“If we have a crisis in this country, it’s more than a fatherless crisis, though. It’s a crisis of manhood, of masculinity. It’s affecting our families, our schools, it’s filling our prisons, and it’s killing the hearts of our women.”Donald Miller, Father Fiction: Chapters for a Fatherless Generation
As men, we’re not all that comfortable with an article that begins like this. Whether we swagger through life just in our heads or occasionally with our whole-body attitudes, there is a sincere crisis going on within our society.
Fatherlessness. Maybe you had that. I did as well.
When I, the last of my parent’s children, was a lad of 8, my brother, 16 years older than me, was killed in a private airplane crash. He was the pilot. My father was along for the ride. So was a doctor from our town in Oregon, who was also killed. Our family got ripped apart.
My Dad lived. Kind of. He was seriously crippled for the rest of his days. At that young age, a lot of life was up to me to figure out.
Oh, I majored on being a “good boy,” so that the anger that lived in my family would not come down on me. Which it did—far too often, anyway.
However, I was not the “best of boys.” I acted out the terror, the fear, the intense need to protect myself from unexpected wrath and abuse. The family looked charming on the outside. Churchgoers, even. Too much that was not good took place.
In my adolescence, I was a “closeted hell on wheels” kind of kid. I told a friend just today that if a few good men had not stepped onto my life path, I don’t think I would have been alive at thirty years of age.
Now, I ask that you do not see those above words as some sort of sob story. It was tough. But I did survive. In fact, I did more than survive—I have thrived. I am truly amazed and humbled at the life I’ve been allowed to live. Life to the max!, I like to say.
That would not have been true, as already stated, had not some good men stepped into my life at ages 9, 12, 18, 20, 21, 24, 30, 33, 40, 58, 65, 68 and just this past month. We are never too young nor too old to not have some good men in our lives.
The statistics about fatherlessness are startling, as found here on The Fatherless Generation. Even getting ready to write this, I had to take some moments to let the facts sink in; I urge you to read that website before proceeding.
Currently, I am mentoring an amazing young leader from Uganda. I asked him if this saying was correct: It takes a village to raise a child. He confirmed the truth of that statement, adding that if it had not been for his grandfather and other elders in his village, he would not have made it in life.
If it had not been for his grandfather and other elders in his village, he would not have made it in life.
Today, he holds a doctorate in International Leadership from a major educational institution over here. He and his wife (who just earned an MBA in International Business) and their four children have been living here for several years. Their dream is to return to their home country to begin a leadership university, and change the broken educational system back there.
My African friend, whom I’ve been mentoring (intentional, deep-change, whole-life, transformational mentoring) for seven years is eager to take back to Uganda what he’s gleaned from our journey together. He would easily tell you that it does take a village to raise a child, but it also takes a man to build a man, in any culture.
You now know a bit of my story, yet obviously I don’t know yours. But my guess is that some good man (maybe you…) reading here have also been fatherless, in one way or another. The poorest places in our society reek with absent, non-existent fathers.
However, even with those with more affluence, there are fathers who are absent as they are driven to accomplish, achieve, to produce, to impress. Hear me loud and clear: There is not a problem in accomplishing, achieving, or producing some product or service that will serve mankind and make a quality difference in others’ lives. More than ever, there is a radical need, an urgent call for male role models. I didn’t have the greatest of beginnings. But…hear it again, I am who I am today because a few men stepped into my life. I will be eternally grateful.
So, what about you? Maybe your life was easy and charmed. Count your blessings. Maybe your life was the snarky pits. That does not have to define you, unless you choose to let that past define you. Without wanting to sound like some pulpit-banging preacher or over extended self-help guru, you have an important choice to live beyond the snark or the charm.
No matter your own story, you are most likely in a position to make an honest difference in a young man’s life. The male readers of Modern Gladiator are, like you, men of significance who have so much to offer another. There are young men in your community, just a few miles from where you are reading this, who need you to step up and show them how to be an authentic man.
You are most likely in a position to make an honest difference in a young man’s life.
My life’s work on the planet is as a leadership mentor. In a continuing series here in the Modern Gladiator, I count in a deep privilege to help you further explore and discover, with clarity and focus, your path to mentoring men. Why? So that you can help those other men, no matter their age, to be fulfilled on their own journey.
You are worth that. Therefore, don’t lose track of the fact some lad is languishing “out there, somewhere.”
They need you. They need you whole and growing forward in your own life. They need you living free from whatever has taken place in your own life. Joy or sorrow. Success or failure. Recovery.
They need models of authentic manhood that you are capable of showing them what it means to be a man fully alive.
Let’s find out about all that, together.
Remember, this is a brief series, tailored just for you.
PS: That quote by Donald Miller that began this article…I can vouch for him. I know him well; he’s a personal friend. His work is now influencing literally thousands of fatherless boys across the US of A.