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TD Jakes - Not Many Fathers

TD Jakes - Not Many Fathers
TOPICS: Father's Day, Fatherhood

What does it mean to be a man today?
- We're always talking about the greatest men in history, and so we set ourselves up to want to be a great man.

- Being a man today is challenging because of the times that we're living in.

- You want to be stable for yourself as a man though.

- Take full responsibility of what you have in hand.

- Being open-minded.

- Thinking before we speak.

- Do everything that you didn't learn growing up.

- Balancing the pursuit of what I feel God has called me to do from a purpose standpoint, but also being very present for my wife and my children.

Are men prepared for today's world?
- I think there are things that we face today that my father didn't face, I think there are some challenges that, you know, my father probably wasn't able to prepare me for.

- I'm a boomer, the millennials coming up, you know, wanting to make sure that we are providing them a clear path to success.

How do men seek answers?
- Most of our men don't know who they are because they didn't have a father, a father in the home to model fatherhood in front of them.

- So I think men are having a challenge, to be what women want them to be in this day and time, and not really fully given the full permission to be who they are.

- So it's important to remind us, particularly as men, it's not about what social media says, it's not about what society as a whole, it's not even about what your family says, it's really about you discovering your voice and vision for success and leaning on God. But the challenge is blocking out all of that noise and not adopting it as your own blueprint for how you want to live your life.

Bishop Jakes: Hit me with your question, I'll do my best with it.

Male: Bishop, I think I'll go first, because I'm the only father on the panel that didn't have a father growing up. My young adult years was about mending what I didn't have in a father; even though I had his name, he was still alive at the time, but he wasn't there. And there's probably men and boys that can speak to going through the same thing. Just talk about how you become something that wasn't modeled for you, and how you change with the seasons of your life also with that, because in the last year, I've gone from a fiancé to a husband to a father. And I'm glad that I have this forum because you are my spiritual father and I have my son in the audience, he's asleep now. But I thank you for this forum and this platform, to be able to have a Father's Day like this, to learn from you, but also, hopefully I can tell my son about this one day. But it's something that wasn't modeled for me growing up.

Bishop Jakes: First of all, let's speak to the deficit that you feel when you didn't get it and it wasn't modeled before you. Some young men had it, and they still don't have it together.

Male: And I was jealous of those men. In high school, I would see boys, I played football or ran track, I would see them mad at their fathers who were actually active in their lives, and I'm like, "You don't know how good you got it".

Bishop Jakes: God brings people in your life to subsidize what you didn't get, okay? Never tell people you didn't have a father, because if you didn't have a father you wouldn't be here. So he gave you the most important thing, he gave you life, okay? What he didn't give you was discipline, nurturing, affirmation, and correction, okay? And correction is important, particularly for a man, because correction shows me submission, shows me how to manage power, prepares me to deal with police, prepares me to deal with teachers, prepares me to deal with bosses. Where I don't see correction, I don't hear, when somebody says, "I don't like what you did," so I can stop hearing, "You don't like me," okay?

Where correction becomes a normative in your life, then you are free to make mistakes, because then you learn how to repair mistakes. And the pressure to be perfect, you got to get rid of it right now, you got to get rid of it right now. You're not gonna be perfect, but the good news is... See, part of our problem is we feel like everybody else got something that we didn't get, and anytime you feel robbed, you feel angry. Deep down inside, behind hurt is anger. "It's not fair that everybody else's father came to the football game and there was nobody up there clapping for me. It's not fair that they got to go out and eat with their dads afterwards and I went home in the car with mama. It's not fair, it's not fair". And you're right, it's not fair, but it is true.

When Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free," I think it's more than the gospel truth, you have to know the truth about you. You have, "This is my truth, this is my reality," and when I look at other people who became successful, though they were fatherless, like Barack Obama, who ended up being the President of the United States, raised by a woman, it says to me that it is possible for me to succeed with or without having had a father in my life. It's the reason they make vitamins to supplement what meals don't give you: God sends people in your life as vitamins, and they may come from five different directions. It may be a friend over here, it may be some from me, it may be an uncle over there, it may be a school teacher over here, but they supplement what you didn't get in your life.

