By Motunrayo Alaka
Socially constructed gender roles puts a lot of pressure on men to be demigods. They work hard to be sole providers, protectors and problem solvers for their families. In times of crises, the pressure can be even more because everyone looks to the man of the house to lead.
In I Samuel 30:1-19, David—who later became the first and greatest king of the reunited Kingdom of Israel and his men had returned from Achish the king of Gath, who gave them refuge after David ran from King Saul. When they got back to their camp in Ziklag, they found that the Amalekites had invaded their territory, burned it with fire and carted away all their families and belongings. Here are some encouraging nuggets from how David and his men responded:
It is okay for men to cry: I have heard people say to boys or men in tough situations, “behave like a man, boys/men don’t cry”. This statement insinuates that society does not expect men to be human. Society expects men to put up a face that shields their reality. We want men to pretend. This is a reason many men are depressed. The first thing David and his men did was to cry out loud. In verse four, the Bible says that they lifted their voices and wept until they had no power left in them to weep. Some of these wailing men later became David’s mighty men. [II Samuel 23] Connecting with one’s emotions is therapy. It is okay for a man to acknowledge his grief enough to stop and cry. It is okay for a man to get emotional and show it. It must be okay for a man to be human.
Connect with God: Worship, inquire in prayer, and praise God. You are a father—the one society insists must provide, protect and yet have the softness to pamper—but you do not have to carry that weight all by yourself. Our Heavenly Father is available to lead you and show you what it is to be a father. He is the Abba Father—-the principal source. When David’s followers wanted to stone him because of their distress, he asked for the ephod and sought God’s face. This is the place of humility. It is a place of receiving encouragement from God. These days, women are the majority in churches and prayer houses. They are also the ones who lead the children in God’s ways at home. Society says this is how it should be, but the Bible tells me otherwise. Real men seek Jesus and lead their household to do the same.
Pursue to recover: Fathers need to stand up and fight for the sanctity and prosperity of their household. Pursue to recover lost time with God. Pursue to recover broken relationships. Pursue to recover the success and prosperity of your wife, children and community. The enemy has plundered many homes and societies because of absentee or laid-back fathers. Children have become wayward, abused, and without confidence because of fathers who leave parenting to mothers alone. Pursuit is active. To pursue is to get involved. Pursuit is a full-time job.
Be encouraged dear fathers. As the story goes, David and his men recovered everything they lost.
Happy Father’s Day to our amazing fathers. I celebrate you for your love, support and consistency. May you grow in empathy, connection to God and pursuit for the important things. God bless your efforts.
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