Overcoming the Failures of Fatherhood
Bloomington, IN, June 1, 2016 | Christian News Service | - According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children in America -- one out of every three -- live in homes where their biological father is physically absent. For millions more, the father may be there in body but is checked out emotionally. Arguably, the institution of the family, and specifically fatherhood, has never been in such a mess. Absentee fathers, angry fathers, abusive fathers, apathetic fathers, addicted fathers are just a few of the categorical labels applied to a role intended by God to be a position of honor, a source of provision, a place of protection, and a voice of guidance and justice within both the family unit and society at large.
The outlook for fatherhood appears bleak, but is there yet hope for this vital societal role? Is there a road to recovery, a path to victory? Tim Bayly thinks so. In his new book, Daddy Tried: Overcoming the Failures of Fatherhood [Warhorn Media, June, 2016] he offers a frank, yet hope-filled path to overcoming the inherent failures of imperfect men and to reclaiming manhood, sonship, fatherhood and the men called Daddy.
From the Fall to the Cross, Bayly leads his reader through God’s redemptive plan for fathers often drawing from decades of his own journey as an imperfect son, father and pastor. As is the case with all of our societal ills and human failures, Pastor Bayly makes it clear that there are no quick fixes and that this road to recovery is not without a generous portion of blood, sweat and tears. But that was the same path of the Savior wasn’t it?
“It is worth pointing out that God, with unparalleled authority, unlimited power and unequaled resources has chosen, in His providence, to transform and use broken and impotent humanity to accomplish His purposes,” offers Bayly. “Fathers play a pivotal role in God’s plan for the family and virtually every part of society. We can’t afford to ignore them and simply hope that things will get better. I’m convinced the effort and sacrifice required to fulfill our divinely mandated role as fathers is worth it, even when we fail, and we will fail.”
Daddy Tried is unapologetically a book for men and the male-only club of fatherhood. With the only Perfect Father as a guide, it stares the imperfections of every father squarely in the face, offering a clear path to overcoming the failures of fathers past, present and future.
Daddy Tried: Overcoming the Failures of Fatherhood
Tim Bay | June 2016 | Warhorn Media
Paperback: 978-1-940017-09-9 | EPUB: 978-1-940017-10-5 | Mobi: 978-1-940017-11-2
Warhorn Media is out to change the world – one article, one psalm setting, and one podcast at a time. A ministry of Clearnote.
Biography of Tim Bayly
Author of Daddy Tried
Tim Bayly has been married to his wife, Mary Lee, for over 40 years. They are the parents of 5 children and grandparents to 21 grandchildren. He has also spent almost as much time as a pastor, helping others grow in their walk with God. Through his own personal failures, the faithful example of his father and the firm, loving hand of his heavenly Father, he has learned a thing or two about fatherhood.
The second of 5 boys born to his parents, Joseph and Mary Lou, Tim experienced the childhood loss of two younger brothers to disease and the loss of his older brother in a Christmas night sledding accident when Tim was 10 years old. He grew up hearing his parents say they were never as certain of God’s love as when they walked away from the fresh grave of one of their children. It was this model of unwavering faith in the midst of incalculable loss that would serve to form his own life of fatherhood.
Growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and Chicago, Tim recalls one Saturday at the age of 19, when his father quietly said, “Tim, you are not honoring God and you may not live in my home any longer.” Overcome by the weight of what his father bore through that decision, Tim came to recognize that day as a turning point in his life, understanding the depth to which his father genuinely loved him. It was his father’s love and fear of the Lord that played a pivotal role in Tim returning to the Lord and continuing his journey as a young man of faith.
Tim went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in history at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a Master of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary near Boston. He was ordained in 1983 by John Knox Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (USA). He subsequently pastored Grace Presbyterian Church of Pardeeville, WI and with them, transferred into the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA) in 1991. Prior to coming to Clearnote Church, Bloomington, IN where he has served as pastor since 1996, Tim was also the pastor of Evangelical Community Church of Bloomington, IN.
While in the Presbyterian Church (USA), Tim served on the Board of Presbyterians Pro-Life. Concurrent with his role as pastor of Clearnote Church, he was a member of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood from 1996-2005, serving as their executive director during the first five years of his membership. Tim also served on the PCA General Assembly’s Ad Interim Study Committee on Women in the Military and was principal author of the committee’s Majority Report received by the 2002 Assembly.
Tim takes his greatest joy from preaching and pastoral care at his home church but also speaks at other churches and conferences from time to time. He writes regularly, along with his brother David, at BaylyBlog and was a contributor to Pastoral Leadership for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Crossway, 2003, ed. Wayne Grudem, Dennis Rainey) and To You and Your Children: Examining the Biblical Doctrine of Covenant Succession (Canon Press, 2004, ed. Ben Wikner) His newest book Daddy Tried releases in June 2016.