When you get around them, you need to tell them how important they are to you and why, so that they won't spasmodically feed you. If you tell me, "I never had this before, you're changing my life," then I will be more intentional about giving it to you because you let me know that you need that. So don't come to me like you already got what you got and secretly be craving something, you got to know the truth, and the truth will set you free, and not be ashamed of it because his leaving had nothing to do with you. It's not your fault, that's his issue to deal with that, let that be his issue, you got a chance to correct it. And supplementing the relationships, where you did not get it from him, with outside relationships is one of the ways that you fortify yourself and begin to build yourself up. Wait, number two, is you get to give your kid everything you dreamed of, everything you wanted. And it's crazy, it's crazy how this works, but when you give it to them, you get it back.

The Bible says, "Give, and it shall be given back to you again; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over". So you go to the games, you change the diaper, you bounce the baby, you take pictures with the kid. The kid don't know that you're in the picture as him. See, the secret to being a great preacher, as opposed to a good preacher, is a great preacher sees every soul that walks down the aisle as them. And the reason we are compelled to keep telling you, "You can do it," is because we are secretly talking to ourselves. You understand, okay?

So, as you give to your son, you're actually talking to yourself, and your wound starts to close as you give it away because you're giving him what you hungered for. But don't get angry when he doesn't appreciate it like you did, because you're normal. You're normal, and the side effect of doing that is, because you're normal he doesn't see what you do as exceptional because it's normal. You understand what I'm saying? As he gets older, where you can talk, or she, where you can talk to them and tell them your story, which is for another age and stage of life, they begin to understand that families heal together, marriages heal together, relationships heal together. You already beat the odds, you're sitting on this stage; you're not in jail, you don't have no needles in your arms, you didn't commit suicide, you didn't blow your brains out. You're sitting up here, intelligently having a conversation, two of us talking together, when the stats say that you should be locked up, you should be incarcerated, you should be a gang leader, you should be high, you should be crazy.

Look at you, look at what you did, look at who you became, look at who you are. And let's clap, yeah, this is the clapping that should have been in the football stand, this is the clapping that should have been at your graduation, this is the clapping that should have got you ready for the prom, this is the clapping that says you matter, this is the clapping that says you're doing a good job, this is a clapping that you've been craving to hear, this is a clapping that your soul's been thirsting for.

Look at what you did, look at what you did, look at what you did. Come here and give me a hug, look at what you did. Now receive it, you gotta receive it, you gotta receive it because what you've done is you've built up so many walls to protect yourself from pain that you won't let love in either. So you got to take your walls down that you built to protect you so that, when we clap for you, you can receive it. Because I see you trying to receive it and you want to receive it, but your walls have been up to protect your heart so long that you don't know how to let anything get to your heart. But we're going to clap for you again, and I want you to receive it, I want you to receive it.

Male: I'm 25, and, growing up, my father, he was present and he was able to provide, but there were times where I wasn't able to have discussions with him, like the conversations would be brief, and there wasn't a lot of transparency with that. And, as we both got older, as I got older and he started to go through health complications with cancer, there would be times where he wants to be more forthcoming with me, but there will be times where I notice myself not being forthcoming with him or being transparent or just being short. And my question relates to, why is it that with some fathers they have a hard time with being transparent early on, when the children are through their childhood? And as they get older, or if it's too late, they want to become more forthcoming with their child?

Bishop Jakes: It's never too late.

Male: Yeah.

Bishop Jakes: It's never too late; as long as he's living, it's never too late. The fact that you're uncomfortable with receiving it doesn't mean it can't happen. It's awkward, it's uncomfortable, but it's never too late. I'm going to explain to you why your father was the way he was, even though I don't know him, I can't speak for him. Generationally, I want you to understand. The civil rights movement happened in my parents' generation, okay? I was young, but they were adults in the civil rights movement. When my generation came along, we had opportunities to own homes, work jobs, and be something that our parents and grandparents couldn't imagine. So, we went at it like gorillas, trying to be something, in part to prove our other two-fifths of humanity. Yeah-yeah, because, constitutionally, they say we're three-fifths human.

So, we're still trying to prove we're human. And we've got rights we didn't have before and a chance to make the world better for you. So, we're busy trying to make the world better for you, trying to get the stuff that we just now got the right to get, okay? And we're scuffling so hard to get it with half the pay, we're trying to get it so hard, trying to give you things, in part because our generation doesn't think that giving you me is valuable and in part because we owe it to our parents to own what they marched for, okay? You must understand, at the time that your father had you he wasn't the age he is now, he was your age.

