The Cure for Fatherlessness in America

Fatherlessness is the number one social problem facing America today. Men not being men. Fathers not being fathers.

At the root of that issue is a single trait:

SELFISHNESS: “Devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests”

I understand that there are circumstances and stories in every situation, but at the end of the day, concern with oneself overrides any motivation to be concerned for others. And the interesting challenge is that most of the time, the father hasn’t physically left, but he is emotionally detached.

I see the pull within my own life as a new father and it disgusts me. I hate that I have the thoughts I have. I can’t stand it when my selfishness wells up and tells me that my agenda is more important than my responsibility.

I especially have such a hard time understanding this because I have never known a selfish father. My father has been the opposite:

SELFLESS: “Having little or no concern for oneself; especially in regard to fame, position, etc”

Today we celebrate my Dad’s birthday. As I sit here pondering the issue of fatherlessness, I don’t suppose to have any answers, but I will share a story, the story of a great father.

Selfless Instruction

The word, selfless, has a connotation that seems negative because it gives the impression of weakness. I laugh because my father is anything but weak. He is a blend of confidence with a genuine concern for others. His presence radiates a quiet strength.

A couple of years ago, after a second back surgery, my dad was the most defeated I have ever seen him. Being forced to lay down crippled his spirit. It was then, that I understood something profound about my father. While most would revel in time off from work, enjoy the couch, and wallow in the opportunity to be lazy, it crushed my dad.

He knew that he couldn’t do much for others if he was lying on the couch.

One of the greatest stories about my Dad is how he met one of his lifelong friends, Doug Treadway. Doug was new to their travel softball team and faced riding alone to an upcoming, out-of-town tournament. Dad stepped up because character is stepping  up when no one else does. This simple act created a friendship that has lasted close to thirty-five years and has provided memories that could not be contained within the words of this blog.

Coach Derrick

Coach Derrick

The Cure for Fatherlessness

Dad has coached baseball for the better part of twenty years. It is his passion to help kids. I had a friend and former teammate approach me at a restaurant recently and ask:

“How’s your dad doing? I love Coach Derrick—he was always like a father to me.”

My dad reminds me: being a man is being about others.

So today, I celebrate my father and I’m reminded that fatherlessness can be cured by selflessness—one dad at a time.


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10 Responses to The Cure for Fatherlessness in America

  1. Kerry Baile November 12, 2013 at 8:57 am #

    Happy happy birthday to your Dad!! Hope to see y’all this week!

  2. Al Sheneman November 12, 2013 at 9:24 am #

    awesome tribute to your dad and you hit the nail on the head when it comes to selflessness. Like the brother I never had. Well said Matt!

    • Matt Ham November 12, 2013 at 10:53 am #

      Al – a while back you asked me to write in selflessness – I thought this the opportune time! Have a good day brother!

  3. Stacey Lancaster November 12, 2013 at 9:25 am #

    Happy Birthday, Uncle D!!!! Love from all the Lancasters!!!!

  4. Mary Grey Sheneman Ham November 12, 2013 at 10:12 am #

    Matt, you and Mark are so fortunate to have him as your father. He never “balks” at the path that his Father lays before him! He remains constant, directed and joyful as he walks this journey. He looks at every situation optimistically! Happy Birthday to the coach of this Ham Fam; I am so thankful to be his wife and a part of his team! (And yes, he has picked up some formula and a diaper or two.)

  5. libbybailey09 November 12, 2013 at 10:39 am #

    Happiest of birthdays to the Duke! Loved your post–he is as selfless as he is fun-loving and joyful, such a pleasure to be around him.

  6. Horace Liles November 12, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    Happy Birthday Derrick!!!!!

  7. Linda Cross November 12, 2013 at 9:26 pm #

    Happy Birthday D! You are tryly one of the great ones!

  8. Debbie Sheneman November 12, 2013 at 9:28 pm #

    This has always been one of the many things I love about your Dad. Watching him pour his life into his family, walking the walk with Jesus and having one of the best outlooks on life of anyone I have ever known. You and Mark have a great legacy to follow and I know you both have made him proud to call you his sons. Happy Birthday Duke! I am proud to call you my brother-in-law!


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