One on One: interview with John Finch

Recently I scheduled time to sit down and share a meal with a friend of mine who scales the level of tremendous in my life ...and in the lives of many others.  My buddy John shines no less than brilliant in life.  The absolute best thing about him is you get the sense that he is as sure as he is unsure of what he is doing in life right now.  It's not that John is unclear or unknowing.  He clearly knows what he wants to do and must do in life.  How he does what he wants to do is the challenge that he daily rises to.  Day in and day out, John has tirelessly thought of questions to ask on how to launch a ministry and help lead men out of hurt into hope and tomorrow.  In this way particularly, John encourages me deeply without even being aware. John was a child who tragically lost a father and grew to become a man defined by hurt and abandonment.  Yet through God's grace and miraculous forgiveness, he became a father refusing to lose his own children.  John simply is a tremendous man with a dream too big for his shoulders.  That's why he trusts God fiercely.

And this trust has led John to start a project called, The Father Effect.

I'd like to introduce my friend John Finch to you and let you in on the high points of our recent conversation captured in the 5 questions below.  After reading through our conversation and hearing John's heart, watch the short film he made and share it with your friends.


One on One: interview with John Finch

What led you to walk away from stability in an established 17 year career to pursue launching The Father Effect?

Everything began to change when I hit one of the lowest points in my life.  February 20, 2009, I reached a point of real brokenness.  I was an alcoholic and on a particular work trip I scheduled to see a customer, who was also an alcoholic, we stayed up drinking until about 5am.  I somehow arrived back at my hotel room and laid down for about an hour before I had to be up to catch an early flight back to Dallas.  As I drove to the airport, still drunk, I remember thinking that if I got pulled over, I could get busted for a DWI.  I also went into confession mode like countless times before, telling God that I would never drink again.  All the while, I knew very well the next time I hit the road it was game on.  At one point on my way to the Nashville airport, I said out loud to God, "you are going to have to slap me up side the head to get my attention".  And that's exactly what happened shortly afterward.  February 20, 2009, our world came crashing down around us - both of my in laws were diagnosed with cancer, I had knee surgery, the stress on my relationship with my wife and kids was being strained because of all of my travel, and I had recently walked into an emergency room because I thought I was having a heart attack, just to name a few of the things.

I don’t think God did those things to me, but I believe he surfaced in the midst of them and caught my attention.  Little did I know that that was only the beginning.

Nearly a year later at the beginning of 2010, God had really started to stir my heart.  Part of what God was impressing upon me was the fact that I was gone so much - two or three days a week - for as long as I had had kids, and it had started to take a toll on my family, both my wife and kids.  I also began to get a picture of just how massive a problem absent fathers had become to most everyone that I knew.  One weekend in early June of that year, I starting praying for God's direction and guidance about this stirring.  I asked God to give me some kind of confirmation.  I determined to spend the weekend praying and devoted to quality family time.  At the end of a long day on Saturday, laughing having great time together, I put them to bed and walked back down the stairs to pray and think a bit more.  Within 5 minutes, my middle daughter came down the stairs with the oldest not far behind and she simply asked with tears in her eyes, "Dad, why are you traveling so much?"  Before I knew, they were both crying.  Neither one of them had ever asked me that question.  There was my confirmation from God.  I assured them both that I was going to stop traveling and be home more.  The next week, I put in my two weeks’ notice.

Tell me about the first day of your new life. What was it like?

The first day of my new life was freedom and healing like I’d never known before.  This quote that I once came across describes the feeling best. "I was homesick for a place I had never been."  I cannot explain it other than I felt God in every detail.  I felt as though I had a new perspective about everything.  I had a father wound and needed healing.  One simple question that God posed to me turned my life upside down.  Almost instantly I discovered forgiveness.  Really, I think forgiveness found me in the question - "How could I be so angry, bitter, and resentful towards a man who did not know how to be a dad?"  It was as if God had given me a new pair of glasses that made me see everything in a way that I had never seen them before.  My relationship with my wife was new, my relationship with my kids was new, and even the world was new.  All because the baggage of my past had been lifted from my shoulders.  I had spend 30 years of my life living in the past blaming my dad for all my troubles.

