What is a father? What is fatherhood? For some, they define it by a loving and involved father, a man who is deeply invested in his children’s lives. However, that’s not the experience everyone has. Some have a difficult or strained relationship with their father, often due to generational hurts and abandonment.
But for those who are struggling or don’t have a strong father figure, God can truly become that father.
That’s part of the message of the Kendrick Brother’s new documentary “Show Me the Father,” and it plays a crucial part of Jim Daly’s story, the president of Focus on the Family.
As a child, Daly had a chaotic and troubling childhood. His alcoholic father left the family after being arrested, his mother died, his stepfather abandoned the family, and then his father died after drinking himself into a stupor and freezing to death outside. However, God became his Perfect Father.
“Jim Daly’s story is remarkable because he represents so many men that did not have a good dad in their life, but he still turned out well and fruitful,” Alex Kendrick, one of the film’s executive producers, told The Daily Citizen in a recent interview. “Well, how did that happen? How did he become a good dad and have a great, blessed life without having the father role fulfilled?”
Jim’s story was one of redemption and shows how God can not only use others to help fill that father role, but God Himself is always there and willing to fulfill that role in any man or woman’s life.
“The conclusion of his story is so moving because God becomes the Perfect Father in his life that he always wanted,” Kendrick explains. “Instead of just looking to man and asking, ‘Why don’t I have a dad? Why don’t I have a good dad in my life?’ He reveals how God showed him, ‘I am here for you, and I am the Dad you always wanted. What do you need?’ It’s just a beautiful lesson for who God is in our lives as our Heavenly Father, not just the role of God.”
It’s an incredibly powerful moment in a film filled with moving testimonies of fathers and fatherhood, and one that the Kendrick brothers hope encourages men across the country to really embrace that once in a lifetime role.
Kendrick shared, “When you become a father, you need counsel and wisdom. Helping raise a child is like being put in the cockpit of a 747 jet and being told, ‘Hey, good luck, hope it goes well.’ And you’re like, ‘Okay, what do I do here?’
“We all need encouragement and counsel. We need people that can relate to us and sharing stories of hope,” he said.
“I want men to leave the theatre not only aware of their crucial role of father, but how to deal with their own children, no matter what their upbringing was like.”
It’s a lesson that the Kendricks took from their own father, who relied on God to help him raise his children and avoid the baggage of his father and grandfather.
“I want the audience to view God as the Heavenly Father that desires an intimate, close relationship with all of us,” Kendrick said.
“He says in scripture, ‘If you seek me, you will find me if you seek me with all of your heart.’ So, when I chase after God, He shows Himself to me. I see His fingerprints on my ministry, on my kids and on my marriage. I see how God intervenes in ways that I could never have imagined. I hope people leave with hope. I hope they leave with a better visual picture of what it looks like to be the kind of dad that God calls us to be, and the how do I heal from the hurts that may have happened to me in my own upbringing.
“You’re gonna tear up, you might laugh out loud a few times, and then you’ll certainly be inspired by the end of the film.”
In many ways, the filmmakers are hoping audiences are as influenced by the documentary as the team was filming it. Fatherhood is something that can have a multigenerational impact, and the Kendricks are taking what they’ve learned from their earthly and Heavenly Father when loving and leading their children.
“What I have learned is that, even if I’m right about the things I’m teaching my kids, I first have to win their hearts,” Kendrick shared. “When my kids know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I love them, they listen to me. It’s when they wonder if I love them, that they’ll listen to someone else more than me.
“And so, even if I’m teaching them something that’s good and right, when I have their heart, I have their ear. For me, I’ve learned that to be true in the life of my six kids, I have to just enjoy each stage of life with them. I want to be a father more than a best friend, that variety should come later.”
Kendrick continued, “While you have them in your home, or under your care, really nurture their hearts to remind them that you love them for the way God made them. That you care about them and that you want to do whatever you can to help them. But also, that you are the parent, you’re still the one with authority. You’re still the one that has to teach and to train. But when they know that you love them, they’re way more likely to listen and to take to heart what you say.”
It’s an incredibly important and powerful lesson. In this country, it often seems like there is a fatherhood crisis. Men who are often too willing to walk out on their children and only be known for the monthly child support payment.
An incredibly poor example of a father is a man who decided to dump 80,000 pennies on his daughter’s driveway as his last child support payment. He told a local news company that his “frustration built up” and “his emotions got the best of him.” He failed to consider how that impulsive action would impact his already damaged relationship with his daughter.
But God can help heal and He can fill that critical father role for anyone.
“God is perfect. He’s right about everything that He does,” Kendrick explains. “And sometimes, when I struggle with God and wondering whether I can fully trust Him with my life, my children and my marriage, the answer is that I can. He doesn’t make mistakes. He’s a God with an infinite amount of wisdom, with infinite experience, so I can fully trust Him. These testimonies reminded me of what God is fully capable of handling, our trust, our worries or concerns or hurts. Even times where he allows us to go through them, it’s either to teach us or correct us in some way.
“It’s going to be okay when we trust Him but walking with the Lord is never the wrong thing to do. Trusting Him is never the wrong thing to do. He indeed is a perfect Father to us.”
“Show Me the Father” premiers on September 10.