So he's scuffling trying to make his mark in the world and figure out marriage and figure out relationships and make everything work. What you wanted from him in terms of transparency was going to come, but it's not supposed to come when you're 7-8-9-10-12. Those kinds of conversations, of transparency, where he becomes vulnerable and shows you what's right and what's wrong with him, is the joys of having an adult son. It is amazing to have an adult son, because I am through disciplining you, I am through training you, I can now talk to you. If you overcome the propensity to shut down and imitate what you saw early in terms of nonverbal communication, you can become best friends. You have to talk to him because he's in you, he's in you. And you'll never fully understand certain things about yourself unless you talk to him or talk to people who knew him, because figuring yourself out is a journey; it's not an event, it's a lifelong journey.

I'm still learning me, I'm 64 years old and I'm still learning me, this is a lifelong educational process. What he will give you is clues, but it's hard to have time to give clues and pay the rent and pay the tuition and buy the clothes and spend time with mama, and my parents are aging and they're demanding from me, and you're demanding from me and your mama's demanding from me and my job is demanding from me, and I've only got 24 hours in a day, and I'm probably about 24-28-30 years old. He did not talk to you because of you. That's what you got to hear: It wasn't about you, it was about trying to be responsible, it was about trying to be dutiful, it was about trying to be a provider. If a man is at home all the time and he's a breadwinner, that's a bad sign. And the problem with being a father is, you can never get it 100.

If I give you time, we don't have money; if I get the money, you don't have me; I can't be there and earn a living at the same time, I'm limited, and I have an obligation to make sure your life is better than mine. That's part of it, am I right? Clap when I get it right. The difficult thing about being a father is that everybody wants it now; the kid wants it now, the wife wants it now, the job wants it now. The opportunity is now, because in your early years are your earning years, you're only gonna have so much health and strength before your body starts betraying you, so you're racing against the clock, trying to get everything settled, while you have the energy to get it done, before your body gives out. Now he's wrestling with cancer, so he can't do it now. If he didn't do it then, you wouldn't have had it.

So it's not that he's just now getting around to you because you weren't important, it's that he's just now getting around to you because the clock was ticking. We had affirmative action, we could now move into any community, we could now have a house with air conditioning. Y'all don't understand. See, all the things that you call normal were our miracles. We can now have a dishwasher, we can have a doorbell, we can have a yard with grass in it, we can have a couch and a guest room, look at us. See, y'all don't pay that no attention, but we didn't have that kind of stuff growing up.

I want some old folks that are clapping here with me. We did not have that kind of stuff. We can go to the grocery store and not clip coupons. We don't need Top Value stamps, and I know you don't know what they are, to be able to get anything we want. Your normal is your daddy's miracle, but the reason you don't see it is because it's normal. So, it's an Achilles's heel. It's the same thing I told him: Everything he worked to give you, you don't really fully value it because you grew up in it, it's your norm. And you're saying, "Why didn't you talk to me"?

I was working, I was gone, I was hustling, I was negotiating: I was trying to make sure they didn't foreclose on the house, I was trying to make sure that your school payments were made, I was trying to make sure that you had new tennis shoes when you went to school, I was trying to make sure that we had clean diapers to put on your butt, I didn't have time for a conversation. It wasn't that I didn't like you, it wasn't that I didn't want to talk to you, it was that I was busy providing because I knew that the clock was going to shut me down in a minute. And if I didn't get it done in that window of youth and strength and no backaches and no hip replacements and no heart attacks and no surgery, that's just a little bitty window.

Your strength, men, young men, hear me, please: Your strength is a short window where you are at maximum capacity, where you can go to work tired and still function, where you can function with no sleep, where you can still get it done, where you can still get everything done; that's just a short window. And every man that's worth his salt is running in through that window trying to get it done in that window, because I promised your mama and I promised my mama, and I told my grandmama that the march wasn't for nothing, that if the door got open, we would be something, we would move in, we would have the house our grandmamas dreamed about. And we got it, and we bought it, and we owned it, and you were born in it, but it's your normal and you can't see it, you only crave what you didn't get.

Now, I can't stop you from craving it, but I can explain it. It wasn't that there was something wrong with you, it wasn't that he didn't trust you, it wasn't that he didn't love you, he expressed his love by providing for you, okay? That does not replace talking to you, because you need to be talked to, but now he's trying to talk, not just because he has cancer, he's past that window. And now he's trying to talk to you, and you're kind of short with him, but you're short with him because you're mad with him, and you're mad with him because you thought he didn't trust you and he didn't like you. That wasn't why he did it, he was doing it for you, not to you. Do you see that? Good.
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