Gary Collins Newsletter #393 – DONALD MILLER KEEPS WRITING

Shortly after it appeared in 2003 I read Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality. I connected with Miller’s hang loose, down-to-earth, sometimes unorthodox writing style and ways of sharing about Jesus and spirituality. I gave copies to my friends and did the same when Miller wrote A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. That book is about looking at our lives where they are now and living out a new, better, life story from this point forward.

I had not read Miller’s book on growing up without a father until this month when the original (2006) book appeared with a new title, Father Fiction: Chapters for a Fatherless Generation. We all know people who lost their fathers early in life or whose fathers abandoned their families and left their kids to navigate life without a father’s guidance or example. Other fathers never left home but disappeared into their careers so the families were psychologically abandoned. Miller is “raw and candid” as he writes about these topics, moving “from self-pity and brokenness to hope and strength, highlighting a path for millions who are floundering in an age without positive male role models.” How many counselees, coaching clients, or colleagues struggle with father loss and could benefit from discussion of this topic? Now I’m giving copies of Father Fiction to people like these without dads.

Father loss is a relevant issue with wide counseling, ministry and leadership implications. Even President Obama (who grew up without a father) has highlighted the impact of father loss. People building is about walking with people, including those without fathers, who sometimes walk alone or could use fresh perspectives from others who are further along on their life journeys. We can learn from from Donald Miller, including his ability to tell stories and connect with his audience. With a greater personal and spiritual maturity than we saw in earlier books, Miller writes a lively discourse that can benefit us personally and as people builders.

How have you dealt with father loss, personally or in working with others? Please click below on write comment and let us know.


  1. Father loss for me has included a too busy father, one who loved his congregation more then his children, and one who physically abused his daughters (thankfully not sexually). I’ve had lots of inner healing, counseling and prayer. But what I long for still, is the wise and loving input from a father who cares about me and the details of my life.
    It would be great to have the input of an older father-figure who can provide a wise and caring sounding board for ideas and concerns.
    God is my Father and I’m growing in my relationship with Him, but sometimes I long to talk with and listen to a real live fatherly figure.
    Affirmation, assurance and godly counsel could be very valuable gifts the more mature among us could offer a younger fatherless generation.


    1. Sandi,

      This is a great post. Part of Donald Miller’s growth came when a family took him in for three or four years and he had contact with a substitute father. Miller’s book, by the way, is written for men who did not have fathers but it is broad and insightful in it’s perspective so it can be very helpful to guys who did have dads and to any women who want to read it. My wife, for example, saw the book on my desk, read it, and really liked it.


  2. As a 73 year old father I have spend my life in counseling and till to day I am full time busy.I have a good relationship with my 4 daughters yet I do not consider myself to be an ideal father, but I am according them, a good father. I have also several ‘spiritual adopted daughters’ and for many others I am a father figure, This makes me deeply grateful. I appreciate what you write Gary. Keep doing what you are doing so well.


  3. I lost my biological father exactly a month ago. Although we were not very close, as my parents got divorced when I was a teenager, losing him did affect me in a very usual way. I had the question in my heart “why couldn’t you be a father for me”, so my sadness really came more from what he was not for me rather than from losing him physically. It might sound selfish but I think there is a need deep in our hearts for that father blessing that we see that others receive.

    I read Donald Miller’s book a year or so ago and I could really relate to what he wrote.

    I have had the blessing of two mentors in my life. They are two godly men who have taken the time to encourage me and cheer me on my path towards Christian maturity and in my profession as a psychologist. They have invested in me time, resources, prayers and much more. I am very thankful that through them, God has shown himself faithful providing a father to the fatherless.


  4. Thank you for writing about this. Growing up without a dad is a terribly painful thing, and it leaves a hole that lasts quite a while. I don’t know if some holes will be filled this side of heaven, but I am grateful for he men out there who swallow inconvenience and take the initiative to help kids growing up without fathers.



  5. Definately a book I will want to read. My father was present and did the best he knew how but somewhere along the way seemed more comfortable in a coffee shop full of strangers than at home with the family.

    As a father of two young children, I am so hopeful that, in spite the many mistakes I make along the way, my children will never be fatherless.

    It is one thing to look back on what I wish I had (even to this day) and another to look forward and do everything I can to make sure that I do what I would have wished.


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