Fatherless on Father’s Day

horse meadow

Loneliness is perhaps the most intense of human emotions.

This single word might well explain much that is behind the challenges of cultures across the world today.

overeating (compulsive eating cures most voids, right?)

website popularity (the most visited websites have one thing in common – in the words of Grace Slick, ‘Don’t you need somebody to love… we all need somebody to love… we just want somebody to love…)

habitual behaviors rooted in obsessions

When we engage in our lack that may be real we begin to melt down. It is best to look beyond that all-too-accurate reality to what is available to us beyond our resource.

My dad passed away rather suddenly in the summer of my twelfth year. This sent me into a major emotional tailspin for months into the school year of junior high. When basketball started up I found playing time a welcome relief to the emotional intensity that was playing in the backdrop of my mind like a calculus challenge 24/7.

The one thing I was desperate to hear was a bit of assurance… the simple signal that all was going to return to stable–that one day, clear sailing would return.

The new kid on our team was Ken. He was a tall among humans even at that point – he measured in at about 6’8”. For giggles, Ken could reach up to the basketball netting with no leap whatsoever. By springing up just a couple of more inches he could do serious damage to the rim. I loved yelling at our opponents who were not yet aware of our secret weapon – ‘Did you bring your adult diapers? You may need them!’ (Is ‘taunting’ a spiritual gift?)

Our entire strategy was simple:

Get ball.

Dribble ball carefully downcourt – SJOGREN NOTHING FANCY!

Pass ball to Ken. Ken will take care of the rest.

Sure enough Coach Day’s strategy worked. Ken scored the points. Yet we were a team just the same.

In only one game did we fail to more than double the other team’s score! We didn’t just win, we nearly sent them into therapy (all apologies to Kingman, KS Jr. High’s team that year – the quadrupling of your score was not intentional…)

Years later when Ken headed up the University of Kansas’ bid in the NCAA playoffs he took them all the way to the ‘Sweet 16.’ His guards and forwards overshot. There were lots of ‘air-balls’ yet Ken persevered and made over 30 points in the last and losing game.

The only thing I could think of as the game proceeded was the simple strategy from years gone by, ‘Just throw it to Ken and it will be alright.’

God shows up to do what no one can accomplish. He fills us / heals us in ways we are not aware we are needy.

Here’s to all the myriad of fatherless fathers who wonder, ‘What in the world am I doing in this father gig? I don’t speak this language, but I am called to be fluent…’

Fathers, replace the above line ‘Ken’ with ‘Holy Spirit.’ Make that our super direct strategy. We are ready to roll.

Steve has spoken, mentored and modeled to churches and leaders around the world with the simple message that anyone – regardless of their gifting or experience – can be involved in bringing God’s loving kindness to others. His first book, Conspiracy of Kindness has been translated into several languages with more in the works. His first book has sold over 300,000 copies. Altogether his books have sold over 500,000 copies.


  1. Steve I really like this article. You are very deep and insightful.
    This is subject that is at the center of my heart.

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