FOREWORD BY CHUCK COLSON
To call Gregory Slayton’s life “full” would be an understatement. He spent much of his twenties helping people throughout the developing world: He was a Fulbright Scholar to Asia, ran an orphanage in Manila, spearheaded micro-credit programs in Southeast Asia, and was a World Vision regional manager in West Africa. In his thirties, he became a leader in the rise of Silicon Valley, both as a master of turning good ideas into very profitable ones and as a venture capitalist. His work was the basis for a number of case studies at the Harvard Business School. He followed that season of life by becoming a diplomat. He was named the United States Consul General and Chief of Mission to Bermuda by President George W. Bush. His work made him the first Republican in history to receive the Distinguished Foreign Service Award from members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Yet it is clear to anyone who knows Slayton that all of these accomplishments pale in comparison to his commitment to Christ and his love for his family.
It is these commitments that lie behind Be a Better Dad Today! When Slayton calls fatherhood “the most important job in the world,” he is not mouthing a greeting card platitude. He knows the difference that a father’s absence can make in the life of a child. As do I. The past three decades have given me a close-up look at the consequences of the collapse of the family in the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century. In my visits to 800 prisons, I have seen what happens to many kids who have no dads: Looking for male role models, which all boys need, they turn to the gangs. At first I thought that turning these young men around would be a simple matter, such as building discipleship groups. But what I soon discovered was that we were building prisons faster than Prison Fellowship or anyone else could get to them. So I started studying the causes of crime. I read Richard J. Herrnstein and James Q. Wilson’s Crime and Human Nature, which, in a nutshell, says that crime is caused by the lack of moral training in the morally formative years.
This should not come as a surprise to Christians. After all, Proverbs 22:6 tells us to “train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (NIV). Yet, if you look at our prisons, it is clear that many children are not receiving that training — not because their mothers didn’t try to teach them right from wrong, but because that kind of training requires a mother and a father.
The link between crime and fatherlessness is undeniable, as are the links between the lack of a father and a whole host of what social scientists call “adverse outcomes.” Yet our society persists in treating family formation and structure as something malleable that can be shaped to suit our predilections. Gregory Slayton knows better. That is why he calls being a father “the most important job in the world.” It is why he started an online community for American Dads called Fellowship of Fathers. It is why he wrote Be a Better Day Today! What you are about to read isn’t theory—it is every bit as practical as it is vital. It is the kind of thing that can change lives and communities.
- Chuck Colson Founder Prison Fellowship & the Center for Christian Worldview