LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
THE PROCESS OF BECOMING THE MAN, HUSBAND, AND FATHER
YOUR FAMILY NEEDS
When I was ten years old, my stepdad took me to the baseball field to give me some coaching advice. It was mid-season, and I had been in a hitting slum because I was afraid of being hit by the ball. Every time the pitcher threw the ball, I’d jump backwards out of the batter’s box as if the ball were hot on the inside of the plate. That day, the field was empty except for my stepdad and me. He placed a football helmet on my head and had me stand in the batter’s box. I had no idea what was going on. I thought that maybe we were going to do a little batting practice, as my stepdad walked away toward the pitcher’s mound. But that didn’t really explain the football helmet.
Suddenly, and without warning, he began pelting me with fast balls one right after the other. They were coming at me so fast that I was hardly able to swing the bat. WHACK! The first ball ricocheted off my helmet. This was premeditated! THUD. A ball hit me in the leg. I was getting more and more upset with each pitch. WHOOSH! BAM! A ball rushed by my head and hit the backboard behind me. I finally pulled myself together and swung the bat. CRACK! The ball went flying, and, thankfully, my stepdad stopped pitching.
I was furious and crying as he walked up to me at the batter’s box. “Are you afraid of the ball now, son? You’ve got nothing to be afraid of! No one in Little League will ever throw the ball as hard as I just did.”
My stepdad solved a problem for me that day. I was never again afraid of being hit by the ball. Looking back, that story makes me laugh. My stepdad was really trying to help me! Unfortunately, his methods of teaching me to overcome my fears didn’t do a whole lot for our relationship, but as I grew older and heard more stories of his relationship with his own dad, I began to understand. He was doing the best he could with what he’d been given.
I remember one story he told me about how his father had helped him to overcome his fear of water. He was about thirteen years old when his dad took him out for a drive. He stopped on a bridge that went right over the river, pulled my stepdad out of the car, and threw him into the water! As my stepdad was struggling in the river, his dad yelled, “Sink or swim! Die or try! It’s up to you, boy, if you make it!” It must have worked, because my stepdad later became a submarine commander.
Like Father, Like Son
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told my kids that I wasn’t going to repeat the same broken parenting patterns that my stepdad had used with me. I wanted to be different. I wanted to be better. I wanted more for my kids. But guess what? I failed. Maybe you have, too. I tried to do better and to be better, but I found myself repeating the same broken patterns of my stepdad and of his dad before him.
Why do we do that? How do we break the cycle? In theory, it sounds great to say, “I’m never going to treat my kids that way.” And you may experience a few small victories, but by and large, this plan doesn’t work. Why? Because simply saying you won’t do something doesn’t give you the power or the ability to replace that negative practice with a better one. Like father, like son. You won’t be able to give out what you’ve never received.
There’s an old saying that goes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” It makes sense doesn’t it? If there’s nothing in your cup, nothing’s going to come out when you try to pour it into another cup. Let me give you an example. I spent years believing that if I could do it just right, I would become what I do. I thought that if I could just keep on believing and trying to be that perfect dad, eventually I would be a perfect dad. But it didn’t happen that way. Try as I might, I kept repeating those same broken parenting patterns. Using the cup analogy, my cup was only filled with the little bit that I had received from my stepdad and the little bit that he had received from his dad. My cup was nearly empty. My ability to be a great dad was limited by the broken ways I had been fathered as a child and the broken ways that my stepdad had been fathered when he was a child.
Some of you have more in your cup when it comes to being a good father and a good husband. You received something from your father. You were able to watch his life and, in a positive way, receive something from him. Your capacity to be a good father is greater than mine, and my capacity is probably greater than some others because I had a dad in my life at all. Our ability to pour out blessings and love upon our kids may be limited by what we’ve received from our fathers, but in every case, whether we had a good dad or no dad at all, our capacity to be the father that our kids need us to be is still limited by our humanity—by our sin. Even the greatest father out there isn’t perfect. He’s flawed. A man without the Spirit of God moving in his life is just a mere man, limited by his human abilities. God made us for so much more than just what our human dads could give us!
That’s why Jesus came.