Q&A with Tim Bayly
Author of Daddy Tried
1.What motivated you to write the book? What do you hope it will accomplish in the hearts of readers?
I primarily wanted to encourage fathers. Fathers won’t be able to avoid failure. Just look at our Old Testament fathers Noah, Abraham, Lot, Jacob, and King David. The Bible documents their failures with painful specificity, yet God’s grace was sufficient for each of them, and it’s sufficient for us.
Many young men have a tendency to underrate failure. Failure is a wonderful teacher and it makes us humble. But when we are controlled by a fear of failure, we don't take risks and fatherhood is all about risk. So I wanted to address the idea of failure head on and encourage men to get to know God the Father and to copy His fatherhood. Yes, of course we will fail, but faith in our Lord Jesus will help us fail in the right direction.
2. In your opinion, what is the greatest challenge facing the family in our culture today?
The authority of fathers and mothers is being displaced by the state. God made fathers and mothers to be the “natural sovereigns” over their children, but sadly, government is becoming increasingly intrusive within the family unit and usurping the authority delegated to Dad and Mom by God Himself.
3. A lot of books have been written about fatherhood. What makes this one unique?
Daddy Tried starts with the fatherhood of God. It doesn’t try to give fathers a bunch of do-this-and-don’t-do-that rules but teaches fathers the character of the Father Almighty and calls men to model their fatherhood after His example. It doesn’t promise success. It promises failure, but at the same time shows from Scripture that we must, by faith, fail in the right direction.
4. There are a lot of fathers who are physically present within their homes, but emotionally and spiritually absent. What is the best way to begin the process of facilitating their engagement?
Preach the Bible and lead worship in a manly way. Checking out emotionally and spiritually is often the result of a man not believing his manhood is needed. Nothing communicates the uselessness of manhood more than worship liturgies and music that are aimed at pleasing the women of the church. It’s the same with preaching. If a church’s preaching is safe; if it communicates that there is no danger now or eternally; if the pastor does not admonish and rebuke and discipline men, but only flatters them; the men of the church are going to save their masculine engagement for places where there are risks and people don’t want his manhood. Emotional and spiritual absence is the way men respond to wives and pastors who hate manhood.
Put danger and eternal consequences back into your preaching. Preach grace and law, justice and mercy, right and wrong, good and evil, Heaven and Hell, circumcision of the foreskin and circumcision of the heart. Tell the disengaged man in your church that you want him to live for God regardless of the cost in terms of respectability, financial success, and good vibes with his wife. Then watch him become emotionally and spiritually present, first at church, and then at home. I know this sounds crazy, but try it.
5. Your father was a notable author and pastor and you freely draw from your family experiences throughout the book. What are a couple of things that you learned about fatherhood through his example?
I was the second of five brothers. Three of them died - one from leukemia, one cystic fibrosis, and my older brother from a Christmas sledding accident. Watching both of my parents deal with their pain while maintaining an unwavering faith though it all was instrumental in shaping my idea of fatherhood. My remaining brother and I grew up hearing them say they were never as certain of God’s love as when they walked away from the fresh grave of one of their children.
Secondly, recognizing Dad’s love for me when he kicked me out of his house. I was nineteen and one Saturday morning he quietly said to me, “Tim, you are not honoring God and you may not live in my home any longer.” I tell the longer version in the book, but Dad never loved me more faithfully than that day, and I came to learn what it meant to fear the Lord above yielding to the fears of men.
6. Obviously, your family had a personal experience with grief. What would you say to fathers who have been crippled by personal loss of a loved one?
Grief is hard work that must not be avoided. If it is avoided, you and your loved ones will pay a steep price. Mourn. Shed tears. Be weak and be quiet. Take your grief to God in prayer. Get good at noticing how God uses your suffering to help others. Suffering is a gift from the hand of our loving Heavenly Father. Thank God for His care for you and your loved ones because giving thanks will inoculate you against bitterness.
7. What is the most important advice that you would give to a young father today?
Don’t be afraid. Our Heavenly Father specializes in making the stupid wise, the weak strong, and the fearful bold as lions. You are the perfect man to be the husband of your wife and the father of your children. Throw out your video games, drop out of fantasy football, stop looking at Facebook, close your laptop, confess your sin to your elders, ask them to pray for you, then enjoy your kids.
8. Apart from a man’s personal responsibility to his own children, what would you say to any man about his role in society and how he can help shape the next generation of fathers?
Be willing to take responsibility outside your home. Serve as an elder or deacon of your church and take responsibility for guarding God’s truth as well as the souls in your congregation.
