Lance’s Descent Teaches Us About Being a Dad

Lance Armstrong had a lot riding on his reputation.

His story was so inspiring. He was so easy to cheer for and admire. You might respect what he accomplished on a bicycle, which was unprecedented … the stuff of legend. Combine that with the fact that he’s a cancer survivor and “livestrong” activist, he and the yellow wristbands have been an inspiration to millions around the world.

But now it appears that’s all gone. The courageous hero has been exposed as something much less noble, and possibly even criminal.

Lance is an easy target right now, and it’s not my purpose to try to bury him or the other professional cyclists who admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs. Years ago, the Center actually applauded Lance because he was a great story and he appeared to be a committed dad. For us, it always comes back to the powerful influence of a father, and it grieves us to see men using that power irresponsibly.

Surely Lance Armstrong will get by even without a good reputation in the eyes of the public. It’s a tragic development for cancer patients—many of whom viewed him as a hero—and we can hope that community continues to gain momentum.

But more than anything, this is about what he is surely losing with his children in terms of character and integrity. That’s where his reputation matters most, and they have to be questioning their dad’s character. If not today, they will some day.

It shows once again that although results are important, how we achieved those results and how we handled ourselves along the way are even more important. Great results attained by dishonesty or taking shortcuts really aren’t great results, right?

This speaks directly to consistency—living in a way that sets an example for our children to follow. And it starts with dads, each of us, getting our act together. We are always setting an example; and we have to be intentional about making sure it’s a good example.

As men, we have to guard our integrity. We can do honorable things with our lives, help thousands of people and be great men 99 percent of the time, but it only takes one bad mistake to bring it all crashing down. We can’t be too careful when it comes to doing the right thing. One poor decision or indiscretion could cost each of us dearly. We should eliminate or avoid anything we wouldn’t want to show up in our children’s lives.

Try to avoid any situation that would be hard to explain if one of your children showed up. You can’t always control their choices, but you can do something about yours! Pay attention to what your kids are picking up from you, and make corrections where you can.

Also, when you’re separated from your kids for days or weeks, or only for hours during the day, commit yourself to integrity all the time. Doing what’s right in your work, having high character, and treating people with dignity all make you a better man, which makes you a better father. It’s all connected! How you carry yourself in your other areas of life will spill over to your kids. Even when life is against you or if your kids’ mom is making your life difficult, do the right thing. In the long run, your kids will notice and appreciate you for maintaining a high reputation and a virtuous life

Dad, you too have a lot riding on your reputation! Character is everything.

Please share: It’s easy to see and judge mistakes by public figures. How have YOU made changes in your life so you can set a better example for your kids? Join the discussion either below or on our Facebook page.

ACTION POINTS for Dads on the Journey

  • Tell your wife or a close friend one habit you’re going to change because you want to be a better dad.
  • When you’ve been cruel or insensitive to your child, be quick to confess your mistake, apologize, and talk about better ways to handle those situations.
  • What kind of man do you want your son to be? What kind of man do you hope your daughter marries someday? Be that kind of man!
  • How do you handle frustration and anger? Check out our articles here and here, which should be helpful.
  • Think of positive virtues that your children need to develop, and intentionally start new habits that will demonstrate those virtues.

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There may be no more important work than turning the hearts of fathers to their children, and that’s what this is all about. We’re seeking to repair, rebuild and restore effective fathering for the benefit of children and families everywhere.