Unplanned Fathering

In 2014 the National Fatherhood Initiative (www.fatherhood.org) reported that 26% of American kids grow up without a father in the home. This year that number is reportedly up to as high as 33 %. That means that if my kids were average American kids one of my children would be living somewhere else without my day to day influence and guidance in their life. The absence of a parent of either gender brings great challenges to the overall development of a child in every way. If it takes two people to make a baby it takes at least two to raise that baby to become all she/he can potentially be.  Fathers matter for more than their initial donation. They are needed as providers, protectors, and patient advocates as well as counselors, coaches, and cheerleaders of their children. Fathering matters to children and not just on Father’s Day.

Fathers that are absent from their children’s lives are not only hurting their children, but they are hurting society. A kid without a father in their home are four times more likely to live in poverty. They are seven times more likely to become teenage parents. They are twice as likely to drop out of high school. Kid’s without a father in their home are more likely to have behavior problems, be obese, face abuse/neglect, go to prison, commit a crime, and/or suffer from depression. There is no debate that a father in the home and actively involved in their child’s life makes a significant difference in the family as well as society. (See “The Father Absence Crisis in America on http://www.fatherhood.org)

Some Fathers are absent from their children because of their behavior or bad choices. Some are absent because they have betrayed their partner and their children in a way that shows them unfit and untrustworthy. Some fathers are absent because their father was absent in their life and they just don’t know any better. Yet, some fathers are absent because they were thrown out, shut out, or litigated out of their children’s life. Some dads are not in the home, but provide a great example of father hood in shared agreements and responsibilities. All absent fathers are not equal, but they are all in the same circle. The issue is not one of how to judge absent fathers, but rather how do we rescue and rebuild the lives of children in need.

What can we do? How do American men respond? How does the church react to the need? How will 1 in 3 children get the counsel and the confidence they need from a father figure in their life?

We need men of all shapes, sizes, ages, and experiences to see every fatherless child as a part of their family. No exceptions. Fathering must become our highest and most valued vocational calling or in a few years this statistic will double because momentum is on the side of fathers being absent from the home. The primary action is to call, equip, and support every father to be successful in being a father. No one can do “daddy” better than the “daddy” of a child. Fathering is not restricted by lack of money, lack of education, or lack of need. It is only restricted when their is a lack of commitment, concern, and/or character. Every father needs to expect their sons to be good fathers. Every brother needs to encourage their brother to be active in their kids lives. Every friend needs to hold their bros accountable for how they take care of their children and show themselves present and accounted for. Every church needs to teach men how to not only be Christian men, but be good fathers as both roles honor God and strengthen the family.

But we need a back up plan also. The call must go out to those who are not biological fathers of children in your neighborhood or church. You may not have planned on being a father, but children need you to make an adjustment to your plans and get in the game. Maybe you need to sign up to be their mentor. Maybe you need to coach them in baseball, teach them in Sunday School, take them on a camp out, or help them finish high school. Some will need you to become their foster dad and perhaps their adoptive father as over 400,000 are waiting in the foster care system today. Some will need you to come along side later in their life as an adult youth to help them know how to keep a job, how to manage money, how to be reconciled through forgiveness, how to account for mistakes, and how to start their own family the right way and with the best of intentions to follow through. Every man in every community is the back up plan for fathering the children of our country and we need to see this as a critical pro life cause in our generation.

Unplanned fathering does not require course work or membership dues. It only requires the best of faith, hope, and love that a man can give to a child in need. Expertise is not required in this kind of fathering nor is it necessary to consider yourself a hero for stepping in. Don’t see yourself as a world changer. Just be content to be the change that a child needs to not only avoid crisis, but to acquire the certainty that they can make it and make it successfully. Don’t pursue thanks or tokens of appreciation. Be celebrated by the achievement of the kid that you poured your life into even if your fathering was unplanned. Having kids doesn’t make you a father. Raising them in the right way does.