Outside your home and church, if there’s an accident and someone needs help, step in and do what is needed. Give to the poor. Help the widows and orphans. Protect the weak and defenseless from the attack of the wicked. Always speak up in defense of God and His truth, and do it cheerfully. Remember that everywhere you go you are being copied and followed by other men who are learning to be fathers themselves.
Whether or not God has blessed him with children, father is what every man is and his fatherhood is needed as much outside the home as it is inside the home.
9. You readily acknowledge the fact that we’ve all had imperfect fathers. What would you say to those who are still blaming their fathers for their own failures?
Meditate on the judgement seat of God and try to imagine yourself standing there and complaining to God about the father He gave you. Since Adam, every man’s father has been a real sinner. Think of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Each was a sinner and their sins are recorded in Scripture. Think of King David. Think of the Apostle Peter.
Recognize that your life will soon be over and you will give an account to God for your stewardship of your fatherhood. On that day, you will not be able to excuse your own failures by pointing your finger at anyone else. Not your father. Not your mother. Not your son. Not your daughter. And certainly not your wife. God will not tolerate your complaining, but also, it’s not manly. Do you really want to spend your life whining?
10. You make a connection between manhood, sonship and fatherhood. Explain to us why that connection is so important to being a successful father.
If I can change the question a little, I didn’t make the connection between manhood, sonship, and fatherhood. God did. He is the One who chose to write His own Fatherhood and Sonship on one half of the race of man and to write motherhood on the other half. Fatherhood and sonship flow from manhood just as motherhood and daughterhood flow from womanhood. Our sex is our destiny given us by God, and He will hold us accountable for our stewardship of that destiny in our sonship and fatherhood.
11. What can wives do to help their husbands better fulfill their role as fathers? What about sons and daughters, how can they help?
Well, this is the million-dollar question, but here are some thoughts.
WIVES: Don’t nag, but pray. Don’t become bitter, but sweeten up. Don’t try to fill in the gaps in you and your children’s emotional lives by doubling down on your own intimacy with your children. Teach your children to honor their father, and honor and submit to him yourself without complaining or giving subtle looks that tell your children your resentment. Explain to your husband that you wonder if he loves you because real love between a man and his wife is as emotionally intimate as it is physically intimate. Ask your husband to go with you to meet with the pastor; tell him that there are some things you’d like the pastor’s help explaining to him. Don’t baby him. Ask questions that are open-ended. Study him. Learn his fears.
Pray for your husband. Neither parade nor hide his failures. Don’t use your emotional intelligence to show him up in front of your children. Let him make mistakes. Sometimes, you’ll be surprised to find out he was right. Many men learn fatherhood by watching their wife’s motherhood and doing what helps and strengthens and protects her.
SONS AND DAUGHTERS: Pray for your father. Each day, make sure you tell him you love him and give him a sincere smile. Both sons and daughters should do these things. Obey your father. Speak to him respectfully and don’t ever play your mother off against him. When he says no, don’t go to your mother and get a yes. Fatherhood is very hard work. God is the Pattern for that work so fathers never stop seeing their failures. Encourage them in their work.
What People Are Saying About Daddy Tried
“Tim Bayly’s Daddy Tried is the best book on fathering currently in print. Bayly meticulously exegetes the biblical teachings about fathers (especially fathers in the home, but also the leaders of the church and civil governors). And he applies the biblical teachings with great clarity, frankness, and vividness. He is aware that Christian fathering is today in a terribly weak state, and he stands firmly against fashionable compromises with biblical principle. But he also emphasizes winsomely that adherence to biblical principle is another name for love. This is the book to give to our sons on the verge of becoming fathers. It will clear their heads and steel their spines.”
Dr. John Frame
Professor of Systematic Theology & Philosophy
Reformed Theological Seminary
“Daddy Tried is balm for the soul of every daddy, like me, who fails. Honest, urgent, and faithful, this book brings the gospel into the home, where it is so desperately needed. I came away grateful for Tim, his father, my father, and most of all for my Elder Brother, who allowed me to be adopted by my heavenly Father.”
Dr. R.C. Sproul, Jr.
Author of “A Call to Wonder”
“Certainly no topic demands greater attention in this culture than the responsibility of fatherhood. Fathers are essential to boys and girls—and to mothers, who depend upon them for leadership, love, and partnership in the parenting journey. Bayly catches the spirit of urgency and sets forth not only the biblical pattern for fathers but also helps his readers wrestles with the challenges of this generation. He presents a winning strategy!”
Dr. Dorothy Patterson
Professor of Theology in Women's Studies, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas
“Tim Bayly has written a gentle yet honest book for fathers. He is so gloriously realistic about the snares and failures and yet gloriously hopeful of the good that fathers can do for their children. This is a book that offers a biblical vision of redeemed fatherhood.”
Dr. Liam Goligher
Senior Minister of Tenth Presbyterian Church