“Despite the best of intentions, we can soon find ourselves fumbling our way through fatherhood. As Christians, however, failure is not final.”

Join hosts Andy Lamberton and Stephen Mullan as they chat with Graeme Thompson about failing forward.

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2 Minute Video explaining Legacy.

Failing Forward Article by Stephen Mullan.

In our second episode of the Legacy Podcast, Graeme Thompson talks about how dads can move forward from failure. It’s a hope-filled episode that I hope you enjoy as much as I did.

Failure comes in all sorts of flavours. As dads, we all know where we’ve personally messed up – whether we’ve not been present or yelled too much or been too passive. Despite the best of intentions, we can soon find ourselves fumbling our way through fatherhood.
As Christians, however, failure is not final. We serve a God of grace who gives second and third and fourth chances. Read Nehemiah 9, if you need a reminder. After a long account of the repeated failures of Israel, we get this gem in verse 31:

“Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.” Nehemiah 9:31

Confidence in God’s goodness needs to be at the foundation of our fatherhood journey. His grace makes progress and recovery possible. But we also need to take responsibility for our family’s situation and work to make things better.

One of things I appreciated most about this episode was how Graeme encouraged dads to zoom out of the present situation to see fatherhood as a long journey – or as he put it, as one long conversation. Like a marathon race or a mountain trek, the key to getting to the finish is about taking the next step.

Take one step forward’

My favourite phrase in the conversation with Graeme is this: ‘There’s always a step you can take.’ It is incredibly practical. No matter how messy things have got, there is hope and there is a step forward available. It might just involve some thought and prayer.

Family life won’t be transformed overnight but tomorrow can be better. Graeme encourages failing dads to cast a vision for the short-term. Where do you want your family to be in a month? in a year?

What shift do you want to see? What atmosphere do you want to cultivate? What kind of relationships do you want to have?

With this vision in mind, start with one small step forward.

This might mean a small change to your morning routine – “I’m going to wake 30 mins before everyone else to pray for my kids.” It might mean a small change to your week’s priorities – “I’m going to block in family time.” It might mean a small change to how you speak or listen – “I’m going to ask about the children’s day before I talk about my own day.”
It might mean a difficult but long-overdue conversation; it might mean you turn up for the first time in a long time; it might mean the courage to finally say, ‘I’m sorry’.

Whatever it is, let’s commit to taking one step forward this week.

A final point worth stressing is that we aren’t meant to do this fatherhood journey alone. Friendship is often the first thing guys sacrifice when family life gets busy. But we need the support of friends – we need a band of brothers. Men tend to isolate themselves. We focus on work and family: the former with structure and intentionality and the latter lacking. Friends remind us of what’s important and often point out the obvious. 

Graeme encourages us to invite old friends back into our lives – or to reach out and find some new ones. We desperately need their encouragement for the long journey of fatherhood. As Christian fathers, we need the Body of Christ. We need their prayers as we fumble and fail and try to take the next step forward.

Did you enjoy the podcast? please share with other fathers you know and tell us what you think. Email: hello@legacyfathers.org 

By Stephen Mullan
Cohost of the Legacy Podcast.

Stephen directs the work of Dreamscheme Northern Ireland, a youth work charity that provides support and opportunities to young people growing up in housing estates. He also writes on the subject of youth via his newsletter Rethinking Youth. Stephen is married to Sharon and has two young children.