Dads Can Emulate the Image of Our Heavenly Father
- Eva Marie Everson Contributing Writer
- 2004 17 Jun
Welcome to “The Cross & the Pen,” Crosswalk.com’s author-to-author interview column. Please allow me to tell you about my friend, Bryan Davis. The first time I met Bryan (and I can’t even remember how long ago it was…) I thought, “This man is truly an example of our Heavenly Father.” How fitting, then, for Bryan to write a book about fatherhood, The Image of a Father (AMG Publishers).
Bryan Davis exudes “quiet authority,” and “patient love.” One doesn’t have to be around him long to know the most important things in his life are his relationship with God and his relationship with his wife and children…all seven of them! When Bryan told me about his upcoming book, I waited anxiously for it…and then devoured it…yes, even as a mother, rather than a father. Recently we chatted about The Image of a Father and fatherhood and writing and all that…wanna listen in?
Eva: Bryan, if anyone is qualified to write a book on fatherhood, I suppose it's you. Would you tell my readers about your family?
Bryan: Glad to, Eva. My wife, Susie and I have seven children, four girls and three boys. The oldest is James, our 21-year-old. He’s a student at Florida State University majoring in economics. Josiah is our 19-year-old tennis enthusiast who is attending the local community college. Arianna, our 17-year-old, is also attending community college and is planning to major in international economics. These three were educated all the way through high school in our homeschool. The rest of our children are currently homeschooled. Caleb is our 15-year-old high schooler, and plays the cello in an orchestra. Amanda is 13 years old and loves to sew and read. Rachel, our 9-year-old, is a blossoming pianist, and she also enjoys reading. Hannah is seven. She also plays piano, and, as the baby of the family, is a little ray of sunshine.
Eva: Do you mind talking a bit about your decision to sell your portion of an investment business?
Bryan: I felt God’s call to write about eight years ago, but I thought I could answer the call by writing at night after the children were in bed or during lunch breaks. The problem was that I couldn’t really devote the time I needed to learning the craft. My publishing results reflected my lack of skill. I couldn’t seem to get publishers interested in my work. I decided that the only way I could really break into the field would be to get the necessary training and make writing my career. I began asking God how to do that and still feed my family. I knew God would always supply my needs, but I didn’t know if that meant quitting my job and stepping out in faith without a salary. Eva, as you know, God is always faithful. Another company bought our investment firm, including my shares. I was able to transfer my duties to others over time, then leave the company and have some money to live on until my writing efforts bore financial fruit. I’m thankful to God for allowing me to make a smooth transition.
Eva: Bryan, what were the circumstances around the birthing of your book, The Image of a Father?
Birthing? I suppose this book had a 20-year gestation period. When my first son was born, I was clueless. I held him in my arms and said, “What do I do now?” There were plenty of books on what to do with a child, from changing diapers to planning for college, but what I really needed was something deeper, instructions on how to be the man I needed to be. This book shows a man how to reflect the image of God as a father, how to show our children what God is like. My desire to be a father after God’s own heart lead me to the Scriptures. I wanted to see the fatherhood of God and how he guided His people. Those reflections and studies brought about the birth of this book.
Eva: Let me ask this right up front: is this book just for fathers?
No, not at all. While it is geared toward fathers, this book shows us what God is like as a father and how to reflect those qualities. Mothers, especially those without a strong father figure in the family, can learn how to fill in the gaps that are left wanting. Grandfathers, teachers, coaches, pastors, scout leaders, you name it, can all benefit from reflecting these characteristics of God for the children they influence. But one surprise I received was from several people who told me that this book helped them see God as a father for the first time. You see, they had terrible fathers—abusive, alcoholic, or absent—and they had a negative view of God’s fatherhood as a result. This book helped them love God as a father for the first time in their lives. I was overjoyed to see the healing that took place in their relationship with God.
Eva: You chose 12 specific images of God the Father to reflect a man as a father. Why those twelve?