Three days after I left my job to launch the ministry I met a guy named Charlie.  Charlie was the car transporter who had come to pick up my company car from the job I had just left.  Within 5 minutes of conversation, Charlie asked me what I was going to do now that I had left my job.  I told him a little bit about all that I had been through, and he began to cry as he told me the story about his father.  Charlie said that when he was 5 years old, his dad took him to a ballgame with some of his dad's friends.  He said that his dad bought him a huge bucket of popcorn and bragged on him to his buddies like he was superman.  Charlie said that he doesn't remember much after that because his dad left the family.  For many years, Charlie said that he would get this strange feeling of peace when he went to the movies and bought a bucket of popcorn.  In his mid 60's, some fifty years later, he soon realized that it was all because of that day at the ballgame with his dad.

What are the most valuable lessons learned or truths realized since starting The Father Effect?

I am continuing to learn so many things that it would be impossible to list them all here, but here are a few of the important things.  I am not alone, we are all broken, and I could be a better father.  Satan had convinced me for 30 years that I was all alone and that I was the only one going through the struggles and issues.  Once I realized that everyone else had issues and struggles too, I didn't feel alone.  And when I came to understand just how widespread the Father Wound was, I didn't feel alone, understanding that everyone has issues and are wounded in some way because of the experiences of life.  I, like many men, thought that I was a pretty good father, but I was satisfied with only that, being a pretty good father.  I soon came to understand that I could be a great father and the importance of striving for that made me a better father.  I began walking in daily awareness of my actions and words as a father.  And part of becoming a better father was loving my kids’ mom.  Understanding that the way I treat my wife is how my girls see normal to be was eye-opening for me.  Knowing that they were watching my every move and that I was setting the standard by which they are going to measure every man, and more importantly, their future husbands.

What are your hopes for the film?  What's the next step?

My hope for the film is that it ignites a movement of fathers who walk in daily awareness of the significant and lifelong influence they have on their kids because the words and actions they use every day. I hope that it results in us being able to equip, educate, and encourage men with the resources they need to become great fathers.  I pray that God uses it to reach millions of men and that it is seen in thousands of churches, universities, and addiction treatment centers all over the world, freeing men to be the fathers God has called them to be.  The messages that need to be told are numerous and they are the catalyst for conversations that need to be had between fathers and kids and between husbands and wives. Twenty years from today, what do you hope to have accomplished?

Twenty years from today, I hope to have helped redefined what it means to be a father.  I hope this film and many others we make have changed the lives of generations - children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren - because it changed the hearts of fathers.  My hope and prayer is that I have been obedient to what God has called me to do.  And, twenty years from now, I hope to be sitting on a beach somewhere in Maui with my grandkids telling my wife "We did pretty good, huh".



CONNECT WITH JOHN @ thefathereffect.com


they won't go looking.

“Oh, wow...  You have three daughters?!!  Dad, you better get your shotgun ready!”

Lots of vulnerabilities exist in my effort to father my three little girls as a single parent.  Little things may fall through the cracks here and there like hair and nails and most fashion related decisions, but one thing I am invariably good at is trust. I feel as though I’m a pro when it comes to adventure in their lives.  But then again, I’ve always had an uncanny ability to swoop in, sweep them off their little steadying feet and launch them into motion.  They love it.  Them momentarily suspended in air just above the ground or flying through the air and room onto the couch.  As they soar and float, even descending, a look lingers on their face.  It’s a look that affirms me.  Trust.

Without reason not to, they trust me completely.  Up until this point, I’ve given them more reason to trust than not.

It’s quite simple.  I’ve done what I said, I’d do.  And when I mess up and don’t follow through, I apologize.  I like to think of apologizing to my kids as emotional adventure taking them deeper into trust’s woods or higher and closer to trust’s summit.

Establishing and nurturing trust in a child’s heart is absolutely essential to healthy maturation.  Without trust, a child grows sideways, roots shallow, leaving them emotionally malnourished.

Think of it plainly in this way::

absence of trust + unquenchable lack, never enough = they go looking

As a parent, you never have to be a pro or know all of the answers.  In fact, the feeling of inadequacy can be an invaluable commodity.  Not having all of the answers and making mistakes earns trust quicker than parenting from a pedestal.

Your primary objective in parenting should not be friendship at any cost.  It should be friendship at great cost.