Everyday is Father’s Day. Not for celebration, but for work because fathering is hard work. But its the best kind of hard work we will never get paid for. Don’t plan on earning anything as a dad. Let the agenda and the slate remain open and clean. The best kind of gain is that which you don’t plan on receiving. It is found money or found freedom. Unplanned fathering will bring great gain into the life of a man, but nothing like it will bring into the life of a child. As children are a gift from the Lord to fathers (Psalm 127:3) so fathers are a gift into the lives of every child in every generation (Exodus 20:12).

Please adjust your plans today. Take time to think about what kid needs you. If it is your child that needs you to step up your game as a father then do it and don’t worry about how you failed in the past. If it is a niece or a nephew, a cousin, or a sibling that needs you to step in and be the father figure then go for it and don’t look back. Perhaps it is a sibling group in your neighborhood or an only child on your baseball team that needs someone to mentor them into maturity. Maybe there is a grown man in the cubicle next to you who never knew his father and needs your mature and balanced voice in their life. Make yourself available to any child/youth/adult that needs your fathering input and then see what God does with your willing spirit.

Regardless of the plans you have for your life it just might be that God has other plans for you to consider. Based on who He is I am certain that He wants us to be all that we can be for kids in crisis. The most God honoring thing we may ever do with our life is to be a father to the fatherless in our generation. Make sure to plan your availability for the redemptive role that God has for you. The plans that you make for yourself are small in comparison to the plans He has for you. Unplan your plans so that God can reroute your work/calling in life to intersect with a kid in need. Could it be that this new role just might be the one that you have been searching for all of your life and that a kid has been waiting and waiting for you to step into it as their unplanned father?  God loves it when that kind of plan comes together.

What Does it Mean When You Stop Following Someone?

social-media

Social media is a great thing. It is helps us keep up with the lives of friends and families that we are separated from by distance. It helps us connect to people that we sort of know, but may not have been formally introduced. It helps us monitor breaking news from around the world and from inside our network. It helps us feel like we are an active part of a global family of more than 6 billion brothers and sisters.

Social media also makes us aware of what people are thinking and what they believe about life, politics, sports, and even intimate relationships. For every 100 people we know that practice good social media manners we know one person that whines, moans and complains about the smallest of things. We know someone that is intent on shouting their agenda to people as loudly as possible. We know someone that has very little empathy for anybody or anything and likely aren’t interested in developing any. We know someone that boils our blood every time they post an arrogant statement, a tasteless picture, an insensitive quote, or even a inflaming emoji.

So we unfriend them or we unfollow them. Problem solved. Or is it?

When we unfollow or unfriend someone in silence we may not be doing them any favors. They likely don’t know that we no longer read their posts and assume that we are closely keeping taps on their every thought and word. People who are so clueless about what they say or post are usually equally clueless about what people think about them. It is a matter of lacking self awareness and it oozes throughout every detail of their life. They just don’t get it and likely don’t care to.

So what does it mean to stop following someone?

It may mean…

That the friendship is not deep enough to confront or counsel someone about how they are perceived. (Maybe we need to work to change that.)

That confrontation is not an option and so a careful separation is necessary. (Maybe this says something about how we value perspectives more than people. Think about that one for a minute.)

That being connected to many people is more important than being real with a few. (Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that someone we have never been in the same room with has a different view on politics or faith than we do.)

That people are who they are and there is little hope in their ability to change or get it together. (Maybe believing that people can become self aware is our first hope and prayer before we do anything.)

That conversation is better kept at a safe distance than brought in for a close encounter. (Maybe we a phone call or cup of coffee would be good ways to discuss tension.)
As a leader who works with a very diverse population of people in my church/organization as well as with public stakeholders I am challenged daily about what to do. Who do I ignore? Who do I confront? Who do I write off? Who do I unfriend?

