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All Pro Dad

I often write about how the lack of fathers is affecting the next generation. Research continues to show us that our entire society suffers when fathers are missing. Whether a father is physically absent or is in the home but emotionally unengaged, the outcomes are unfortunately very similar.

I was very excited when I heard that my friend Mark Merrill was writing a book designed to address this problem.  Mark is the founder and president of Family First, a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the family. Mark recently released his new book, All Pro Dad: Seven Essentials to Be a Hero to Your Kids.

In All Pro Dad, Mark states that the two most important fundamentals of fatherhood are love and leadership. In order for a man to execute these fundamentals, he needs to know the following seven essentials.

The 7 “M’s” of an All Pro Dad

  • Know Your Makeup: Understand your true identity
  • Know Your Mind-set: Not just a provider and protector. Job is to love and lead your children.
  • Know Your Motive: If you don’t have good motives, will make bad decisions for your children.
  • Know Your Method: Build memorable “monuments.”
  • Know You’re A Model: Integrity is what you do when no one else is looking.
  • Know Your Message: What is your message? We need to teach our kids to love and serve others.
  • Know Your Master: Who or what are you living for? The gravitational pull of your source of happiness will influence your children.

All Pro Dad is filled with practical ideas and encouragement for fathers to embrace their unique role and execute the fundamentals of fatherhood with excellence. If you are a father or know one who could use this book, I cannot encourage you enough to check out All Pro Dad.

Mark Merrill hosts Family Minute with Mark Merrill and blogs regularly at You can also follow him on Twitter (@MarkMerrill).

Mark has graciously provided 3 copies of All Pro Dad to giveaway. Leave a comment below to enter for a chance to win. We’ll randomly choose 3 lucky people to win a free copy. Just answer this question: which of the 7 “M’s” of an All Pro Dad is the most challenging for fathers today? Why?


  1. Craig Owens on June 15, 2012 at 5:37 am

    I always want to try to get better as a Dad, so I’d love to read this book!

    I think the biggest M is “motive.” I encounter men who are biological fathers, but don’t have the right motive to become emotionally- and physically-present Dads. I think this is the biggest difference between “father” and “Dad.” (Which is why I’m glad to see this book called “All-Star Dad”!)

  2. Eric Davis on June 15, 2012 at 6:37 am

    Know Your Method: Build memorable “monuments” is the most difficult in today’s culture. Our kids live in such a throw away culture that tells them not to look back at the monuments but rather keep pressing forward to the latest and great thing. As dads it is hard to find the right context in which to develop the monuments, encourage your kid to remember the monuments, and apply the monuments to their daily walk with Christ.

  3. David on June 15, 2012 at 7:00 am

    I’d guess the toughest things for dad’s to do is know thier message. Most of us Dads are glad to spend time with our kids and we are all trying to live with integrity but I think most of us just don’t have a central message. We might have tips and tricks for various problems but we struggle with what to teach our children on a larger scale.

    Love the book. Look forward to reading it.

  4. Eric on June 15, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Being a Model for your children and others is a BIG challenge. 

    The enemy is seeking who he can devour and without accountability and commitment (which are both lacking in our culture and even the Church) we will never be able to stand against temptation and be men of integrity. Our children need to know that we are men of our word and that there is reality behind what they see on Sunday morning.

    • Mark Merrill on June 18, 2012 at 9:01 pm

      Eric, modelling integrity is so important! Thanks for sharing that.

  5. James on June 15, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Enjoyed the sample on my Nook; always looking for ways to be a better Dad to our 3 children. Keep up the good work, Mark!

  6. Joseph Lalonde on June 15, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    I would have to say it’s “Know your Makeup.” Too many fathers (and people in general) lack the knowledge of who they are. They’ve become automatons that go through the daily motions. 

    • Mark Merrill on June 18, 2012 at 9:03 pm

      Joe, so true that many men really don’t understand their true identity and their incredible value for who they are….made in the image of God.

  7. jovid52 on June 15, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    I would say Message. There are too many distractions and opportunities to cloud our point of views and this directly impacts our actions.

  8. Jake Portugal on June 15, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    Know your Master has to be the toughest. America is quickly moving into an atheistic society & without Jesus Christ at the top of our lives, our children will suffer. The other 6 M’s become that more difficult if Knowing your Master is not accomplished.

  9. Kprainjr on June 15, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    Know your Master! We dads needs to always be conscious of the fact that we have a God in Heaven who has placed us in this incredible role… and He desires for us to be an example of the loving Heavenly Father to our wives and children. Drop the ego, and lead in humility. 

