Be a Courageous Father
An Interview with Film Director Alex Kendrick
January 6, 2010 - How can men embrace God's promise to "turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers?" Read an interview with Alex Kendrick, whose new movie is centered on the theme of "courageous" fatherhood.
by Janet Chismar
Known for writing and directing surprise hit movies such as Facing the Giants and Fireproof, Alex Kendrick considers fatherhood to be his most important role— something he hopes to convey in his newest film.
“The movie is about fatherhood and the title is one word: Courageous,” says co-writer and director Alex Kendrick. “Four fathers who are all in law enforcement—who protect and serve together—go through a terrible tragedy.”
“They begin looking at their role as fathers,” he explains, “and they begin challenging one another to fulfill God’s intention for fathers. We focus on the crucial role of father; it’s not just to be a father who loves his kids. It’s to be engaged with a purpose—to be a father on purpose.”
Kendrick is part of the Sherwood Pictures leadership team that includes Michael Catt, the senior pastor of Sherwood Church; Jim McBride, the executive pastor, and Stephen Kendrick, the co-writer/producer of Courageous, who also happens to be Alex's brother. Between the two, they are raising 10 kids. Alex has six children. His brother, Stephen, has four.
Just a few weeks ago, we caught up with Kendrick by phone and talked about the movie and how men can be courageous fathers.
Alex Kendrick during the "Courageous" announcement celebration — Photo Credit: Travis Hatfield
Q: How are some men missing the mark as fathers? Why is this topic so important even in Christian families?
Kendrick: Almost half of children in America go to sleep every night without a father present and that’s a terrible shame. You know, it’s been proven in dozens of different ways how the the presence of a father, especially one that is engaged, so enriches children’s lives – not only in academics but self-confidence and certainly spiritual direction.
From a Christian viewpoint, we see a lot of what we would call casual Christian fathers. To some degree, you could say they are lukewarm in many respects. If we are going to raise a godly generation that is courageous in their faith and obedient and bold, then we need fathers to model that first.
We focused on marriage in the last movie because before a father is going to be godly, he’s got to have a good marriage. This time we want to focus on how a father can not only model but courageously lead his family in a direction that is obedient to the Lord.
Q: You talked about being a “father on purpose.” Can you tell us what that looks like?
Kendrick: It goes back to what I said about not taking this role casually. There are some men who are not engaged in the lives of their children, and then there are some men who consider themselves decent fathers because they are somewhat engaged. But that’s more or less just providing for the family, you know, tucking them in at night.
We believe that a father is given a purpose and he should strategically raise his children to know God, to love God, and to obey God.
Q: How will the movie depict fatherhood and/or help fathers?
Kendrick: You’ll see in this movie four men, one who is doing it at the beginning, and then through the course of the movie the other three end up coming to grips with the fact that fatherhood is their call. You’ll see these four men grappling with the fact that they really need to pursue godliness and demonstrate that to their children.
You’ve heard the phrase, “All that’s needed for evil to survive is for good men to do nothing” and so that’s our thought. We’re basing it in Scripture on the first chapter of Joshua, when the Lord tells him, “Have I not told you to be strong and courageous?” and, of course, Joshua tells the people, “Choose ye this day whom you will serve. As for me and our house, we will serve the Lord.” You will actually see those verses on the screen in this movie.
We’re hoping that as fathers walk out of this movie, they begin asking themselves what kind of fathers they are and if they are courageously teaching their children God’s truth … if they are living a life that is reflective of faith in God.
The gospel will be clearly presented in the movie. We want to first go after the fathers in churches knowing that, in turn, will spill out to secular audiences as well.
Q: How has your own father impacted you?
Kendrick: I have an amazing father. He has been a minister since the ‘70s but in 1984, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, MS. He really had a battle with what the Lord was doing and why God allowed that to happen because his health started to degrade rapidly.
But he got to a point where he said, “You know what? I believe in God. I put my trust in Jesus Christ and no matter what scenario I’m in, those are givens. God is on the throne. He knew this was going to happen and He’s in charge.”
It was after that resolve, if you will, that the Lord gave him the passion to start a Christian school. He did. It’s now been in existence for 20 years here and he’s been discipling hundreds and hundreds of students in middle and high school.
We see that even in hardship, he obeyed the Lord and was very bold and courageous in his faith and so that really was fuel in our lives to do the same thing.
Q: How can readers pray for you as the process of casting and writing unfolds?
Kendrick: We want this to be a powerful movie with God’s favor all over it and we are not going to withhold anything back from the Lord. So we would pray for protection and we would pray for God’s creativity, that this movie will impact hundreds of millions of people all over the world.
Q: Is there anything else that you want our readers to know?
Kendrick: They can follow the production process at the website courageousthemovie.com and we’d love for people to follow us on Facebook and join us in prayer.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT FATHERHOOD
All statistics from www.AllProDad.com
- Some 24.7 million children (36.3 percent) live without their biological fathers
- Nearly 1.9 million single fathers have children under age 18 26 percent of absent fathers live in a different state than their children
- About 60 percent of children in fatherless households have seen their fathers in the past year
- 50 percent of children living apart from their fathers have ever been to their biological father’s home.