Missional Man Podcast
Tools for the modern Christian man.

Ep#15: John Finch, Identity & Fatherlessness

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Summary & Intro

john finch

John Finch – follower of Jesus, husband of 20 years, father to 3 girls (ages 8, 13, 15), grew up without a dad at a 11 due to suicide, has a passion for men who have the “father wound” in their life, founder & lead storyteller of the short film “Father Effect”, speaker, filmmaker, great down-to-earth gracious and kind guy.

Recap & Synopsis

Listen this week as John and I  discuss identity and this epidemic of fatherlessness. John very graciously opens up about the tragic loss of his father to suicide at the young age of eleven. He talks about how growing up with the pain of his dad’s death and how his dad’s absence shaped his identity as a man. John and I discuss a myriad of topics including the epidemic of fatherlessness in our culture, the importance of engaging with your kids, being transparent and authentic dads, how our view of our fathers shapes our view of God as Father, the importance of accountability and vulnerability with other men, dispel some popular fatherhood myths and misconceptions, the power of saying “i’m sorry”, the importance of going on dates with your kids and how having a tribe of men around you to speak life is vital. Hear John’s heart in this honest chat about dealing with the father wound that lives down inside of all of us.

*The following are my favorite top quotes from John and I. Use them freely and widely, but please offer credit where credit is due. For full show notes, click and download link below. Thanks.

Growing up with just a mom, especially at the age of 11 on, I really came to identity with all of the characteristics of my mom. She was incredibly sweet, kind and gentle lady. Because that was the only model I had, I literally took on those characteristics. I became this loving, kind, gentle kind of kid. As a 16-year-old boy, I came to understand that’s not the way I’m supposed to be as a young man. I was very confused. I was lost for many many years. I wrestled with my identity and where to find it. I looked into alcohol, pornography. I was searching for something to give me validation to tell me this is what a man does.

I found forgiveness for my dad and God released me.

I had been chasing my father for so many years. Even though he was dead, it was as if I was going to prove it to him that I can make it as a man on my own. I was trying to prove to the world that somehow I can make it on my own.

It was only in the forgiveness of my father that I finally began to see my new identity in God.

Gordon Dalbey’s book: “Healing the Masculine Soul” about this idea of the father wound.

My mom did an incredible job as a mom, but she could never be a father.

Growing up as a dad, I had a fear, subconscious or not, and was insecure about myself. I felt unstable. I had this fear of so much. Even as an adult, up until just a few years ago. When my wife and kids would be gone for the weekend, I would go into my bedroom and lock the bedroom door out of fear of someone coming in to do something to me. As a grown man, that’s an uncomfortable feeling.

I struggled with unworthiness because my dad chose to abandon me. There must have been something I did to make him leave me. Feelings of guilt and unworthiness. Satan knows that’s my weakness so he goes after it on a daily basis.

Growing up without a father shaped so much of who I am as a man.

I thought if my dad left me, what’s to say God won’t leave me either. There was this transferrence of the way my father was and how I project that upon God. What I see with so many men and women, with the father wound, how they view their dad is how they view God.

So for those with military dads with high demands, they think God is that way. If they had a father disengaged, aloof or distant they assume God is that way. Men play such a big role. We as fathers have to understand the impact we can have on our children and their view of God.

Until I made the film and sat across from 80 + people and heard their stories, I had no idea how much of an impact as a dad I have on my kids.

Because I view God a certain way I end up parenting my kids out of that. (Jonathan)

It’s amazing to see the grace in which He gives the son (Prodigal Son) who squandered it all away.

Because my dad left me, I somehow thought that God was punishing me. As a result for many, many years I looked upon God as Father who was a Punisher. If I didn’t do this correctly, somehow He would punish me. If I didn’t read my Bible everyday I would be punished. As a young boy, I had it in my head that I was being punished by God. It was all acts-oriented. If I didn’t do certain things God would punish me.

With death there is a finality, there’s closure. With a dad who is there physically but not emotionally, with a child that’s a daily reminder of the unworthiness. “My dad is not spending time with me or like me, I’m not worthy.”

I had a conversation with a guy and he asked me, “what’s worse losing a dad or having a dad who’s not ’emotionally’ there”? From a long-term perspective it can almost be more damaging to have a dad who is there but not engaged with a child in his life.

As a dad and entrepreneur it’s easy for me to think that because I work and provide I’m doing good. But sometimes the best thing I can give to my girls is just my presence. (Jonathan)

It suddenly occurred to me, “I ought to know the names of my daughters’ baby dolls.” It was a reminder for me to pay attention and be more present. (Jonathan)

Your kids pay attention to so much you do and say. They really want you to be involved in the everyday moments of their lives.

I try to stay engaged with them on a daily basis. It’s really changed my relationship with them. We as dads overlook that as the little stuff kids don’t care about. But they really care about that.

