Fathered by God by John Eldredge

Purpose of this book:

In this world of uninitiated & unfinished men, Fathered by God is a sure & certain path for the initiation process of how to become a man.

“You are the son of a kind, strong, and engaged Father, a Father wise enough to guide you in the Way, generous enough to provide for your journey, offering to walk with you every step. This is perhaps the hardest thing for us to believe – really believe, down deep in our hearts, so that it changes us forever, changes the way we approach each day”

Based not on rules, principles, formulas, Fathered by God is a guidebook for reframing the way we look at our lives as men in order to allow God the Father to father us.

We don’t have to figure life out for ourselves. Rather, we are being invited to see our entire lives as a process of initiation into masculine maturity, and your Father is doing the initiating.

John Eldredge outlines the following 5 stages of masculinity, which “are all present to some degree at any period in a man’s life, and they all come together to make a whole and holy man” (17).

1st Stage: Boyhood

Age: 0-12 years old.

Desires: Wonder, Mystery, & Exploration. The heart of a boy longs for daring adventure, battles, uncharted territory to be discovered.

“There comes a time in every rightly constructed boy’s life when he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure.” – Mark Twain

Heart Question: Am I delighted in? Am I special? Am I prized?

Needs: Affirmation – to be prized & delighted in uniquely as the beloved son. To hold a special place in his father’s heart, a place no one and nothing else can rival. Safe in your father’s arms – that is what it feels like to be the beloved son. The safety that a father’s strength provides allows a boy to be a boy & creates the universe for a boy’s heart to come fully alive.

“Keep me as the apple of your eye.” – Psalm 17:8

Movie: Life is Beautiful – 5 year old boy playing a “game” with his father in a WW2 concentration camp.

Wounds: Far more often than not, this stage is stolen. Most especially, a boy is wounded to the core when he does not know that he is the beloved son. Without this bedrock of affirmation, a man will move unsteadily through the rest of his life, trying to prove his worth and earn belovedness through performance or achievement, through sex, or in a thousand other ways… yearning for someone to notice him… yearning for comfort because there’s a place in his heart that needs to be filled.

Reflection Questions & Prayer: Father, what did I miss here, in this stage? Did I know I was the beloved son? Do I believe it even now? Did I know I was prized by my father? Come to me, in this place… Speak to me. Is my heart secure in your love? Jesus, heal this stage in my heart. Restore me as the beloved son. Father me.

2nd Stage: Cowboy

Age: 12-25 years old.

Heart Question: Do I have what it takes?

Answers / Desires: In this cowboy stage, the answer to this question, that, yes you do indeed have what it takes, comes partly through adventure (eg. hiking trip or travelling through Europe) and partly through hard work (eg. learning how to hunt or getting a job).

“I hear, I forget. I see, I remember. I do, I understand.” – African proverb

  • The masculine journey is not a spectator sport. It is something that must be entered into.

Wounds: The cowboy’s heart is wounded when he has no one to take him into the adventures his soul craves & no one to interpret the failures and setbacks & urge him to get back up.

3rd Stage: Warrior

Age: Up to late 30’s.

Heart Question:

Answers / Desires: To have a noble cause to fight for that trains you to be disciplined in body, mind, and spirit (eg. heads off to law school or the mission field). To encounter evil face-to-face and learn to defeat it. To live with courage, to take action, to go into battle. To develop an unyielding heart.

Our God is a warrior because there are certain things in life worth fighting for, must be fought for. He makes man a warrior in his own image, because he intends for man to join him in that battle.

  • How does God raise the warrior in a man? Hardship. What better means than hardship? What better way to train a warrior than by putting a man into situation after situation where he must fight?
  • You will be tested. Give way to nothing. Like Jesus’ desert trial, the enemy comes, probing the perimeter. He knows your story, knows where the weak spots are. But this is our training. This is how we develop a resolute heart. We make no agreements with whatever temptation or accusation is. We repent the moment we do stumble. We pray for strength. We directly resist the enemy. We quote scripture against him. We command him to flee.
  • Be intentional – take the road less traveled. Engage!
  • We must face our enemy head on.
  • Jesus in the wilderness is our model for how we must resist Satan. Jesus treats him like a real person. He directly confronts the demon present out loud, with authority, and with Scripture.
  • Battlefield Counsel
    • One Battle at a Time – Ask Jesus, Do you want me to fight this? Get your orders from your King.
    • Resist it Quickly – the enemy is more easily overcome if he is resisted at first knock.
    • When you pray, or resist, or act decisively in the moments you least want to, the warrior in you is strengthened. Next time you’ll be even stronger.
    • Spiritual warfare will make you holy – Holiness is your best weapon.

4th Stage: Lover


Heart Question:

Answers / Desires: To be awakened to Beauty. To discover music and literature, to pursue intimacy with God more than service for God. To offer strength to a woman.

  • We must not let the battle become everything. The battle is for the Romance. What we fight for is the freedom and healing that allow us to have the intimacy with God we were created to enjoy. To drink from his river of delights.
  • The life of your heart is what God is most keenly after.
  • David as warrior and poet. “God’s love is better than life”.
  • Get into the habit of saying “Speak Lord” and your life will become a romance… one great romance, a glorious opportunity for seeing marvelous things all the time.
  • Expect and anticipate daily affection from the Father ~ Jake Khym

5th Stage: King

Answers / Desires: To rule a kingdom for the benefit of others (rather than arrange for his own comfort). To begin fathering young warriors.

  • You were born to rule, and you were redeemed to rule.
  • A man’s heart must be completely yielded to God, so completely surrendered, that his heart is easily moved by the Spirit of God to the purposes of God. Friendship with God is critical.
    • Moses example – Exodus Chs. 6-14. Then the Lord said to Moses… and the rest of the chapter is Moses doing what God told him to do.
  • We are given power and resources and influence for the benefit of others. 
  • The true test of a king. What is life life for the people under his authority?
    • If he is a pastor, look at his congregation – are they enjoying the genuine freedom and life Christ promised?

6th Stage: Sage

Answers / Desires: Although his kingdom may shrink (eg. kids left the house & retired from job), his influence actually increases. He counsel others. He mentors younger men, especially kings. This is the period of his great contribution.

  • The greatest gift you can give a sage is to sit at his feet and ask questions. B/c the sage will often not offer until he is invited to do so.

Be intentional

  • Engage in this journey.


  • Father, okay. Okay. I don’t know how much of this I believe, but I know this – I need a father. There is so much in me that yet needs fathering. And I don’t want to live fatherless anymore. So come to me, and help me make this shift. You have taken me home, through Christ, to be your own son. I accept that. I give my life back to you, to be your true son. Father me. Father me.

Bible Quotes

  • “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” ~ Romans 8:15
  • Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has also made you also an heir.” ~ Galatians 4:6-7

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