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Kia Stephens


July 7, 2015

How Fathers Affect Our View of God

July 7, 2015 | By | 32 Comments

As the granddaughter of a Baptist pastor, I never questioned the stories of the Bible.  No matter how far-fetched they may have seemed, I believed them.  The challenge began when I had to apply my child-like faith to adult problems.

I had more faith in God parting the red sea than His ability to intimately know and love me.  Like climbing a steep mountain with no equipment, I struggled well into adulthood.  It took more than a decade to realize my perspective was in part a byproduct of growing up without my earthly dad.

By design, the relationship  with  our biological dad should prepare us for a relationship with our heavenly father.  A daddy’s nature provides a window through which we can experience the heart of God.  According to The Washington Times, “Sociologists say it’s common for people to perceive that God is like the fatherly figures in their lives. If dad is caring, patient and concerned, then children will believe God has those same characteristics. And the opposite holds true when a father is harsh, judgmental or absent.”

Most often when fathers are tender, loving and compassionate, it lends itself to believing God is this way too.  Likewise, if the father was abusive, absent physically or emotionally, the adult child may believe that is God’s nature as well; I did.

My childhood family of three ended almost as soon as it began.  I was a baby when my parents divorced, and consequently, I grew up spending little to no time with my dad.  As a result, I unknowingly equated the absence of my father as a child with God’s seeming absence as an adult.

He didn’t speak to me audibly.
He couldn’t be seen.
My prayers seemed to go unanswered.
Many times I felt ignored, believing I could never know and be known by an invisible God.
I was wrong.

Examining the relationship with my earthly dad was a prerequisite to embracing God as Father.  During a mentoring session I discovered how different types of earthly dads impact our relationship with God.   Just as light brings clarity to a dark room, understanding the different types of fathers gave me a new perspective on God.

(The description of fathers was adapted from Re:New Mentoring Materials © Northpoint Church. )

Authoritarian fathers are:
  • Concerned with complete control or obedience.
  • Not interested in your opinions, ideas, or desires.
  • Intent on their own way.
  • Characterized as being strict.

Authoritarian fathers can inadvertently influence their children to rebel against God.

Abusive fathers:
  • Inflict emotional, physical, or sexual pain.
  • Destroy a child’s sense of worth and trust.
  • Skew the daughter’s view of intimacy.

Abusive fathers can inadvertently influence their children to have difficulties trusting, being vulnerable and emotionally relating to God.  

Distant or Passive fathers:
  • Show little to no affection.
  • Rarely demonstrate emotion.
  • Interact little with their children.
  • Display no interest in the child or their activities.

Distant or passive fathers can inadvertently influence their children to view God as uninvolved  and disinterested in their lives.  

Absent fathers are:
  • Unavailable due to work, divorce, death, remarriage or abandonment.

Absent fathers can inadvertently influence their children to believe that God is inaccessible or nonexistent.

I had come to view God as distant, silent, and uninterested with the ache I carried in my soul.  However, after much introspection, and counseling I began to distinguish the lies that laid the foundation for my perspective of God.  In changing my mindset, I debunked the  lies I previously believed were truth.

Copy of How God Affects Our Relationship With God Meme 1 (1)

Lie # 1:  God is like my daddy.

Truth:  My dad is like me – flawed, broken and in need of a savior.  Even the greatest fathers are imperfect and fall short in comparison to God.  Although fathers can reflect the heart of God, they are not God and we must make the distinction.

Lie # 2:   God’s silence means He doesn’t love me.


 His communication is endless;  through the Bible, people, nature, and our circumstances, God communicates His love for us.  “Deep within our souls an omniscient God engages in a continuous discourse between our thoughts and His.  The challenge is silencing the noise around and within so we can hear.


Lie# 3:  God cannot be trusted.

Truth: After experiencing disappointment  in my father daughter relationship I found it difficult to trust God.   But as a baby begins to walk, I took a step and then another.  In fact I’m still taking steps in my journey with an all-knowing God, forever learning to trust, and countering lies that separate me and Him.