Every Christian should be careful to consider the matter as well. We are called to live together in brotherly/sisterly love, but love doesn’t mean that we ignore bad behavior nor does it mean that we quietly dismiss the person as an unsalvageable social media soul. We don’t just rebuke someone in the name of love with the first thing we think of and we can’t just unplug any remembrance of the person without thought to our role as a witness in their life. And for heaven’s sakes we aren’t the social media police having to argue, confront, debunk every bad thought or word we read online. Sometimes a deep, cleansing breath is what we need before doing anything. Unfollowing and unfriending after accepting friendship with someone can be viewed as a rejection and if they are a Christian or church connection that can be extremely difficult.

Here is my working strategy on managing social media contacts or connections:

I am careful about who I friend or link up to on social media so that I can be very careful about managing those relationships. My goal is not quantity, but quality with those in my network. I don’t have to like or love every post I see and my emoji isn’t required as an expression of my approval or lack there of. If the issue is one of personal perspective and they communicate it professionally or with some level of composure then it is okay to have a different perspective. If they insult me then forgiveness is first, but conversation comes close as the second response. If they destroy a whole culture, tribe, party, family, church or any other grouping in a public way then rebuke and removal must be considered. Being connected is not more important than being real.

Unfollowing and unfriending is sometimes the right thing to do, but it comes with consequences personally and socially. Choose those options deliberately and wisely. Manage the friendship well and tension will likely manage itself. Be careful with feelings – yours, theirs, others – and direct communication can be helpful and possibly transforming. Don’t be overly sensitive, but don’t fall asleep at the wheel and let your feed get blown up by a loose cannon friend or associate. Be genuine in your faith, your feelings, your feedback and people will likely have respect for where you are coming from.

Friendship is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.
– Muhammad Ali

Tick-Tock Parenting

melting-clock

On any given day I will make 3 to 5 trips to the schools to pick a kid up, drop a kid off, and sometimes shuttle their friend here or there. To be honest that doesn’t fit all that well with my schedule and being inconvenienced has not been a favorite past time of mine at any point in my life. Most often I see those trips as a “have to do” and not a “get to do.”

Jamie is the opposite. She loves to take a kid here, take a kid there. And the kids like for her to take them although they don’t always like arriving in her minivan. On these trips they sing, talk, laugh, and sometimes get lost or forget where they are going. But they are fun trips that she loves to “get to do.”

Yesterday, after I made 3 trips to the high school after work, I also had to go and watch a homecoming parade. One kid was marching with the band and the other was marching with his football team. The parade was scheduled to go around the high school and end up in the football stadium for a pep rally with all school sports and activities participating. Parents, siblings, and friends were to watch and cheer along the way before assembling in the stadium to again watch and cheer. Seemed like a big pile of “have to” to me.  Jamie rushed home from work, rushed Julia to church, dropped a meal off for a family in need, and rushed back to join me in the gallery. She couldn’t wait to “get to” watch those boys do their thing.

As those two young men passed in all their youthful glory it occurred to me that these are the moments I have been waiting for. This isn’t wasted time at all. This is time spent in the best way possible.  Standing in the grass, fighting the TX heat, missing a replay of Seinfeld on TBS may seem like inconveniences to me, but they are the not. They are small details in moments where my life’s work is on display. Parenting (and friendships for that matter) are about seeing a moment for what it is and enjoying it to its fullest.

Moments invested in the celebration and/or support of others – especially our children – are the moments we have to put into slow motion and capture every frame. Being hurried, inconvenienced, or bored will carry us right past memories that we were born to be forever touched by. While watching what happens we will not capture the exact moment that he/she does the unbelievable.

We don’t waste time when we are available for our kids when they need us.  Time is wasted when we choose to be inconvenienced by their need.

We don’t waste time when we celebrate the work of our kids in band, sports, academics, or just being a good kid. Time is wasted when we ignore their accomplishments and think about “what could be.”

