Tag Archives: gifts

Popularity that isn’t

Since who knows when the thing a lot of people have wanted was to be popular, to be liked, to feel like they belong.  To know what they say and think is important and heard.  There is nothing like going to school and quickly learning where you stand in the order of the world.

Popularity is something I struggled with growing up and is something I have and will continue work through with my kids.  There is something appealing about being part of the “in-crowd”.  It is glamorized particularly by Hollywood but in so many other realms as well.  If you are not hip, up on all the latest, part of what’s going on right now then obviously you are not cool.

My oldest daughter who just started high school struggled with this in middle school.  She saw the allure of being part of the in crowd and being popular.  After having been through this myself my advice to her was to find some solid, good friends and enjoy the time with them, make memories that will last.  Don’t worry about trying to fit in, once you are out in the real world and living your life it does become less about being popular and more about being comfortable with who you are and how you want to live your life.  Good advice right?

I’ve been contemplating the advice I gave her and our discussions about it.  To some degree I believe there’s a lot of truth in it.  To a degree I wonder if it really never ends.  For me I see this happen at work, ladder climbers who will step on others to get to the top. Always trying to be the best and do things to get them recognized.  There’s always a group of folks who are living it up and seem to be the “in crowd” who have an edge on everyone else.  The neighbors to keep up with the latest toys and gadgets that my kids think are totally awesome.  Trips, parties and the ones who everyone seems to talk about as if they are royalty.   Even in church there seems to be an élite crowd.  I’ve had experiences in churches where I had to compete and prove myself worthy to them.  They won’t talk or acknowledge you on Sundays even when you pass by them, you can come close to touching them and they look right through you.

I feel like that transcends to the online world and social media that I take part in.  If you are a writer or blogger you are trying to promote yourself.  For those that aren’t but engage in it, we project an image.  If you write and write well you get lots of comments, feedback and people will promote you as well as tell others they should read what you have written.   It can be intoxicating, you can feel like a celebrity who is incredibly popular – having a lot of followers and friends can also reinforce this.  The drawback is when you try to engage or take part and feel like you are not part of the conversation or what you had to say or share was completely ignored.

In many realms of life there is always going to be the in-crowd, those who are at the top of the game and seem to gain attention and notoriety.  The are the ones who everyone else talks about, wants to emulate and drops their name whenever theirs an opportunity.  Does all of this matter; I guess that depends on how you look at it.

I believe we are all valuable.  God created and designed us all by his very hands.  He gave purpose and value to us when he brought us into this world.  We all have gifts and talents we can use to impact the world.  No two people were created the same and for good reason.  We are all important and no one is more important than anyone else even though it may seem that way.  Just as a parent looks at each of their children with tremendous love and doesn’t choose favorites instead realizes the uniqueness of each of their children.  I believe God looks at all of us the same way.  While the world may try to tell us that some or more important or valuable than others it’s important to remember as quickly as the latest fad passes is as soon as the person passes.  We are not fads we are God’s handiwork and we matter.

Popularity is a man-made thing and one day that will end.  In the end I come back to having true and lasting friendships.  Using my gifts, talents and the story of my life to reflect what God has done in my life.  I don’t need to worry if I am not the most popular for the things I do have are more valuable than being the “it” person.


Real Authentic Men – Know Your Calling

A strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction or divine influence – as defined by Webster’s dictionary.

The leading rule for the lawyer, as for the man of every other calling, is diligence.  Leave nothing for tomorrow, which can be done today – Abraham Lincoln

Every calling is great when greatly pursued – Oliver Wendell Holmes

The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership – Harvey S. Firestone

I was lucky enough to know exactly what I wanted to do when I was growing up.  I think one of the hardest things to figure out in life is what your calling is, and what truly makes you happy – not what you want to work at, but what you want to do.  – Scott Folley

Growing up most of us discover things that appeal or speaks to us.  Something clicks and we decide that is worth pursuing.  We make choices in regards to college or working, career or profession, singleness or marriage, small family or large.  Will we travel or settle down and if so where we finally land.

