Kendall Qualls’ future looked bleak. Facing limited options, his newly divorced mom moved her five children into housing project squalor in Harlem, NY. It was the 1960’s. The grimy stairwells reeked, and dark hallways hid lethargic addicts. She did the best she could and never failed to remind him, “I love you, and God loves you!”

Qualls’ siblings failed to thrive. Drug use, overdose, and prison tell their stories. Unable to cope, his mom committed suicide. But before this, his story followed a different plot: college, ROTC, and a commission in the U.S. Army. What made the difference? Qualls saw a model of how life could be different. He had an uncle who worked hard to provide for his wife and children. He also sat under the preaching of Tony Evans at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas. That’s where he met Jesus. That’s the rest of his story. He learned to forgive his father. He and his wife raised five children.

After the Army, Qualls found success. He finished his career as global Vice President of a Fortune 50 company. He founded the nonprofit TakeCharge to advance a different perspective on the problems and solutions that families face. “We do not have a systemic race problem in America,” he declares. “We have a fatherless home problem.” He witnessed that firsthand.

Fathers matter.  Classic TV recognized that. Ward Cleaver, Andy Taylor, and Cliff Huxtable may be idealized portrayals, but they aren’t wrong. Fathers can be firm but loving, wise but playful. Basic fathering is to be present and available. But the inside track to being a good father is to know your Heavenly Father.

That’s how God reveals Himself. “A father of the fatherless… is God in His holy habitation” (Psa. 68:5). Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father, who art in heaven.” Chris Tomlin sings, “You tell me that You’re pleased and that I’m never alone. You’re a good, good Father. It’s who You Are. I’m loved by You. It’s who I am.” Amen.

Qualls is right. Everyone needs a good Father.