Human beings crave approval, especially from our dads. That longing is unquestionably present when we’re growing up. We crave our dad’s attention and approval when we’re kids, and we want so badly to hear him say:
- “That was incredible, Baby Girl!”
- “Wow, Ace [that’s what my dad called me]! That was the best dive of all time!”
- “I see you, Princess! Do it again!”
- “Way to go, Son! You’re getting so much better!”
Yet—and I’m guessing this statement comes as no surprise—that longing is still there when we’re older too, even though it may show up in different, more complex ways. Every one of us is desperate for the approval of our father, no matter what our age. Whether we’re doing cartwheels in the living room or presenting proposals in the boardroom, we’re looking for approval and affirmation from our dads
We’re all desperate for our fathers’ approval. Without it we can feel given up on, abandoned, deserted, or disowned. We can feel ignored, isolated, jilted, or judged. This void, this lack of a father’s presence and approval, can feel like a shadow that always lingers around us, an intangible missing piece we don’t know how to find. When that approval isn’t present, we feel forsaken.
Our relationship with our dad shapes our sense of acceptance and worth. His influence affects us in multiple ways, but let’s consider two polar opposites. On the negative end, a lifetime of hurt or absence from Dad can make us feel that we don’t matter—that we’re unloved, worthless, or alone. On the positive end, a lifetime of blessing and affirmation from Dad might lead us to think we’re the center of someone’s universe—that we’re relationally sufficient. Both ends of the spectrum affect our sense of identity and worth more than we may think. And the reality is that most of us fall somewhere between the two, a fact that further complicates our outlook on our identity, belonging, and sense of worth.
These are important questions to consider. Few convictions are more important for human beings than knowing who we are and what defines us. If we don’t get our identity right, confusion, struggle, and pain will follow us through life. So before we dive deeper into our relationship with our dad, let’s go to the Bible to understand who God says we are and what ultimately defines our worth.
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, the whole earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth." So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female.
This is the document containing the family records of Adam. On the day that God created man, he made him in the likeness of God; he created them male and female. When they were created, he blessed them and called them mankind. Adam was 130 years olf when he fathered a son in his likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth.
In these two passages from Genesis, the word image is found four times, while the word likeness is found three more. These two terms serve as a foundation for identifying our ultimate worth. To be made in the image or likeness of God means humanity is like God in ways that the rest of the creation isn’t. God made the moon and the planets, but they’re not designing shuttles to transport anyone there. The mountains reflect the handiwork of God, but they can’t describe it. God created all the animals of the land— even the duck-billed platypus—but they’re not expounding on quantum physics. But you and me? We’re made in the image of God. That means we’re image-bearers of the one true God. And we’re more like our Heavenly Father than we might think.
Nothing on earth defines your ultimate identity or personal worth—not your circumstances, not your education, not your socioeconomic level, not your abilities, not your career, not your sexuality, and not even your parents. That means before you ever knew your parents as Mom and Dad (or even if you never knew them at all), you already had inherent worth because you were made in the image and likeness of God.
From one man he has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed time and the boundaries of where they live. He did this so that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being, as even some of your own poets have said, "For we are also his offspring"
When addressing the unbelieving crowd at the Areopagus, the apostle Paul said God relates to us in several different ways:
- God Is Our Creator. “From one man he made all the nations” (v. 26). This means God created all human beings, including you.
- God Is Our Sovereign Lord. “He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands” (v. 26). This means God is in ultimate control of everything on earth, including where you were born and raised.
- God Is Our Sustainer. “In him we live and move and have our being” (v. 28). This means God isn’t distant from you. He’s literally the source of your life and being at this very moment.
- God Is Our Father. “We are his offspring” (v. 28). This means God is your Father and you’re His son or daughter.
Yes, God demands worship as your Creator and Lord. And yes, He’s the very ground of your existence. But don’t miss the subtle truth found in verse 28: you’re God’s offspring, His son or daughter (see 2 Cor. 6:18). God is your Father!
Your worth is fixed because you’re an image bearer and the offspring of God. This is good news regardless of your parental circumstances. If you come from a place of blessing and closeness with your dad, a Father exists who’s even greater than he. If you come from a place of pain or neglect, the promise of Scripture is this. No matter what the circumstances are with your earthly dad, you have a perfect Father in heaven who loves you and wants to pour out His blessing on you.
Excerpted from Not Forsaken by Louie Giglio. Published by LifeWay Press®. © 2019. Used by permission.
No matter how good or bad a father he was, you likely have sad, embarrassing, or painful memories of your dad. We all do, because earthly dads are all imperfect. But there is a Father who is perfect, who is always present and loving and seeking our best, desiring to give us His perfect blessing. In Not Forsaken, a six-session Bible study by Louie Giglio, we will see how God is our perfect father, and what this redeemed father-to-child relationship means to us.