I lived in Nashville, the buckle of the Bible belt, when “I Can Only Imagine” first hit radio waves. It played on repeat across Christian and country stations. The song was powerful.
But, I never knew the story behind the song. Now almost 20 years later, watching I Can Only Imagine (the new film about the life behind the song) as a dad, one major idea hit me. What if we could father without regrets? In this post, I'll point out the six obstacles we see most dads struggle with in our work at Manhood Journey. Then, I'll point out four ways to remove these obstacles.
This article was originally written in partnership with City on a Hill Studio for the film I Can Only Imagine.
I don’t want to look back on my life as a father with regret. To live without regret, we must know the obstacles standing in our way, and learn to remove them.
There’s an insightful scene in the movie when the music executive (Trace Adkins) talks to Bart and says, "What are you running from?” Bart confesses he’s been avoiding an obstacle all his life.
What are you running from as a dad? Maybe you don’t realize it. Sometimes you're engaged and intentional and sometimes you're not. It’s vital you know the obstacles—so you can recognize what’s stopping you. I challenge you to review these six obstacles and see if any one of them are blocking you from intentionally discipling your kids.
The 6 obstacles EVERY dad faces:
1) The Ignorance Obstacle sounds like this: “I didn’t know it was my job.”
2) The Inertia Obstacle sounds like this: “I don’t know where to start.”
3) The Delegation Obstacle sounds like this: “I’ll let someone else do it.”
4) The Guilt Obstacle sounds like this: “Who am I to talk?”
5) The Procrastination Obstacle sounds like this: “I’ve got plenty of time.”
6) The Despair Obstacle sounds like this: “My kid’s already too far gone.”
In Bart’s dad, we see a man blocked by several obstacles. Maybe it started with what we'd call the Inertia Obstacle. Maybe Bart's dad just didn't know where to start. But, from fighting with his wife, to telling Bart he’s, “not good enough”—we see a dad who's struggling—and therefore—a son who struggles.
If any of these six obstacles sound like you, you’ve hit what we at Manhood Journey call a “roadblock”. Notice we didn't say "dead end". That's intentional. We think these obstacles are just that—obstacles. You don't have to be completely stopped at these roadblocks. And you know what? Obstacles can be removed. We wrote an entire eBook on these obstacles and how to overcome them.
Understand God doesn't intend for you to live with these obstacles. You can remove them, with His help. Biblical fatherhood doesn't live in ignorance, timidity, fear, passivity, guilt, procrastination or despair. When God calls, He changes a man. By recognizing the obstacles, we can then start overcoming them. In Christ, there is freedom from these obstacles.
4 ways to remove the obstacles:
1) Read the Bible. The surest way to know God’s will is to know His Word. The opposite is also true. If you’re disobedient and not in His Word, you won’t know God’s will.
2) Pray. Ask God to continually keep you in step with His spirit. Pray daily through the small stuff so you’ve cultivated a sensitivity to God in the big things.
3) Seek wise counsel. This means seeking out and listening to the people who are doing #1 and #2 on this list.
4) Live for God. Make decisions based on what’s best for the Gospel—not yourself or others. Once you’ve done steps 1, 2, and 3—over time—you can and will be living for God.
Want to know the surest way to live with regret? Not see the obstacles in front of you and not do these four things to remove them. Just as Bart watched God work and his dad went from being a monster to a man, we can do the same—through God.
If you’re in God’s Word, praying continually and seeking wise counsel, you will love your wife as Christ love the church. You’ll intentionally engage and disciple your kids. You’ll look back on your life without regrets.
God can transform us, like Bart’s dad, into the men we want to become—into men our sons want to be like and our daughters want to marry. We can father without regrets. Now, what if we could help other dads do the same. Let's seek to put biblical fatherhood on repeat.
For more about the new film I Can Only Imagine, check out the trailer:
This article was originally written in partnership with City on a Hill Studio for the film I Can Only Imagine. For more resources and tools related to the film, visit City on a Hill Studio.