The Bible says that God created Adam, the first man, in His image and likeness. Like Father, like son, right? Adam had no limitations on his life as a man, husband, and father. His capacity to have a relationship with the Father was unlimited as long as he continued to walk in holiness. The Bible declares that God is holy, and, in order to have a relationship with Him, we also need to be holy. When Adam sinned, he died spiritually and lost that supernatural connection to God as his Father.
Do you remember when God asked Adam, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). The Father wasn’t wondering about Adam’s physical location! He was asking Adam where he was spiritually. Adam had broken their “like Father, like son” relationship. He no longer looked like the Father because he had lost God’s holy presence on his life. Sin had marred the image and likeness of the Father on Adam’s life. Adam’s sons after him would now bear even less of the Father’s image on their lives. And the same is true of us, of our fathers, and of our children. All of us have lost our connection to God the Father.
When Jesus came, He not only restored the connection to the Father that we had lost in Adam’s fall but He also modeled for us a true “like Father, like Son” relationship. He showed us what being fathered by God could look like in our lives. Speaking of Jesus, John wrote, “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes—the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son—generous inside and out, true from start to finish” (John 1:14, MSG). Jesus didn’t just come to die in our place for the sins we’ve committed; He also came to restore our relationship with the Father.
The only way for us to have something to pour into our kids—to be the fathers our kids need and the husbands our wives need—is for us to have the image and presence of the Father restored in our lives. That only happens when we re-enter into a relationship with the Father through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. When we are born again in Christ, the Father restores His relationship with us and adopts us as His sons and daughters in Christ. By receiving the free gift of salvation and the forgiveness of our sins that Jesus offers us through His death, we get to partake in His resurrection from the dead—His new life—and become sons and daughters of the Living God. He becomes our Father!
Sons of God
I’ve met hundreds of Christians over the years who called God their Father but didn’t really understand what it means to be fathered by Him. I’ve also met hundreds more who couldn’t even call God “Father” because the wounds they received from their earthly father were too great. “Father” was a bad word to them. They can’t see past their own father-wounds and recognize their need for another father, a greater father, the Father they’ve always wanted but never knew they could have.
The Bible describes God the Father this way: “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him” (Psalm 103:8-13).
If you’ve put your hope and trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then you have a Father in heaven. God has become your Father. And if you didn’t know that, He’s been waiting for you to turn to Him. He wants to have a relationship with you just as any loving father would have with his son or daughter. He wants to talk to you. He wants you to talk to Him. He wants to restore that “like Father, like Son” relationship with you—the same relationship He has with His Son, Jesus. People looked at Jesus and just knew what God the Father was like. And—get this—He’s been talking to you! He has been leading and guiding you. His eye has never left you. You may not have felt it or known it, but your Father in heaven has been watching over you.
The process of being re-fathered by God begins when we recognize that we have a Father in heaven and that we are His sons and daughters. When God becomes our Father and we begin receiving from Him, our empty cups are filled by our heavenly Father. You cannot become the good father, husband, and man that you want to be without first experiencing and connecting to the power source that is the true good Father, God himself.
Think of it like this: in order to pour out love and blessings upon your kids, you need love and blessings poured into you. And let me tell you, as a parent of five (now adult) kids, you’re going to need more than that! You need to be filled with the wisdom and grace that is particular to the child that God has given you to raise! Some of you have kids who are causing grey hairs to sprout out of your head at this very moment! The more you are fathered by God, the more you will have to give away to those whom you love.
The “Becoming” Principle
I like to call this process of being re-fathered by God, the Becoming Principle. It’s the secret to becoming a great man, husband, and father. You want to become a great father, an amazing husband, a leader in your workplace or community. In order to become, you first need to receive. To the level that you are willing to receive, you will become. This is the Becoming Principle.
This is especially hard for us men. We tend to think that we need to do something in order to receive something. This can easily turn into a performance-driven system in which the reward is given because of one’s accomplishments. Performance-driven systems don’t work in relationships because performance is all about the reward, the end goal, instead of being about the other person. The focus is all on you doing something in order to receive. Performance-based love doesn’t work because it naturally produces fear of what will happen when we aren’t able to perform or measure up in our relationships! And the truth is, we’re all going to fail in our relationships at some point in time.
Thankfully, God’s love isn’t like that, and a relationship with Him isn’t like that either. Here’s what John said about God’s perfect love: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (John 4:18).
