Fathering is a job I’ve had for over 32 years. Over the course of my years in youth ministry my own fathering resolve has been challenged by fathers good and bad. Outside of my own dad, there have been hundreds of good dads who I’ve watched father their kids with great attention, compassion, and skill. . . none of them perfect, but each of them providing me with an example of what it means to be a dad. Sadly, I’ve also encountered far too many bad dads who have chosen to be absent in a variety of ways, including physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Sometimes those encounters have been direct. The most disheartening of all, however, have been indirect, as I’ve gotten to know kids whose fathers I never had the chance to meet in person. And when dad is gone, boy do those kids suffer and hurt.
I remember when I first heard someone say that “tonight in America, forty-percent of children and teens will go to bed in a home where their father does not live.” That was over twenty-five years ago. That statistic has remained stable. And when Dad’s not around, it hurts and destroys kids. . . deeply.
Just how deep does it hurt and destroy? Every now and then the music industry sends us a clear and unmistakable message about fathers, their power, the beauty of their presence, and the resulting pain of their absence. For example, Harry Chapin and “Cat’s in the Cradle?” And then there was Ever-clear’s “Father of Mine?”
One of our staff members here at CPYU, Chris Wagner, asked me yesterday if I had seen Kelly Clarkson’s recent appearance on American Idol where she sang her new song, “Piece by Piece.” I hadn’t. We watched together. I’ve watched again a few times.
Dad, your presence has been ordained by God. Your power in the life of your kids is beyond comprehension. Perhaps it’s not until a father chooses to be gone that we realize just how important a father truly is.
Give this a watch. . . both the American Idol version and the video version. . . .