During the NFL Draft last night someone vocalized what was on my mind most of the night. I only watched half of it, but for most of these men it was an emotional time in which they hugged their family members and thanked their mothers. They cried as their dreams were realized along with the realization that a big payoff was coming their way. Some could now provide for their families, while others saw it as an opportunity to prove their ability on a higher level.
They’ve worked hard and pushed themselves all seemingly without a father, at least that’s how it appeared. Someone even drew the distinction that it was the opposite of the motherless Disney Princesses. Here are the fatherless pro-football players. The sad thing about it all is that in a generation or rather a world that desperately needs not just okay but great fathers, we hope along with these athletes that somehow the realization of their dreams would make them good providers/fathers/people. The reality is, a hefty paycheck and a chance to play a manly sport at the highest level won’t create good fathers. What creates good fathers is having ones that affirm you not on the basis of your performance but your identity.
That’s why the tears, though sincere, concern me. Their dreams realized, but on the basis of someone saying you made it, you made the money, you got here because you are good enough. That’s the job of a coach not a father. They feel the emotion of someone finally saying again you’re good enough in the face of all your obstacles. We picked you first! But a father delights in his child on the basis of identity. He picks you first because you’re his, and He knows what you’re created for.
Unfortunately the church world isn’t much different from the NFL or any other competitive position. We turn churches into coaching platforms and many young pastors are not fathered but coached. Get better and prove your worth, grow this youth ministry and earn your keep. I have friends who face that even as I write. Thankfully this will change. The last verses in the Old Testament points to it, the New Testament promises it in the incarnation of Christ and both the Church and world are groaning for it.
The disintegration of the family unit, an out control pornography and sex trafficking epidemic, an exaltation of entertainment over relationship, and powerless churches are to me all indications of father’s abandoning their identity for something else. Read the epistles for qualifications of church leaders and see what it says about a leader’s lifestyle and how they manage their household and how their kids behave. Their qualifications are mostly based on chracter inside the home. Titus 3:6”An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.” Do you know how many times I’ve heard stories of pastor’s kids accused of being the most rebellious? That’s scary and a sign that something seriously unhealthy is going on yet we eat it up like candy and don’t question character on the basis of charisma.
The good thing about the NFL is we don’t watch it and say I want to be a father just like these professional athletes. Even Tim Tebow will have to explain to his kids one day why he posed shirtless with his body poised like Christ on the cross when his kids ask him, “Did you do this for the men? (They don’t care) Women? (They might but for wrong reasons) for money? (don’t you have enough) for God? (I can think of thousands of better ideas none of which having to do with your outward appearance) NFL athletes have a lot of choices to make when it comes to sponsorship so he probably will be able to laugh it off later so it’s not that unfortunate. But what would be unfortunate is if we couldn’t or can’t walk into churches and say, “I want to be a father/mother like these professional pastors.”