I’ve been watching a LOT of ESPN’s 30 for 30 lately. I’m not a huge sports fan, but with these films you get the stories behind all the glitz and glamour of high-profile athletes and sporting events. The last one I watched was about Maurice Clarett, and at its core his 30 for 30 is about fathers and sons.
The film documents the revival of the Ohio State football program and the down fall of Maurice. He was a promising athlete, started as a Freshman running back, and carried the team to a National Championship on his back.
After the season was over, however, he was suspended indefinitely for NCAA violations. And his promising football career spiraled downward into a life of crime.
Maurice’s father wasn’t around. His mom did her best. He grew up in a rough neighborhood. And the coach, Jim Tresell, that promised to protect him…didn’t.
Maurice Clarett is Not Alone
Maurice’s story didn’t surprise me. Because the absence of fathers is a consistent theme throughout many of the films and society.
So many of these athletes fall prey to:
- trying to protect themselves
- trying to provide for themselves
- and trying to establish their own value.
So they take money from boosters, sell drugs, or worse…all because their trying to survive.
And millions of children, just like Maurice, are trying to survive.
The Fatherhood Problem
The Centers for Disease Control reports that 72 percent of African-American children are born to unwed mothers.
And the odds say the they are more likely to experience poverty, poor health, incarceration, and are more likely to be involved in violent crimes.
Fatherless children are:
- 2 times more likely to commit suicide
- 4 times more likely to be raised in poverty
- 9 times more likely to drop out of school
- 11 times more likely to have violent behavior
- 20 times more likely to be incarcerated
- 70 percent of juveniles in correctional facilities come from fatherless homes
- 71 percent of adolescent substance abusers come from fatherless homes
- 80 percent of adolescents in psychiatric hospitals come from fatherless homes
These stats sadden me to my core.
But what can I do?
Pray and write. Write and pray. Because that’s what I feel is my mission.
Thankfully, I got to write the script for the video below. There are hundreds of things that I wanted to tell absent fathers about the damage they are doing, but I couldn’t.
So we focused on one thing: encouraging fathers to be active and engage with their children.
The Lens of Fathers
Another problem with absent fathers is that we see our Heavenly Father through that lens.
For women, if our fathers abandon or reject us…it affects how we see God and how we view men.
In her new book, The Wait, Meagan Good explains how her parents divorce shaped how she saw relationships—she always expected them to end. So she had to protect herself.
For men, when fathers are absent it affects how they see themselves. No one has told them their value, so they resort to trying to achieve it through work, athletic achievement, bedding women, and all manner of destructive behavior.
The Good Book Says…
Maybe that’s why the Lord holds the fatherless, orphans and widows so near and dear to his heart.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. Psalm 68:5
The LORD watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. Psalm 146:9
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. James 1:27 (KJV)
Our Heavenly Father is Perfect.
Our Heavenly Father is not like our earthly fathers. Even great dads, fall short. But our Heavenly Father is nothing short of perfect.
He keeps His promises.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23
He doesn’t leave us.
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. Hebrews 13:5-6
He’ll answer when we call.
12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:12-13
And He’s always there to protect, provide, and guide us.
For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? Matthew 6:25-26
Will You Help Me?
Prayer is our most powerful weapon.
So will you join me in praying? (I’m reading Fervent, based on the War Room, and I’m learning to pray specific and strategic prayers.) Please pray that:
- Fathers’ hearts will turn toward their children
- Children’s hearts will turn toward their fathers
- The Lord will supernaturally heal the wounds of rejection and abandonment.
- And that we would come to KNOW God as a good and perfect Father.
Question: How has your Father Story (good or bad) shaped how you see your Heavenly Father?
PS: Maurice’s story ends well. I won’t give away the ending, but I will say he and his daughter will warm your heart.