One of the major problems with the Western church is that there are so few men who are qualified to be fathers in the way Paul outlines, because living a life of sacrifice in Jesus Christ is so uncommon in our culture. We have few men who are likely to love Jesus and others more than themselves, as disciples do; who are willing to run into the conflagration that is our ease-loving society and carry out the limp bodies of slumbering men, saving them from sleep-induced nominalism and praying for them, helping them receive the life-giving, self-denying, empowering breath of the Spirit of God. We have few men who are capable of rescuing others from the disabled wreckage that our society has become; dragging them out, kicking and screaming, from the dangers of what has become a totaled-Yugo, secular culture that deceptively looks instead to us like a dent-free, shiny, eight-cylinder BMW.

Do we believe Christians should pick up their crosses and follow Jesus? Of course we do, in our heads. But doing it and talking about it are two different things. It’s our job, if we want to be biblical fathers, to ask the Lord how we are to do that in our culture. It won’t be done via a program in church. That will only give us the delusional illusion that by taking a class we will have entered into the sacrificial life that Jesus requires of us. We can’t let the Church itself, by virtue of its programs and structure, cut us off at the knees and prevent us from radically following Jesus. I don’t know—does that possibility seem somehow wrong to you?

Please pray. I understand that what I’m writing here is a stretch for so many of us. Should we feel guilty or condemned? No. We should feel prayerful. Let’s admit our need. Let’s admit our shortcomings, our inability to be the spiritual fathers we should be, and ask the Father to help us and change us. There aren’t any great secrets that just a few know about how to do this. It just needs to be done relationally and biblically. But we need to ask the Lord—first, to change our hearts so that we actually want to do this because we love Jesus and want to love others like He does. Then we ask for Him to provide relational connections—real ones, not ones that someone has somehow tried to programmatically engineer for us. The Lord will do this. He told us to make disciples, so I have no doubt that He will answer this prayer. We have to begin somewhere. Let’s begin by asking.