Your children get their first concept of God from you, dad. If you’re distant, your son’s first concept of God is that God must be distant. If you’re loving, then your daughter will think that God must be loving. When I think about my first opinion of what God was like, I think about my dad. Think about your dad. The level of his anger, his gentleness, or his closeness…your first thoughts about God were first shaped by your dad.
Now, don’t freak out on me. As we grow in the Lord (and hopefully gain wisdom), we can modify our view of God through maturity, faith, and getting to know God separately from whatever our dad was like. But, it’s vital you realize if you’re not taking your leadership in the home seriously, your kids will be impacted. How you raise them affects how they view God. In my experience, I’ve noticed at least seven biblical traits for raising godly children. This first trait is the power of providing.
“So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” —Jesus (Matt. 6:31-33)
Biblical Trait #1: Provider
A father should view himself as a provider of not just physical things for his family but be the spiritual leader for his children.
Matthew 6:11 Jesus said, “Give us this day our daily bread.” When He was teaching us to pray, Matthew 6:31-33 writes, “So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.”
Know the 3 A’s
Dad, are you helping provide the physical needs, the spiritual truth, and the emotional nourishment that your child needs? As dads, we should remember what I call the 3 A’s. Our children need attention, affirmation, and affection.
I have four daughters and two sons. When I’m with my daughters, I want to make sure they get fatherly attention, affirmation, and affection. They should not have to feel like they must run to a young man—who may or may not love them—to get those things. They should start with me, in my home, and receive attention, affirmation, and affection. I also need to provide spiritual leadership. It’s not just money. It’s not just resources; but emotional nourishment as well.
How God Provides
One quick story about a time when I had to deal with something physical—and the Lord provided.
We were shooting War Room, and I was scared. It was our first movie in one sense. We had shot the first four films under the umbrella of Sherwood. We’re grateful for Sherwood. For War Room, we were shooting in North Carolina. It was a new area, with new partners, and a plot that a lot of people questioned.
So many people asked me, “You’re going to make a movie about an elderly lady praying in the closet? That’s not cinematic. It’s not even exciting. What’s going to make me want to go to the theater to watch that?”
But the Lord kept pointing us in that direction. We know and have experienced the power of prayer, of seeking the Lord. I remember waking up in the middle of the night and thinking, “Lord, really, this is the plot? Really? I mean, I believe in prayer. I know it’s important. But Lord this can’t be the plot.” And the Lord kept after us.
So, we started filming War Room. Some of our crew members, folks who had made the first four movies with us, were like guys, “We don’t know about this one.” When we met with Sony—and I’m grateful Sony released the movie. I’m pro-Sony as a distributor for us! Initially, we had the vice president of Sony sitting in the room with us. I’m telling him the plot of War Room and he says, “Well, everybody’s due one dud.” He had no confidence in the plot. Sony almost said no.
It was only because the first four movies had worked that Sony said, “Well, we’ll try it.” So, we only shot it for three million dollars. Now, for a feature film in America, this was a very low-budget film. We start shooting it and while we’re shooting, Sony agrees to send the three million. But they wanted this, that, and the other done first.
Remember, Stephen and I had already started shooting. We were using personal money out of our bank accounts to pay the cast and crew—thinking the Sony money was coming any moment. We get halfway through the shoot and there’s no money.
So, we’re thinking about what to do with the finances. I’ve burned through my money. Stephen has burned through his money. We’re shooting on site this one fateful day, our office tells us, “Guys, there’s no more money.” Stephen and I are left wondering, “What are we going to do? Keep shooting? How are we going to explain to the crew by the end of the week?”
I was nervous. Stephen was nervous.
I was nervous. Stephen was nervous. He and I go out to my car at sit in the parking lot. We’re sitting in the car…I’m sitting…I’m nervous…Listen, there’s no umbrella over us this time. There’s no insurance over us. Well, we had the needed type of insurance for shooting a movie. But no insurance to cover these expenses.
We started praying.
We figure out that we need another $500,000 before the money arrives from Sony. We start praying. Remember, I’m not trying to freak out the cast and crew just yet. So, we’re praying in the car asking, “God, if you called us to do this movie…it seems you have confirmed—and Lord, here we are, in obedience, shooting this movie. And we’re out of funds. Lord, what do you want us to do?”
We finish praying, in agreement. We say, “Amen.”
Then, my phone rings. It’s a friend of a successful businessman calling.
I answer the phone and put him on speaker.
This friend says, “Hey, man, What’s going on?”
We’re like, “You know, we’re just in North Carolina working on a film.”
He goes, “Really, how’s it going?”
We’re like, “Well, we have a little hurdle right now…”
He says, “Well, what do you need?”
I get quiet. Stephen gets quiet. I’m looking at Stephen.
This guy literally says after a long pause on our end, “Do you need money?”
I said, “Actually, we do. It’s ironic that you would ask. We do need money.”
He says, “ Well, how much do you need?”
At this point, I wished I could’ve said $10,000. Instead, I stuttered, “We…we…we need $500,000.”
He said, “Really.”
Stephen’s sitting beside me, his expression says, “Oh boy.” There’s a short pause on the other end of the phone.
This friend calmly says, “What’s the address? I’m writing a check.”
Stephen started saying, “Well, hey, wait a minute. We need to figure out how this is supposed to work…if you want to be an investor or whatever…”
The friend says, “It’s a gift. I don’t want it back.”
Now, let’s look back for a moment. Stephen and I, were unsure how to pay for the cast and crew to keep shooting. We went out to my car and sought the God who could provide. We get out of the car, we go back in, and tell everyone, “Let’s keep rolling.”
God is amazing. When the funding came in from Sony, we tried to give our friend’s gift back. He simply said, “No, I don’t want it back. That’s the Lord’s money.” So, we started the Christian Film Foundation with it.
God always provides.
It’s unbelievable how God provides. I am learning, with every film, there will always be a gap—always. What do I mean by gap? Hebrews 11:6 says, “Now without faith it is impossible to please God, since the one who draws near to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
It’s not difficult—it’s impossible—without faith. It’s impossible to please God. Why? Because he who comes to God must believe that He exists and that He’s a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
In other words, when God gives us an assignment, at some point—so that He gets glory—so that He can show up in ways that only He can show up—there will be a gap that faith requires to cross. There will be a gap that faith is required to cross.
With every single one of our films, we face a gap. Without faith, it’s impossible to please God.
Expect this in your ministry as a fatherhood and family leader. Maybe you’re reading and you’re like, “I’m at the gap…right now.” God says, “Would you rely on Me? Would you turn to Me? Would you sincerely seek Me? For those who come to God must believe that He exists and that He’s a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
Don’t seek God half-heartedly. God wants to be your provider. You must have faith in God as your provider. Why? Because your children are watching and listening to you and how you live. Want to raise godly children? Raise your kids as a dad who can be relied on and as one who points them to God for their deepest needs.
This is first part of an eight-part series. We believe fatherhood on earth comes from the Fatherhood of God. Think about it: God didn’t look down on something He created and say, “Hey, I think I like that. I think I’m going to call myself, ‘Father.’” No, from the very beginning, He—as the perfect Father—created fatherhood on earth as an introduction to who He is. This series was created from a talk given at the 2022 Fatherhood CoMission Summit. May God bless your fatherhood.