The first foundation a father provides is provision. The ability to provide for his family is what brings life to a father and in turn brings life to his family. But provision is more than just bringing home the bacon.
I recently read a great article in Psychology Today that succinctly illustrates the perils of associating provision solely with money. Here’s an excerpt:
If all father’s functions were economic, if all his status was measured by how well he provided, the rich and economically powerful father became a potential tyrant; but the father who wasn’t rich and famous was an inescapable failure, a disappointment, a buffoon. The father’s position in the family was no longer determined by how well he functioned as a father, but was scored by his status in the eyes of the world, in a set of economic contests in which there were few men winning by being the richest of them all, and most men losing.
There is a danger in restricting provision to it’s financial aspect. To set provision in the right context, I’ve identified three key elements of provision based on the various definitions of the word “provide“:
1. Provision is food and shelter
To furnish; supply: provide food and shelter for a family
The primary way a father provides for his family is supplying his family with what they need to live. The immediate interpretation is by means of working for a living. That’s definitely a part of it. But there’s more. It’s not just about bringing home a paycheck and collapsing on the couch at the end of the day.
There are many ways to provide the basic necessities for living:
- Providing food can look like cooking.
- Providing food can look like shopping.
- Providing shelter can look like building.
- Providing shelter can look like maintaining.
When provision is relegated to a successful career, a father’s identity comes from his work. This is why so many men go through an identity crisis when they lose their jobs. This is misplaced identity is often passed along to his children, while still never passing down true provision.
2. Provision is opportunity
To make available; afford: a room that provides ample sunlight through French windows
A good father will make available as many opportunities as possible. This is a healthy and vital part of a child’s inheritance.
A loving father will know the heart of his children and encourage them to discover their gifts. He will not force them into activities and attempt to live vicariously through them.
A good father will provide direction and as his children come of age, give them freedom to make their own choices and face consequences.
3. Provision is drawing boundaries
To set down as a stipulation: an agreement that provides deadlines for completion of the work
A good father knows that healthy boundaries are vital for a child to thrive. He teaches his children that freedom and creativity can be achieved inside of these boundaries. He doesn’t use a complex system of rules to control behavior.
A father’s boundaries clarify expectations for his children. They explain why to do things rather than simply what to do. Boundaries provide his children with a canvas and enable freedom to create within those constraints.
A good father knows that neither a system of rules nor complete free reign are healthy for his child. He knows that by providing boundaries, he is establishing a healthy environment for his child to thrive.
God Our Provider
When we don’t receive these elements of provision from our earthly father, it becomes extremely difficult to believe that we would receive these things from our Heavenly Father.
One of the most commonly referred to of the many names of God is, Jehovah-Jireh which is can be translated “The Lord will provide” (see Genesis 22:14).
Provision is a characteristic of God. In his sovereignty he chooses fathers to put hands and feet on this concept. However because of hurt and pain, this concept of provision is often distorted.
Some of us have experienced dads who refused to work or lift a finger in the house. Others have had fathers that made life difficult at every turn and created no opportunities to thrive. Still others have had long lists of rules which needed to be followed in order to earn approval or conversely had so much freedom that they didn’t know what to do with themselves.
Regardless of what you’ve experienced with your father, God is faithful to show Himself as a provider.
If we are able to step back and understand what God desired for our provision, we can face what we received or what we lacked in an honest way. We can forgive our earthly fathers for their shortcomings and receive what was intended to come to us directly from God.
How has God provided for you in these areas when you were lacking?