No matter where you live I want you to know that the death of fatherhood is devastating your city from the inside out right now, today. Here in the United States the statistics are staggering when it comes to fatherless homes:
- 25 million children in the United States are growing up in fatherless homes.
- 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.
- 71% of all adolescent substance abusers come from fatherless homes.
- 80% of all in psychiatric hospitals come from fatherless homes.
- 70% of adolescents in juvenile correctional facilities come from fatherless homes.
- 60% of rapists come from fatherless homes.
- 70% teen pregnancies happen in fatherless homes.
(Statistics from National Center For Fathering 2015)
The statistics are not any indication on the women that are left with the heavy responsibility to care for children in many cases on their own. These women are doing the job of two and doing it, most likely while they are working more then one job. They are not the reason that we are talking about fatherhood. We are talking about fatherhood because in most cases (not all cases) that we have men that are walking away from their responsibility and opportunity to be a FATHER.
So what does this mean for us today? What does this mean for us in the coming years? I believe that it is an amazing opportunity for those of that have had a father or have grown into fatherhood to help both young man and high school boys. It is the opportunity that we have to be a part of breaking the chains of dysfunction that have lead to the slow death of fatherhood. Here are some ways that we can take this opportunity and begin to make a difference:
- Start where you are at with the boys that are right in your own neighborhood. I guarantee that you will see some young guys throwing the ball around or kicking that ball around on your street. Just take some to spend with them playing and talking. It is amazing how much a kid will talk while they are playing.
- If you are father then take the time to get to know the other boys or girls that are hanging out with your children. Don’t just let them wander through the house without them seeing or getting to know there is a father in the place.
- Take the time to talk and mess around with the boys and young men that are involved in your church. You just might be exactly what one of these mothers are looking for when it comes to helping them encourage their children. (I had two men in my life that were just like this)
- If you are single man that has no children of your own then I challenge you to get involved with an organization that would enable you to mentor a young man. I know that there are many amazing organizations like this where ever you life. (Where I live we have an amazing group called, “Save Our Youth”.)
Here is my challenge to you whether your are a father or not, do something. Take the time to get involved in a child’s life. You may never know the difference you can make by helping be a part of being a FATHER.
What are some other ways that you can get involved in the lives of children that are living in fatherless homes?
Have you ever arrived at someone’s home or to work and they asked you, “Did you see that car wreck?” I have and until recently I didn’t really pay attention to the question at least until the car wreck happened to be my son Tyler. I was sitting at home with my wife just relaxing when THAT phone call came. It was Tyler calling me to let me know that he had just been in an accident, that he was ok, but that I should get to where he was at as quick as I could. My son is 24 years of age he is a man, not a boy. So when he called and explained it all to me I really didn’t panic. I got dressed quickly to leave the house, had a back and forth conversation with my wife about which vehicle to take car or truck. I grabbed the truck just in case it wasn’t that bad a wreck and I could tow the car home. But I drove to where my son was at and as I came over the hill to see the accident my heart jumped in my throat. It was not a just a little fender bender, my son had been t-boned at a major intersection and his car was severely damaged. It was not what I had hoped to see at all it was a parent’s nightmare. So I parked the truck in a lot in front of a store that enabled me to get to where my son was at with paramedics.
But as soon as the truck was in park my cell phone began to ring. It was a number that I didn’t know, but I answered it none the less. It was an operator from the APP that I had on my phone called LIFE360 they wanted me to know that my son was in a car accident and they wanted me to know that the proper authorities had been notified. It was an amazing phone call and I thanked the operator for calling me. But you might be sitting there thinking, why was this an amazing phone call? You were already at the accident and didn’t need the phone call. And what you would be thinking right. But what if my son couldn’t call me, what if my son was unable to call me? It let me know that the APP that we had put on each of our children’s phones and had the monthly subscription was all worth it. Now here is the question that I know you want to ask, “How did they know he was in an accident? Here is the amazing answer, “I don’t know and I don’t care.” Want to know why? Because they called me and let me know about my son. As a parent I was notified that my son was in an accident and that was a amazing news.
