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A Mentor is no Substitute for a Father

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Published on: November 23, 2014

Esquire Magazine recently launched a mentoring initiative to create 100,000 new mentors by 2020. The campaign seeks to “make a tremendous impact” on the lives of young men that are caught in a cycle of failure.

Esquire asked 50 high-profile men including James Franco, Sen. Marco Rubio, Samuel L. Jackson, David Petraeus, Lenny Kravitz, Matthew Broderick and Joel Osteen: “Who made you the man you are today?”

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It sounds like a worthwhile undertaking, so who could possibly argue with this campaign?

I could. Here’s why …

The whole need for mentors has arisen because of the destruction of the family. Liberals helped to destroy the family and devalue fathers, and now they want to “save” society. No-fault divorce, welfare, man-hating feminism and rampant immorality in Hollywood movies have contributed to the breakdown of the family and created the need for mentors.

Only a handful of the famous people interviewed by Esquire credited their fathers. Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, a black man, talked about how his father sacrificed for his family and shaped his resilient nature.

Mentors can provide advice and guidance on how to attain worldly success, but only the love of a father can fulfill the emptiness that children have when a father is missing.

It’s also quite possible for a mentor to be worthless or even harmful. Case in point – rapper and actor Common said his mentor was Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. Common said he began attending Rev. Wright’s “unapologetically black” church when he was 8 years old. He credits Wright’s racist sermons for fueling his “pro-black” rap lyrics.

In Barack Obama’s case, it appears that his stepdad was a better influence than any of his Marxist mentors.

In February 2014, after being criticized for ignoring the plight of young black males, the Obama White House launched “My Brother’s Keeper.” But like Esquire, it too failed to address the epidemic of fatherlessness.

Mentoring can be helpful if the mentor teaches the young man how to forgive and love his biological father along with encouraging responsibility and hard work.

For the last 24 years, my nonprofit organization (BOND) has been teaching boys trades, helping young people start businesses, and last fall we started the BOND Leadership Academy for Boys and Girls (grades 1-12). But still our primary focus is pointing young men back to their fathers.

Many of the young men we have mentored are now financially well off, yet some feel unfulfilled because they haven’t forgiven their fathers for not being there. If you don’t forgive your earthly father, it’s impossible to connect with your Heavenly Father.

In my case, I had the love of my grandfather. He was a good man, but he still didn’t fulfill the emptiness I had for my father. It wasn’t until I saw the resentment I had for my parents that I was able to forgive. That’s when God filled the void that I had within.

Esquire is dodging the central questions: Who’s your daddy, and why wasn’t he there to guide you to become the man you were meant to be?

According to Esquire, if you’re a boy in America, compared to girls you are:

  • Three times as likely to be diagnosed with a learning disorder and twice as likely to be on medication for it.
  • More likely to be held back and drop out of high school.
  • Less likely to go to college and less likely to graduate.
  • Twice as likely to abuse alcohol, and until you are 24, five times as likely to kill yourself.
  • Eleven times as likely to go to prison.

The reason young men are struggling and dropping out of school is primarily due to the anti-male bias and curriculum that caters to females.

Studies show that 85 percent of all youth in prisons, 71 percent of all high-school dropouts and 63 percent of all youth suicides come from fatherless homes (source: CDC, HHS, DOJ and U.S. Census Bureau).

The Bible says God will turn the fathers back to the children and the children back to the fathers, not to the mentors.

The father is the spiritual and physical head of his family. When a young man begins to resent his father for his failings, the boy’s internal light dims and he loses his way. Or if he doesn’t know his father at all, it’s even worse – because the man is not there to guide his son. Then the son loses everything, and he’s walking in darkness.

All men and women hunger for the love of a father. We must resist the secular culture’s false answers – even when they sound good. More importantly, we must provide our own tangible and enduring solutions.

The way young and adult men can heal is to forgive their fathers for their absences or weaknesses. In doing that, they can re-establish their relationships with their fathers. More importantly, they will establish a relationship with their spiritual Father. That relationship will provide the love, contentment and security that a mentor can only hope to provide.


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