In my office is a picture of my dad holding the Father’s Day gift I presented him with when I was 12 years old..
..a gold record that said “World’s Best Dad”. And that is exactly how I felt about my father. To me, he was larger than life—my hero and my best friend. And even though I can only celebrate him in my memories today, there is still no one man who has ever influenced my life the way my dad did. His investment in me was so profound that I am still learning from him today—through all he taught me and showed me and through his achievements and his failures. And, I still consider him to be “the best”.
I am a dad myself now – 5 times over – through birth and adoption. And now it is my turn to invest in my kids—to influence and teach them—by words and actions. It is I who will help shape their life and place my stamp on the people they are becoming. They learn from me. They see how I handle peace and adversity, surplus and lack, accomplishments and failures. They experience my sin and watch to see how I will respond. I have never received my own gold record, but I pray I am working on one.
In my pastoral ministry, I have counseled many young men and women through a variety of life trials.
And one thing that I have seen over and over is the unfathomable influence of a father, both good and bad. Without fail, those who struggle the most are the kids—now all grown up—who never had a dad or dad-figure to help mold and shape them in a positive direction. There is space in a child’s heart that can only be filled by the presence of a father. And when that figure is missing, the heart suffers along with all of the actions that flow from it. But we rejoice because, in a Holy dwelling, resides a Father of the fatherless (Psalm 68:5) who sees the trouble of the afflicted, considers their grief, and takes it in hand (Psalm 10:14). God, the only God, knows the anguish of our souls (Psalm 31:7) and satisfies us with His unfailing love (Psalm 37:18). And it is that good Father who beckons His church to ARISE and SHINE in response to the darkness of sin and its effects (Isaiah 60) and to make His manifold wisdom known (Ephesians 3:10). It is IN HIM that the heart—broken and empty—can be healed.
Last year my wife and I were blessed by the Lord to become a part of a new Lifeline ministry known as Families Count.
God has granted this ministry the opportunity to share gospel-based parental training to families that are struggling to navigate the choppy waters of this fallen world. For six weeks, we are given the opportunity to lift high His name and the name of His Son, Jesus, to those who, like us, need Him to take our grief in hand and satisfy our anguish. This is not a ministry of the perfect sharing wisdom with the imperfect. Rather, it is an opportunity for those who have experienced the transforming grace of God, to shine the light of His majesty to those who are in the depths of darkness.
THIS is what HIS church was made to do.
I rejoice each time a dad walks into our class and sets his mind on the goal of bettering himself for the sake of his children. I am so thankful that God is in the process of raising up this Lifeline ministry to teach fathers to fight for the healing of their own hearts so that they may rightly shape the hearts of the ones in their care.
Families Count purposes to equip these dads through wise counsel and bold proclamation of the gospel. We often say in our classes that parenting is the most challenging task we will ever undertake; yet, it is also the most rewarding. Ultimately, the reward is learning how to reflect, even in the smallest ways, our good Father in Heaven. What an opportunity! That dads who are changed by grace can imitate, in imperfection, the One who exists in eternal perfection. That we can point to the Father who created us for His glory, stamped us with His image, and answered our subsequent rebellion with His unfailing love.
Families Count aims to strengthen fathers by lifting high THE Father who planned our rescue, the Son who secured it, and the Spirit who seals it. And week by week, teaching practical wisdom and diving deep into the word, we are reminded that the best dads are the ones who make it their goal to point continually to the Greatest Dad who is worthy of all of our praise.
David McConnell, Families Count Mentor
To learn more about Lifeline’s Families Count ministry, visit our website HERE.