It will cost great effort in values of forgiveness and love on both ends.  Placing high value and seriousness on friendship and relationship not only strengthens trust but also portrays healthy relationships in the giving and receiving.

Just as sweet as the trusting look lighting up their faces when I send them sailing through the air, the look they give sitting on the edge of their bed watching my eyes well up, holding wordless apologies before anything is spoken - that similar look that I see on their forgiving little face finds me.

Trust’s roots thrust deeper into the soil of their hearts and our relationship.

So I don’t anticipate needing to threaten some boy who has yet to earn their trust with the presence of a shotgun someday.  I will have staked claim in my daughters’ hearts long before that kid steps foot on my scene.  And I imagine (and hope), I’ll be quite fond of him because in some distinct way, he’ll resemble me.

That day, vulnerabilities won’t exist in my heart.  If they do and I’m leaning on a shotgun to establish my place, I will have missed the mark.

My father effort is full here in establishing trust so that we find all that they need together and they won’t go looking somewhere else for what they think they need.


photograph by Jim Richardson

on fathering: be there.

One summer day, driving in his truck, windows down and summer air swirling freely between us, I remember feeling invincible.  No worry too big or fear too dark.  Life was summer sprawl, undisturbed still.  Unawakened to circumstance affecting. We were just driving down a wide, smooth road, but we might as well have been precariously navigating across a narrow ridge thousands of feet in the air.  Maybe it was the summer air that always seems to inspire adventure or his truck which always held the perfect balanced smell of work and dirt.  I think most of all, it was the courage I felt when we did things together, just the two of us.

In many respects, my dad will always be an anchor in my life formidable to each and every wave threatening capsize.

He wasn’t the perfect dad.  No dad ever really is.  He was the disciplinarian who enforced consequences but wasn’t always the firm parent.  In fact, sometimes he’d crumble faster than a dry sand castle.  I don’t think he ever gave too much thought to parenting strategies or thought about parenting goals stretching further than the moment.

And that’s precisely where he won as a dad, in the moment.  Perhaps more unknowingly than not.

Standing at third base, coaching and giving instruction as I walked to the batter’s box.  At the starting line reviewing strategy again, reassuring me that the miles spent on my bike training had fully prepared me to win.  Under the hood of his truck asking for the oil filter wrench then handing me back the tool I gave him and explaining what exactly the oil filter wrench looked like. Teaching me to fight and defend myself and stand up for what was right, at any cost.  “Every fight can be won.  Be the one who wins.”

Thinking back, I’m sure my dad faced many situations when he was uncertain as a father.  He definitely made mistakes, chose wrongly and came up short, but in my young boyish eyes, my dad was myth and legend making sense of a world that felt infinitely bigger than me.

Parenting is such as tremendous undertaking.  There are so many ways to get it wrong.  So many mistakes lie in waiting.

...when and how to discipline. ...when to say yes and stick to no, despite pulling tears. ...embarrassing them. ...emotional parenting. ...saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. ...not saying anything. ...working too much. ...not noticing little important details to them. ...discounting their effort given.

The list grows infinite as opportunity for mistake lies in each day and moment.

Beyond mistakes marring the past and those potential ones threatening in years ahead, the surefire way to get parenting all wrong is to be absent.

Present in form, missing in action.  There is no mistake greater than abandonment.  And sometimes abandonment happens with the parent sitting in the stands still distracted by the day, not noticing the only one truly needing to be noticed.

I’ve known plenty of parents who say the wrong thing often, break the rules of what’s considered good parenting and semi-obliviously stumble in and out of situations, yet still they succeed in being a good parent.  When dust kicked around in childhood and adolescent years settles and years are apparent, there stand their kids somehow ready to figure life out, prepared to take steps on their own.

The one fail safe parenting secret that always works: YOU

Dad, you can give no greater gift to your child than yourself.  Mistakes and all.

Get over your idea of providing enough, success, happiness and proper parenting, and move into their little lives.  Create residence in their hearts where they need strength and adventure and affirmation.

Don’t show up on time when it matters.  Be there.

Being there in your kids’ lives doesn’t mean knowing.  It means willing.  And that is far greater a commodity in shaping their lives than knowing yet being unwilling.