How God Affects Our Relationship With God Meme 3 (1)



  1. We are next to each other on the Modest Mom Monday blog hop so I wanted to head over and send you my best wishes from England! I’m sure this post will bring comfort to many.
    Alison Bayne recently posted…How to Build Up a Warm or Cool Nude RepertoireMy Profile

    • Wow Alison, so glad you joined the conversation all the way from England. Be blessed! – Kia

  2. Many times I have thought about this subject, so I was glad to see your post. I was blessed with what I consider to be a perfect father, not that he didn’t have flaws, of course he did; but he was the closest thing to perfection I have ever seen. He died at 87 years old, but he left a very hard act to follow. When I started having children I was almost, well actually I was mad at God for not giving my children as good a father as I had had. Yes, I know that was my fault for picking a husband who was just an ok father and not an exceptional one. In reality, I am not as good a mother as my mother was either, so there is that.

    Someday, I hope to write about this topic in more detail, in the meantime I would like to say that I can totally relate to your statement that you could more readily believe that God would part the Red Sea, than be personally involved in your life. My earthly father would have moved heaven and earth on my behalf, in fact he might have done so in actual fact; however, I made such atrocious decisions in my youth that I had a hard time believing that I deserved God to extend even His pinky finger in my direction. On the other hand, my earthly father continued to show me only love and affection, no matter how many times I came home in disgrace. So, in that, I am thinking that even having the very representation of a godly father on earth sometimes cannot override our own sense of unworthiness. We know we have screwed up, period. Fortunately, true gospel is that it is not about us and our failures. We can never be good enough and it is not about that. It is about God’s love and His grace to accept us in our imperfections, as long as our repentance is sincere and our spirits are willing to submit to His Kingship.
    Thanks for your post. Many blessings.

    • In reading about your earthly father I have to think God showed you His overwhelming love by allowing you to grow up with a Father like him. I believe God loves us through other people and I can’t help but think God was loving you through your earthly dad. I pray you will be able to transfer the many positives of your father’s character over to God and know that He is all those qualities and more. Additionally I pray that you will come to forgive yourself and know that the love of God is not based on our performance; it is freely given in spite of it. So glad you joined the conversation. Be blessed! – Kia

  3. Maia Cooper

    Thanks Kia! Very insightful and helpful!

    • Maia! Hey lady. I’m missing you and my hair misses you more. 🙂 So glad you joined the conversation. Be blessed! – Kia

  4. Our earthly fathers affect how we see God as a Father immensely. Or at least how we relate to Him. Great insights here. 🙂
    Lux recently posted…Dance In The RainMy Profile

    • Thanks Lux, I am glad you joined the conversation today. Be blessed! – Kia

  5. Hey there Thought-Provoking Thursday neighbor! Thank you so much for outlining some of the different ways father’s affect their children’s view of God. A timely read for me!


    • Awesome Bethany. I’m glad this blog spoke to you. Be blessed! – Kia

  6. Hey Kia, popping over from Suzie’s #livefree Thursday. Wow: “I had more faith in God parting the red sea than His ability to intimately know and love me.” So true for many of us I think. Thanks for sharing the Truth!

    • Julie it’s funny how I could compartmentalize my faith regarding what God would and would not do. I know now that He is capable of intimately knowing and loving us. That reality is overwhelming and comforting. So glad you joined the conversation today. Be blessed! – Kia

  7. good writing. I too was a fatherless daughter until I met the Lord. Then later in life my dad returned to our family.
    Sharon O recently posted…Fridays word promptMy Profile

    • Sharon, it is such a blessing to know the love of our heavenly father. I am glad you were able to embrace the God’s love and connect with your biological dad as well. Thanks for joining the conversation today. Be blessed! – Kia

  8. This was excellent! I am your neighbor at the Weekend Brew and so glad to meet you. I can understand this so well especially this: “I had more faith in God parting the red sea than His ability to intimately know and love me.” I won’t go into my particulars but thank you for speaking Truth here. Blessings!

