When asked why I believe so firmly that men matter, my response is often, “I came in through the back door.” The first truth I became aware of is that men far too often have  a harmful effect on others disproportionate to their numbers.

Roughly half the world’s population is male. We might assume then that roughly half the rapes, murders, thefts and other acts of violence are perpetrated by men, and half by women. We don’t even need to refer to evidence to know that assumption is absurd.

But, the evidence is overwhelming. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe data show that in the U.S. and Europe, 85% of people convicted of assault are men; 90% of murders are committed by men. Men are by far the principal perpetrators of rape, war, torture, incest, sexual abuse, sexualized murder, and genocide. If we are paying attention to world events, we already intuitively know this.

Years ago I worked for a missionary organization which had one of the best pre-field candidate training programs in the country at the time. In addition to preparing those who were going to the field, we staff members took seriously our responsibility to hold back those candidates who, in the opinion of our staff and Christian counselors, had personal, emotional or relational issues that needed to be resolved, and hopefully healed, before going to any cross-cultural assignment.

Over a period of several years, with 2-3 training sessions of 20-40 candidates per session, we noticed a clear, undeniable, consistent pattern: regardless the issue, regardless the gender or marital status of the candidate, the key figure in the middle of their pain was almost always their father.

Dozens of times, with men and women from a wide variety of religious, economic and cultural backgrounds, when I encountered deeply wounded young adults I heard a message spoken into my ear, “Craig, it’s about her father…Craig, ask him about his dad.”

What I, as a young father at the time, couldn’t deny was the profound impact for destruction and harm men, and especially fathers, have on others. It led me to question and challenge my own child-raising, evaluating what pain or sinful patterns I might be laying in the laps of my children. I was deeply convicted by the answers I couldn’t deny. And I committed myself to making some changes.

To this day those words go directly to my own core, and they reveal the pain I see in many men’s lives: It’s about the father.

That’s the bad news, men are far more prone than women to sowing seeds of destruction into the lives of others; none with more lasting effect than fathers. Yet, to the extent men  are capable of bringing damage into the lives of others, to that same extent they are capable of bringing blessing.

In embracing the message that Men Matter, I came in first through the “back door,” the bad news, that men sow disproportionate violence in our world. The “front door,” is that those same men, can become “wounded healers” (in the words of Dan Allender) and can sow just as deep and far-reaching seeds for blessing.

That’s Part II, the good news.