Dave Patty is the founder and president of Josiah Venture, a mission organization focused on Gospel transformation and equipping the next generation of leaders throughout Central and Eastern Europe.
More than 35 years ago, Patty and his family moved to the Czech Republic to start Josiah Venture. Since 2016, Patty’s book “Father God” has helped people process the relational link between their earthly and heavenly father. Patty and his wife, Connie, have three adult children.
How does the relationship with our earthly father affect everything else?
Whether someone’s father was present, preoccupied or absent, 100% of them have left a significant stamp on their children’s souls.
“There’s a soul-level imprinting that comes through a father’s voice and resources,” Patty said. “Some people who grew up without a father actually get that from someone else. Fatherlessness isn’t necessarily whether someone’s father is physically present or not. People can grow up with a father close by and still have the symptoms of fatherlessness. There’s an emotional stream that comes from a father’s heart that is life-giving to the soul and allows a person to function healthily in all other relationships.”
Talk about a child’s longing to connect with their father.
Within every son or daughter’s wiring is not just wanting, but deeply needing to be in sync with their father.
“If fathers don’t speak well into their kid’s lives, they end up father deficient,” Patty said. “It’s just like having iron-deficiency, which means you’ll have anemia. So there’s an ongoing weakness.”
When a dad doesn’t deliver as the primary source for his kid’s emotional needs, there are two secondary side effects.
“Without that, people are either dead in key areas of their life or trying to get them,” Patty added. “So they’re either numb or they’re like vacuum cleaners trying to gather those resources from everyone around them.”
What are the four fundamental things we need from our fathers?
God is referred to as Father just 15 times in the Old Testament, but more than 165 times in the New Testament.
Patty draws out four father gifts from Matthew 3:17, which says, “And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’”
1. Identity gives value. Who am I?
2. Love brings security. Do you love me?
3. Pleasure provides energy and motivation. Do I have their admiration or respect? Are they pleased with me?
4. Place brings honor. Do I have a position or role within the world?
What does it look like to display fatherhood on a daily basis?
Being a dad is less about doing and more about bonding.
Patty said connecting with your children emotionally should never be substituted with activities.
“You can be with someone all day and not feel them,” Patty said. “So it’s not necessarily what you’re doing with the person, but the emotional resources that are flowing from you to them. A lot of fathers go, ‘OK, what am I supposed to do? I need to build a go-kart with my son.’ There are activities serving as containers for that, but it’s actually the emotional stream that’s happening between the father and son that’s most important.”
Patty said the 21st century comes with challenges.
“In a society back in the day, what you did is you worked alongside your father and he taught you crafts, how to split wood or milk the cows,” Patty added. “There was so much life that put you beside your father. That really is the shoulder-to-shoulder, masculine approach. Sports can provide that, but there’s also a spectator and performer rather than teaching your child that made fatherhood more natural.”
What’s the danger in trying to be dad of the year?
Many sons who grow up with distant dads decide they’re going to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and become “dad of the year” when they have children.
Patty said this is unattainable.
“Very quickly, it turns to how you can be the greatest father so that your son or daughter doesn’t grow up without a father like you,” he said. “It’s that American view of ‘we’re going to get this right,’ but many fathers skip their relationship with their heavenly Father. So it becomes, ‘How can I be a great dad so my kids can get their resources they need from me?’ Or, ‘How can I fix my dad so that I get what I need from him?’ Or, ‘How do I father myself?’”
Patty said the pursuit of perfection is the problem.
“One of the gifts you can give your kids is being an imperfect dad pointing to the perfect Dad,” Patty added. “One of my goals is to connect my kids to their heavenly Father and not pretend that I’ll fill all of their needs. I’m just supposed to channel the Father’s heart to flow from me to them. How do we parent on behalf of the Father instead of generating things we don’t have apart from Him?”
Southeast Christian Church’s Care Ministry is presenting a “Father God” Workshop Thursdays, June 6 through Aug. 29, at 7:15 p.m. in ATCR 209 at the Blankenbaker Campus.
A variety of Southeast ministry leaders and local counselors will speak on the root issues behind the brokenness of one’s relationship with their father.
“The main reason to process through this is we see over and over again people’s issues or wounds with their earthly father influence how they relate to God as their Father,” said Support & Recovery Ministry Leader Dave Spruell.
Registration is not required and childcare is available. All are encouraged to attend even if you missed the opening week.