Faith Relationships


Jeff stood before the crowd, talking about his son. Josh had fallen off a cliff the week before and lost his life. An accident no one expected. It sent shockwaves through the circles of family and friends. Josh was only twenty and coming into his manhood. Beyond the flowing hair and the beard that sprouted overnight, Josh was on fire for Christ. He spoke freely of his faith fearlessly.

As I watched the photo-reel of his short life, I remember him as the little boy in the cul de sac who loved bugs and fish and anything outdoors. Or, when he was about ten and found a huge bullfrog in the pond behind our house. I also recall sitting at his 16th birthday manhood meal, speaking wisdom into his life; wanting him to grab hold of his faith in a way that would lead him well into his emerging manhood. College, summer stints working in wilderness settings, Josh was full of life. 

How could a young man like Josh have become so manly, so in love with Jesus in such a short amount of time?  Of course, the big answer is God was at work in his life. But, deeper than that, was something I realized made a world of difference—his dad.  Over the years, I saw Jeff raise both of his sons, Josh and his older brother Ross, to grow from little boys to young men and then to warriors set on a path to face life and to fix their eyes on Jesus; to make their faith their own. 

John Eldredge, the author of the book Wild at Heart, has three sons; Sam, Blaine, and Luke. Now each is married and in their late twenties and early thirties. They call their dad Padre. Why?  John pointed them to Jesus. He showed them as boys how to become men. How to take on life in a way that God fathers them into the men He meant for them to be.  John Eldredge is a Padre.

Three generations of manhood.

Josh’s dad, Jeff, is a Padre. And, he’s a significant reason Josh saw his young manhood become a light for others. I and so many others who knew Josh benefited from his life because of a dad who loved his son and poured himself into him.

Ephesians 6:4 says  Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

This is life on life, in the trenches. It’s dads entering their son’s world. Camping, fishing, cross-country meets, band concerts, sitting by the campfire listening to his son confused about girls. It’s questions about faith and folding the Word of God into his life. It’s about purity and responsibility. It’s about the unfolding of a story from boyhood to manhood. It’s about delighting in your son and validating his life. It’s about confronting the sin in him and giving him the emotional support he needs to know he has what it takes to become a man.  That my friend is a Padre, and, that is what Jeff was to his son Josh, and still is to his son Ross.

Josh taught himself to play the banjo.
This is a screenshot of an Instagram story he posted this summer.

It’s what I want to be to my son, Justin, and it’s what God calls every dad to regardless of your children’s ages. I focus mostly on fathers and sons because it’s a large part of Mentoring Warriors, but that in no way negates or lessens the influence a father can have on raising daughters. You want your precious angels to grow up into mature young women who recognize a man worth taking note of—a young man, like Josh, who was pursuing the Lord.

But I’m Not Married- How Can I be a Padre?

A young man about Josh’s age walked up to me recently, poked my shoulder, and said “Someday, I’m going to be a Padre.  I want to love on my future wife so much that she flourishes as a woman of God and I want to raise my future sons and daughters as a Padre who brings them up to be mighty young men and amazing young women for Christ.”

Where do you go from here?

If you are like me, talks like this can be discouraging. My short-comings overwhelm me. I see my failures and forget that it is not about me trying harder to be a Padre, but about Christ fathering me so that I can father my children.

If you are a dad with adult children, God can restore your role as a Padre. Granted, hurdles will be a challenge as your past can seem like a roadblock to the future, but trust that God can restore the years that the locust has eaten.

If you are a dad with young sons and daughters, get on it, man!  This is the time for you to be fathered by God and to, in turn, pour into your children.

No kids? Not even a wife?  WOW!  What an awesome opportunity for you to start the process of becoming a Padre now!  Find an older man who can mentor you. Permit him to speak into your life. Let God father you through him. 

Being a Padre is a life-long journey. It never ends.  

Lord, thank you for giving us an example in Jeff and Josh of a Padre/son relationship that is changing the world for you!

Warrior On!

Editor’s Note. Josh Yarrow, 20, went to be with Jesus Summer 2020 in a hiking accident at Glacier National Park, Montana. He was working and serving with ACMNP. A Christian Ministry in the National Parks.

Feature photo. Jeff with his two sons, Ross (left) and Josh (right)

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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