Fatherlessness is the number one social problem facing America today. Men not being men. Fathers not being fathers.
At the root of that issue is a single trait:
SELFISHNESS: “Devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests”
I understand that there are circumstances and stories in every situation, but at the end of the day, concern with oneself overrides any motivation to be concerned for others. And the interesting challenge is that most of the time, the father hasn’t physically left, but he is emotionally detached.
I see the pull within my own life as a new father and it disgusts me. I hate that I have the thoughts I have. I can’t stand it when my selfishness wells up and tells me that my agenda is more important than my responsibility.
I especially have such a hard time understanding this because I have never known a selfish father. My father has been the opposite:
SELFLESS: “Having little or no concern for oneself; especially in regard to fame, position, etc”
Today we celebrate my Dad’s birthday. As I sit here pondering the issue of fatherlessness, I don’t suppose to have any answers, but I will share a story, the story of a great father.
The word, selfless, has a connotation that seems negative because it gives the impression of weakness. I laugh because my father is anything but weak. He is a blend of confidence with a genuine concern for others. His presence radiates a quiet strength.
A couple of years ago, after a second back surgery, my dad was the most defeated I have ever seen him. Being forced to lay down crippled his spirit. It was then, that I understood something profound about my father. While most would revel in time off from work, enjoy the couch, and wallow in the opportunity to be lazy, it crushed my dad.
He knew that he couldn’t do much for others if he was lying on the couch.
One of the greatest stories about my Dad is how he met one of his lifelong friends, Doug Treadway. Doug was new to their travel softball team and faced riding alone to an upcoming, out-of-town tournament. Dad stepped up because character is stepping up when no one else does. This simple act created a friendship that has lasted close to thirty-five years and has provided memories that could not be contained within the words of this blog.
The Cure for Fatherlessness
Dad has coached baseball for the better part of twenty years. It is his passion to help kids. I had a friend and former teammate approach me at a restaurant recently and ask:
“How’s your dad doing? I love Coach Derrick—he was always like a father to me.”
My dad reminds me: being a man is being about others.
So today, I celebrate my father and I’m reminded that fatherlessness can be cured by selflessness—one dad at a time.