We don’t waste time when we invest in their friendships by being nice and available to those they feel connected with. Time is wasted when we are bothered by how odd or different their friends are and try to isolate them socially.

We don’t waste time when we take the moments to teach, to correct, and to discipline our kids. Time is wasted when we ignore their behavior and hope they get it right next time. (They likely won’t without our input.)

We don’t waste time when we are honest with them about our failures and faults in life embarrassing as they may be. Time is wasted when we let them think they are the only ones in the family to ever mess up or to ever struggle with temptation or trials.

We don’t waste time when we are concerned enough to talk to, pray with, and cry over how they are doing. Time is wasted when we rely primarily on social media for ideas on what to do with a kid in trouble.

We don’t waste time when we try to slow down the growing up time so we can enjoy the moments we have with them. Time is wasted  when we do all we can to speed up time to get them to a place where they can care completely for themselves.

We don’t waste time when we just stop and listen to them, laugh with them, and/or look at them in amazement. Time is wasted when we choose to live in a blur and let our time belong to everybody else but our family.

Time spent well with our kids is time well spent in our hearts. We can never get back those missed moments, but we can plan to miss as few as possible. Better to short ourselves of personal time, choice, and say so than to short our kids of the very real presence of a parent invested in their success and happiness. Those moments should be “get to do” moments as often as possible. In the future, we won’t remember what we “had to do” anyway.  We’ll only remember the moments where we “got to” tell people they were “ours.”

Fathers/Mothers, do not provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to the point of resentment with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by showing favoritism or indifference to any of them], but bring them up [tenderly, with lovingkindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

Parental Transitions

parental transition

Parenting is a big responsibility and comes with big requirements. From the moment that child first cries until the day you depart with your last breath, you are responsible for the child God blessed your home with. It is likely that only as a parent can your heart be blessed and broken in the same day by one person and sometimes within the same sentence. Parenting is not for the faint at heart or the easily defeated.  Parenting requires skills.

Among those skills is the ability to change with and for the child you are parenting. The status you carry today will change by tomorrow and so will her/his demands of you. The older they get, the more this should become apparent. They are transitioning from one stage of life to the next and you as parent must transition your style and schemes in the same way and timing that they do. Otherwise, you seem and sound like the teacher in Charlie Brown to a kid who is doing exactly what he was born to do – grow up.

That is where I am right now. My three little darlings have become three little daring teenagers just trying to make their way in the world. This is not a fad or a stage. It is life. Their life.

And I want to be a part of their life for the rest of my life. So, I must transition with them or I will be left behind thinking and wishing and regretting and wasted.

We must transition from sheltering them from everything to shielding them from some things. We can not protect them from all harm. We can only help them avoid the trouble that is ahead and perhaps be able to predict it. Help them avoid the biggest threats while walking with them as they face smaller threats or challenges to the worldview we have offered them. A small scrape learned at home will be a benefit when big scrapes come along later in life.

We must transition from choosing everything for them to coaching them to good choices. Everyday a child becomes more and more independent. Everyday a parent either helps them live independently or puts up a road block to their growth. Coaching is a good middle ground as they grow up and feel the need to have their own way, but still need advice and counsel. If they learn to take coaching in the small things at home, they will seek coaching in life when big things pop up.

We must transition from loving our “little person to liking the real person they are striving to become. Always love, love, love your children. Don’t forget to like them, too; whomever they are growing into. Parental acceptance is a primary need for every child. Don’t be blinded by old memories of your children. Look longingly at today’s real life photos. New memories are being made. Don’t miss them.

We must transition from teaching them about bad things/choices to talking with them about right things/choices. Sure there is plenty of things to warn our kids about. Warn them about sex, drugs and rock n roll, but also talk to them about the good, fun and beautiful things in life. Point them toward things that truly satisfy and away from things that seek to rob, kill and destroy. They will quickly recognize the difference.

