It was awful. That Korean ferry rolling into the sea. Then disappearing beneath the waves. Filled with trapped passengers - many of them teenagers.
It's heartbreaking to see all those loved ones on the dock, grieving inconsolably. Over their children who will never come home again.
And it's outrageous that the captain was one of the first to abandon ship. He's being charged with "negligence of duty" and "abandoning people in need."
Sadly, there are a lot of captains that could be charged with those crimes.
As the captain of their family.
The ship starts to drift...the crew gets confused...the vessel is in danger of a fatal turn. When Dad keeps "abandoning ship."
When the cruise ship Costa Concordia shipwrecked off the coast of Italy, again it was the captain who was charged. A maritime lawyer said: "The captain is the master of the vessel. Every crew member looks to the captain for guidance and leadership. It's the captain's responsibility to know the waters and avoid coming close to any shoals and reefs."
Sad to say, I've sometimes gotten too busy to know the waters our family ship was navigating. When this captain was "below decks" at a critical point.
We know there's a devastating epidemic of fatherlessness in the family these days. But it isn't just dads who are physically absent. You can be emotionally absent - and that may be even more damaging. Around your family but not with your family. There, but not really there.
"Abandoning people in need."
A daughter, missing her father's love, looking for that love in all the wrong places. A son who can't get his father's approval or attention - growing more angry by the day. A wife left to run things alone.
In many ways, the ferry disaster mirrors the family disaster caused by its "captain's" three tragic mistakes.
1. Leaving the wheel
At this point, it appears that the ferry captain left the ship in the hands of a third mate at a decisive turning point. How many of us husbands have forfeited leadership when the going got rough? When finances were turbulent. When discipline was needed. When hard choices had to be made.
2. Looking out for me
Apparently, the ferry captain was so concerned about himself that he left his passengers to fend for themselves. "Me first" while those he was responsible for were going down.
That hits a little too close to home for some of us. Consumed with personal pursuits - work, recreation, sports, hobby, toys. Effectively oblivious to the leadership we've abandoned.
3. Providing no guidance
There are dangerous passages. Rocks to avoid. Crises requiring direction. And a husband, a father cannot be AWOL when a steady hand at the wheel is needed. Along with a wise, reassuring guide when the water is rising.
I'm sobered by the Bible's solemn warning to all of us who are - or are supposed to be - at the helm of our ship.
"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks (or your family); give careful attention to your herds. For riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations" (Proverbs 27:23-24).
Translation: take care of it or risk losing it all.