Canfield called these “overcomer fathers.” Overcomers shared two common factors:
- They each had an encouraging partner.
- They each had relationships with good fathers in the community.
Learning from God the father
In the midst of teaching his followers to pray, Jesus gives an important description of how fathering should work. He encourages them to “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find,” and then makes this point:
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
There are many varied views of both who God is and what Fatherhood is about. Jesus contrasts God the Father to a trickster whose “gifts” are actually poisonous. To Jesus, God is a Father who listens to his children, and then abundantly gives them what they need.
You can learn from God’s fatherly example by praying, and asking God to remind you of the times he has provided for you.
How we teach fathering in the Life Model
Canfield’s Overcomer features line up with two key concepts from our recent book “Joy Starts Here”.
- An encouraging partner is an example of what we call a “tender response to weakness”.
- The presence of strong fathers figures surrounding the “overcomer” is an example of what we refer to as “weak and strong together.”
In the course of teaching what we call the Life Model, a set of skills and values essential for joy and maturity, we have had the pleasure of seeing these values transform people again and again. We’ve watched the children with the worst of fathers transform into role models themselves. We have even seen individuals whose father’s “gave them snakes” learn how to give good gifts to their children.
Relearning fathering isn’t easy
Whether we are “weak” or “strong”, we all have our comfort zones. Leaving just one group in charge makes for a terrible shared experience. When the strong are put in charge, they eventually run out of idealism and grow tired. When the weak are in charge they can create constant turmoil.
We created Connexus training for this very reason. For the first twelve weeks, the weak are taught new skills and the strong are taught to be better role models. Then, for the final twelve weeks, the two groups are brought together for unique opportunities to learn and grow.
The key is to experiment with ways of bringing the weak and the strong together. By meeting in well-structured environments and being given meaningful tasks, you can create safe opportunities for everyone to learn and grow.
Take the first step to transformation today
Find a father you can learn from.Together, you can grow into Overcomers.