We must transition from being blessed by their successes to being a blessing in their defeat/agony/failures.  Children are valuable to us. But let’s not value them for what they do for us or for how well they succeed in life, sports and other things. Be there to bless them when they don’t “hit it out of the park.” That might be your most important parental activity. God made us for them; not the other way around.

We must transition from living our dreams through them to believing in them to dream their own dream and chase it successfully. Since they weren’t made to finish the dreams we couldn’t, let them have their own life. They don’t have to be a lawyer, a teacher or a sports figure. They don’t have to be Republican or Methodist or even Texan. Open the door and show them the wide open spaces of life and then free them to roam. They are likely to go anyway, so just go ahead and make it your idea.

Transition is no time to retreat or recoil with fear or hopelessness. Every transition requires our best effort as a parent and our greatest attention to the details of relationship with our kids. Parents lead the way in helping their kids form and foster solid relationships in life. Teaching them to do so during the transitions of life at home is where they first learn.

Parenting is about feeding, clothing, helping, teaching, caring, hugging, disciplining and about 1,000 other daily needs our kids have. But helping them feel safety in the transitions of life may be the most important thing we do for and with them. For if children can’t adjust to transitions at home, they will be lost in the world that constantly is in transition.

Successful parental transitioning requires us to move from one stage of or approach to parenting to the next. Choosing to transition is likely one of the few areas of parenting that a parent has complete control over. A parent cannot make every decision or control every occurrence in their child’s life, but a parent does have complete control over her/his own attitudes, approaches and actions related to interacting with their children. In the end, our success as a parent may very well be measured by how well we transitioned along the way as our kids grew into the people they were born to become.

Get ready. A transition is just around the corner. You don’t want to be left behind. This part of parenting is a lot of fun. Get ready to move.

Parents, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master. (Ephesians 6:4 – The Message)

You Can’t Be Trusted

trust me

Believe me when I say this- you can’t be trusted. And neither can I. Trust is a hard thing to give and can only be done when we know someone can keep it. Keeping trust with someone over something requires that the something is placed in an escrow of protection in order to keep it safe and sound and ready for use when needed. We start out trusting very early in life and then lose the ability to trust a little more each day. Babies are expert trusters. Adults need remedial classes constantly. Sometimes I wonder if I will even be able to trust anybody over anything by the time I am 99.

“ I trust you God. As far as the East is from the West I trust you that much. It is me that I don’t trust. Sometimes I am trustworthy, but sometimes – many times – I am not able to really lean into me to do the right thing, say the right words, or act the right way. It’s not you. It’s me.”

This is likely a conversation that many of us have with ourselves and God, but with nobody else. There is safety in telling God that we don’ trust ourselves. There is solid process and perhaps healing in telling that truth to ourselves. We just don’t want anybody else to know that we don’t trust the man/woman in the mirror.

I learned this lesson hard this week.

Friday night a week ago I took the Ballard 5 to Baskin Robbins for ice cream. We love it there and since Blue Bell is retooling its business these days we will likely become more frequent in our visits. I love “World Class Chocolate.” Sugars likes “Birthday Cake” and momma likes some kind of cookie dough mix. The boys made their order and I paid the bill. While we sat outside and enjoyed our cream, Lily – a 20ish girl I had never seen before – aimlessly walked by and nearly bumped into me. She was talking out of control, walking in front of cars without looking, cussing a blue streak, threatening an unseen person and acting as out of control as you can imagine. That was when I wondered if I could trust myself in this situation to do the right thing for Lily.

She walked off from us while I flagged down security and told him to follow her. I was afraid that she might do something to customers on the sidewalk, but I was most afraid she would walk outside onto FM 1960 and get run over. I feared that when I sipped my morning coffee I would hear local NBC tell me that a pedestrian was killed overnight in NW Houston. I knew I couldn’t trust Lily to take care of herself and remain safe.

