Tag Archives: men

Values of Manhood Defined


Growing up I had a father, but he was not around and when he was, he was not interested in me.  Conversations around becoming a man didn’t occur in my home.  The only nugget of wisdom passed onto me was if I wanted a large family I better get a good job to support them.  The concept and ideas of what it meant to be a real man were somewhat foreign to me.  I really had no good male role models; those around me did not discuss it or consistently demonstrated through their actions and words how something I would not describe as being manly.  The small country town, white is right, there is only one-way to do it culture I lived it shoved worldly ideas in my face about being a man and I was repeatedly reminded of how I never measured up.

As I left my family, began establishing who I am as a man and what I was about, I began looking at the world around me, observing the ideas and concepts that most men used to define themselves as men – someone who does it all on his own, has no need for anyone else and lives a life filled with money, cars and women. Many of the men I knew were not living their lives the way I thought it would look like.  I observed men not discussing their thoughts or feelings, used women in unhealthy ways and could only relate to one another through sports or drinking.  None of which appealed to me and it certainly was not how I was going to define myself as a man.

As someone who has been a follower of Jesus since I was 7 years old. I began looking at examples in the church of what it meant to be a man.  I discovered morals preached and rigid guidelines followed. Few men in the church discussed what it meant to be a real man.  Most of the men I saw in church did not want to be there, were unhappy and appeared to be living their lives,  just existing, but never having much passion or desire.  Once again, I found it hard to find what it meant to be a real man.  There are plenty of examples in the Bible of regular men who God has used to do amazing things.  For myself the one person I most admire and look towards in being a man is Jesus.  Granted I am by no means Jesus, but his life and how he lived it demonstrates so many characteristics of what a man can and should do.

When my wife and I got married the first things that actually made me feel like a man was finding out I was going to be a father.  When it was confirmed, something inside of me said, “You’re the man.”  Prior to that, every time I looked in the mirror all I could see was a 16-year-old boy who was lost and had no clue what it meant to be a man.  Finally, I felt like I was joining the ranks of others and becoming an official man.

As I closed out my 30’s and start my 40’s I finally am beginning to feel like I am fully a man.  My journey into this has been a long and difficult one.  It has taken me going from not allowing other guys to be a part of my life to finding amazing men who have spoken volumes into my life.  Evaluating events that have shaped who I am today, seeking out, and understanding God’s purpose in my life.  I can tell you as someone who is a deep processor and thinker; there have been many days where my brain just never turned off.

A few years ago after reading a couple of books and completing some profile tests I took a week and came up with what I believe defines me as a man.  To me a real man means you are honest and true about who you are and where you have come from.  A man is not afraid to share his feelings, admits when he needs help and someone who takes care of his family and not just through monetary means.  It also includes spending time with each person, getting to know who they are and what you can do to build them up and influence their lives. Having other men in your life you can go to and talk with, men who will hold you accountable.

For myself being a real man is defined by my core values:

Knowledgecontinually striving to be better than I am, through various means, which allows my words to be honest and wise, and my actions filled with insight and discernment

Honorliving a loyal life of commitment to God, my wife, kids, family and friends that includes faithfulness, commitment, responsibility and integrity

Fulfillmentliving a courageous life filled with passion that allows me to serve others out of love and devotion

Impact all that I do I do for the legacy I will be leaving behind me

Truth seeking to live a life that stands up for what is right and just and using my voice to silence injustice, evil and wickedness in the world

For whatever reason men still today do not feel the need to talk about this.  It greatly saddens me to see men in church who are walled off, hurting and do not know who they are or what they are about.  Men who have been so wounded and hurt they do not even know which way to turn.  It is for this very reason I write about these things and use the gifts I have been given to try to build relationships with other men.  For me I strive to live an authentic life, which includes being a real man to everyone I meet.  Pouring my life into other men and asking the questions that need to be asked.  In doing this I hope I not only will be the example but it will help other men in their own journey.

What about yourself, what values define you as a person?  How long has it taken you to feel like a fully grown man?  How do you see yourself today?

