No two words sparked more emotion at The Cove on Memorial Day Weekend than these two that Chip Ingram used to describe the role of fathers in today’s society.
You could almost feel the blood pressure rising among fathers attending Ingram’s parenting conference at The Billy Graham Training Center.
Dads have become “Assistant Moms.”
About the only title that’s worse: “Assistant to the Mom.”
“It hits a raw nerve,” said Ingram, President of Living on the Edge ministries. “Men don’t like to be called out.”
But the critical theme of fathers standing up and becoming leaders in the home could easily be detected in all five of the parenting sessions over the weekend.
If you had to boil down the conference in three words, it would be simply: Where’s the Dad?
Most men just don’t have the guts to provide leadership in the home, Ingram said.
There are many factors contributing to the absence of a strong godly father figure, according to Ingram.
1. Ignorance: “The church isn’t teaching much.”
2. Household harmony: “Do wives really want that strong of a leader? Because their role as a women will have to change.”
3. Society: “The culture mitigates against it.”
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal titled “A new generation of TV wimps” talks about a barrage of upcoming new sitcoms where fathers struggle with what it means to be a real man. In one episode, shortly after the father declares proudly “I’m the man,” his wife describes him as “man-ish.”
Since 1996, the number of stay-at-home dads has tripled from 49,000 to 154,000, partly due to the recession. Men account for about 75 percent of the 2008 decline in employment. In 1970, married women contributed 2 to 6 percent of a family’s income compared with 36 percent in 2007, according to the Pew Research Center.
“What’s a dad to be? said Ingram, father of four adult children. “What’s a dad to do?” He’s the leader of the family.”
In a short chapter he wrote for a Focus on the Family book, Ingram points to four crucial areas that answer these questions.
1. He’s a Leader (1 Corinthians 4:14-16)
Definition = He makes things happen
Questions leaders ask:
a. Where are we now?
b. Where do we need to go?
c. What must we do to get there?
2. He’s a Priest (Deuteronomy 6:1-13)
Definition = He makes God known
Questions priests ask:
a. Do my kids know God?
b. Do they have an accurate view of God?
c. Does our home honor God?
d. Are we growing in holiness?
3. He’s a Teacher (Ephesians 6:4)
Definition = He imparts wisdom and builds character
Questions teachers ask:
a. What do they need to know, do and be?
b. How do they best learn?
c. When and how will I teach tem in this season of life?
4. He’s a Lover (Malachi 4:5-6)
Definition = He gives people what they need most
Questions lovers ask:
a. How are my kids “really” doing?
b. Do they sense my approval and acceptance?
c. Are we “connecting” at a deep level?
“No one does it perfectly, but the rewards of partnering with God are huge,” Ingram said. “My friendship with my adult kids brings amazing joy to my soul. Few things mean more to me than hearing one of them say, “I love you, Dad.”