If you’re looking for a book on fatherhood with friendly advice and light-hearted anecdotes, Brave Dad by John MacArthur is probably not the one. Yet I find this book refreshingly simple and biblical.
In Brave Dad: Raising Your Kids to Love and Follow God (formerly Being a Dad Who Leads), John MacArthur seeks to highlight the single most important duty in a father’s life and to expound from Scripture the divine directives of that duty. Stated simply, “Nothing is a more worthy investment of any father’s time and energy than this: Be a godly leader in your own home” (8).
John MacArthur is known for his commitment to biblical exposition, and it is that commitment that makes this book so full of practical help. Being the right kind of leader in the home “doesn’t involve some sort of mystical search for one’s ‘inner manhood’… . Rather, it’s based on being diligent to apply straightforward and practical principles found in the Bible” (16).
I would highly recommend Brave Dad to any father (whether new or seasoned), and here’s why.
It will point you to God’s Word.
More than anything else, dads need to hear from God. As you’ve probably noticed, the importance of God’s Word fuels our mission here at Growing Fathers. Brave Dad will not sell you short on biblical content. Each chapter is based on a key portion of Scripture with a whole lot of other Bible passages mixed in.
I also appreciate MacArthur’s emphasis on simple obedience to God’s Word. “If you are wondering what you should be doing as a father, the Bible will tell you. Study it, and you’ll be equipped to lead your family” (141).
It’s simple (and short).
Sometimes we dads can overcomplicate things. We need simple. Thankfully, God’s instruction to dads is just that, and MacArthur aims to represent that simplicity in this book: “The Bible’s guidelines for fathers are few and simple” (8-9).
In my opinion, at a few points along the way, MacArthur seems a little too formulaic (i.e. parent this way, and God will bless you). The truth is, however, God does bless those who trust and obey. Many dads, myself included, could stand to dwell a little more on the Bible’s certain promises to those who follow Him. Chances are, you will walk away from this book with a few simple truths ringing in your head.
Along with simplicity, this book is “mercifully short” (to quote Kevin DeYoung’s Crazy Busy). It is sometimes challenging for dads to find time to read, even about topics that are important to us. You could probably easily read this book over the course of three Sunday afternoon nap times (that is, if you seek to leverage those golden moments of stillness).
It’s hard-hitting (refreshingly so).
We all need a good battle cry once in a while. This book is not a pat on the back for dads who are doing ok. It’s a call to arms for dads who are tempted to fall asleep in the trenches of spiritual warfare. Godly fatherhood is exhausting, but it’s our job, and we had better figure out what God expects of us. It’s going to take everything we have. “Give yourself completely to fulfilling your responsibilities as the spiritual leader of your family” (142).
For a dad who’s ready to make a difference, MacArthur’s final chapter will feel a little like a pre-game pep talk.
“If you live boldly by God’s Word without compromise and resist the pressure to please men, then you’ll lead your children to live in the same way. Don’t sell out integrity for comfort. Don’t be afraid of what others might think. Seek to please God and hold to your convictions so that you will fulfill the leadership role God has called you to in your home. That is what it means to act like a man” (136-37).
We haven’t been tasked to walk the path of fatherhood on our own. The privilege that is parenting comes fully stocked with God’s grace. As hard-hitting as this book may be, it is equally—if not more—grace-filled. Over and over, MacArthur reminds dads to look to God and His Word for everything they need for this task. In addition, we must continually point our children to that same grace. “In everything you do as a parent, your focus should be to lead your children to the transforming grace of Jesus Christ” (43).
Speaking of grace, I so appreciate the chapter, “A Father’s Love for a Rebellious Child.” Here MacArthur looks closely at Luke 15, focusing specifically on the heart of God revealed in the story of the prodigal son. “Some people view God as a reluctant Savior. He’s not. All heaven rejoices when a person repents and seeks His forgiveness” (118). How do you love a rebellious child? Love him as God has loved you!
For me, one special part of this book is the section on speaking the gospel to your children (48-54). Though our children have sinned against God, God offers them amazing grace through the person and work of Jesus Christ. And we get to tell them all about that grace!
We don’t become brave dads by fixing our children or adjusting our spouse. Our first task is to allow God to transform us into the kind of men we ought to be. And, in order for that to happen, we must allow God’s Word to change our hearts. Brave Dad is intended for that purpose, to immerse dads into the Word of God so that they will continue to grow into the husbands, leaders, and fathers that God wants them to be.
Want more resources? View our resources page to see our other recommended resources for dads.