I have three boys. And I have a vision to see each of them grow up to be mighty men of God.
But I have a problem. I am insufficient for the task.
When my oldest son, Hudson, turned 12 I turned pale. When his voice started trolling those bass notes, I started trolling my soul’s pockets to see if the stuff required was actually in there to train this boy in how to become something beyond the version of manhood in his generation — beyond the version in my generation. And for that matter, beyond the version of the previous three generations.
I didn’t find it in my pockets.
I found myself staring in the face of a haunting dilemma. And that was: my own fatherhood moxie was unable to meet the training demands before me. The task of fatherhood is too great for an everyday man, the mountain too high, the stakes too great, the skill required too much, and the perfection demanded too impossible.
But a father is built for problem solving. We are designed to fix things. We love to be given impossible challenges. Hand us a Rubik’s Cube, for instance, and a week later you’ll see us emerge from our man cave with a satisfied smirk on our face — problem solved.
However, this boy-training conundrum was different than a Rubik’s Cube. I couldn’t seem to solve it in my own strength.
- How do I train my son to perfectly reveal the mighty manliness of Jesus Christ?
- How do I train my son to act, speak, and live as would Jesus Christ?
- How do I train my son to suffer joyfully as Jesus suffered?
- How do I train my son to receive revilement and false accusation as Jesus received it?
- How do I train my son to endure pain with a song and to die heroically with love and forgiveness as Jesus did?
My vision for manhood is grand. But it is simply the grand vision that flows out of our Heavenly Father’s burdened heart.
So, as I’ve held this fatherly Rubik’s Cube in hand and stared at it over the past years of life, glancing from this impossible puzzle to my sons and then back again at the impossible puzzle, I’ve had many chin-scratching moments.Though sweaty palms have been my close friend throughout this process, I have indeed stumbled across the solution. I’ve solved the puzzle. And, as strange as this might seem, the solution was discovered in recognizing my powerlessness to solve it.
A Father’s Power to Get-‘Er-Done
Fatherhood is an athletic event of the most epic nature. Let’s call it the Epic Fatherhood Challenge (EFC for short). This EFC demands extreme core strength, surprising agility, and super-human endurance. The EFC calls for a man to not just live with power, perfection, and painstaking principle, but to lay down his life day-in and day-out so that others may find life, even if it be at his expense.
In other words, if you want to succeed in this particular athletic event, you must be something pretty special.
Let’s be honest, none of us can truly measure up to this challenge and pass this test.
Many of us as men attempt to lower the bar to a level we can all achieve. We try and make the EFC a thing we can do. But the secret to epic fatherhood is not found inside of us as fathers. It’s found outside of us. The secret to epic fatherhood is a thing that Jesus does.
Notice that I didn’t say that epic fatherhood is a thing Jesus did. It IS something Jesus did, but it also something that Jesus does.
When Jesus arrived on this earth roughly 2,000 years ago, He came to do the Father’s work. (See John 5:36.) He came to reveal epic fatherhood. (See John 14:9.) He was about His Father’s business. (See Luke 2:49.) He did what the perfect Father would do if He were living inside a human body.
The Fatherhood Bar is a bar that cannot and should not be lowered because of our insufficiency. It is a sacred standard, though it be an impossible one. But, though it be impossible for a man to pull off, it is NOT impossible for God to pull off. (See Matthew 19:26.)
Jesus was the perfect reflection of the Perfect Father. He was and still is.
He is the One sent to save. He did save us and still does save us, even now. (See Hebrews 7:25.)
Jesus inside us. This is the secret to epic fatherhood.
Jesus empowering us as fathers to actually do it. This is what causes an ordinary father to win the gold medal in the EFC.
If we grit our fatherly teeth and attempt, in our own human strength, to imitate the perfect Fatherhood of God, we are setting the stage for epic failure and not epic fatherhood.
But if we humble ourselves, acknowledge our need, and invite Him to come in — take the helm and live His extraordinary Life in and through us — then it is no longer us attempting to imitate Him. It’s Him imitating Himself inside us. And He is very good at being God.
When Hudson turned 12 (and I turned pale), I also turned something else. I turned the EFC Rubik’s Cube over to God.
“God, I know You didn’t give me this grand vision only to leave it up to me to perform. Lord, I entrust this fathering task to You, and I ask that You help me do this thing.”
Eric Ludy is an every-day-salt-of-the-earth sort of father. And this statement is not some form of false modesty. There is really nothing extra-special about the particular type of clay I’m made of. It’s still just clay.
But in entrusting my manhood, my marriage, and my fathering to God, something very special has taken place inside this clay. I have power to do this impossible stuff, but it’s not my own power. This power is not native to me; it’s from outside of me.
Nathan Johnson, my right-hand man here at Ellerslie and a wonderful Bible teacher, loves to refer to himself as a cracked pot. And then he looks at his audience, and says, “And don’t laugh. You are one, too.”
I love that expression! We, as Christians, are cracked pots. (See Psalm 31:12.) At first it sounds like a tragedy because in ancient Israel a cracked pot was a very bad thing. But, in the Kingdom of Heaven, a cracked pot is a surprisingly wonderful thing.
So, what’s a cracked pot? It’s clay that has humbled itself; acknowledged that in and of itself it can’t carry out the task. It is clay surrendered to God saying, “I’m cracked, but I want to be a vessel for Your Kingly service.” God loves to use cracked pots. Why? Because they are the ideal locations into which His wisdom, truth, love, and joy can be poured. And whereas a crack in a pot would typically be deemed a great disadvantage to the purpose of a pot, God leverages this crack with redemptive brilliance. For the fact that you and I are cracked means that whatever He pours into us seeps out . . . everywhere.
A cracked clay pot. That is what I want this fatherhood blog to be. That is what my Honorable Manhood training is. It’s simply this cracked clay pot, known as Eric Ludy, leaking out that which God has and is pouring into me.
I have a grand vision for what my boys can be. I have a grand vision for what your boys can be. God has poured this epic inspiration into me. And, if you are interested, I’d love to let it drain out onto your life in order to inspire you.
The essence of true masculinity is currently hanging in the balance. Let’s fight this battle together! My sword is drawn!
Eric Ludy Responds to Josh Harris — a blog series
In the next couple days, I am preparing to release a series of blog entries entitled, Eric Ludy Responds to Joshua Harris. Please be praying for me as I do this. I never would have intended to launch this fatherhood blog addressing something this sensitive in nature, but I have a heavenly burden to do precisely that. I have always considered Joshua Harris a friend. I am burdened for him and his family. But I’m also burdened for how this difficult issue might affect you as you seek to shepherd and guide your family in such a time as this. So, as a fellow father, I sense that I need to speak up about it.