I start to realize that they’re acting out, distance or ignoring seems to be a response to a lack of love from me. They just don’t know how to express it. We really have to be aware of what’s going on inside of them. (Jonathan)

Scheduling dates is such an incredible way to be in tune with what’s going on: “what’s your favorite subject?”, “who are your 3 best friends right now?”. It’s the personal connection when you get your kids alone when they’ll tell you things they may have not said otherwise.

One of the biggest fatherhood lies is that “men can’t cry”. Showing emotions and being real is a powerful thing. My kids see me cry and I have no problems with it. The idea that we can’t cry or show real emotions is something that comes from when we are little boys.

We are taught from an early age to not show our real emotions. We’re not being real or transparent in our lives. We have this thing among men to say “hey how’s it going” and we say “oh man it’s great”. We need to be able to say as men “man today sucked”. We don’t want to be seen as weak or having any struggles or trials.

For men to be open and honest and have transparent conversations there is nothing better. It validates what we are feeling or what we’re struggling with. It brings down the walls of other men opening up great conversations, great advice on how to overcome these things. Being vulnerable as men is something we’ve got to do more of.

Being vulnerable is not easy. It can be painful. Letting your walls down is the only way to expose the darkness and allow the light to come in. (Jonathan)

Huge lesson in fathering is going to kids and saying I’m sorry and asking for forgiveness.

I try hard to put forth this idyllic image of a perfect dad and never make a mistake. It ends up confusing them making them think God is that way. I have to go to them admitting my mistakes, saying sorry and asking for forgiveness. (Jonathan)

If I yell at my girls and never apologize and explain, what happens is she goes into her room and starts processing it. “My dad yelled at me, he didn’t say I’m sorry, he didn’t explain it, so that must be normal.” They come to think yelling is normal. Then that plays out in their own lives. They start yelling at others in their life. This vicious cycle happens.

It’s important for us as men to gather our tribe: men who speak life and encouragement to us. People we trust, know and love us in spite of how we fall or what mistakes we make.

You don’t have to be “in ministry” to do ministry.

For 30 years we (my brother and I) never talked a lot about my dad and that day. It wasn’t until the opening of the short film and the reenactment, we sat down as a family for the first time and talked about my dad. It took us as a family a long time to process it. It was unfortunately something we never talked about.

Unforgiveness is such a powerful thing. Our kids can be so forgiving. Doesn’t matter what we’ve done or mistakes we’ve made. Even as grown adults we think they’ll never forgive me. With honest, heart-felt conversations of asking for forgiveness it’s amazing what God will do.

It’s never too late to find forgiveness. So much of that is forgiveness is such a powerful, life-changing thing. There’s hope in the forgiveness we can find for others and from others.

One of the things I struggled with was thinking I was all alone and no one knew what I was going through. The Evil One wanted me to think it was hopeless.

If men hear nothing else, ultimately our hope is in God. Our Heavenly Father is the forgiving God, hopeful God, trustworthy God.


Action Round (1 Take-away & 1 Action-Item)

1 TA (One take-away for YOU to think about)

It’s never too late to find forgiveness. So much of that is forgiveness is such a powerful, life-changing thing. There’s hope in the forgiveness we can find for others and from others.

One of the things I struggled with was thinking I was all alone and no one knew what I was going through. The Evil One wanted me to think it was hopeless.

If men hear nothing else, ultimately our hope is in God. Our Heavenly Father is the forgiving God, hopeful God, trustworthy God.

1 AI (One action-item for YOU to go do.)

1. Daily awareness of a relationship with Jesus Christ. Could be quiet time, prayer, communication, talking with other believers.

2. Walking daily in the awareness we have as Fathers. Could be reminders, focusing on one thing to do. It’s being intentional and purposeful in what you’re doing.

For me it’s starting the morning with a kiss and telling them “I love you” and ending the day with a kiss and “I love you.” It gives them that love, stability. Just asking how their day was. Engage so they know you’re interested and care.


John’s Short Film: The Father Effect

IndieGoGo Campaign to Finance the Full Movie (Anonymous donor agreed to match up to $2500!) – You can support John’s film at any level too & receive a gift – now $10 means $20!

Father Effect on YouTube

Father Effect on Twitter

Father Effect on Facebook

Testimonies of Changed Lives from the Film

John Finch

Gordon Dalbey: Healing the Masculine Soul – God’s Restoration of Men To Real Manhood


Yes in this episode I’m excited to give away two FREE, awesome gifts to my listeners. John has graciously agreed to help me with this. YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW TO HEAR ABOUT THE FREE GIFT AND FIND HOW TO ENTER TO WIN!!

Here’s some ways you can be entered in the FREE giveaway:

  1. Share this episode with the link below via Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and tag us in it (missionalman.com/015johnfinch)
  2. Share how this interview encouraged you on Twitter using the hashtag #iammissional and episode # 15
  3. Leave us feedback about the show via email (missionalmanpodcast@gmail.com) or an online Voicemail (http://missionalman.com/leave-a-voice-mail/)

Two luck listeners will win. So be sure and listen to the whole interview and do one of the above to officially enter! Let’s get this giveaway going!!!

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