Bryan: I chose these for three reasons. First, they are qualities that we are able to reflect as humans, that is, they are not impossible. Second, they each have a role in building our children into men and women of God. If we can adequately reflect these qualities, and our children respond to them, they will be prepared to know God and savior. Third, as you can see, the characteristics are in somewhat chronological order. They start with what we fathers can do for our children early in their lives, and they progress to how we can show God’s guiding hand in sending our children out into the world. I wanted to create sort of a cradle to graduation lesson plan for dads.
Eva: You know, we see television shows and movies depicting strong women as the head of their households--even when a father or husband is present--and I think it's broken down our expectation of a man's role in the home. So, how can a man establish authority in today's home?
Bryan: The most important way a man can establish authority is to exhibit godly behavior. How can a man expect his children to respect and obey him if he is not willing to obey God, his own authority? Should we set rules when we won’t even obey the rules ourselves? Do we punish a child for lying and then lie to our bosses, to the taxman, or to our wives? Do we tell our children to respect authority and then break the speed limit?
Another way to establish authority is to show our children the source of our authority, the Word of God. As we show our deep respect for God’s precepts and our desire to communicate its truth, our children will see that our authority is grounded in something greater, that it is not based on our personal whims. Our authority is firmly established in the eternal.
Eva: On that note, are you concerned about the image of today's father?
I’m very concerned. Modern media portrays fathers as useless relics from the Stone Age. They’re good for a laugh, a paycheck, and protection, but not much else. On television sit-coms, fathers constantly lie in order to satisfy selfish desires. They are caricatures of weakness, spineless men who would rather abdicate their authority than do anything truly sacrificial. They are morally pliable, mentally soft, and easily manipulated., Unfortunately, many men give in and adapt to this model of Jell-O manhood.
I believe God has made us better men than these. We are able to be reflections of God’s fatherly nature. He has given the Holy Spirit as an empowering guide, a light in this present dark culture. But it will take many men to turn this tide. By demonstrating strength in numbers, we can make the media image an obvious lie. We can nurture children who will also reflect God’s idea of manhood. We do have hope.
Eva: Let me ask you this, Bryan: so many fathers see their children according to a court order, you know? Now, you are a father "inside the home." How can a non-custodial father reflect the image of God the Father when he doesn't have every day contact or even "established authority" over them?
Bryan: This is difficult for me to answer, Eva, since I have no personal experience with the tragedy of broken homes. I can offer some principles, though, that might help. First, men, don’t verbally tear down the mother of your children. Show her civility and respect, both when she’s present and when you’re alone with the children. This alone will demonstrate for your children the grace and mercy of God, thereby lifting you up as an authority. Second, spend time in God’s word with them, showing them that it’s a priority. Make those times short and uplifting so that they’re not burdensome, but demonstrate that the Word is essential in your life. Finally, don’t compromise your integrity by allowing them to do things that you know are wrong simply because their mother allows them. Compromise on the non-essentials such as hairstyles, makeup, and other external trappings, but hold fast to the essentials such as sexual promiscuity, substance abuse, and other dangerous behaviors. And finally, be on your knees for yourself and the mother of your children. Pray, pray, pray.
Eva: I have to tell you that I believe a parent’s knees should bear the calluses of hours of prayer…and since we’re on that subject…would you offer up a short prayer for today's father?
Bryan: Yes. Thank you for asking. Heavenly father, thank you for being our example of fatherhood. Please help us mere mortals to see your fatherly face and to trust in your abiding presence as we attempt to show Your glory to our children. We know that without You we could never do this, but, with Your help, we can be reflections of Your image, the image of a father.
For more information about Bryan Davis, go to: Author website www.daviscrossing.com or the book website www.imageofafather.com. The book is available at most Christian bookstores and online at Amazon.com and other web-based booksellers.
Award-winning national speaker, Eva Marie Everson's work includes Intimate Moments with God and Intimate Encounters with God (Cook). She is the author of Shadow of Dreams, Summon the Shadows and Shadow of Light. (Barbour Fiction) She can be contacted for comments or for speaking engagement bookings at www.EvaMarieEverson.com.