When I got in my car, going home just didn’t feel like the right thing to do. We circled the area and found Lily creating a stir at Starbucks. I parked the car and went for her. From the moment I walked up to her and asked if she was ok until the time that the police/paramedics arrived Lily was kind and gentle with me. Something had happened to her and she was sick/traumatized/under medicated/ high/ or just plain crazy. Maybe all of the above. I talked to her for an hour waiting on help while she rambled on and on about people she knew, but didn’t seem to know their location presently. I watched her paint her leg with mascara, try to recharge a calculator she thought was a phone, and clean her ears 10 times with dirty swabs she would find in the bottom of her purse. Lily was pitiful in that condition, but I knew she was somebodies daughter and she needed help. Thankfully first responders came and helped her. That night while they did their job I knew I had done my job. You know, that Christian job to help the hurting and helpless. I had been a good missionary and God had to have noticed. On that night I proved that God could trust me with important work for the kingdom and I could trust myself to put others first and be the good neighbor that I have been called to be.

It would only take a week to undo that level of trust.

Last night I sat in a community outdoor theater in the park district to watch a very high quality stage production by a youth theatre group. I was a bit hot and bothered because the seats were right in the sun and because my kids were whining about being hot and bothered in general. That didn’t say it, but I could hear them thinking, “Dad, last summer you took us to NYC to watch Les Miserables in the Amsterdam Theatre and tonight we sit in the sun to watch Hairspray while fighting mosquitos and having to drink water from the fountain. No fair.”

While this scenario played over in my head I barely noticed the lady sit down next to me and push her bag under her seat. It only took a minute to realize that not only was this person next to me and alone, she was most likely homeless and carrying everything in the world she had. Just like Lily the week before. This girl was silent and said nothing. Neither did I. Not one word for 2 hours. During the first act she put a few Lay’s potato chips in her mouth and ate a cup of salsa. She then washed that down with a mix of a couple of partial drinks – coffee and water – she had brought to the seat. I am certain she had picked them up from the trash on her way to the East section, Row X. That was her dinner.

And I did nothing. I didn’t ask her name. I didn’t ask if I could get her a bottle of cold water or some more food to bring nourishment. I didn’t ask if she needed a ride anywhere. I didn’t ask her anything. I just watched the theatrical production and laughed along right on cue. Epic fail. Don – you can’t be trusted!

One week I respond to someone in need and feel I can trust myself to live a life on display with God’s love. The next week it never crosses my mind to bear any witness at all that I even noticed my sister in her time of need. With $100 cash in my pocket and enough credit to buy every ticket in the theatre I offered her none of it. Worse than not being her provider I was not her friend. I never acknowledged her. Not necessarily in a rude kind of way, but in the “I’m too busy to be bothered with your problems right now” kind of way. When our human nature takes over we lean on our expertise to judge, protect, isolate, and ignore the pain of others. That can’t be how we are supposed to live. That can’t be what God had in mind when he created us and recreates us in the image of Christ. That can’t be the way people of trust respond in situations that need the most trustworthy of the kingdom to respond to people in need.

I can’t be trusted. And neither can you. None of us can. Our flesh is weak and our spirit is confused. We most often want and pursue what accommodates our life and our desires. Everybody else is on their own unless their point of need intersects with a moment of convenience in our schedule or budget. The public would be foolish to put their trust in us to be generous Samaritans and we are plain old stupid to trust ourselves to do the right thing for someone that we are not related or aligned with. That puts the homeless, orphaned children, battered women, the mentally ill, the socially isolated, the terminally ill, the helplessly addicted (and others) in extreme places of unfortunate strain because those that could and should help them can’t be trusted to really help them. Those who need to be able to trust us most find that we only show up when we sense a bit of guilt or are getting a t-shirt for our involvement. It seems that our service to others and acts of kindness are almost always about us/me instead of the one needing the help up or the hand out.

We just can’t be trusted. We need help, a lot of help. You might even say we need a miracle.

