The relationship between a father and son is one of the most important relationships ever designed by God. In fact, it existed before the creation of the world, as seen in the very nature of God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When Jesus left the heavens and became a man, the Father was overjoyed. We see evidence of this when Jesus emerges from the water of baptism and hears the voice of his Father in Matthew 3:16-17:
And as Jesus rose up out of the water, the heavenly realm opened up over him and he saw the Holy Spirit descend out of the heavens and rest upon him in the form of a dove. Then suddenly the voice of the Father shouted from the sky, saying, “This is my Son—the Beloved! My greatest delight is in him.”Matthew 3:16-17 TPT
The Father’s statement “This is my Son—the Beloved” offers more than approval or validation. It is a manifestation of pure and true love. It’s a statement of identity. Calling a son “beloved” means he is precious, adored, cherished, treasured, prized, highly regarded, admired, esteemed and a favored one.
When we discover that God wants his relationship with his son to be a model for all fathers and sons, we become empowered to be everything we’re made to be. When sons know they’re beloved, they learn they are truly loved—it’s not based on effort or accomplishments. They live with a sense of security and confidence that affects everything.
That’s probably why this relationship is a primary target of the enemy.
The devil knows that conflict and division between fathers and sons can derail generations to come. He uses division to distract us from our purpose and diminish our impact on others.
Unfortunately, most sons don’t experience unconditional love from their fathers. Instead, they feel forgotten, worthless, rejected and unlovable. No matter what they do, sons often feel like they are falling short of their father’s expectations. But this is not God’s design for this relationship.
Can you imagine if every son knew he was his father’s beloved? It would be life-changing because it would eliminate the son’s quest to earn his father’s love and acceptance. It would end the performance-based relationship that is dependent on how well he does on the field, in the classroom, in his career or on the stage. His identity and place in the family would be secure and not affected by circumstances, successes or failures. Sons would live with security, confidence and courage, knowing that their father will always be there for them.
We believe fathers need to call their sons to greatness and ignite the faith of their sons by intentionally connecting with them on a regular basis. God can do miraculous things to develop, repair and mature the father–son relationship if someone takes the initiative. Fathers, your sons are waiting. God is waiting.
As a starting point, we’ve discovered that it’s beneficial to define the health of your relationship before you pursue your son. Knowing where you are now will help you define where you want to go. It also gives you insight into how to approach the relationship. Most likely, you could define your relationship in one of three ways:
It really doesn’t matter how you rate your relationship right now; that simply gives you a starting point for discussion and improvement. Enter the process with a spirit of humility and courage. No matter what situation you find yourself in, it’s important to overcome any obstacles and persevere as you cultivate the relationship God wants for you and your son.
Noted sociologist Dr. David Popenoe says, “Involved fathers bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring.” Fathers need to show their sons how to love unconditionally, walk in integrity, pursue purity, make a difference, live a life of significance and be great in the eyes of God.
Fathers, invite your sons to become great men who humbly and faithfully serve a great God. Carve out the time. Decide that your relationship with your son deserves focused, dedicated, uninterrupted time. This could be one of the most significant things you do with him.
Don’t delay. Start today and let God begin to do his work. Show your son that he is your beloved.
In Called to Greatness, Dan and Jimmy share how fathers and sons can ignite their relationship every day for 31 days. This devotional book invites and empowers fathers and sons to become great men who humbly and faithfully serve a great God. Called to Greatness provides fathers and sons devotional readings around themes like loving unconditionally, walking in integrity, making a difference, living a life of significance, and being great in the eyes of God.
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Dan Britton is the Chief Field Officer for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He is the coauthor of 6 books, including One Word and Life Word, and works to help people pursue their passion. Dan is a frequent speaker for companies, nonprofits, sports teams, schools, and churches.
Jimmy Page is a speaker, writer, trainer, and leadership coach. He is the coauthor of several books, including One Word and Life Word, and currently serves as the Divisional Vice President with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. His mission is to inspire and activate the heroic potential and greatness in others.