Advice for Young People Who Have Grown Up Without Fathers, Part 4 (The Man in the Mirror #10)

Today, I want to conclude our series of advice for young people who have grown up without fathers. Already, we have discussed nine things that you should do.:

1. Get to know God as your Heavenly Father.
2. Read the Bible consistently.
3. Talk to God about anything and everything through prayer.
4. Choose not to become bitter toward your father.
5. Choose to love, appreciate, and thank God for the parent or parent figure you do have.
6. Ask God to give you godly, older mentors and friends.
7. Do not let the absence of a father in your life become a crutch or excuse for not reaching your potential.
8. Commit to having an others-focused view of life.
9. Learn the principles of life from successful men in history.

Now, here are my three final words of advice for young people things that you ought to do if you are in such a situation.

1. Make the decision to be mature. In other words, grow up. If you have younger siblings whom you have had to help take care of throughout your life due to the absence of your father, you may be forced to grow up faster than you would otherwise, but that is fine. However, did you know that many adults have the mentality of teenagers or children? They interact with and react to the world in a childish manner. For example, if something happens that they don’t like, instead of accepting it and dealing with it, they complain about it or retreat from the world and refuse to deal with it.

You don’t want to live life that way. Perhaps someone has told you before to “act your age.” That is good advice. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Do not be afraid to put away childish things and childish ways of interacting with the world. You may feel insecure or you may lack confidence because of the hole left in your life due to your father’s absence. But, remember, your Heavenly Father is there to fill that hole. You do not have to shirk your responsibilities or shy away from difficulties. With God’s help, you can handle the punches life throws your way.

2. May I encourage you to live a structured life. Perhaps you have heard your peers use the phrase, “I’m bored.” Perhaps you have even used that phrase at times. What you are really saying is that your life (or a particular day) has no structure, no goal, no purpose. You have nothing to aim for, and therefore, there are no steps laid out before you which you should take.

If you live a structured life, you will never have time to be bored. What is a structured life? A structured life is one that is defined by goals and purpose. If you have a purpose to live for and goals to reach, then everything you do should move you toward reaching those goals and fulfilling that purpose. Start by structuring your days. Buy yourself a daily planner or download one of the numerous organizational apps that are available. Make a list of things you will do each day and follow that list. Put down even the simplest things such as praying and reading your Bible in the morning, exercising, eating a good breakfast, etc. Keep your schedule full. Even write down what you are going to do for fun and when. One of the benefits of living a structured life is that it will cut down on the temptation to do evil or to get involved with the wrong crowd. If you are single-mindedly focused on your goals in life, you will not have time for foolishness. As someone once said, “The world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going.”

3. Determine to be a good father or parent to your children. Just because your father abandoned you, that does not give you an excuse for abandoning your children if you are blessed to have children in the future. If anything, your experiences should make you even more determined to be a good father or parent to your children. Do not repeat the mistakes of your parents; you are not bound by their failures. Learn from them, but determine never to repeat them.

If you are a young man who grew up without a father, you may feel inadequate because you did not see what a Godly father looked like throughout your young life. Do not let that hinder you. Look to God and His Word as your first example of what a father should be like. Godly men such as Tony Dungy, Tony Evans, James Dobson, and others have also written books on how to be the father your children need in this day and time. Get those books and read them. With God’s help, you can be one of the faithful, loving, strong fathers that this world so desperately needs.

These are just some of the things you can do as a young person to get on the right track even if you have not had the benefit of a father in your life. I hope that you will take heed to these things so that you can live a happy, successful, blessed, and productive life for God’s glory.

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Advice for Young People Who Have Grown Up Without Fathers, Part 3 (The Man in the Mirror #9)

Today, I want to continue sharing some advice with young people who have grown up without fathers. Already, we have discussed six things that you should do.:

1. Get to know God as your Heavenly Father.
2. Read the Bible consistently.
3. Talk to God about anything and everything through prayer.
4. Choose not to become bitter toward your father.
5. Choose to love, appreciate, and thank God for the parent or parent figure you do have.
6. Ask God to give you godly, older mentors and friends.

