We are working from a deficit and even in the areas where it appears that the deficit is being filled, the deficit remains in disguise. The deficit is the need for fathers. There is not an appreciation for the value of a father, and what appreciation there is dwindles by influence of a broken society. The problem compounds as generations are raised up with no dads. The results in society are catastrophic and even within the church the impact is significant. While the impact in society may be so enormous that there is not a plan that could successfully address it, the solution resides among the community of believers that call Jesus “Lord.”
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:15, “For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers.”
So, since the time of Paul in the early church, there have been plenty of “guides.” The original meaning of the word for “guides” is defined as tutors or guardian of boys. These guides were men entrusted with oversight of boys that would instruct them in their upbringing by accompanying them everywhere to supervise their morals. They taught the boys right and wrong.
That word which is used to describe the tutors or guides is also translated in other areas as “schoolmaster” in reference to the law. That is, the law is referred to as a “schoolmaster” which guides students by imposition of boundaries with enforcement of rules. The schoolmaster acts as a guide and the law plays that role, as well.
We can’t please God with keeping the law, however, but only by faith (Hebrews 11:6). It’s not the presence or adherence to the guide’s direction which we ultimately need, but it’s the few fathers that Paul refers to which brings value to sons. The countless guides are always limited to correction versus a standard of conduct. All they can do is discipline according to the behaviors they observe. The teaching is performance based.
The deficit is not in a lack of guides that want to correct behaviors, but in the lack of fathers that want to invest in lives. The correction of others based in an interpretation of the law versus their behaviors is easy. Fathering is not.
The guide must only observe and correct, while the father’s role is to impart from an originating perspective. It’s an originator of a legacy, not simply a guardian of conduct. It’s an investment of life on life to raise up others that will invest in the same way. It’s life-giving and multiplying to transform sons into fathers in a way that a schoolmaster is not equipped or expected. It’s the same role that God wants to play for each of us and we are invited to emulate in our relationships.