Watch this 3 minute clip before reading the post.
I got pretty emotional as I watched this video earlier today. I have seen this episode of Fresh Prince before, but that was before I started working with young people in our juvenile system and adults in our jails and prisons who went through this in their childhood and my thoughts on the matter have changed. Every day we work with men and women who are struggling to overcome abandonment, bitterness and hatred due to a father who didn’t fulfill his role. The purpose of this post is not to place blame on any specific person, but there are a group of us who have dropped the ball and it’s time we change that.
Let’s start with who I can’t blame. I can’t blame a father who never saw an example of a man loving and caring for his kids. Most of the men we work with (both young and old) don’t have a father figure to look up to. They are angry that they were abandoned, but they follow in the same footsteps because they don’t know any different.
I also can’t blame the kid. He is the victim who grows up to repeat the same negative cycles. He learns to look up to the guys on the street corner who appear to have it all together. They often have drugs in one pocket and a gun in the other. They got the car, the money, the women and they get to do whatever they want, whenever they want. They are what this young man sees as an example and they are the ones he looks up to.
At the end of the clip, Will finally let the emotions go and vows to prove “Lou” wrong. In anger he declares what he is going to accomplish without the help of his dad; college, a great job, marriage and kids, and he’s going to do it all better than Lou. Even though he takes his stand to break the cycles, he still wants to know why.
So let’s get down to it. Who am I pointing the finger at? Me…It’s my fault…I blame me. I spent the first 37 years of my life taking care of me and my family. I went to work, sporting events, fieldtrips and church and while all of these are important, I did all of it without inviting a fatherless child to join us. I insulated myself and my family from others who needed me.
As I have said many times since learning the realities of the fatherless, “I can’t blame the 19 year old who has joined a gang, deals drugs and commits crime, because I wasn’t there when he was 5 and the gang was the only group who gave him attention.” I take the blame. It’s my fault. I didn’t stand in the gap for a young man who needed a role model, and that is the reason this scene is so powerful to me. That is the lesson we all need to learn.
Will had an advantage that the men and women we serve don’t have. He had his uncle Phil. He had a man who invested his time. He had a man who was willing to become a positive role model. He had a man who loved him and taught him right from wrong. He had a man who stood in the gap. He had a man willing to be a hero. Without Uncle Phil, Will’s character would have been another victim of the breakdown in our society.
There are no easy answers. Relationships are hard. I was recently having lunch with a man and I told him of our need for men to stand in the gap for those we serve. He responded, “Wow; that sounds messy.” Yeah, it is messy. I’m not going to sugar-coat the truth and let you believe ministry is all fun and games because God calls us to get messy. If you are ready to be a man; a man who will lay his life down for another and stand in the gap, let me know. We will train you and we have plenty of opportunities for you to be a hero to someone who needs you.