    • Mark Merrill on June 18, 2012 at 9:08 pm

      The Master is our Perfect Father. Thanks for your comments, Kprainjr

  10. Shawn R on June 15, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    You could build an argument for each being the most challenging in today’s world.

    I think Message has to head the list. In today’s world it is very easy for kids to be bombarded with messages from so many sources. We as fathers not only need to focus onthe quality of the message we’re imparting to our children, but we also need to contend with and find ways to ensure our message stands out, especially if that message is counter to popular culture. When we were kids it was challenging to not follow the crowd and have the fortitude to be different. While my kids are young, I can already see it is much harder today.

  11. Scott on June 15, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    I think the most challenging “M” for fathers tody is Makeup. It’s hard for us to look deep within. Ourselves. We tend to put all of our family members before ourselves and don’t do the hard work of understanding who we are firs as men.

  12. Jamesnordine on June 15, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    I am a first time father of twins, a boy and a girl. I work to try and be the best father I can be, but I know there are always ways to improve. The biggest M in the list above for me is model, because I try to live with integrity in all I do, and want to try to teach my children this concept.

  13. Foot_bill on June 16, 2012 at 4:39 am

    Know your makeup: Most young fathers I know , including myself, struggle with this one the most.
    We were not raised to be productive members of society. If we got through high school an stayed out of major trouble our parents were satisfied. We just tried to fit in where we could, now at age 31 with a
    8 month old I’m trying to find the real me. I just thank God I have an awesome wife an pastor, they
    are making my journey less difficult.

  14. franktan on June 16, 2012 at 5:11 am

    Know your make-up. Most men are influenced by media rather than making their Maker the source of heir mold.

  15. Chi Ly on June 16, 2012 at 5:25 am

    As for me, the toughest “M’s” for fathers today is knowing your mind-set because we all know that as fathers, we must be the provider and protector for our family but we are so busy with everything with work and life that most of the time we were not able to be there for our family.  Thus, we must set our priorities and knowing what is best for our family, our children.

  16. Damon Barber on June 16, 2012 at 8:23 am

    Tough question. I don’t think we have a hard time knowing we need to do these things, but we sometimes have a difficult time with the “How to” of the implementing.
    I’m torn between choosing Method and Master.
    Knowing how and when to build memorable monuments is a tough thing to do.
    KNOWING your Master is more than just declaring who or what is most important to us. What do we reach for the most, our Bible or our smart phone?

    • Mark Merrill on June 18, 2012 at 9:05 pm

      What do we reach for more? Great question, Damon.

  17. Ctraderacm on June 16, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Love and lead. Sometimes parents have a tough time leading and communicating their true role and responsibilities.  Many (me included at times) do not spend enough time conveying their love and spending the time together sharing those special moments.  

  18. Morgan Herselman on June 18, 2012 at 4:33 am

    Know your Method is probably the most challenging.

    There is very little information, or perhaps tradition, in our culture that allows fathers to create intentional monuments in their lives as a symbol of growing up. The process of becoming an adult and more independent is left up to the world to teach our children. In some cultures there are traditions/rituals that build and guide a child to adulthood. But as a dad, there is nothing more daunting than intentionally planning and executing a memorable experience for you to shape your kids. Especially if you never received the same as a kid growing up.

  19. John on June 18, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    Much like constructing a building, knowing your master is the most challenging for fathers. The foundation of a building is critical to the construction of everything above the foundation. You have to start with knowing your master in order to be an All Pro Dad. Men compartmentalize so we may submit to God in several areas, but not all. That revelation doesn’t immediately show itself until you’re about to put the roof on that particular area and you realize the walls are a foot apart at the corner of the building. Kids see the discrepancies long before the roof goes on – we just lose sight of the master.

    • Mark Merrill on June 18, 2012 at 9:07 pm

      John, the Master is our Rock! Thanks for your thoughts.

  20. Mark Merrill on June 18, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Tim, I’m grateful for your important work and the gracious blog post and hope the book will help many men to become All Pro Dads.

    • Tim Elmore on June 20, 2012 at 2:53 pm

      That’s my hope, too! Thanks for challenging men to become All Pro Dads and providing a practical playbook to guide them!

  21. Tim Elmore on June 20, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Thanks to everyone who left a comment – great thoughts on this important topic! Through random selection the winners have been chosen. Congratulations to Craig Owens, Joe LaLonde and James Nordine. Thanks again to everyone who participated. Special thanks to Mark Merrill for writing a great book on fatherhood and providing a few copies for the giveaway!

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