I’ve never, ever ministered in a conference without at some point holding a young man in my arms, giving him a daddy hug, and telling him how proud I am of him, and how much God loves him. Some are teens, and some are in their 30’s. Some are just getting saved. Many have been Christian for a while. One thing they all share in common is the absence of a father. The hard yet obvious truth is we live in a bastard nation, deprived of fathers that have passed a God given identity to their sons. Please view this 30 second video of a young kid that pretty much sums up where we are.
I sat in tears in my church’s sound booth as I watched this video at least a dozen times, letting it sink in. This young man isn’t alone.
- 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (US Dept. Of Health/Census) – 5 times the average.
- 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes – 32 times the average.
- 85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average. (Center for Disease Control)
- 80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes –14 times the average. (Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26)
- 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average. (National Principals Association Report)
Bear in mind, young girls are fatherless too! For the full set of stats go here.
This is not about one hurt kid. It’s about destroying a generation. I’ve heard from multiple voices in my life say ‘if I could put a legitimate father in every home it would solve every issue we have in America.’ Typically generalizations don’t work, but this statement could not be more accurate! By severing the connection between fathers and sons the enemy has taken a huge step in hindering the purposes of God in our nation, not to mention effectively destroying the lives of potentially 70 million people without a daddy.
I understand that every divorce or situation is different, and in some cases it really is the woman in the relationship. I’m not speaking about those times. This could turn into an attack on the absentee fathers very quickly, but those selfish enough to leave their babies won’t be reading this anyway, so rather than be mean I will simply issue a challenge to the real men we do have and giving some practical steps to change the stats, one child at a time. No problem has ever been solved by sitting around talking about how bad it is. James tells us that ‘faith without action is dead.’ Therefore, if we have faith that God is a father shouldn’t we act on being the same towards those hurting in a father’s absence?
Don’t Be Their Friend
Yeah, you read that right. Kids don’t need another friend. They need a mommy and a daddy. Friends are enablers. Fathers are equippers. They don’t need another boy that serves as a yes man and does the same crap they do. They need someone that can say as Paul said ‘Whatever you have learned or seen or heard from me – put it into practice.’ (Phil 4:9) A fatherless generation doesn’t need a friend beside them. They need a daddy to follow.
Don’t Be Their Spiritual Father
You read that right too! As a pastor, I see this too often, and fall into even more….being a spiritual father to older men without being a real father to kids without one. Bear in mind, we aren’t just talking about 20 somethings going into ministry. We are talking about the 7 year old that belongs to a single mom at your church. He doesn’t need a spiritual father to teach him to make a sermon at 19. Before that he needs a father that teaches him how to pray when he takes him for ice cream at 9.
Stop Waiting on Leaders
While I’m at it, this isn’t a pastor’s job. It’s every Godly man’s job. My closest spiritual father isn’t even in ministry, and I’m in full time ministry! But I’ve learned more from Papa Alan Brown about being a Godly, faithful, steadfast, zealous, and real man than any other person in my life.
There are hurting moms working double shifts that turn their children into latch key kids, not on purpose, but just to pay their bills. And they go to your church. I’m not saying organize some big ministry initiative, although knock yourself out if you want to! I’m saying you, as an individual man, can take that single mom’s little girl out on some type of daddy-daughter date. You can bring her son over to hang with you and your son, and strive to not show favoritism and love on that boy as much as you possibly can. If you want to go the ministry route, organize that daddy-daughter-date night at your church. Make it into a ‘ball.’ Have some spare ‘dads’ that don’t have girls assigned the the girls that don’t have dads. I mean, the possibilities are endless. It just takes someone to do it!
Taking a kid that doesn’t have a daddy fishing one time may ease your conscience but it doesn’t fix his issues. He needs to be fathered. Not taken on a field trip. It’s about RELATIONSHIP. I am with my own son consistently. Fatherless kids need this same attention. No, you can’t move in. You probably aren’t gonna marry the mother. But there needs to be at least weekly contact with him or her.
I’m not advocating ‘survival of the fittest,’ I’m just stating a harsh truth. You. Are. One Man. Don’t overload yourself and end up burning out, especially when it comes to younger kids. As a man, I can have many many spiritual sons because as you mature you don’t have to have constant contact with your father. But a young boy doesn’t understand this because he is not spiritually mature.
Not All Dads are Dads
What does that mean? It means that not all fatherless kids don’t have a daddy in their home. Fatherless doesn’t just mean the dad doesn’t live there. It also means he sits in front of the TV with a beer everyday and yells at his wife in front of his kids. Use wisdom in these situations, but pursue being a godly leader to those kids no matter what! I would much rather tell a dead beat dad what he is than answer to God for letting a hurting child slip through my fingers because of cowardly boundaries.
This is the most important, and this is where I close. Your job as a father, above anything else, is to establish the righteous and God given identity of the young men and women that you father, whether they are your natural kids or whether you stepped in to fill a role. It is your job to listen to God and tell these kids who they are generally and specifically.
Generally you are to have the father’s heart and identify them as a son or daughter of the King, as royalty, as the beloved, and valued, as worthy in His eyes, as loved. Specifically you are to prophesy into their destiny. This can be awkward. Have you ever prophesied over a newly saved 14 year old that has no clue what you are talking about? Yeah, me too. But my 4 week old daughter doesn’t understand when I prophesy over her either. It has nothing to do in the beginning stages with them understanding. It has everything to do with establishing their identity on a consistent basis until they begin to become what you have been releasing!
Fathers, will you accept my challenge to find someone that doesn’t have a daddy and tell him in relationship ‘Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.’? Will you find someone in this generation to prophesy into and pull the value out of?
What are some other practical areas you can help other men with in the area of fathering? Let us know in the comment section below!
Andrew – this is so good – so spot on – so convicting and encouraging at the same time….
Thanks Pastor Jeff. The Lord convicted me greatly even in writing it!