04 Apr Intentional Initiation: The Unlocking Power of a Father’s Intention
This week’s blog is part 1 of a 4-week Man Maker Project Workshop series held live in Fort Collins at Timberline Church on Tuesdays 6:30-8 p.m. Naturally, we covered far more than what a single blog can hold. Be on the lookout for the videos! This week (April 5th) we will explore “From Mother to Midwife: The Changing Role of Mom in a Boy’s 2nd Birth.” Join us! See our Facebook page for more information.
“The goal of formalized initiation is to uncover and grow the seeds of manhood that God has placed in the depths of the boy’s heart. The father and older men guide, direct, train, and complete that which God has already begun. It is the father’s place to ally with God in the making and finishing of the boy’s manhood. In essence, the question in the boy’s soul stems from his manhood wanting to be set free, and the initiatory rites of the father catalyze his new birth….Rites create the portal from boyhood to manhood. The father holds the key.” ~Man Maker Project, p. 20
When it comes to fathering, there is nothing more important than intentionality. And when it comes to transitioning our sons from boyhood to manhood, a father’s intention is the key. Without it, nothing happens. But with it, the father communicates to the son he is valued, important, and worth pursuing, and that the boy’s future is crucial enough to take action now.
You see, manhood is something God has planted in the heart of every male. It is not something that eludes us or a quality we must acquire or achieve. When God makes a human male he writes into his heart and life and body the very image of God, and supplies him with everything he needs to grow and mature into the fullness of manhood. In the process, he designs a mother to bring forth life to this human as a boy, and he designs a father to train, shape, and release him as a man. Boys are born, but men are made. And it is the father’s intentional fathering that releases the boy’s manhood and collaborates with God in the creation of a man.
Three Categories of Fathering
It is vital, then, for fathers to know what intentional fathering actually looks like. The world is full of models, books, resources, teachings and opinions. And while parents need practical advice in the raising of their children, far too often this advice focuses on behavior management and modification, discipline, and overall life-management (i.e. bed time routines, table manners, etc.) and misses the heart.
Destroying the Child
Destructive Fathering seeks to destroy the heart of the child. Whether overtly or covertly, intentionally or unintentionally, a destructive father’s heart and action is set against the boy. This occurs primarily through his violence or his absence and creates the deep father-wounds in the child’s heart that will last a lifetime. In all likelihood, those reading this or engaged in this material do not fall within the realm of this type of fathering, but I’d be remiss to not at least name it.
Raising an Adult
The focus of practical fathering is on the child’s future role or position. It is concerned with the child becoming a well-adjusted citizen who contributes significantly to the world. The practical parent is present, involved, and has a vision for what the boy will do through academics, sports, social awareness, personal interests, etc. Practical fathering is important, to be sure, but its focus is on raising an adult.
Raising a Man
Intentional fathering includes all of the categories of practical fathering, but goes far beyond. Whereas practical fathering is aimed at raising an adult, intentional fathering is focused on raising a man. The aim is at his heart, where the father is concerned about who he will be more than what he will do. The intentional father’s vision is for the character, soul and heart of the man-to-be that will be ubiquitous across all possible places he will be or roles he will have.
Three Actions of an Intentional Father
It is vital, then, for fathers to know what intentional fathering looks like. If intention is the key to unlocking the boy’s manhood, the father must attend to three specific tasks in order to effectively initiate his son. Practical fathering may involve a lot of tips, techniques and advice with regard to proper discipline, social skills training, and self-management. But intentional fathering requires much more of the boy’s heart and simultaneously much more of the father’s heart.
Awareness of His Own Brokenness
Heal Your Wounds
For a father to be intentional in how he writes the father-story for his son, he must first take a deep dive into his own life and story. He needs to investigate how he was fathered, where he was wounded, and what aspects of his own heart need healing. What is hidden in the father lives on in the son, and where the father’s heart remains wounded and broken, he will likely pass on that pain to his son. The intentional father needs first to be intentional with himself, and heal his own wounds. This does not need to be completed before he can adequately father his son, but he must at least begin.
Hope of the Kingdom
Know Your God
Intentional fathers need to know the true Father. He must have a vision of the kingdom of God, and a belief in the restorative power of the gospel. He needs to hold strongly to the desire to write a better story for his son, and a strong connection to the only One who can bring forth life. The father’s role is to unite the son with the True Father, and to do this, he must know his God deeply and personally.
Taking Action in Fathering
Restore Your World
There is no such thing as “good intentions” that lead no where. Intentionality involves making a plan, and then taking action. Intentional fathers address their own brokenness, connect to the Father, and then do something about it. Men were created by God to act. It may be wonderful to read, research, and intend good things, but until words meet action, it means nothing. There is no one else designed by God to actively pursue the heart of the son but the father. This is why creating a well thought out plan includes specifics such as dates, expectations, and responsible parties. When it comes to raising men out of our boys, assembly is required.
Check out this video from Restoration Project Advocate Bruce Stankavage. Bruce shares about how he has stepped into each of these three categories of intentional fathering with his son, Luke.
Also, be sure to pick up a copy of the Man Maker Project: Boys are Born, Men are Made book from the Restoration Project store.