Becoming a Father

Melt van der Spuy, Jun 14, 2024, 6:22 PM
Melt van der Spuy Pastor (West region)
Proximity - Aeron Brown, square.png

Have you ever wondered why Scripture gives more coverage to the relationship which exists between God the Father and Jesus the Son than any other relational dynamic contained within Trinity? What might be the reason for singling out that relational dynamic rather than, say, the relationship which exists between the Father and the Holy Spirit?

I believe it is meant as something of a model for us to imitate. Not just insofar as our relationship with our heavenly Father - that too - but far more so, relating to the fullness of relationship God desires for us to have with our own parents as children and with our own children as parents. Malachi and Luke would seem to concur.

The prophet Malachi speaks of the restoration of parent / child relationships:
Malachi 4:6 He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents...

Luke assumes the prophecy of Malachi fulfilled in the ministry of John the Baptist and takes the principle beyond biological parent / child relationships:
Lk 1: 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

What Luke is doing in using and expanding Malachi's words is quite commonly done by NT writers. He is creating what was called in antiquity a composite citation. A number of Bible verses grouped together. He then goes on to give a Messianic interpretation of the OT citation and shows that the fathering which God has in mind moves beyond the familial to include the whole people of God. Luke seems to be at pains to show that this restoration by God is not limited to biological family only, but has implications for the whole people of the Lord. It is a 'both / and' text.

I am a father. I have three biological daughters and an adopted son and daughter. I have a two-year-old grandson too. They all have my whole heart. I also carry people whom God has entrusted to my spiritual care but who are not biologically related to me. They too have my heart. I never foresaw that my heart would have the capacity to carry this many people, but somehow God has made it possible.

Sometimes Christians in failed parent / child relationships mouth platitudes like: 'Oh you know, I find all of my parenting in God.'  Really? No one is that spiritual. In the case of such tragically broken-down relationships, it may be that the Holy Spirit gives you sufficient resources of himself to rebuild, to reconstruct around the pain, to cope and to live a fruitful and significant life, but there will always be loss that you carry. While there exists a scrap of hope toward restoration of these kinds of failed relationships, do not walk away. Pursue restoration with everything you have.

Being a biological father for now, thirty-four years, and being a shepherd (or spiritual father if you prefer) for about twenty-four years, I have learned a few things along the way. I have made peace with the fact that I am no longer a 'Son of Thunder,' as was a nickname given by some to me in the early days of ministry. I am now a spiritual father, as well as a biological one.

I have learned practical things along the way. No one ever sat me down and said: 'Well Melt, this is how you become a good father.' I learned truly little worth imitating from my own biological father. I learned from my heavenly Father as I went along.

Here are a few things I have learned. I do not want to separate the familial space from fathering or shepherding the community of God's people. The principles may be a little more nuanced, here and there, but all of them apply.

If you want to be a good father:

  • Open yourself to receiving your own fathering from God and from others.
  • Make peace with your earthly father, or his legacy if you want to be a good father yourself. (I loved my own father dearly, and we had a good relationship up to the time of his premature death. But truth be told, he left me a legacy that only God the Holy Spirit could heal and undo fully.)
  • Love your children deeply and unconditionally.
  • Do not take offence.
  • Pursue your children's affections regardless. Run after their love and affection hard. Drag them back when everything in you says, let go. Build into their lives even when they are not in a place to receive. Jesus ultimately comes. (Come Jesus, Come.)
  • Listen to them. Hear them. Converse and discuss with them. Do not say no to them unless you absolutely must.
  • Entrust to God, what you cannot see.


I have the same eyes
But not your ridiculously handsome features
I used to have your temper
You were very hot-tempered

But we found our peace, you and me
I found mine in Jesus after you left,
You eventually found Him too, just before you left.

And we were sitting next to each other as you were leaving
And we said plenty
About everything you did
And should not have done
My ritual looks very different.

Dad, as I get older some of me looks more and more like you
I have the same hands
And physique
You had your ideas
They were so different from my ideas now.

And we were wandering in our minds as we spoke
The Truth you were seeking
And that at the last found you
He found me soon after.

Dad, parts of me look more and more like you
You were never strict
I did just what I liked and had to unlearn most of it
And (*#@) I have struggled with what you left me sometimes
But your words, they still echo in my head
And although He has made me so different from you
There are still parts of you that are me

But I have the gift of faith
And I love one woman
Not every woman
And maybe I have become what you did not want at all
But Dad, I look more like you
And parts of me are much like you

Image: "Proximity" by Aeron Brown