In today’s blog, we will consider how responsible, civic-minded men and fathers are essential in making our communities better places for children and families. Male marriage partners can contribute to stable family environments. When engaged beyond their families, men can provide positive role models for young boys and girls in the broader community. Men can actively participate in community organizations and initiatives. Studies suggest that communities with higher levels of male involvement in family and community life have lower rates of crime and violence. Community fathers can lead the way in promoting cross-cultural harmony by setting examples of peacemaking. These are essential ingredients for stability and safety in a community.

Positive Impacts of Strong Community Fathering

Role models and mentors

Responsible men can provide positive role models, showcasing healthy masculinity, work ethic, and responsible behavior for young boys and girls. This can increase self-esteem, educational attainment, and reduced involvement in risky behaviors.

Family stability and support

Fathers and responsible male partners can contribute to stable family environments linked to improved child development, emotional well-being, academic success, and reduced childhood poverty. This stability can also benefit broader community well-being through reduced crime and social problems.

Community engagement and leadership

Responsible men can actively participate in community organizations, initiatives, and leadership roles. This can improve social cohesion, problem-solving, and resource allocation within communities.

Reduced crime and violence

Studies suggest that communities with higher levels of male involvement in family and community life have lower rates of crime and violence. This may be due to various factors, including positive role models, reduced social and economic disparities, and increased community cohesion.

Combatting Negative Stereotypes

The presence of mature, responsible, and wholesome male figures actively engaged in communities can counter the powerful, harmful male images prevalent in culture.

  • Absent fathers, incarcerated individuals, or men involved in criminal activity can contribute to negative stereotypes and create challenges for young men seeking positive role models.
  • Many of the male movie characters on television and in movies present an unhealthy portrayal of manhood.
  • Much of popular music and music videos feature violence by men and hatred of, aversion to, or prejudice against women.  
  • The normalization, even glorification of thug life, drug dealing, and other behaviors that characterize worldly lifestyles can be attractive to young people who are not exposed to righteous living – and even to some who are.    

These reasons and others make it important for wholesome men to be community-minded, active, and visible in their neighborhoods and institutions.  

Getting Involved

Men can get involved in their communities and positively impact in countless ways. Here are a few ideas to get you started, categorized by interest area:

1. Mentoring and Youth Development:

  • Become a Big Brother or Big Sister. Big Brothers Big Sisters pairs adult mentors with children facing adversity. Spending time with a young person can be incredibly rewarding and provide them with much-needed support and guidance.
  • Join a My Brothers Keeper movement in your community, or start one.
  • Coach a youth sports team. Share your love of sports and help young athletes develop their skills and practice teamwork.
  • Volunteer at a community center or after-school program. Assist with homework, organize activities, and provide a safe space for kids to learn and grow.
  • Mentor young men. Share your personal and professional experiences with young men looking for guidance.

2. Community Beautification and Environmental Service:

  • Join a park cleanup or tree-planting day. Help keep your local parks and green spaces clean and healthy.
  • Volunteer at a community garden. Grow fresh produce for those in need and learn about sustainable gardening practices.
  • Help build or maintain trails or bike paths. Promote outdoor recreation and healthy living in your community.
  • Organize a neighborhood clean-up project. Bring your neighbors together to improve the appearance of your community.

3. Supporting Vulnerable Populations:

  • Volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Serve meals and provide companionship to those in need.
  • Become a foster parent or a mentor of at-risk youth. Provide a safe and loving home or guidance to children facing challenges.
  • Volunteer at a senior center or nursing home. Spend time with elderly individuals and help combat loneliness.
  • Support organizations that work with specific populations. Get involved with causes you care about, such as a father’s group, veterans’ group, or disability rights organizations.

4. Sharing Skills and Knowledge:

  • Teach a class or a workshop. Share your expertise in a subject you’re passionate about, such as cooking, woodworking, or financial literacy.
  • Offer free legal or financial advice. Help low-income individuals access essential services.
  • Provide career counseling or job coaching. Assist people in finding employment or advancing their careers.
  • Become a tutor or literacy volunteer. Help children and adults improve their reading and writing skills.

5. Advocating for Change:

  • Join a local advocacy group or committee. Work to address issues that matter to you, such as education reform, affordable housing, or environmental protection.
  • Contact your elected officials. Make your voice heard on important issues and hold your representatives accountable.
  • Organize or participate in peaceful protests or rallies. Raise awareness about important causes and advocate for change.
  • Support organizations that work on systemic issues. Donate your time or money to organizations tackling the root causes of social problems.

Remember, even small acts of service can make a big difference in your community. Find something you’re passionate about and get involved!

