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Searching for a “Safe Dad” or “Safe Mother”

Last year, I was introduced to a great ministry for men, The New Canaan Society (At the end of this blog is some information about our own New Canaan chapter in Grand Rapids, Michigan). While attending their retreat/conference in San Francisco, I met a young, aggressive 30 something guy, also attending the meeting, but not yet a Christian. After one meeting, he and some of his friends and I had a glass of wine overlooking the city.

“I’m curious,” I asked, “Why would you pay $1,500 to come to a three day conference filled with Christians, if you’re not yet one yourself?” His response both inspired and challenged me.

“Ever since I was in college, I’ve been looking for a safe dad.”

He went on to tell me that his own father was a jerk. His parents had divorced, but he always longed for an older man he could trust to help him navigate life. Someone had invited him to a New Canaan weekly meeting and he was shocked! There, he met dozens of mature Christian men who were successful, but also clearly loved God and their families more than they loved themselves. He’d never met men like that before! “Whatever they have, I think I want, but I’m not there yet,” he confessed. So, there he was the proverbial rich young ruler, watching and listening – kicking the tires spiritually looking for a safe dad.

Are you too, looking for a safe, spiritually mature man or women to help you navigate life? What’s a “safe dad?” By the way, when I use the term safe dad, I’m not implying your biological dad, or step-father is an unspiritual brute or jerk. I think I’m a very good father, nevertheless almost all of our adult children have had spiritual mentors. Why?

Because, I’m also confident there are things they’d feel uncomfortable discussing with me or their mother, because of our relationship and history. They know we’d be disappointed in a way that a spiritual mentor would not be, making them “safer.”

On the other hand, you might have a father or mother you simply don’t trust or respect because of their character or behavior. It could also be that your parents aren’t believers or don’t live out their faith with any consistency. Trust, respect, gentleness and godly wisdom are the four virtues I find most young men are really looking for.

Finding a safe dad We Christians are strange. If we wanted to learn to play the guitar we’d hire a guitar teacher. Why? Because everyone knows you can’t learn anything well by just reading a book, watching a YouTube, or just practicing by yourself. Having a flesh and blood person sitting across from you showing you how to play, listening to you try to play yourself and giving you good feedback and tips, makes all the difference in the world.

So, why would we think it’s any different if we truly want to be more spiritual? But, where do you go to find a spiritual formation instructor? I’m not talking about somebody to simply teach you the Bible, but some safe person who can help teach you to “do life” from a Christian perspective. But you have a Christian therapist? So do I. But, as valuable as good Christian therapists are, they’re no substitute for a mature Christian friend who can show you how following Jesus “works” in real life.

Being a “safe dad” Perhaps you believe you could be a spiritual mentor, a safe dad, to someone. If so, begin praying today for God to put someone on your mind that he’s appointed for you to be just such a person. If you do, someone, someday, will thank God profusely for your obedience. Millions of men and women long for someone just like you to help navigate life wisely, spiritually and safely. What are you hearing from God right now as your finishing this blog? Do it!

A few years back, I wrote a two-part blog on spiritual mentoring. Here are the links: &

On my STORE page, I also have a Spiritual Mentoring Guide, with much more information on how to both find and be a spiritual mentor. (

New Canaan Society/Grand Rapids Last month, a group of us launched our own New Canaan Chapter, which meets the 1st and 3rd Thursday of every month, from 7:15-8:30am at Rockford Construction, 601 First St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504.

Our next meeting is Thursday, October 16 and I will be the speaker. There’s no cost and reservations aren’t required. You’ll meet a lot of great men, but as the New Canaan founder likes to remind us, “we’re all recovering sinners.”

How following Jesus works in real life.

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