I want you to understand that I am not being paid to say this, I am not being told to say this. But if you are a parent or a spouse that truly cares for the people in your family then you need them to get this APP on their phone. This is the second time that the LIFE360 APP has been good for our family and has enabled us to know can care for our children. What are some APPS that you use as a parent that have helped you?
Over the last several years I have been actively involved in a funeral home here in the community of Aurora. I know that might sound strange but years ago I had an amazing group of men challenge me to prepare for the end of life. I had only been to one funeral growing up so I was intimidated to say the least when it came to this season of life. But through their support and encouragement I came to understand the necessity of knowing what to do when it comes to the end of someone’s life. So now as a pastor in the community where I grew up it has enabled me to help friends and family when it comes to a loved ones last wishes.
But one of the things that I have realized is that man men and women don’t prepare with the end in mind. I know, I know you are probably thinking but that is morbid. I don’t want to think about my own death. Ok I get that but here is what I have learned over the last 20 years. You are not the one that has to deal with your DEATH. Why? Because you are DEAD! What happens is either your spouse or your children are left with the emotional and sometime very painful task of paying and planning for your final resting place. I have experienced this time and time again where I am speaking with a room full of family members and they all stare at each other saying, “I don’t know what we are supposed to do.” Well here are a few things that I am going to challenge you to do for the sake of your family:
- Type up exactly what you would like to have happen to you after you have passed away. (I.E. funeral, cremation, burial, thrown in the ocean, whatever)
- Go to a funeral home and talk with their pre-needs area. This is where you can find out exactly what the cost will be for what you desire.
- Start paying now for what you desire for your final resting place. (The costs will change year after year but at least you have payed the way for this.)
- Place everything in a folder. Mark it and let your spouse or your kids know exactly what it is and how it will help them. (Yes most likely they won’t want to talk about it but you are taking care of them in the long run.)
You might be asking yourself, “When should I put this together?” or “How old should I be to start this?” Here is my encouragement to you. NOW! We are not guaranteed to be around tomorrow, so do the best that you can now for your family. This might even be a good thing to discuss with your spouse as you start planning so it doesn’t come as a shock when you hand them a folder of your preparation for the end.
What are some things that you are not sure about when it comes to preparing for the end?
I was never prepared to be a dad let alone a dad of two daughters. I mean I was a boy so when we had our son I kind of had that one figured out. But daughters really, two of them, I was really deep in the weeds. So I wanted to be able to share with you some of the things that I have learned being the dad of two daughters that have grown up to be amazing women. So here you go:
- Listen to your wife! I had to listen to my wife a lot because I am the oldest of four and my sister was ten years younger then me. So I was clueless to a lot of areas when it came to what girls didn’t need or did need from a dad.
- Hug them always. One of the things that I always have done is hug my girls. I hugged my girls even when they didn’t want me too. Yep I went against the first one but that was only because I wanted my girls to know that I was going to love them and care for them whether they wanted me to or not.
- Be Honest with them. Now if you are a dad to a girl then you know the dreaded questions that start like this, “Dad what do you think about . . . ” insert hair, dress, make up, and a long list of others. Unfortunately when we first started with these questions I was to honest and I did not set up my answer. So I had a lot of looks from my wife and coaching with, “You don’t say that to a girl”. To which I would answer, “Well then why did she ask me?” So I would preface my answer by saying, “Do you want me to be honest?” Now I said that when I didn’t like what I saw and I have said that when I did like what I saw. (Be consistent)
- Set the Tone. If you want your daughter to have a man that is going to love and care for her, then you need to set the tone. So that is where you as the dad need to model exactly the kind of man that you want your daughters to look for in their life. In fact I think that you should set the bar so high that your girls will go out on dates with the young men in their life and expect them to act like you. And when the young men don’t act like you make sure you teach those same girls to not except it. So if you haven’t got what I am saying, then here you go. Love your wife the way that you want your daughters to be loved.
- Prepare them for Life. I know that you are probably thinking, well that is a big statement and you are right it is. But I believe that it is something that is very important. So prepare them to handle their finances, prepare them to take care of their car, prepare them to defend themselves if needed, prepare them to speak up, prepare them to trust, and prepare them to leave home well. I don’t expect my daughters to have to have a man to take care of them, I know that they can do it. But I also want to prepare them for a life with another, so prepare them to talk with a man, prepare them to love someone, prepare them to sacrifice for someone, you see prepare them for life.