Here are three more things that you ought to do if you are in such a situation.

1. Do not let the absence of a father in your life become a crutch or excuse for not reaching your potential. Often, when a person grows up with disadvantages or has some kind of disability in life, they will use that disadvantage or disability as an excuse for not accomplishing great things. Every time they fail or every time someone asks them why they did not reach a goal, they eventually come back around to an explanation that begins with, ‘Well, my father was not in my life…’ or whatever their disadvantage happens to be.

You don’t want to be that person. Your entire life does not have to be defined by your father’s absence from your childhood. Instead of viewing it as a permanent handicap, simply view it a hurdle that must be overcome. And, the Bible says that through Jesus Christ, we are overcomers. Learn to say with Paul, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Don’t be afraid to dream big and to set big goals. Don’t let a disadvantage hold you back from accomplishing everything that God wants you to accomplish.

2. Commit to having an others-focused view of life. Another trap that some people who grow up with a disadvantage fall into is living a self-centered life. Of course, all people struggle with this malady, but some who have a disadvantage may feel like they are entitled to feel the way they do. This is a sad way to live. Someone once said, “A person wrapped up in himself makes a small package.”

Don’t be a ‘small package’ person. Have an others-focused view of life. Think more about what you can do for others and how you can help others than about what others can do for you. In this case, your disadvantage of growing up without a father is actually an advantage because it places you in a unique position to help other young people who also do not know their fathers. You understand how they feel and what they are going through, and if you have overcome the challenges of such a childhood, you can help them do the same. Second Corinthians 1:4-5 says that God “comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” Once you put Jesus Christ first in your life, commit to having an others-focused life so that you can be used by God to bless and help those around you.

3. Learn the principles of life from successful men in history. One of the traits of great men is that they leave a legacy behind. You can learn about the lives and legacies of such men by reading books, watching a documentary regarding their lives, or listening to them give a speech or interview. You can learn from the experiences of great men such as Winston Churchill, George Washington Carver, Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, and so many others, both dead and alive. You can learn from their successes and their failures, what to do and what not to do, and you can see how certain principles benefitted them throughout their lives and helped them reach the level of accomplishment that they were able to reach.

Take these principles to heart, learn from them, and apply them to your life. Proverbs 1:5 says, “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels.” In the Bible, the Apostle Paul told young believers, “For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day…” What he was saying was, ‘You saw how we carried ourselves, you saw how we worked hard night and day. You ought to do the same.’ He also told another group of believers, “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” Dear friend, you don’t have to do this thing called life all on your own. Learn from the examples of others. It can save you a whole lot of trouble in the days ahead.

These are just some of the things you can do as a young person to get on the right track even if you have not had the benefit of a father in your life. I hope that you will take heed to these things so that you can live a happy, successful, blessed, and productive life for God’s glory.

Advice for Young People Who Have Grown Up Without Fathers, Part 2 (The Man in the Mirror #8)

Today, I want to continue sharing some advice with young people who have grown up without fathers. On last week I encouraged you to do three things:

1. Get to know God as your Heavenly Father.
2. Read the Bible consistently.
3. Talk to God about anything and everything through prayer.

Here are three more things that you ought to do if you are in such a situation.

1. Choose not to become bitter toward your father. Yes, by choosing not to be a part of your life, your father was irresponsible and he did you wrong. But you will not be well served by allowing a root of bitterness, resentment, or hatred to grow in your heart. The Bible says in Hebrews 12:15, “Look diligently [watch out for or be careful]… lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you.” The only person who will be hurt by the bitterness or resentment you carry in your heart toward your father is you. Thus, it is a waste of energy and time.

Instead, you ought to forgive your father because that is what God would have you to do and that is the only thing that will set you free. Colossians 3:13 says, “forgive one another, if any man have a quarrel (or grievance) against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.“

2. Choose to love, appreciate, and thank God for the parent or parent figure you do have. This comes easy for many young people, yet it is worth saying here. You may be raised by your mother, by your grandparents, by some other older relative, or by a combination of these. Even though you may not have the perfect family situation, you can be thankful for what you do have.