Before Jesus came, men and women who wanted to meet with God were required to bring sacrifices and offerings to receive the forgiveness they needed in order to have a relationship with God. But it wasn’t enough just to remove their sin, which was the thing that kept them at a distance from God the Father. “No matter how many sacrifices were offered year after year, they never added up to a complete solution. If they had, the worshipers would have gone merrily on their way, no longer dragged down by their sins. But instead of removing awareness of sin, when those animal sacrifices were repeated over and over again, they actually heightened awareness and guilt. The plain fact is that bull and goat blood can’t get rid of sin” (Hebrews 10:1b-4, MSG). But when Jesus came, He turned all of that around. Jesus became the offering for sin that we needed, the once-for-all time sacrifice for our sins! That is what is meant by this prophecy, put in the mouth of Christ: “You don’t want sacrifices and offerings year after year; you’ve prepared a body for me for a sacrifice. It’s not fragrance and smoke from the altar that whet your appetite. So I said, ‘I’m here to do it your way, O God, the way it’s described in your Book’” (Hebrews 10:5-7).
When Jesus became the sacrifice for our sins, all God’s wrath—His anger over sin—was poured out on His Son. There is no longer any judgment for you and for me. Because Jesus became the offering for our sin, we can now freely enjoy the Father’s goodness and grace as sons and daughters of God. Rather than doing things so that we might receive, in receiving we shall become. You don’t need to become something in order to meet with God your Father! No more sacrifice is required. Jesus became that sacrifice on your behalf. The question is—will you receive it? It’s not a one-time transaction. If you will step into this relationship with your heavenly Father through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, you will begin to receive all that you need in order to become the man, the father, and the husband that you’ve always wanted to be—and so much more.
People ask me all the time what I did to end up with such great kids. I have three sons and two daughters, three of whom are married to incredible sons-in-love and daughters-in-love, and some that already have children of their own. They are all a blessing to me and bring me joy every day. But it wasn’t a magic trick that got me here. I’m not the greatest father of all time, although my kids like to tell me I am. I’ve made a lot of mistakes! But one thing I’ve discovered is that the secret to being a great man, father, and husband, is the Becoming Principle: when we open our hearts to receive from God, we will begin to become the man, the father, and the husband, that God has called us to be. When we receive from God, allowing Him to fill our cups, then we have something to pour out into our kids.
Imagine for a moment that cup, which keeps getting poured out each day. It needs to be refilled, doesn’t it? This is the Becoming Principle. It’s an ongoing process. You won’t wake up as a perfect dad one day, and your kids aren’t going to automatically receive and become amazing kids in one day either. I’m not handing out magic potions. As you receive—as you open yourself up to receive more and more, you’re going to become the father that your kids need because you are going to be pouring out into them exactly what they need.
Do you have a question about something your kid is going through right now? Maybe you’re not sure how to handle a particular situation. God is going to show you how to do it as you become that man of blessing! And that, my friends, is how you change your family tree.
Throughout this book, I’m going to be discussing more and more of the specifics regarding how to put yourself in that place of receiving so that you can start becoming. We’re going to look at examples of Moses and Peter from the Bible to see how God the Father fathered them, how He spoke to them, and how they received from Him and became the men God called them to be. We’re going to walk through this process of becoming together, and if you’ll stick with me, you’ll end up in a place of receiving and becoming the father, husband, and man that God has called you to be.
Listen to these words for you from Jesus: “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11-13).
God is a good Father who wants to give you good gifts. One of those good gifts is the gift of His Holy Spirit who will not only fill your cup but will also give you the wisdom and insight to be the man, husband, and father that you want to become. What do you want to ask God for today? Start by asking for His Holy Spirit!
Father, I give You all my attempts at trying to become a righteous man, husband, and father on my own. Forgive me for hiding from You in my sin and shame. I want to receive all that You have for me and the forgiveness that your Son, Jesus, purchased for me on the cross. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit so that I can become the man, husband, and father that You have created me to be. In Jesus’s name, Amen!
We hope you enjoy this preview digital excerpt of Like Father, Like Son by Ed Tandy
The final version will be available in March of 2020
© 2019 Ed Tandy McGlasson
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All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy
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Other books and materials by Ed Tandy McGlasson can be found on his website.
“It’s never too late to become the man, husband, and father that your family needs.”
-Ed Tandy McGlasson