Summary: That great theologian, Lucille Ball, was asked to comment on why American families were falling apart. Her response: “Papa’s missing. Things are falling apart because Papa’s gone. If Papa were here, he’d fix it.” Here’s what Papa means to the family!

Papa’s Missing

That great theologian, Lucille Ball, was asked to comment on why American families were falling apart. Her response:

“Papa’s missing. Things are falling apart because Papa’s gone.

If Papa were here, he’d fix it.”

National surveys indicate that the younger generations are fatherless generations.

One pastor wrote: I had accepted the call as senior pastor of a large congregation that had recently erected a huge, state-of-the-art building resulting in major debt. Feeling the pressures of my new responsibility—and with a strong desire to impress my parishioners—I hit the ground running. I was in the office early every day, and almost every evening I was out shepherding the flock or reaching out to potential church members.

My wife, Teresa, was very understanding, but our two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Mandi, was perplexed by my absence. Mandi loved for me to read to her after dinner each evening—a practice I continued in my new position, with one caveat: I would sit on the edge of my recliner with her seated by my side and read a quick story or two before rushing out for another night of harried activity.

One evening Mandi said something that jolted me back to reality about my role as a father. I had sat down with her in my recliner—once again on the edge, ready to quickly read and run. While I was reading, Mandi interrupted me, patted the recliner seat, and said, "Scoot back, Daddy, scoot back." She knew on those rare occasions when I wasn’t going back out that I would relax, sit back in my recliner, and leisurely read stories to her heart’s content.

Her words pierced my soul as I understood what she was really saying: "Please slow down, Daddy. Make time for me!" Appropriately chastened, I scooted back.

Let me make a prediction:

Your biggest regret at the end of your life

won’t be the things you did

that you wish you hadn’t.

Your biggest regret will be the things

you didn’t do

but wish you had.

That prediction is based on the research of two social psychologists, Tom Gilovich and Vicki Medvec. According to their research, time is a key factor in what we regret. Over the short-term, we tend to regret actions—things we did that we wish we hadn’t. But over the long-haul, we tend to regret inactions—things we didn’t do but wish we had. Their study found that action regrets outweigh inaction regrets 53 percent to 47 percent during an average week. But when people look at their lives as a whole, inaction regrets outnumber action regrets 84 percent to 16 percent.

I have my fair share of action regrets. I’ve said and done some things that I wish I could unsay and undo. Who hasn’t secretly wished that they could fly counter-rotational around the earth at supersonic speeds and reverse time like Superman? But I’m convinced that our deepest regrets at the end of our lives will be the risks not taken, the opportunities not seized, and the dreams not pursued.

Some would say there are four different kinds of fathers: dead, divorced, domineering, distant.

About 20 years ago, Weldon Hardenbrook wrote a book called Missing From Action: The Vanishing Manhood in America. It describes four kinds of men prevalent in our culture.

The first is the Macho Maniac, guys like Dirty Harry and Rambo. These guys deny all their feelings, ignore the law, never complain, and never apologize. They take anything they want and bully people in the process.

He calls the second the Great Pretender. This is the Archie Bunker type of guy. He builds up his self worth by constantly belittling everyone else – particularly his wife. He rules over his family with an iron fist even as everyone else ridicules him behind his back. He’s frightened by the world, so he keeps everyone at arm’s length by his constant caustic talk.

He calls the third model the World Class Wimp, like Dagwood Bumstead. He is so inept that he’s constantly outwitted by his children, his wife, and even his dog. Nobody takes him serious. He’s a bumbling idiot. His motto is “Blessed are the passive for they shall avoid conflict at all costs.”

The fourth wrong model is the Gender Blender. These guys don’t even pretend to be masculine.

John Eldredge, who, in his three-million-selling Wild at Heart (Thomas Nelson, 2001), lamented that the masculine spirit was at risk because "most men believe God put them on the earth to be good boys." We have a tendency to promote discipleship as merely becoming "nice guys" keeps men from embodying their God-given maleness.

There’s a lot of confusion out there about what it means to be a man. These four models are everywhere in our culture – and they’re in our churches as well. I want to help you understand what the Bible teaches about true manhood. The Bible’s view of manhood can be summarized by these five characteristics: compassion, consistency, cooperation, commitment, and courage.

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