We are witnessing a fatherless epidemic in this generation. The stats for fatherlessness in homes is outrageous, but the impact it is having on our kids is even worse.
- 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes
- 80% of rapists with anger problems are from fatherless homes
- 75% of adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers are from fatherless homes
- 711% are more likely to have children as teenagers from fatherless homes
- 92% are more likely to get divorced from fatherless homes
- 90% of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes
- 71% of pregnant teenagers are from fatherless homes
I hope these numbers hit you like they hit me. It’s the cry of a generation, saved or unsaved. They are looking for fathers to love, lead, and embrace them in this journey called life. I believe that is why the “Abba” revelation is coming to the forefront of the church. That’s why a song like, “Good, Good Father” is being sung all over the world, because in our DNA we were designed to walk as sons and daughters not orphans.
We could think of many reasons for why this is such an issue. Is it selfishness, pregnancy before marriage, drug abuse, or maybe it could be more subtle…your cause? What I am about to share with you maybe the top reason for why I have said yes to such significant transition. For those of you who have wondered why it seems I have dropped off the face of the world, this may give you some (definitely not all) details as to why I’ve made some changes to my life.
Since 2006 I have gone non-stop in the work of the Lord. When I was 18 years old, I worked a full-time job at Circuit City, was a youth pastor, drummer on the worship team, and attended school of ministry during the evenings. Then by 20 I was afforded the opportunity to travel all over the world with the great Dr. T.L. Lowery for nearly four years. That lead to the launch of our personal evangelistic ministry and pastoring in Cleveland, TN. Things outgrew us, people starting moving from all over the country, conferences were growing, and opportunities were coming left and right.
My typical week consisted of arriving at home late Sunday night or Monday. Working as a pastor in the office five days a week, preaching every Tuesday, hosting a prayer meeting every Thursday, and back out preaching 3-5 times a weekend, almost 42 weekends out of the year. I had a very understanding wife, after all, this is what we were taught was sacrificing for the sake of the gospel. When my family was able to go on trips they would, but the majority of the time they were left at home. Many times I had to walk out the door with my children begging daddy to stay home. But the assignment calls…this is the work of God we are talking about.
Not realizing that the whole time I was saying yes to everyone else, I was saying no to my wife and children. How many others are walking this same path today, and how many others are chasing this “dream” of success? When you hear me talk about why I hate the network driven ministries, it’s not because I don’t like the people in them, it’s because I’m jealous for them not to make the same mistake I did.
My aim at exposing the systems of men is not because I am jealous of another I’m jealous for them. These words are not coming from a person who has never tasted ministry success. I shared the platforms with my heroes, preached in front of thousands, ministered on international Christian television, published a national book release with a major Christian publisher. This is why I’m speaking up. These things didn’t scratch the itch.
While everyone looked at my life and said “way to go”, I was losing in the areas that meant the most. Devotion and Family. My time with the Lord consisted in preparing for the next time I would have to speak about Him publicly. My family basically got Wednesday evening with me each week. That’s it. No time for true intimacy with the Lord because duty called. My family saw me basically one full evening a week because the show must go on. This is no way to live. Then the “aha” moment happened when the Holy Spirit started asking me questions.
“Have you noticed the families around you that have your same schedule?”
“Do those people have good relationships with their kids?”
“Do their wives actually enjoy their husband?”
“Why do their kids never seem to be present?”
The greatest fatherlessness I started noticing after 10 years of ministry was in the homes of ministers because duty called. This could explain the “PK” (pastor’s kid) syndrome that cries out for daddy’s attention. This could explain why most minister’s children are not even involved in their father’s ministry. It’s because they got sacrificed on the altar of ministry. They watched their father give himself to everyone else, but when they wanted to pass ball, they got passed up. This cycle must be broken, and we as leaders cannot afford to win the world and lose our children.
I’m so thankful for the beautiful wife that I have. She never fussed about the time of travel, and in almost 10 years of marriage we have only had minor disagreements, but we never fight. God designed her with much grace and patience until I could see the Light. But we started looking around at the example’s we had all over the country and said to ourselves is this what life is going to look like for us in twenty years? Will our kids feel the same way, will someone else have to reach them because we did not? I was even told by another minister whose son was not even serving the Lord that it was just the price you have to pay in order to preach this gospel. Immediately my mind went to the passage in 1 Timothy 3:4-5,
“He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him. For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?”
I’m not aiming this at any one individual. This is about me. GOD HELP ME. I do not want to repeat the cycle. I cannot afford to win the world and lose my children. I don’t want my babies to be fatherless because of ministry. That does not mean I’m home all the time or that I cannot fulfill an assignment when the Lord gives me one. It just means that I’m not going to prioritize my ministry above my children. Traveling around to churches and basically living in hotel rooms and spending time with my kids on facetime is not God’s idea for parenting.
Since making this transition to South Carolina devotion is so much sweeter, which makes the times I do go out and minister 1,000 times more impactful. I am reaching more people today through podcast, blogs, and occasional travel than I ever did doing it all the time. My family is stronger than we have ever been. Our marriage was always great, but it just keeps getting better each day. My wife is blossoming in the things of God. My children’s entire countenance has changed. Almost every night I get to enjoy hearing my children tell me some kind of encounter they are having with the Lord. With my children being 6, 5, and 3 these are precious times.
I will leave you with this thought and challenge. We must break the cycle of ministry over family. If you are married, besides devotion to Jesus, she is top priority. Paul said that if you really want to give yourself to ministry you should not marry. Once you are married, she is to be taken care of. Secondly, your children need you, DAD, involved in their lives. You will go do everything for your members or partners, but what about their basketball practice? You will stay up late to respond to an email, but you can’t tuck them into bed and bless your children before they fall asleep?
If you find yourself in the boat of not being able to manage your family, then do the right thing and make whatever adjustments are needed to make it right. Even if that means you have to shut some things down to do it. Because if we are following scripture and your family is out of order, children having no respect for you, this actually disqualifies you from being the example God wants to show the world. We got to quit applauding men who have incredible gifts and talents but not character or integrity to make family the priority. Just remember it flows from the head down. If you have a healthy marriage and relationship with your children your people will to. Let’s break the cycle and make sure our children don’t become a statistic of fatherlessness in the name of ministry.
Evaluate your life, is what your doing more important to you than you wife and children? Do you want to risk losing your children to gain the world? Are you willing to adjust what ever is necessary so that you can be qualified as a Biblical example of leadership in the church? I have and will continue to do so. The Lord has honored these adjustments by meeting every need, making our ministry more impactful, and most of all enjoying His presence in my own house! I left what others called “success” so that I could find significance and there is no greater joy than knowing I’m fulfilling the will of God simply by being “Dad.”
I dedicate this article to my father, Greg Casto. Dad, thank you for laying it all down when I was young so that I would know you were more than a powerful man of God…you were the best dad I could have ever asked for. I noticed every game you came to and every referee you yelled at. I remember the kiss on my head when you thought I was asleep. I still love the stories you tell that I’ve heard a million times. And by the way, we are still best friends. I’m thankful for the example that you and mom set for me. Thank you for working through every obstacle, loving your enemies, and teaching me what it means to trust in God!