Thanks be to God. Our help has come, is coming, and will come again.

Proper 6 B / 2 Corinthians 5:

So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord— 7for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil. 11Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences.

Drafted to Make A Difference

“With the first pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select…”

I am not sure who the Bucs will pick on Thursday night with the first pick. It’s probably going to be a QB, and it likely will be Jameis Winston from Florida State. I wish the #1 pick would be Lorenzo Mauldin from Louisville. Not because he’s the top rated talent in the draft, but because he’s a hero to me. Lorenzo was/is a foster kid from Atlanta who seems to have turned the corner in life based on his athletic ability, his dedication to his siblings, and the care of special people who have helped him along.

[ You can read more of his story at http://mmqb.si.com/2015/04/23/lorenzo-mauldin-2015-nfl-draft-louisville/ ….after you finish reading my article. 🙂  ]

mauldin

When the pick goes down, I will be in Nashville for the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) 2015 Summit. There will be more than 3,000 people gathered to be empowered and equipped to make a difference in the lives of the over 100 million orphans around the world, including 400,000 foster care kids in the USA. It will be challenging to me as a child welfare professional; compelling to me as a caring parent; and convicting of me as a Christian leader. I’ll be thinking of the kids that my agency serves, as well as the kids represented by the other CAFO partner agencies and church-based ministries. I’ll also be thinking of and praying for Lorenzo Mauldin.

Lorenzo will be drafted on Friday or Saturday. It will put him in a position that he has never been in before. He will have a team/a city behind him. He will have the resources to take care of himself and his siblings for life if he plays well. He will play on TV in the greatest sport America knows, and he will become household name to aspiring boys wanting to “go all Lorenzo” on the competition. His life will change forever. No more foster homes. No more group homes. No more dorm rooms for Lorenzo. It’s his time now.

But I’m betting he won’t see it that way. If I know Lorenzo – and I don’t – he will use this new life as an opportunity to do something great. Not on the football field, but on the foster field. Lorenzo will always want to give back, and make the scene better for kids that are on the path he and his siblings were on. No kid exits the system without a desire to make foster care better for other kids coming through it. Even the best of foster care situations have room for some improvement. Every child deserves to have a good home to grow up in, and good parents to walk through life with. Every child needs to feel like they’ve been drafted to belong to a family that wants them desperately, and loves them generously.

Christian foster care ministry attempts to do just that for every one of the kids already in the system, as well as the ones that are statistically on their way. Christian foster homes and church-based foster care ministries are making a difference everyday as people put their own needs and aspirations aside to help kids and strengthen American family life. There is a great need before us, but the good news is that we have a greater God that is for us. Our God is greater than the foster care crisis in our country.

You may not know it, but you too are being drafted – drafted to make a difference in foster care. Please stand up, show up, and blow up for kids across the country. Don’t limit your love to kids in your state. Love and cherish every child you encounter. Help and hold every kid in your care that needs your personal touch to succeed. Dare to dream the wildest dreams of success and glory for foster kids, because they hold great potential and we need them to let it go in our world. Choose to see the potential in kids instead of their baggage or their limits. Value the life of the one instead of the burden of the many. Celebrate the stories of success, and speak truth into the stories of shame. Today, you are drafted to make a difference.

I ask you to pray for Lorenzo Mauldin. Don’t pray that he would be drafted first overall or that he would be drafted by your favorite team. Pray that his story would compel families all over the country to make room in their lives for the kids who need a family. Pray that his legacy would go beyond being a great football player, and witness an even greater example of a man. Pray that the city that drafts him will become a city that invests heavily into foster care and sets the pace for other NFL cities engaging with kids in their communities. Pray that foster children all over the country would find a new hero in Lorenzo because of his spirit, his endurance, and his hope for a better life. Pray constantly that God would work all things together through the body of Christ to make helping orphans a priority and not an option.