A lot of a man’s identity comes from his father’s blessing—or lack thereof. It is his seal of approval. A high percentage of your men will feel as though they have never had their father’s blessing. Few topics can bring men to tears more quickly. As one friend in his 50s told me, "No matter what I did, I could never please my father."
In the Bible, to bless means "to endue with power for success, prosperity, fertility, longevity, etc." Jacob cheated his older brother Esau out of his father’s blessing. Their father, Isaac, according to the custom of that time had to tell Esau that he had already given Esau’s blessing to Jacob.
The Bible says, "When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, Bless me—me too, my father!’" (Genesis 27:34). Whether you speak to men in their roles as dads or as sons, a father’s blessing or approval is crucial to his well being.
The spoken words are important. My dad never told me he was proud of me. I sensed he was, but he never said it. I worked for his approval. When I was 47, I wrote on his birthday card, "Dad, I hope you’re proud of me."
Without looking up from the card, he said, "Well, you know I am." That was it. That’s all I ever got—before or after. But it was amazing. It was his approval—his blessing, and it has made all the difference in my life.
You can’t just tell men to "get over it." Instead, help them grieve the loss. Show them how God, their adoptive Father, does approve and bless them. In some cases, you may be able to act as a "surrogate" father and give your men "a" blessing, even though it’s not "the" blessing. I have done this with younger men who looked to me as a father figure. (See an example of how I did this in The Young Man in the Mirror, Chapter 4, "a man’s identity," pps. 27-29).
On the other hand, tell your men "don’t be a victim"—but be gentle. To not receive a father’s blessing by no means has to "define" a man—especially a follower of Jesus.
Yours for changed lives,
Patrick Morley, Ph.D.
Man in the Mirror