In Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, I make the bold statement that “God is good for girls.”
Our culture increasingly rolls its collective eyes at claims like that. Many media elites label religion—especially denominational Christianity—as regressive, unintelligent, even psychologically harmful. Lest I be accused of bias, let me say I agree that some people of faith, through messed-up motives and misguided actions, have given credence to such charges.
But let me also note that I’ve seen the power of authentic faith. I’ve read scientific studies and interacted with thousands of girls and young women as patients or as friends. I can cite a mountain of research and a pretty big hill of real-life examples from my personal experience to make the case that your daughter needs you to help her grow in faith and come to a clearer understanding of God.
If that’s not enough, fathers have a clear biblical mandate to bring up their kids “in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
But for some dads this raises a conundrum: If my own faith is shaky or nonexistent, how can I help my daughter spiritually? As the late Howard Hendricks correctly observed: “We cannot impart what we do not possess.” Christ put the issue in question form: “Can one blind person lead another? Won’t they both fall into a ditch?” (Luke 6:39). No man wants to be that father who hypocritically says to his daughter, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
If faith is good for daughters, then wouldn’t it be true that faith is also good for dads? Is it possible that faith needs to be a bedrock value of every father?
I want to challenge you to wrestle with this topic and ask yourself, “What are my spiritual views and values? What do I believe about God?”
You may not be sure how to answer these questions. That’s okay. The fact that you’re reading this devotional tells me you’re open to the question of faith. Don’t give up the search.
In fact, seek to cultivate the following habits:
Read the Bible.
The Bible itself says, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Our faith in God grows the more we pay attention to what He has revealed about Himself in the pages of Scripture and through Christ.
Sadly, many people reject the Bible without even reading it. They dis- miss it solely on the basis of what others have said. I would counter by saying, “Don’t take the word of others. Read it for yourself.” The Old and New Testaments are not a haphazard collection of disparate writings. They comprise one continuous story.
The first book of the Bible tells of God’s creation of the world and humanity’s rebellion against Him. The next sixty-four books of the Bible unveil God’s redemptive plan in history, culminating in the coming of Christ. The last book of the Bible gives us a glimpse of the future restoration of all things. It’s one epic story, and it needs to be read that way with a thoughtful, humble, inquisitive mind (and preferably a prayerful one).
There are frequent encouragements to prayer in the Bible. For instance: “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart” (Colossians 4:2). But many men feel they don’t know how to pray—they feel self-conscious, intimidated, ignorant. But prayer is simply conversing with God—and it’s a conversation He wants to have. James 4:8 says, “Come close to God, and God will come close to you.”
What should you say to the Almighty in prayer? Whatever’s on your heart.
If God seems far away and talking to Him feels like talking to an imaginary friend, ask Him to reveal Himself to you. When you make poor choices, humbly confess your failures. When you are grateful, express this to God. When you have needs or concerns, ask for help. When you don’t know what to do, ask for guidance. And, as in any good conversation, we shouldn’t do all the talking. It is not only good, it is necessary in prayer to sit still and listen for God’s voice.
Read spiritual classics.
If you are one of those who are skeptical when it comes to the subject of faith, C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity may help you as it has helped millions. More recent books like Tim Keller’s The Reason for God or Lee Strobel’s The Case for Faith are also excellent. (By the way, both Lewis and Strobel were confirmed atheists who each came to faith after an honest, rigorous, intellectual search.)
If you have a negative view of spirituality or a bad taste for religion, ask yourself why. Has this always been the case?
Is your doubt or disillusionment due to a negative experience with church or with people of faith? Was your faith in God shattered by a devastating life event? If so, perhaps Philip Yancey’s Disappointment with God would be helpful to you.
Practice your faith.
If you believe God exists, don’t stop there. Ask yourself: What difference does it make if I do believe in God?” (Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, p. 195).
Let your faith propel you to serve others. Reflect your faith in your behavior—if you tend to be impatient, ask God for more patience; if you have a tendency to fly off the handle, trust God to make you gentler.
One of Israel’s great prophets said it best:
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).
God is good for girls. The research, which I cite in my other books, shows unmistakably that religious faith is an enormous benefit to children and teens (and yes, adults).
Your daughter needs to see that God is the ultimate Dad, the One she can turn to and trust in when you’re not around.
As a father, God is your copilot. He can help you guide a safe course for yourself and your family.
God, help me with my faith as I strive to learn more about You, draw near You, and have confidence in You. Help me to be a faithful father so I can pass a strong faith on to my daughter. Amen.
FLEX YOUR DAD MUSCLES
Faith is a very personal thing, but if you look at most of the great religions of the world, it’s not really “private.” Faith in God always involves a community of people struggling together to know and serve Him: to mourn together, to celebrate together, to encourage, instruct, remind, and challenge one another. It’s no accident that Christ created a church. He was not a philosopher passing on advice to individuals but rather the Son of God with a mission to create and expand a community of believers.
Make the commitment to attend a church or temple this week (with your daughter, of course—and the rest of your family too).
If you don’t belong to a church or synagogue, ask around and visit a congregation with a good reputation for helping people grow in their faith. We can and should pursue a personal and vibrant faith, but church is not just for marriages and baptisms and funerals; our spiritual life is meant to be lived in a community as well.
From Dr. Meg Meeker’s brand new book: Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters Devotional Request your copy HERE.