    • Nannette, I am blessed to know you could relate to my truth. It took me a while to make the transition from the Sunday School God to the God of my adult struggles. I’m so glad I didn’t abandon my faith because He met me in ways I never would have imagined. Glad you joined the conversation and I pray you will be blessed! – Kia

  9. What a beautiful message for all of the connection we find between our earthly and Heavenly Father. I love your courage in sharing a piece of you story to help us understand how the connection is lived out in the life of a young girl seeking faith. Your encouragement at the end brought us back to the beauty of God’s love for each of us. Blessed you shared this at The Weekend Brew.
    Mary Geisen recently posted…Rhythms of Welcome…The Weekend BrewMy Profile

    • Mary I could not keep the information I learned to myself. This knowledge has been revolutionary in my relationship with God. I hope every woman who reads this post will be able to reflect on the type of father she had while simultaneously recognizing that he does not define God. God is defined by the attributes outlined in the Bible. This knowledge has truly been a gift for me and I hope it will be for others. So glad you joined the conversation. Be blessed!

  10. Kia, I love your sentence – “I had more faith in God parting the red sea than His ability to intimately know and love me.” Wow! That hit home for me. It is true of my younger self. Then God gently walked me through my greatest fear coming to pass, and I realized His personal attentive capable love. Thank you for this and for sharing it at Counting My Blessings.
    Deb Wolf recently posted…The Truth About Loving Yourself and OthersMy Profile

    • Thanks Deb, truly it is amazing to look on that time in my life and see how my faith has grown to know God as Father. We have such a personal and attentive God who is able to do this for all of those who believe in Him. He is so faithful. Thanks for joining the conversation and be blessed! – Kia

  11. Hey again! I wanted to know if it would be okay to share this post on my “Roll Out The Red Carpet” series tomorrow – Thursday. I think more of my readers need to know about thsi!
    Danielle recently posted…5 Ways to be Patient with HubbyMy Profile

    • Danielle, I so glad you gained something from this post. I would love for you to share it with your readers. Thanks for joining the conversation and be blessed! – Kia

  12. YES YES YES! Our church address this topic ALL the time! It’s so crazy how much our earthly fathers can skew the view of our heavenly father. Thanks for bringing this topic up!! So good
    Caroline @ In Due Time recently posted…The Environment + Infertility: PolystyreneMy Profile

    • Caroline, that is so wonderful that your church addressed this subject. I’ve been apart of the church my whole life and I just heard this message two years ago. It has truly been transformational in my life. I hope the message of how our earthly father impacts our view of God is beneficial for all who hear it. Glad you joined the conversation today. Be blessed! – Kia

  13. Kelley

    Wow this hits close to home! Absent dad with early abuse…and here I am, a skeptic.

    How do you find these father figures to help find god?

    • Hi Kelly,

      Please forgive this late response. I believe that instead of looking to a fatherly figure to help us find God we can go to God Himself. Turning to human beings to heal us will only lead to disappointment. God is the only One qualified and capable of healing the broken places in our soul. I pray this will be an encouragement to you. Be blessed my friend. – Kia

  14. Kim Taylor

    Awesome insightful blog. For me my biological father was absent, however my mother raised me in church and I grew up in church with my grandfather as pastor. Growing up I can truly say that I knew church really well however relationship lacked. Realizing now with more studying and hearing the word, I know now that my relationship with God needed more cultivation and learning to lean on Him vs. my own understanding! Thanks for sharing this insightful message, totally makes sense now!!

    • Kim I felt the same way when I discovered this information. I too grew up in the church but it took me a while to develop a relationship with the Lord. I am so glad this information was helpful to you. Thank you for sharing your comments with me. Be blessed! – Kia

  15. I thought I was the only that battle with this type of situation. Many nights I cried and was confused. Thank you for sharing this! Great read!!!

    • My pleasure LaCosta. You are not alone in this my friend there are many women who have dealt with the same pain. Please know that I will be praying for you.

  16. I relate so much to your post as a child of divorce, Kia. You write with bravery and honesty, and I appreciate it. Blessings to you!

    • Hi Sarah, thank for the encouragement my friend. Honestly, the fact that I write courageously is a testament of God’s transforming power. I was so timid when I first began but with each post and comment I am reminded that I must write this way in order to encourage the hearts of women who have ever felt just like me. I am truly honored by your words of encouragement and grateful that you shared it with me. Be encouraged and know that God is big enough to handle any grief that you may carry. Be blessed! – Kia

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