June 21, 2020

Time to Father Up!

Becoming a father is easy—no license or degree required. What I've discovered and continue to embrace is the challenge to become a difference-making dad. 

In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge encouraged the nation to celebrate Father's Day, "identifying the need to establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children and to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations." 

Impact of Fatherless Homes

As a nation, we are failing to become difference-making dads. "More than 20 million children live in a home without the physical presence of a father. Millions more have dads who are physically present but emotionally absent. If it were classified as a disease, fatherlessness would be an epidemic worthy of attention as a national emergency."

In the nearly 100 years since Coolidge's proclamation, more than 17 million (approaching 34%) of all children in the United States live in father-absent homes. 72.2 % of the U.S. population, fatherlessness is the most significant family or social problem facing America.

When kids grow without the influence and commitment of their father (or a mentor) they are more likely to:

  • drop out of high school.
  • suffer from poverty.
  • live off of welfare.
  • marry early.
  • have children outside of marriage.
  • divorce.
  • commit a crime.
  • abuse drugs and alcohol.

An Unlikely Source of Clarity

My dad passed away nearly 17 years ago. I think about him often. I still feel his influence today, and I am grateful he helped me build my fathering foundation.

Many of you have read Tape Breakers and know the first chapter (An Unlikely Source of Clarity) is about my dad. I am so thankful that he demonstrated the courage and commitment to fulfill the "full measure of his obligation" and learn how to become a dad.

What Does It Take to Become a Great Dad?

My dad was a man of few words. He didn't need to say too much because his example spoke volumes. If we to have a conversation today, and I were to ask him, "Dad, what does it take to be a great dad?" here is what I think he would say.

  1. Love the Lord! "I came to faith late in life. My heart had been broken so many times I couldn't imagine being loved fully and unconditionally. How could I be forgiven and embraced? Praise to God that He never wavers in His love for us. The discovery of God's saving grace changed me from being an obligated father to a loving dad."
  2. Love your wife! "The greatest gift you give your kids is a picture of what love looks like. There is no better way to do this than to pour your love into your wife."
  3. Hug your kids and reassure them they are loved every day. "My first vision of being a father was as a provider—safety and security. A dad's love and encouragement change everything. I got better at this."  
  4. Honor your commitments. "You may not like it, you may want to change your mind, but finish what you commit to. Life doesn't owe you anything. Kids look at what you do much more than hear what you say. Always give your best effort and expect the same of your kids." 
  5. Be kind and give generously—be grateful for what you have and let it be enough. "I grew up with little and knew what it was like to be in need. I witnessed the sorrow of war, weathered the heartbreak of loss and experienced the pain of rejection. Don't be afraid to give away what you can't keep."

Who do you want to be remembered by?

I pray your kids are at the top of this list if you are a father or a mother. It provides focus, inspiration, and motivation to run with courageous mindfulness of our impact and influence. 

Yesterday is unimportant in this race. Today is what counts. Do the next right thing—right! If you genuinely want to be fondly and appreciatively remembered by your kids, do the next right thing whatever that may be. I like a question Josh McDowell poses in "the Father Connection," which helps you frame up how you want to be remembered. “I want to be the kind of father who ______________________.”

Finish Strong—Happy Father's Day

Everyone writes a story with his or her race. For the kids in our lives, let's run a race that weaves together a story bold enough and big enough that it changes their lives, inspire their hearts and unlock the brave and courageous possibilities in their lives. 

Today is a great day to find the starting line and embrace being the hero of your race—On your mark! 

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