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Be a Desert Daddy


desertSometimes I hang out with Pastors.  This is a confession.

Because pastors are human, and they are involved in a difficult role; ergo they are not always the easiest people to “hang out” with.  Pastors are burdened with their service to their ministry, and with their relationship to their spouse, and many of them are Dads . . . and none of them want their kids to turn into the infamous “preacher kid.”  But pastors are also wary of relationships, because they’ve been hurt many times, and so their conversations are usually very “shallow” at first.  Pastors are good at talking about sports.  They are good with talking about the weather or current events (although most are timid about talking about politics), and definitely good at talking about movies.  Most Pastors, however, are hesitant to talk about the ‘real’ topics important to them: their personal struggles or family issues.

Back to my confession.  I talk to pastors.  And one of the stops on the progression toward “real” talk with a pastor involves Theology.  It usually goes something like this:

Sports/Movies talk >>>>> Theological/Doctrine Talk >>>>> Real Talk

Theological talk is an important step for pastors because it’s a screening process.  If a pastor says that they are a “neo-Calvinist” or listen to John Piper . . . then they are searching to see if you can connect at their theological level of understanding.  If you say, “huh?” to the neo-Calvinist remark; then you might be safe, but, you clearly don’t know about “their world.  However, if you say, “Oh, I’m an Arminian” . . . then you are also not on the safe list for open conversation about their personal beliefs – because Arminian and Calvinist are opposing viewpoints.

Yeah, pastors are weird.

I counsel pastors and consult with pastors and lead a couple of local ministeriums, so periodically I get the ‘theological’ talk from one of the local pastors screening me to see if I’m safe.

Pastor:  So, I’m a Reformed Dutch Lutheran . . .

Me:  I’m a bit of a Christian Mystic, like the Desert Fathers . . .

Pastor:  [uncomfortable silence]

Yes, I am also a pastor; and, as a pastor, I also am a weird one.   Because the Desert Fathers are a relatively obscure Christian sect from the 3rd Century.  You can google/Wikipedia them, but I’m warning you right now; it’s boring.

I’ll sum up their history.  The Desert Fathers were some of the first monks in recorded history.  They moved out to the desert, lived like stereotypical monks (robes, bowl haircuts and beards, no possessions, etc.) and sought a relationship with God.  They were considered “Christian Mystics” because they believed that God is real and that a person can have a relationship with the Holy Spirit.  As with any group of hermits living in the desert, they also attracted a lot of other like-minded people and soon there was a whole city of monks seeking out a relationship with God.

The good thing about this for passing the Theology/Doctrine test with pastors is that

  1. Most people have never heard of the Desert Fathers
  2. The Desert Fathers were composed of so many different people pursuing God . . .  that they didn’t have an extremely ridged set of tradition.

. . . both of which give me a “pass” in the Theology/Doctrine test.

But, as you probably often wonder when you read my articles, “Why are you telling us all this?”

Because God . . . as it turns out, is actually a Desert Father.  No, He wasn’t a 3rd Century Monk, and most pictures I’ve seen of Jesus do not include a bowl haircut.  The Bible does say that God is our Abba (Daddy) Father though.  The Bible also records that Jesus spent a lot of time in the desert areas of the Middle East.  And the Bible is all about having a relationship with God.

This means that the Desert Fathers had a pretty good idea to concentrate on having a relationship with the REAL Desert Father.   How can we Dads become “Desert Dads” without moving out to the arid wasteland?  Here are some of the things the Desert Fathers did and a few ideas for you to do with your kids:


What Desert Fathers Did: What you, as a Desert Daddy, can do:
They were quiet.  They were quiet themselves and they moved out to the desert to get away from all the ‘hustle and bustle’ noise that drown out God’s voice.


Have the kids take a “Vow of Silence” and not speak for a meal or a day (this idea has some real advantages, amiright?).
Gave their possessions to others. Have your kids give some of their hard-earned summer job money to some local ministry or people in need.
Lived Simply; robes, and meager meals. Little kids can make some monk robes and wear them around (kids love hoods).  Older kids can go a day or so without electronics, or eat bread/water for lunch to “fast” from luxury.
Read the Bible Read the Bible.  Although the Desert Fathers spent days meditating on Scripture, you can probably prompt your family to meditate on a short verse or passage.
Sang Praise to God Many kids think Christian music is lame in all forms, but we Desert Daddies can probably find some Pandora station that is enjoyable for your kids.  (see my suggestion below)

As I’m writing these down and actually putting some thought toward the Desert Fathers I’m starting to think that our contemporary society REALLY needs some Dads with some radical devotion to a relationship with God.  I end many of my articles with a request to hear from you, and this is going to be one of them.  I would love to hear your thoughts on being a Desert Daddy with your kids.  How did you persuade your son/daughter to have a deep devotion to God?  Any ideas are welcome.

To conclude, I am linking to the song that includes lyrics about one of the most famous Desert ‘Fathers’ in the Bible, John the Baptist:

There was a man from the desert with naps in his head
The sand that he walked was also his bed
The words that he spoke made the people assume
There wasn’t too much left in the upper room

With skins on his back and hair on his face
They thought he was strange by the locusts he ate
The Pharisees tripped when they heard him speak
Until the king took the head of this Jesus freak

Jesus Freak by DC Talk (Which, by the way, is some of the good Christian music with which you can acquaint your kids)

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