Here are some additional tips for getting involved in your community:

  • Talk to your neighbors and friends. See what they’re involved in and find out if any local organizations or initiatives need your help.
  • Contact your local government. Many cities and towns have volunteer programs or community engagement initiatives.
  • Search online. Many websites list volunteer opportunities in your area.
  • Don’t be afraid to try something new. Step outside your comfort zone and explore new ways to make a difference.

For more ideas for servant leadership in your community and help set up a Fathering Strong Dad’s community, chat with me on the Fathering Strong app or email ewilliams@urbanight.org.   

The Christian Mandate

If you are a Christ follower, there are teachings in the Holy Bible that instruct us to be community servants motivated by love and obedience.

Instruction from the Holy Scriptures

13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:13-16 NKJV

Working for Healthy Community

This teaching of Jesus Christ instructs His followers to impact their community positively. As salt preserves unrefrigerated meat, our presence should make our communities healthier as we serve as preservers of order, stability, peace, and prosperity.  As society descends into increasing spiritual darkness, the active presence of Christ’s followers should be a bright light to attract those who seek Him.

Caring for Fellow Community Members

The Great Commandment requires that God’s people love the Lord their God and their neighbors as themselves (Deut. 6:5). How are we to demonstrate love for God? Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15).” He has commanded us to love one another as He has loved us (John 13:34). Love of neighbor looks like feeding the hungry, visiting prisoners, sheltering the homeless (Matt. 25:31-44), caring for widows and orphans (James 1:27), working for justice (Mic. 6:8), and other acts of kindness (Eph. 4:32).

Making Peace

The Savior promised, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God (Matthew 5:9).” With the growing social divisions, peacemakers are desperately needed. Being a peacemaker is a noble calling; even small actions can make a big difference.

Some practical ways of making peace include:

Communication:

  • Active listening. Truly listen to people’s concerns and perspectives without interrupting or judging. Ask clarifying questions to ensure understanding.
  • Empathy. Try to see things from the other person’s point of view. Acknowledge their feelings and validate their experiences.
  • Calm and assertive communication. Use “I” statements to express your own needs and boundaries while respecting the other person’s right to theirs. Avoid inflammatory language and accusations.
  • Mediation. When two people are in conflict, offer to facilitate a conversation by helping them identify common ground and potential solutions.

De-escalation:

  • Identify triggers. Notice what tends to escalate situations and try to address those factors first. This could involve offering space, changing the subject, or proposing a break in the conversation.
  • Focus on common ground. Remind people of shared values or goals that can be a foundation for building understanding.
  • Humor and kindness. A well-timed joke or gesture of goodwill can break the tension and create a more positive atmosphere.

Proactive peacebuilding:

  • Promote inclusivity. Encourage diverse perspectives and celebrate differences as strengths.
  • Address prejudice and discrimination. Speak up against harmful stereotypes and advocate for fairness and equality.
  • Build bridges. Create opportunities for people from different backgrounds to interact and build relationships.
  • Lead by example. Model respectful communication and conflict resolution skills in your own interactions.

Remember:

  • Practice patience. Peacemaking is a process, not a quick fix. It takes time and effort to build trust and understanding.
  • Choose your battles. Don’t try to mediate every conflict. Sometimes, stepping back and letting others work things out independently is the best approach.
  • Take care of yourself. Being a peacemaker can be emotionally draining. Make sure to prioritize your own well-being by setting boundaries, practicing self-care, and seeking support when needed.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. There are many ways to be a peacemaker; the most important thing is to act with compassion, courage, and a genuine desire to create a more harmonious world for children.

Working for Unity

Beginning within the local church and extending to the surrounding faith community, Christ-followers are responsible for maintaining oneness. Our directive is to make every effort to keep ourselves united in the Spirit (Eph. 4:3). Like peacemaking, working for unity is a process that takes time and patience. It is a part of spiritual warfare (2 Cor. 10:4) and requires supernatural help. Jesus prayed to our Father that He would help us be one (John 17:20-23). As men and community fathers, we can lead by example in this. In doing so, we can model for youth and our pre-believing neighbors what genuine brotherly love looks like (John 13:25).

Read the other blog posts on the impact fathers make in a community:

Educational Impact: How Fathers Make a Difference in Schools

Fathers: The Missing Pillars in Faith Communities – Why Your Presence Matters Now More Than Ever

Join

We invite you to join this new and growing community of fathers, Fathering Strong. To register, go to www.fatheringstrong.com, download the free app, and turn on the notifications. Explore the many resources, engage in conversations with other fathers, and share your story.

Your financial contributions allow us to serve fathers at no cost. Please consider donating. Fathering Strong is powered by Urban Light Ministries, Inc., a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 in Springfield, Ohio. Our mission is to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to the Heavenly Father.  Click here to donate. To learn more about Urban Light Ministries’ history, work, and mission, explore www.urbanlight.org.