There are just a few of the things that I would say are important when it comes to being a dad to daughters. But here is the last one and the most important prepare them to say, “I am sorry.” How do you do this? Learn to say it yourself. If there are some others that you can think of then feel free to comment and share them.
I was not ready to be a father. (Not like anyone really is. . .) So when we had a daughter then a son and another daughter I knew that I was in the deep end of the pool. So I started doing all that I could to learn about what it meant to be the best father that I possibly could be. I read books, I watched videos, I talked with other fathers with grown children and usually I would ask, “Do you have any children that are in prison?” If they answered no then I would spend time asking them questions about how and what they did as a father. Ultimately it lead me to the parenting statement that my wife and I would use as our goal for our kids, “We wanted them to leave well.” That would mean that when we were going to make decisions about different areas of life. We would ask ourselves, “Is this going to prepare them to leave well?” Now I know some of you might be thinking that this sounds like a horrible statement. Where is the love in this statement? Where is the faith in this statement? Where is . . . you name it! For us we felt like that there was nothing more faithful or loving then to prepare our children to leave the safety of the home well. We made tough decisions that we hoped and prayed that would prepare them. We challenged them in areas that we hoped and prayed would prepare them. We disciplined them in ways that we hoped and prayed that would prepare them. But most of all we loved and cared for them enough to prepare them to leave well. So what are you doing as a father or as a parent that is preparing your children to leave well?
And just so that you know that I am not talking out of turn. I am proud to say that our oldest is graduating from college this May with a degree in elementary education and seeking to attend possibly for her masters, our son is playing college football where he walked on and earned a scholarship and is pursuing a degree in exercise science, and our youngest plans to run cross country and track at the same college as her older sister and brother where she plans to get a degree in exercise science with an emphasis in physical therapy. (There were bumps along the way, but we are seeing them leave well.)
We want to take a stand for the city of Aurora as a church team and as a family. So we have seen there are ways that we can do that and we hope and pray to follow in the footsteps of King David:
1 Chronicles 19:13 (NLT) “Be courageous! Let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. May the Lord’s will be done.”
So with that in mind we are looking to care for the people that Jesus cares for in our city as well as the rest of the world. It is in that hope that we are excited about several things that are coming. Here are a few of them:
- The Compassion Experience April 17th – 20th will be at the Elevation building in Aurora. The Compassion Experience is an opportunity for you, your family and friends to really experience first hand what it is like to live as a child in a third world country. To find out more information you can click here. (Experience)
- Global Compassion with the our new partnership with Compassion we are going to seek to enable 75 children to be sponsored in Tanzania. We chose Tanzania because of it’s proximity to the Congo and our teammate Justin Wren’s work with the Fight for The Forgotten. Also with our teammate Nicole Rauch and her work in Madagascar with Welcome.
- The Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit August 6th & 7th will be at the Elevation Building. We are excited to be a place where the leaders in our community and other churches in the state will be able to come and grow from the featured speakers and opportunities. If you are interested in being at this event then you can click on the link and get registered today. (Leadership Summit)
These are some of the opportunities that we are taking this year to make an impact both in our city and in the world. In the Vision 2015 Part 3 I will talk about some of the other ways that we plan to engage people so they experience life change in Jesus. If you missed Vision 2015 Part 1 click here to get caught up.
What are some things that you are planning to do this year to make a difference in your community and this world?
One of the things that I have always had to work at overcoming is that “I can’t finish”. I don’t know about you but there are those certain places in my life that have challenged me to the point where I just feel weak and beat up. I have had the privilege in my life to be involved in sports since I was six years old and I have experienced many times where I just wanted to quit. It was almost four years ago that I was able to run in the PF Chang’s Half Marathon. During that race at about mile eleven I just did not want to go on, my legs hurt, my chest hurt, my feet hurt, and all I wanted to do was stop. But I knew that at the finish line was my family and friends, I knew that at the end of the line I was going to be able to rest.
Hebrews 12:12-13 (NLT) So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs.  Mark out a straight path for your feet. Then those who follow you, though they are weak and lame, will not stumble and fall but will become strong.