In very rudimentary effort, I am moving closer into my daughters’ hearts this summer.  We set a goal together to begin reading through C.S. Lewis’ series, “The Chronicles of Narnia”.  Our family bet was that we’d make it through book three by summer’s end.

My dad left when I was 17.  My sister, 13. One of my distinct, floor level goals as a dad has been to never leave.

And that’s more than an adequate start.  It’s my greatest gift and a framework for effective fathering.

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Daddy's standard.

::  by Rachel McGowan [gallery link="file" columns="5"]

The reason I have such high expectations in my future husband is because of the way my daddy loves me.

I am my father’s first born, his only daughter, a full-blooded daddy’s girl, and the second most important woman in his life. When I was little, he used to call me “pumpkin”, and I loved it. It still slips out from time to time.

Days after I was born, he wrote a song for me on the guitar. It’s a sweet little melody that rocks my soul to sleep and fills me in the best ways.

From the start, my daddy has loved me well. He tells me I am beautiful at every opportunity. He always answers my questions, and he laughs at my jokes. He calls me to say hello and remembers the details of my life when I tell him. He fights for me against all odds; he would take any bullet for me, just to know I was safe and happy.

He supports everything I do. When I went off to college in another state, he helped me get there, so that I could have the opportunity of a lifetime. When I worked in a restaurant, he frequently asked me about work, so that I could feel purpose behind what I was doing. When I wanted voice lessons, he paid for them in an instant, so that I could grow my passion for music.

But the most important thing my daddy has every done for me is pray for me.

In the song I mentioned he wrote, my daddy asks God to keep me safe, to watch over my life. My daddy submitted me to the Lord before I was even cognitive enough to know it. And as I grew, he discovered my heart, and showed me where it aligned with God’s promises. He showered me with prayer, in any situation. He led the family in a way that put God first, above everything. He so passionately delighted in praising God, that it compelled me to know Jesus deeper. He pursued my heart over the first 24 years of my life in subtle and consistent ways that I am only now beginning to realize. And he never stopped getting to know me. He still takes my heart’s corners and points me back to God’s promises.

I wish I had known that if a boy couldn’t hold a candle to my daddy’s love for me, then he wasn’t worth a second of my time.

As I look back now, I can see ways in which I am sure I broke my daddy’s heart. I spent time with boys just because they were cute, boys who did not understand guarding my heart or preserving my purity. Of course he knew better than I did, but I did not listen to him. So he graciously and gently allowed me to expand the spectrum of my experiences, and allowed life to teach me lessons that only life can. He was there for me when my heart was broken; he stood up for me at all cost.

I have met the man I want to spend the rest of my days with, and I am not surprised that he reminds me of my daddy.

He is kind to all, giving to all, and loving to all. He supports whatever I do and he cherishes me as incredibly important in his life. He values my purity, and is a consistent source of grace, joy, and love. Our relationship is so sacred, so patient, and so focused on God’s promises.

But the most important thing this man does for me is pray for me.

He wraps up our evenings or our conversations in a prayer. He loves Jesus so furiously and passionately, that I am compelled to know Jesus deeper. His love for God inspires me. His showers of prayer strengthen me, and point me back to the meaning of it all.

My standards for a man were set long before I knew it. They were set before I even knew I wanted to get married. Before I knew what I would need in a relationship, before my heart would be broken by boys who were undeserving of my attention, before I undoubtedly recognized my own inner beauty, my daddy instilled those truths within me. My daddy planted deep-rooted seeds in my heart that harvested good fruit in my life. With constant, “I’m proud of you, exactly how you are.” moments, my heart knew what kind of ground to stand firm upon.

I know my worth because my daddy never let me believe I was anything less than wonderfully made; cherished; lovely; enough.

A girl is worth a daddy who resembles the steady love of Jesus, and she is worth a husband who reminds her of that love.


Rachel is a writer, reader, laughter, dreamer, shower-singer and car-dancer who lives in Dallas, TX and works with hundreds of college students who are figuring out life. She is passionate about women’s issues, the struggles of faith, and is seeking ways to give a voice to the untold stories that have the potential to change lives. She believes in the healing powers of authenticity, acoustic music, and whole bean coffee.

She blogs at www.sincerelyrachelchristine.com and you can keep up with her here:

Twitter:: @_rachchristine Facebook:: www.facebook.com/whistlingrachel