I had an estranged relationship with my dad. When I finished primary school I wasn’t quite sure of what my dad looked like. My young mind could remember the Itsekiri tribal mark on his face but the image wasn’t strong. What I could remember the most were the fights, he and my mum would have on who would keep me and on more than one occasion, I remember my mum’s folks had to employ the police to hold off my dad.
After primary school my yearning for a father, particularly my father could not be quenched by my mother’s love and anything else so I requested to be taken to my dad. My desire was met but I was disappointed. First, it was sweet to see his excitement about me but that soon became bitter when I saw how much terrible things he allowed to happen to me. The experience soon became terrible that I had to run away from home (Sapele) back to my mum’s (Warri).
Although, I had a terrible adventure trying to know my father, I refused to accept that it was meant to be like that. During my last 2years in secondary school I sought him again, I just felt he would understand me more seeing he was a man and my only parent is a woman. I was disappointed again.
My university years were worse, I learnt the importance of a father in a man’s life in the year 2000. My new knowledge justified my longing for a relationship with my father. I would sneak from school to see him, sometimes at the site where he was the contractor, many times, I waited endlessly for him at strange places and on one occasion, slept in a car along an unfamiliar expressway. I spent my first years in the university hunting my father, I needed him to tell me what it meant to be a man, I wanted him to teach me what masculinity was, what it meant to love a woman, how to lace my shoes right, how to knot my tie and most importantly, I wanted him to lay his hands on me and bless me.
In 200Level- sometime in 2013, we got some form of rhythm, I was out-of-this-world excited. He would let me dine with him, go to meetings with him, I am sure you can tell I have made it! Just when I began to know him for who he really was, he died on me January 4th, 2014. I began to look for a father, I almost had one but he died on me, I searched the pages of bible for a father, yes I found one between those pages, and yes, He told me I needed another father.
The shocker for me was when I realized that I was looking for a covering in my father, I thought all I needed was that blood/biological connection to my father but I soon realize that what my soul was really foraging for was a Spiritual father.
I looked at the other developing men around me and saw that I wasn’t unique, many of us didn’t have fathers, so I asked, ‘where are the fathers?’
This question birthed a ministry for men in me called BetterMen’s World at the time. During my last two years of university, we had two men conferences, Boys-2-Men being the last one.
I hopped around till I finally found a father in Dr. Tony Rapu, a solid and consistent man who God has since used to produce a spiritual DNA in me. By the way, here is one lesson I have learnt from my spiritual father without him spelling it out, ‘to be a man of substance, you have to solid from within, character matters and what you do in secret is more important than what you do in public.
You need a father beyond your physical bloodline, you need a spiritual father. In a recent post, Kris Vallotton wrote this;
‘Jesus never intended for us to make Christians but rather to make disciples. We in the Church have given birth to children and then left them fatherless and trying to survive on their own. The word disciple means “learner.” The very nature of a disciple is that they need someone to teach them.’
‘Who is a father?’ you might ask. It’s very important I define this as many put several people or call different folks their fathers. We usually associate that idea somewhat with age, but we must take care that we do not make a mistake here, because age in grace, albeit that it may run parallel with age in nature in many cases, does not always do so. In the church of God there are children who are seventy years old. Yes, little children displaying all the infirmities of declining years.
On the other hand, there are fathers in the church of God, wise, stable, instructed, who, are comparatively young men. The Lord can cause His people to grow rapidly, and far outstrip their years. David as a lad was more of a father in God than Eli in his old age. Growth in grace is not a time growth. In eternal matters, years count for little. The Lord gives subtlety to the simple, and to the young men knowledge and discretion. Solomon was wise while yet young.
Nevertheless, as a usual thing, it is to be expected that advancement in grace should be accompanied with advancement in years. And it is so often so that we are known to call those who are fit to look after the souls of others “the elders of the church,” not necessarily because they are old men, but because they are instructed in the things of God. These are the fathers, then, men who have aged in grace, have come to the full development of their spiritual manhood, and have been confirmed in that development by the test of time and trials.
“Fathers,” again, are persons of maturity, men who are not raw and green, not fresh recruits, unaccustomed to march or fight, but old legionaries who have used their swords on others, and are themselves scarred with wounds received in conflict. These men know what they know, for they have thought over the gospel, studied it, considered it, and having so considered it have embraced it with full intensity of conviction. Usually we mean by “fathers” men who have become developed in grace, mature in character, decided in conviction, clear in statement, and accurate in judgment. These can discern between things that differ, and are not deceived by the philosophies which allure the ignorant. They know the voice of the Shepherd, and a stranger they will not follow.
“Fathers,” again, are men of stability and strength. If burglars are planning to attack a house they care little about the children, and make small account of the boys. The fathers of the church are men of heart who naturally care for the souls of others. It is upon the father that the weight of the household falls.
They are never very numerous—they are never as numerous as they ought to be. Paul says, “Yet have you not many fathers.” But wherever they are, they are the strength of the church.
1 John 2:13, 14 hints;
“I write unto you, fathers, because you have known Him that is from the beginning.”. . . “I have written unto you, fathers, because you have known Him that is from the beginning.” Observe, here, the concentration of their knowledge. Twice he says “You have known Him that is from the beginning.” Now, a babe in grace knows twenty things, a young man in Christ knows 10 things, but a father in Christ knows one thing, and that one thing he knows thoroughly.
The peculiarity of their knowledge as to its objective, they know “Him that was from the beginning.” Do not the babes in Christ know the Lord Jesus? Yes, they do, but they do not know Him in His full character.
This is the kind of person you need in your life as a father in grace. Not just someone who you admire what is said of them or how they dress or the pictures they put online. The criteria of your father in grace is simple: someone who has known Him from the beginning