In my experiences in working with men, little has to do with knowing your calling.  As men what is it we were meant to do? What are our lives supposed to be about?  What have we been put on this earth for?  Many men can’t even begin to contemplate this, they just keep going and doing the things everyone else has told them to do.  There is a very rare breed of men who understand calling and follow it will all their heart, passion and soul.  Sadly for many men today, this piece is missing in their lives.  They find themselves going to school, working jobs, being husbands and fathers and behind all of it they are miserable.  They are leading lives where existing is just getting by. There is no joy or passion to their life and they have nothing truly inspiring to live for.

It’s really a sobering sight to see, men like this make me weep.  I to have been in this spot in the past.  If men who are supposed to be leaders have no clue about what they are called to do, that leaves the rest of us in peril.  I firmly believe we as men are called to be leaders in all areas of our lives.  I believe this will all my heart.  Men are the ones who need to step up and begin leading. How can this ever begin to happen if we lack the skills,  knowledge and passion for life?

I believe it involves parents who are tuned into their kids, having conversations with them around their hopes; dreams and desires as well as developing their strengths, gifts and talents. Continually building and affirming these areas.  Parents know what their kids can do well and hopefully use this in shaping and molding them in the right direction.  I also believe it comes from others who are invested in the kids lives.  Teachers, mentors, pastors, coaches, and friends all have the ability to speak into our kids lives in ways we as parents can’t.

I know I wanted to be a husband and father from a very young age.  At the core of my being there was nothing else that I desired more in life.  I spent countless hours of my youth imagining what my wife and children would be like and how I would be as the Dad.  No one really gave me the message that I was valuable or that I possessed certain gifts or talents that would help me later on.  I knew when I got to that place in my life, it would be like achieving a gold medal in the Olympics.  As life came and obstacles got in the way I begin to lose sight of this and felt it slipping from my hands.  I began thinking it was never going to happen.  By the time I actually got what I had most desired I was dealing with shame, hurt, anger and pain and not able to really give my best.   Many years later after getting what I so desired I continued feeling I was missing more.  I wasn’t comfortable with myself or who I was and I lived behind masks, trying to put on a good game face for those around me.  I kept doing all the things I believed I needed to do, was told were the right things to do and how I should act and behave.  I always came back to feeling like the last piece to the puzzle was missing.

I began reading books, going to counseling, getting real and honest about my life and evaluating myself in a harsh reality.  That was when it finally hit me.  I was expecting something large and grand, I wanted to be this huge amazing “thing” outside of what I already was and I was filling my life with things that shouldn’t be there.  Suddenly staring back at me was what I had been called to do.  I am called to be a Dad.

As I began to peel back the layers of my life I was able to see that God had put everything in place so I could live out what I had deeply desired all those years ago.  I knew my calling from a very young age and now looking back I can see why I have been put through so much.  The testing and fires have all been for the benefit of my family.  I am no great person, but I am able to do great and mighty things through being a father.   This is my calling – I know it, accept it and I love it, even the hardest of times. As I look back at my life I realize that all that I have been through happened for many reasons, I am not angry or upset – it’s all been for a larger purpose.

The truly sad part is knowing if someone had invested in me years ago and walked me through it, I believe I would have been able to see it clearer long ago.  Not to discount the process of getting there, that’s been a valuable experience.  It’s also the reason I believe in mentoring and investing in men’s lives.

There is not a day that goes by where I don’t think about my sons.  I want them both to understand and realize they are not alone.  I will always have their backs and am fully invested in their life till the final breath leaves my body.  That is the very reason I started writing Real Authentic Men articles and why I share them with others.  I want my boys to know they were wonderfully created by a God who loves them and placed them into a family where they are loved more than they will ever imagine.  Their gifts and abilities have yet to be explored.  Allowing my sons to realize how truly amazing they are, what they were meant to do and when they are grown stand confident in being men.

The other part for me is knowing I have also been called to invest in the lives of other men. Men who are still sitting there waiting for someone to come along and help them through the process.  Men are valuable; they are not just some bumbling buffoons getting through life.  We’re depicted in a poor light in the media and that is deplorable.  While there is a percentage of men who live their lives as we see depicted, the men whose lives I get to be involved in are not like this at all.  The want to move past their hurts, pains and the things that hold them back.  They want to  become men who don’t just sit allowing life to pass them by.  Men who live life to the fullest and live out what they have been called to do.

Real authentic men know their calling and use it to impact the world around them.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a janitor, president, married or single.  Be the man, know your calling, step up, lead the way and do so that those around you will be inspired to do the same.