Bad Dads and a Good Father


Kent Bateman, the author of this post, serves as one of our pastors and oversees all of our church's communication. For more information on our leadership, visit our

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In last Sunday’s sermon, we discussed how seeing God as our Father is at the heart of understanding prayer. How knowing that God is a good Father means we get to enjoy and abide in Him through prayer.

For a lot of us, that mindset has huge problems. Fatherlessness is a growing epidemic. 24 million children in America (34%) grow up without their biological father. Roughly 40% of children in father-absent homes have not seen their father a single time in the past year.

And those stats don’t even include all of us with bad dads, absent dads, abusive dads, cheating dads, harsh dads, and/or passive dads. Simply put, there's a huge dad problem in America.

A Flawed Analogy?

So with all this brokenness, it begs the question: why does Jesus choose this picture for our relationship with God? If God is sovereign, why would he use a picture that would be so painful for so many?

I think we find part of the answer in Matthew 7. Jesus is speaking to his disciples about how God answers prayer as our Father and says:

Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 

Jesus is blatantly using the picture of earthly dads providing for their children as a picture of God’s provision as our heavenly Father. Jesus is essentially saying, “You know how to give good gifts to your children, right?” He’s helping us see that there are times where our earthly Fathers are good examples of God as our Father–where they represent Him well. But He also doesn’t stop there. Look at verse 11:

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Jesus calls earthly fathers evil. What a weird thing to say when you’re comparing God to earthly fathers. But Jesus isn’t just comparing God to our fathers–he’s also contrasting them.

God is Good even When our Dads Aren't

Jesus is fully aware that not all dads are good examples of God. He’s fully aware that earthly dads will let us down, will fail us, will disappoint us, frustrate us, and wrong us. Even the best dads on earth are marked by sin, impure motives, laziness and imperfect love.

But no matter how accurately or inaccurately our earthly fathers depict God our Father, they’re only that–a picture. A flawed, broken, sinful, imperfect picture of God.

So if your dad is more of a bad picture than a good one, take heart: God is much different than your dad.

O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.

–Psalm 10:17-18