Failure to Launch

Failure to Launch

I believe that Father’s Day, the third Sunday in June, is a great opportunity to discuss fatherhood and leadership.  In 1966, President Johnson, by presidential proclamation, said “In our Nation, we look to fathers to provide the strength and stability which characterize the successful family.  If the father’s responsibilities are many, his rewards are also great -- the love, appreciation, and respect of his children and spouse.”  It may seem awkward to some to discuss leadership and fatherhood in the same breath. Yet there are many parallels, especially, from a biblical perspective. 

Research shows that great leaders possess numerous qualities needed for their success, and the success of the organizations they lead.  The table below compares some of the qualities of a great leader found in organizational and leadership research to qualities of fatherhood contained in the Bible, and identified in “11 Qualities of a Christian Father (

Leadership Qualities

Biblical Qualities of Fathers

  1. They empower the team and don’t micromanage

1. Parents, don’t come down too hard on your children or you’ll crush their spirits.  Colossians 3:21 (MSG)


  1. Express interest in the success and well-being of others

  1. Above all, be loving. This ties everything together perfectly. Colossians 3:14 (GW)
  1. Help with career development
  1. Bring up a child by teaching him the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn away from it. (Proverbs 22:6 (NLV).

  1. Create a culture of accountability
  1. Keep these words in your heart that I am telling you today.  Do your best to teach them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (NLV).



Of these qualities, accountability offers perhaps the greatest challenges, in fatherhood and leadership.  Whether you are a parent or a leader in any type of organization you will likely encounter situations where, for whatever reason, people either can’t or refuse to develop the skills necessary to function and succeed at the next level in their development.  What do we do and how can we handle it?

Accountability offers perhaps the greatest challenges, in fatherhood and leadership.

The movie “Failure to Launch” (1999) describes the dilemma faced by a set of parents whose 35-year-old son refuses to move out of their house. Does this sound familiar?   The “failure to launch” syndrome, an expansion of the movie, describes the difficulties that young adults encounter when transitioning into the next phase of development (Psychology Today, 2015).  It could be a young adult experiencing the inability to leave home and become self-sufficient or adjusting to the responsibilities and demands of employment; especially, in highly structured and demanding environments such as law enforcement or the military.   Consider these two situations as illustrations of the syndrome:

  1. Parents recently went to court to evict their son from home.  For eight years, prior to the eviction he lived in his parent’s home, paid no rent, did not contribute to the household, refused to look for a job, and failed to pay court ordered child support.  The parents even gave him $1,100 for an apartment. Finally, after five eviction notices they sued. On June 1st, the son complied with the order issued by a New York State Supreme Court judge to move out of his parents’ home. 
  2. The young private stood in formation thinking about his future.  The military was his way of bettering his chances in life; perhaps learning the discipline that had escaped him in his adolescence.  He had been told that he had potential, but he was having a hard time “adjusting to military life” and faced the likelihood of being discharged, or worse, if he didn’t get his act together. However, one day a miraculous transformation had taken place.  The private’s uniform was crisp, his hair cut short, and his boots highly shined.  When asked about his transformation, the private explained that the Colonel had taken him to the Personnel Confinement Facility (PCF).  As they toured the facility, the Colonel explained that this is where prisoners were held before being transferring to a military prison.  They had stopped in front of a cell that contained all his belongings, including his mother’s picture.  The Private yelled that’s my stuff in there, and the Colonel responded, “That’s right and if you don’t get your act together this is where you will spend the rest of your time in the military.  In shock, the Private responded; “Sir, no one ever explained it to me that way before.”

Hebrews 13:17 (CEB) tells us to “rely on your leaders and defer to them, because they watch over your whole being as people who are going to be held responsible for you. They need to be able to do this with pleasure and not with complaints about you, because that wouldn’t help you.”

The parents took their son to court, and the Colonel took the young private to the PCF.  They weren’t being mean or uncaring. I believe they were saying we love and care about you too much to let this go on. I believe the leaders exercised the love, honesty and courage needed for the development of others (children, employees, spouse, and self).    As Bill Hull said (The Disciple-Making Pastor):

“To believe you can make disciples or develop true maturity in others without some form of accountability is like believing that you can raise children without discipline, run a company without rules, or lead and army without authority.

As fathers and leaders, when we help develop the maturity needed for growth, we must demonstrate love by honestly telling them what needs to be done (i.e. get a job, take care of your child, be a better soldier, etc.), and have the courage needed to hold them accountable; and most importantly remember Colossians 3:14 (GW):

Above all, be loving. This ties everything together perfectly.

Challenge:  Make the commitment to look at how you hold yourself and others accountable.  As a leader, serve those you lead by giving them the feedback and guidance they need to succeed.  As a Father remember, Proverbs 22:6 (MSG):

Point your kids in the right direction—

    when they’re old they won’t be lost.

Don’t forget to turn to “Our Father” for guidance.  Remember that if you do this faithfully you not only fulfill the original intent for the Father’s Day celebration; you demonstrate your love, appreciation and respect for God.  Isn’t that better than a card? 

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Gilbert Camacho

Gilbert Camacho serves as President, Organizational Leadership Solutions, a management consulting firm, based in Melbourne, Florida.  Gilbert is a certified Lead Like Jesus Facilitator with extensive leadership experience in the private, public and non-profit sectors.  He has been a contributing author to the Lead Like Jesus Blog for almost 3 years writing monthly on such issues as servant leadership, accountability, trust and integrity.  Gilbert s a sought-after Speaker, Trainer, and Executive Coach.  Gilbert is a Registered Shared Neutral (Mediator) with the State Supreme Court of Georgia.  He recently retired an Associate Director for the Human Resources Office at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.  Gilbert has been married to his best friend, Annie, for almost 40 years.  Together they have raised two beautiful daughters, Holley and Logan.