Book Review: Daddy Tried–Overcoming the Failures of Fatherhood
Daddy Tried - Overcoming the Failures of Fatherhood Tim Bayly
Paperback, pp 204. Published by Warhorn Media, Bloomington IN 47403
Price: £10.99 ISBN 978-1-940017-09-9
This book is like a father putting his arm around the shoulder of his teenage son, ruffling his hair and passing on some timely advice. At the end of the conversation he gives his son a dig in the ribs and tells him to get to work. It reminds me of Paul’s exhortation: “quit you like men” (1Cor. 16:13) - direct but loving.
Bayly adopts this kind of language in his book ‘Daddy Tried’; he is warm, tender, open and honest. This book on fatherhood (and more broadly manhood) is a blast of fresh air amidst the cultural smog and confusion of a man’s role in life. Bayly is not aloof, but writes from the position of someone who once rebelled against God’s order; learned from his mistakes, and has spent the rest of his life helping others.
The first section of the book lays the theological foundation for fatherhood. Mainly in looking at the failure of our first father in the fall and then examining the fatherhood of God. This book often uses the term father in a very broad sense. Every man is a father in that he is called to reflect God the Father Almighty. Males particularly are to exercise God given authority, headship and responsibility. Adam in the garden abdicated this role and the affects ever since have been disastrous. Chapter 3 "The Fruit of the Fall Today" is graphic, as Bayly outlines tragic cases of failed fathers that he has experienced in his pastoral work. From this gutter Bayly then describes the perfection of the Father Almighty in his love, disciple and jealousy. These chapters on the attributes and character of God are the model for every man to aspire to.
The second half of the book becomes very practical - "Fatherhood Restored" shows how every man is a father, Bayly says; "Fatherhood is everywhere because God is the Father Almighty ... and he created man to testify of His glorious nature". Since our culture repudiates any notion of gender distinction, male/female roles and authority, the practical chapters on how a man is to live out his God given maleness are particularly helpful. Being a biblical man affects the home, the church and society since "fatherhood has application in each sphere ... because responsibility and authority are fatherhood and fatherhood is responsibility and authority".
Chapter 9 on "Fruitfulness" may rile some readers but it is thoroughly biblical and needed in an anti-natal society. Likewise, chapter 10 on "Discipline" will ruffle some feathers - not because it's unbiblical but rather because we have swallowed the teaching of the world and believe that sparing the rod is loving the child. Chapter 11 deals with teaching children in the home. This chapter is also much needed and very instructive. Bayly summarises saying; "the Word and words of God are to be preeminent among all the good things clamouring for the minds and hearts ... of your home and children". This echoes the words of Moses; "these words, which I am commanding you today ... you shall teach them diligently to your sons" (Deut. 6:6-7). It is also implied throughout this chapter that the biblical roles of women keeping the home and men leading the home still apply. Offensive to western minds - yes, but still biblical. Bayly repeats throughout the book that if we fear God we will obey his word, if we fear the world we will follow it. Who will we serve?
The closing chapters are a basic exhortation to get to work and not be crippled by perfectionism. Bayly accepts that failure is part and parcel of being a man in a fallen world. Failure and the fear of it should not paralyse fathers since "the abuse of a thing does not invalidate its proper use". Bayly goes on to say "there's such a despising of authority in our day that those delegated authority naturally try to avoid exercising it". Bayly is no advocate of dictatorial patriarchy; nor is he pushing for a middle eastern culture of male tyranny. Just as "love is the context for our entire relationship with God the Father" so too love has to be the governing principle of a man's conduct to others. Bayly in this book is calling on men repent and be men whether in the home, in the church or in the city.
This book can be summarised by the words of Joab as he prepared for battle; "be of good courage, and let us play the men for our people, and for the cities of our God: and the LORD do that which seemeth him good" (2 Sam. 10:12). As Christians we live in a hostile world and the spiritual warfare is unrelenting. If our homes and assemblies are to survive the ordeal and bear testimony for God, then we need fathers, men and brethren to live out their God given responsibilities. This book goes a long way in showing us how to do just that.