Pastor and author Aaron White shares the importance of being a father He knows he’s not ‘the father guru’ — but he can still set an example
Aaron White could still be labeled a rookie father: It’s only been three years since his daughter, Claile, was born. But White can talk poetically about fatherhood more than many men who surpass his age and duration as a dad.
The Los Angeles-based youth pastor knows there is a difference between being a dad and becoming a father. That understanding derived from growing up without his father present. It’s an experience he doesn’t want for his daughter and tries to help young men avoid.
White’s thinking started when he would write daily positive “sticky” notes to his mom.
“It wasn’t so much about writing and being dope,” he said. “It was ‘Here’s a word or message’ and have that with you like breakfast.”
His mom suggested the notes shouldn’t just be for her. She said, “You need to share that … you should share it.” White now has more than 62,000 Instagram followers who count on his motivational words.
“I write or create anything I do from a place of talking to myself,” said White. “To impart light or joy, you really have to be those things. I don’t write from a place of desiring to be it. I just write from a place of thinking legacy — what I would leave behind. In order to leave it behind, you have to become it.”
How did you develop your social media following?
I was literally only talking to one person, and that’s why there is such a powerful female following. There is a lot of empowerment from fatherhood, but it was just building up the women in my life (my mom, aunties and cousins). The words are so intimate, and so many people really relate to it. I was like, let me do it in the morning, at lunchtime and during dinner, and with that consistency came the followers.
How are you able to relate to other fathers?
That’s the cool thing — it didn’t start happening until I got transparent. It was like, oh, snap, I’m the very same thing that I didn’t have an example of. I have an opportunity now. So I was real transparent about downloading everything and not knowing anything. People could journey with me as opposed to I’m the father guru. I don’t know everything, but I’m talking about it. I’m being transparent with where I’m at in my excitement and how scared I am. I think too many people are showing the finished product of things, and that’s not reality.
As a youth pastor, how are you helping the younger generation see their potential?
I’ve been going to the juvenile hall prisons for years and working with abandoned youth. As a youth pastor, I can communicate spiritually although it’s not a church-based program. Every Friday I lead about 100 youth. When I started a year and a half ago, it was maybe five guys and 20 females. Now it’s probably the biggest young men’s ministries I know of, at least in Los Angeles. Young men from prison to abandonment, they attach to the not-having-a-father language. We created a program where we had them thinking legacy. We have them thinking about leaving something in the field, if young dudes could get off of themselves and think about planting and leaving a generation behind with something.
Do you have any great experiences from being part of this program?
Numerous. I can say this because this is graduation week. There were four young men who didn’t feel like they were able to graduate. They reached out to their fathers, and I never had the opportunity to do that. All the fathers rejected them. I lead them through a process of us healing together and for them to forgive their fathers. Now their desire is to have families of their own, and that’s one of the biggest things. Graduating was the first step, and then they all got into college and their mothers have seen a massive change in their thought patterns.
How do you remain undefeated?
By recognizing that you’re not battling against anything but yourself. Honestly, the only one who can defeat you is yourself and how you view yourself. I’ve taken many “L’s.” I almost try to fail daily, and I think that is what keeps me undefeated. The fact is that I can’t lose if my heart is in it. The mere fact of trying and desiring to do something that’s in my heart is always a win, even if the results equate to a loss. I celebrate before it even happens. My celebration comes before any validation.
Tell us about your video series and collaborating with your wife.
The videos on Truthmark | Lightworkers came from a post with me and my wife [Viergeni]. They appreciated how much I valued my wife and daughter. I did a show with Viergeni called The Black & White Series, and it was these spoken-word pieces reppin’ marriage. We were saying marriage is dope. We rep marriage just as hard as gangsters represent their set, and I rep fatherhood. I know you can tell the story that there are no fathers around, but the truth is we are right here. Truthmark | Lightworkers came about with gangbanging truth, but in a positive way. They wanted content that could have a web and social media presence.
Are you working on any upcoming projects?
There are two books: Beautiful Soul and a second one I’m in the process of getting approved. A Beautiful Soul, I just imagine if IG or social media shut down right now. I feel like there is so much power with having books, and Beautiful Soul stems from the notes to my mom. It captures the essence of humanity and the encouragement of the human soul. The book highlights all the stuff I’ve ever written on my page as if that page for some reason was deleted or hacked into.
I’ve been touring the play The Blood They Shed for 10 years at numerous schools, colleges and throughout the prison system in Los Angeles. I’m also writing an audiobook depicting what is happening right now in the world. It will be an in-depth look at getting back to a village, to family and simplicity.
What are the motivational quotes that stick out right now?
- What you meditate on daily, you become.
- Your mind is like a garden. Grow wealth, not poverty. Grow hope, not fear.
- Words I always stand by: legacy, dominion and think generationally.
Being content with what you have is huge. We are at a time where there is this big desire for more, more and more. We should become root addicts and not fruit addicts. There is this power in just being rooted in something. If I could stamp something with anything, I would say be rooted in who you are.