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Man on a Mission

Fifty-six years on my life clock. As you can imagine, there’s a lot to tell. So quite a bit of paring down and condensing went into the next few words. I have found that lots of words are boring unless they are word pictures. So here is my go at it.

When a man hits this stage in life, he tends to count the years that he supposes he has left to leave a legacy.  For me, that means to my sons, spiritual sons, and those I have yet before me to possibly influence. I wanted to put to good use the things I had learned the hard way both growing up fatherless and being a fatherless dad. If it were not for my father in heaven and a handful of men I have watched, imitated, and questioned about fatherhood, I would have failed. Utterly failed. A guy learns gratitude when he recognizes that the debt he owes can only be repaid by “paying it forward.”

Rewind 50 or so years. My age is about five. My dad was a salesman, and Mother was a stay-at-home mom. One boy (me) and three girls, one 3 1/2  and the other two one-year-old twins. We all lived in a single-wide mobile home in a park called “Wagon Wheel Valley.” Less than zero lot lines, and most everyone knew the others in the park. You could often hear the neighbors having loud “family discussions” as we played on the narrow, two-lane asphalt road that ran throughout the park.

Short version, my dad was there one day and gone the next. It was a couple of years before I discovered that he left with the next door neighbor’s wife and disappeared to Florida. So from there the struggle began. Two stepdads, several different mobile homes, transferred schools…..the rest is pretty predictable for a fatherless kid.

So here’s the picture – a naive kid searching for his dad.  Endless searching to fill that void, that fatherless hole. Not learning some of the little things a dad teaches a son that can cripple a kid’s emotions and identity by their absence.

It’s amazing what you don’t know when you grow up fatherless. Much of what I learned in my early years as a dad was by trial and error. Being a fatherless dad is like flying a jet liner with all the controls identified in an unknown language or with unknown symbols, and being a fatherless dad was and is just like that-flying blind-no experience-no simulator runs.

Experience is a great teacher. Her lessons are both instantaneous and progressive. My purpose is to give some positive direction to dads with no reference points in raising great kids today, as well as direction and positive instruction on how to be a man. Once I realized I was in over my head, I sought out help to salvage all that I had failed at with being a good dad and husband. What a mess I made!  However, I’m so grateful to those men who helped me along after my fumbling the ball in the father and husband responsibilities.


  1. Start Here. Starting is more than half the battle in being a good dad. Experiences of older dads can serve as markers or navigational points for fatherless dads to begin at in their fatherhood journey. If you never start, you have no beginning. Sounds simple. This is the toughest step. Ready…..Set……..GO!!
  2. Give yourself permission to fail. Failure is not considered acceptable in our culture, but it’s all right to make mistakes. I have heard it said that “perfect is the killer of good,” and John Maxwell says “fail forward.”  Take your time and build with good tools, experiences, and disciplines learned on the journey.
  3. Family can’t be built in a day.  But days and the life experiences in them build family. All great structures of the world were not built overnight. They take time. Building family happens over years and creeps into the later generations of our kids.
  4. Shape your days.  A good day is not always a fun day, and a rough day doesn’t always end badly.  Make the best of it and help capture life lessons for the whole family. Tomorrow is coming, and you have lived another day to grow.
  5. Don’t let your yesterday determine your tomorrow. Many of us have yesterdays that we are not proud of, that were profoundly difficult and injurious. That’s all right. Today is the first day of your future. We all have debts owed to bad decisions or unfortunate, uncontrollable events that transpired in our lives. You’ve started. Find the good things that exist right now. Move forward and build a wonderful future.
  6. It’s all right to not know. We will never have all the answers. It’s all right to admit you don’t know and to seek wise counsel.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help, coaching, and mentoring. Humility is the first step to being a great dad. Somebody will have your answer through his experience. “Seek, and you will find.”
  7. Study the greatest model of Fatherhood. There are so many examples of  the greatest father that ever existed in the Bible. Yep! Read about God’s fathering to His kids and His people. Regardless of your belief, God’s a great Father. Look at the examples  recorded in Scripture. (You can also call Him Daddy).


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