“Goose is dead.”

Those fateful words, spoken by Commander Mike ‘Viper’ Metcalf, were a crushing blow to Lt. Pete Mitchell.  Mitchell, known by call sign “Maverick,” already knew that Goose had been killed during a cockpit ejection.  It threw the F-14 pilot’s life into a tailspin.  Although the board of inquiry clears Maverick of responsibility, he feels guilty for Goose's death, losing his own aggressiveness for flying. Maverick, whose “…ego was writing checks his body can’t cash,” refused to get back into the saddle.

The movie? Top Gun.  Soon after graduating from fighter weapons school, Maverick, along with  Iceman/Slider and wingmen Hollywood/Wolfman, were deployed back to sea aboard the USS Enterprise to deal with a crisis situation. Their orders were to defend a communication ship which had become disabled in enemy waters and to return fire if attacked by hostile Soviet assets in the area. Iceman and Hollywood were the first two US planes in the air, and they quickly encountered five Soviet MiG-28 aircraft determined to shoot them down. Hollywood’s aircraft gets hit, leaving Iceman to fend for himself until help arrives. That “help” was a paralyzed Maverick, who was coming to the rescue by himself, due to a catapult failure aboard the carrier.

As Maverick spots Iceman below facing five-against-one odds, and with a strange guy seated behind him, he simply pulls the plug.

“Maverick’s disengaged!” shouts Slider.

To me, no word is more impactful, or personal, than the word “disengage.”   Those who have served or are serving in the military know the word “disengage” means “to withdraw forces from close action.”

In the world we live in, it means to “check out.”

In the past few months, the news has been filled with several shootings at schools, movie theaters, and in the streets of our nation’s cities by young men—mere boys.  If we were to lay out all of these acts of violence and compare them side-by-side, there are several similarities. But, the one thing they all have in common is the role models of the shooters.  Those role models were rappers, action movies, comics, and violent video games.  It would be easy to respond by pointing to those influences and say “that’s what’s wrong” or “it’s the ease of access to weapons.”

However, our problem is not the weapons, it is boys without boundaries whose fathers have “disengaged.”

"Don't fail to correct your children. You won't kill them by being firm, and it may even save their lives,” says Proverbs 23:13-14 (CEV)

Men, you are the leaders of your families. You might be reluctant to assume that role. You might even deny that it falls to you. Nonetheless, you are your family’s leader, whether you choose to believe it or not.

Leaders are always the highest-priority targets in any war.  Satan knows that if he can kill the commander, the troops will be easier to defeat. Cut off the head and the body dies. In case you missed it, the body in this analogy is your family—you are the head. You are needed.

You may not think of yourself as being particularly influential or even successful in life. Maybe you don’t make a lot of money, lead a large group of people, save lives, or invent amazing gadgets. Maybe life has even beaten you down, and you’ve lost confidence in your abilities. Consequently, you don’t think of yourself as a big deal. But you can bet your boy does. He thinks you’re a very big deal. He doesn’t know or care what the outside world thinks. He only knows that between the walls of your home, you are about the biggest, wisest, most powerful person alive. Oh, he knows you’re not perfect. But he doesn’t care, because you’re just good enough to be indispensable in his life.

Our pastor was fifty before he finally quit believing that his own dad could whip King Kong Bundy, were he to pay their home a hostile visit.  Yeah, dads are a big deal.


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