You especially ought to be thankful considering the sacrifices that your guardians have had to make in order to raise you and provide for you. You can reward them for their sacrifices by letting them know that you appreciate what they have done and by respecting them as authority figures in your life.

3. Ask God to give you godly, older mentors and friends. When I was a young Christian, God, in His wisdom, placed a few older gentlemen in my life. These men are 20-30 years older than me. As a young man, I watched how these older men lived their lives, I asked them questions about life in general, and I asked their advice on what I should do (and not do) in my life. The wisdom I gained from these older, wiser men has saved me many years of trouble, heartache, and pain. I have been able to avoid some of the mistakes that they made and that they warned me about making.

Proverbs 11:14 states, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” To be honest, after I decided to follow Jesus Christ at the age of nineteen, I did not spend a lot of time with people my age. I spent time with those who were older than me so that I could learn from them. In fact, my closest friends today are at least 20-30 years older than I am, and, even now, I go to them for advice and encouragement at this stage in my life. I strongly encourage you to do the same.

These are just some of the things you can do as a young person to get on the right track even if you have not had the benefit of a father in your life. I will be sharing some more of these things in our next broadcast.

Advice for Young People Who Have Grown Up Without Fathers, Part 1 (The Man in the Mirror #7)

Today, I want to offer some advice to young people who have grown up without fathers.

fatherlessFatherlessness has been called an epidemic in the black community of America. According to government statistics, 72 percent of African-American children are born to unmarried mothers. The effects of growing up without a father are devastating to say the least. Children: Our Ultimate Investment reports that:

* 63 percent of youth who commit suicide are from fatherless homes
* 90 percent of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes
* 85 percent of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes
* 71 percent of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes
* 75 percent of all teenage patients in drug-abuse centers come from fatherless homes
* 85 percent of all young people in prison come from fatherless homes

If you are a teenager or young person, you may feel that your life will end up with similar results. Perhaps you think that society has already written you off. But I am here to tell you that your life does not have to end up as just another statistic. As the Bible tells us, God has good plans for your life — ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you.’ Even if you grew up without your father in your life, there are some things you can do to survive, to thrive, and to make it in this life. Here they are:

1. Get to know God as your Heavenly Father. The Bible makes clear that God has a special protectiveness for children who are fatherless. David said in Psalm 27:10, “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.” Maybe you grew up in the church, but I want to encourage you to really get to know God for yourself. He will be the best Father you could ever have. I will show you how you can begin a personal relationship with God at the end of the broadcast.

2. Read the Bible consistently. WIthout a Godly father in your life, you likely missed out on a lot of good, solid advice and counseling as a child — especially if your mother was busy working to provide for you and/or if you did not have teachers or mentors who took you under their wing. However, this can be remedied. The Bible has often been called a guidebook for life — and it is. In the pages of Scripture, you will find all the advice you need to succeed in your relationship with God, your relationships with others, and your interactions with the world.

I strongly recommend that you read through the book of Proverbs. It has 31 chapters, and a good practice is to read one chapter a day; that way, you will get through the book nearly 12 times in one year. Proverbs is full of practical advice and wisdom that will be of extreme usefulness to you as a young person. You will learn how to stay away from bad influences, how to avoid sexual temptation and sexual sin, the value of hard work, and so much more. The book is indeed a gold mine.

3. Talk to God. From time to time in your life, you may have longed for a father to talk to about certain issues. As a young man, there are things your mother will simply not be able to teach you. As a young woman, you may crave a father’s advice on dealing with the opposite sex. Well, you can talk to God about all of those things through prayer. Pour out your heart to Him just as you would talk to your real father. God will hear you and answer you. In the Bible, God said, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee…”

These are just some of the things you can do as a young person to get on the right track even if you have not had the benefit of a father in your life. I will be sharing with you some more of these things in our next broadcast.

