Last week, just before Father’s Day one of our daughters, Gabrielle, suggested we watch the movie Courageous, knowing my love of movies and my enjoyment in watching them with her. I quickly agreed. The movie has been out since last September, yet I’m just hearing of it.
It reminded me that, statistically, “fatherless kids are five times more likely to end up in suicide and 20 times more likely to end up in prison.” The main characters in this “B” movie are police officers and a Hispanic construction worker. They all give their best on the job, providing, protecting and serving but, as fathers, they’re satisfied just being “good enough.” They quickly discover that, as fathers, their standards are too low and missing the mark at home.
Joshua 24:15 gives us the biblical key to manhood: “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” This scripture, in fact, is the biblical anchor of the movie. The characters all know God desires to turn their hearts toward their children but their children, like many of ours today, are drifting further and further away from their parents.
Many parents, especially fathers, are happy being “good enough” but, today, we need to raise the bar and become “great men” and “great fathers.”
Moses as a role model prepared Joshua to become a great leader of Israel and God repeatedly tells him to be strong and courageous. In Joshua 1:7, God says, “Above all be strong and very courageous, carefully observe the whole instruction My servant Moses commanded you.”
I was moved to tears, as my daughter and I watched the movie, by the simple point that great fathers know good parenting is spending quality time with their kids. A note here: Quality time is not doing what you want to do with them but doing what they want to do with you. This very important point made me glad I consented to watch this movie in the first place.
Living a courageous life, according to the movie, means being willing to resolve to take full responsibility for your family, to love and protect them, as you serve God, and teaching our children, especially our sons, God’s word and its statutes.
In the movie, as the children watch their fathers they see them being faithful to their wives and willing to lay down their lives for their family. They see them treating others with kindness, respect and compassion. They see them willing to forgive those who have wronged them and reconciling with those they have hurt.
Fathers who know prayer changes things have found their children’s lives have changed in unexpected ways. God first gives us, as fathers, temporary solutions to our children’s problems. Temporary solutions lead to the permanent solutions but finding permanent solutions takes courageous living.
Women may ask, “But what about me? I am a single mother raising sons and daughters.” The answer is we all have a father and for sure One in Heaven. Even if you don’t have children, you do have (or did have) a father whom you could honor, reconcile with, or simply forgive. We all have an incredible responsibility and opportunity to become accountable. We all know the effect a father can have on us, either through his presence or his absence; regardless, he has shaped our lives.
Michael Catt, Stephen Kendrick and Alex Kendrick, who were behind the making of Courageous, said, “While we desperately need men to step up and be the fathers God has called and equipped them to be, we also need women to understand that call and to provide the necessary support and daily encouragement to make it a reality for our families.”
Living a courageous life means living outside of your comfort zone, spending time with your children, telling them and your wife how much God and you love them. For some fathers, it may mean finding the children they have abandoned; for others, it may mean forgiving the father who abandoned them.
Great men — great fathers — stay around to call out the man inside their sons or the woman inside their daughters.
Men, when did you first think you were a man? The answer, for me, was when my Uncle Alfred called out my manhood. saying, “Boy you are a man now! Act like one!”
The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door in Miami’s Liberty City community. He may be reached at 305-759-0373 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis