The “B” team. We never give them credit.

When the starting quarterback goes down, we cringe. The backup running back or receiver makes us shudder—is the game over? And really, how good can those guys be if they sit the bench?

But there is a time in a guy’s life when it’s good to be on the B team—when being the backup really makes an impact. 

NEXT MAN UP

Each of us had a dad. But not everyone has a father.

Some of us need a replacement dad. A backup. Someone to step into our lives and play “next man up.”

Or—maybe someone is waiting for YOU to get off the sidelines.

My dad didn’t exactly win “Father of the Year."  For most of his life he didn’t even try to compete. I was primarily raised by a single mom after grade school. There was no dad to look to, wisdom to glean from or behavior to model. In many ways I had no idea what it really meant to “be a man.”

Thank God for the B Team.

THE KID NEXT DOOR

In high school, a neighbor named Richard stepped in. He talked to me. And listened. He invited me on errands with him and I helped him with stuff at his house. He actually helped me buy my first car and became a close family friend. Only years later would I realize the important role he played in those pivotal years. He took a young kid under his wing, giving me attention and affirmation, even though I was blind to my need for it. 

PROVIDING A COMPASS

Then there was Peter and Harold. Two of the best men I have ever known.

On the surface they were bosses at different jobs—but they were so much more than that. They were examples of character, leadership and understanding that I had never seen. And both became sources of counsel when my life was in the crucible. Beyond that, they encouraged me and believed in me. I didn’t know I had special talents, gifts and abilities. My feeble words don’t give justice to the impact they had on me.

A DAD MYSELF

Now I’m a dad myself, but I still have men like Walt and Jerry to meet with. They’re empty nesters and can speak volumes about parenting or keeping a marriage strong while you have kids. And honestly, not every meeting is a treasure trove of wisdom. It’s just fun to talk football and families and just hang out. My dad passed away a few years ago, but I still have the influence of some older guys in my life.

PLAYING TWO POSITIONS

All of us have an opportunity to play two positions. We can be the starter at home, and a backup somewhere else. There is always room on the bench.

There are other dads out there like me, who didn’t have a strong father figure in their life. They need someone to step up and become a friend, sounding board, mentor or someone who simply models what being a strong father and husband looks like--in the good and bad times. Nobody ever outgrows the need for advice and encouragement.

Plus there are kids all around us growing up in single parent or dysfunctional, destructive homes. The starter is out of the game in their life. They need to know someone believes in them—or frankly even cares. There are voids of attention, affirmation, guidance. Some of them don’t know what a healthy home looks like, where a dad and a mom are still married.

I know a couple of guys with teens who have made their home the neighborhood “fun house.” They’ve proudly taken second place on the depth chart.

Kids in the area can drop by, hang out, talk and just interact in a healthy environment. Plus, every day those kids see positive interactions between husband and wife, and parent and child—made possible because of the B Team.

I hope to shine as the starter in my family and keep upping my game. I hope we all can. But I don’t want to forget about the other ways I can impact another life, and how being a backup can help make someone else a future starter. I know firsthand the difference it can make.

I’m saving you a seat on the bench. 


Patrick Dunn
 is a contributor for Dad Matters and the Senior Producer of TV and Webcasts at Focus on the Family. 

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