“Mo’ Letters to Young Black Men”: Connections (Letter 1)

Pray! Think! Do!

Sir, I am assuming that you are attracted to women, and not to men.

You want to live your life in such a way that God can take you home at any time.

‘Longevity has its place,’ but doing the job that God designed you to do is the ultimate joy.

CONNECTIONS
Letter One

Dear Y.B.M.:

It has been a while since I have written to you. I trust that you are growing spiritually, mentally, and otherwise in your life as a young black man.

Again, I want to thank you for the many kind letters and e-mails that I received from you in response to the book, Letters to Young Black Men: Advice and Encouragement for a Difficult Journey. It was good to hear from you.

As for me, my family and I are doing well. We have had a few challenges since I last wrote to you, but we are doing fine, thank the Lord. Continue reading

“Mo’ Letters to Young Black Men”: Preface (The Brother’s Keeper)

I thank God for the great success of Letters to Young Black Men as it has now become a perennial national bestseller, an ESSENCE magazine national bestseller, a Dallas Morning News bestseller, and an Amazon.com bestseller for ten years straight.

mltybm-ltybmAllow me to share with you the two main reasons why I wrote Letters to Young Black Men.

The first reason is because the Lord impressed upon my heart the apparent great need among young black men in our community for Godly, loving, fatherly, advice and encouragement while on their journey in this life. I had a burden on my heart for my “kinsmen according to the flesh.”

It disturbed me to see so many young black men messing up their lives so early in life, simply because they were not firmly guided in the right direction. So by the leading of the Lord, I decided to put pen to paper in hopes that God would use Letters to Young Black Men to at least “save some.”

I believe that the written word is still one of the most effective ways to reach people in a more concrete and permanent way. God could have written His Word in the sky, but He chose to record all His Words in a Book—the Bible. Note what author, Bud Gardner, said: “When you speak, your words echo only across the room or down the hall. But when you write, your words echo down the ages.”

The second reason I wrote Letters to Young Black Men is because I am a child of the early sixties — arguably one of the most exciting periods of our American history. Indeed, in the words of Charles Dickens: “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” For black people, there could be no truer statement. Many agree that while we as a people were making major “strides toward freedom”, freeing ourselves from the awful Jim Crow era, and beginning to take our rightful place in American society, we began to lose some other important things, such as the good old fashioned way of raising our children, which included corporal chastisement for doing wrong, and an emphasis on virtue and doing the right thing. In addition to that, when so many doors to employment opportunities began to open for our parents and grandparents, many naturally took on the mentality: “My children won’t go through what I went through. They will have many of the things I did not have while I was growing up.”

No one can blame them for having that mentality. Coming out of what they came out of, anybody would have done the same. However, the results are still none-the-less damaging, and because of that natural mentality, we have a generation of young people, who, for the most part, lack character, are materialistic, do not carry the values of their forefathers, and do not respect their parents, or anyone else for that matter. Our community has suffered many casualties and losses, and has planted seeds of destruction and pain that are immeasurable, and that will probably take a generation to overcome.

These are the things that motivated me to write Letters to Young Black Men and now, Mo’ Letters to Young Black Men. However, I did not write these books as an end in themselves.

I wrote these books for all young black men, but I wrote them primarily for the young black men who have faced some disadvantages in their young life, for I am convinced that the young life is the most important part of life. I wrote this book for the young black man who has no father, or who has a weak father; for the young black man who has no mother, or who has a mother whose priorities are out of order. I believe that if things are not done right in a person’s childhood, it does not mean that he or she cannot cope with life when he or she gets older. However, there will be gaps in that person’s life, and those gaps will appear under pressure. These books are an attempt to help fill in some of those gaps in the lives of these young men.

I wrote these books to serve as a ramp that can get young black men on the right freeway—the freeway toward greater success and productivity in this life.

Your friend,

—Daniel Whyte III
Fort Worth, TX