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Real Authentic Men – Wisdom


Ever been around anyone who just seems to ooze wisdom? I have and those people are very admirable to me. They seem to have the right answers at the right time and are able to speak into situations or people’s lives words that penetrate deeply. That is the type of man I hope to be.

I have this long standing dream of when I reach the age of 70 or older, people will seek me out because of the wisdom I posses. I desire to be recognized as someone who has the answers as well as having lived my life to the fullest each and every day. The other part I would like to be known for is that I was able to offer up the right words to say for any situation. That may be a far-fetched dream for some, but for me, this is what I truly desire. I am attempting to live each day fully and take in all I can so one day I become the man I wish to be.

So how does one become wise? Great question and I believe there are a few ways in which this can take place. First of all, if you want to be wise, study and read the book of Proverbs. Secondly, place wise men and women in your life who are genuine, honest and live lives of integrity. We tend to pick up traits and characteristics of those around us we admire. A lot of life has to do with stealing good ideas from other and applying it to our life.

I value others as they were designed in the image of God. Those I greatly respect and admire men and women whose very lives have been a living example of wisdom. The stories they have to share about their life experiences are valuable. We can glean so much from what they have to say. So many times they are taken for granted and just brushed aside as having no value, yet if you stop and really listen to them, you will be blown away with what they have to say and share in regards to life. I have gained many nuggets of wisdom I have applied to my life by just sitting and listening to an elderly person talk.

I believe in educating yourself on as many topics as you can. Read a book, research, talk to others who are involved in that area, do what ever you can to enrich your life and experience new activities. Life is full of so many things and you can become rich in experiences by taking part. I am never quite sure in this day and age how one becomes an expert on something. I don’t think raising 6 kids will make me an expert on parenting but I certainly will have gained many insights into child rearing I might not have if I hadn’t raised a large family. I don’t believe at any time you should stop educating yourself, we should always be a learner of life and what is available to us. I myself have lived a life of being an avid learner and not just going to college, but also finding other means to educate myself and know a little or sometimes a lot about certain topics.

Experience is a great teacher. We all make mistakes, part of the human part of living is learning to take risks and learn from our mistakes. If you aren’t trying, you’re not attempting and in my opinion you will have a very dull and boring life. We can continue to repeat the same mistakes or we can look at our mistake as an opportunity to change the future and make a wiser choice in the future.

3 years ago I was invited by a friend to get together with a group of 6 other men and read the book of Proverbs daily for a year. We met monthly and discussed how our lives changed as we read it monthly. Our group took on the name “Wise Guys”. That experience was deeply rewarding and I can say from my own experience I gained wisdom like I never had before. In the midst of going through that year I also read an article from a man who had middle school children and they read the book of Proverbs for 1 year and they shared how in reading and talking about it, the children shared how it helped them make wiser choices when they entered high school. That reinforced it for me and I began doing that daily with my own children as well as continuing to do it for myself. Reading through Proverbs and daily praying for wisdom has had a significant impact in how I make decisions. The “Wise Guys” group is still meeting and though we have moved on to other topics I feel like that was a pivotal year for me and I grew in ways I never imagined.

As a man, husband and father, I want my family to know that I am making wise solid decisions that have been thought out. I want them to trust and depend when I make a decision it’s generally going to be the correct one and yet when I do make a mistake, being man enough to admit that and ask for forgiveness. As a leader in many areas of my life where people are depending on me to make serious decisions affecting others lives, I believe the same principles apply. As men continuing to make wise choices and decisions, this soon becomes habit forming and eventually becomes a way of life. Living a life using wisdom often leaves me feeling good about my choices and with few regrets.


40 Years and a beard


This last Sunday I turned 40 years old.  To celebrate this weekend I chose a weekend get away at the beach here in Oregon.  I invited 17 guys, 11 were able to come and join the party.  I selected men who have played an important role in my life for the last 20 years.  These are men who have been allowed to speak into my life, shaping and impacting the man I am today.

Over the weekend I got to relive old memories, share a ton of laughs and just enjoy being around this group of great men.  Most of these men had never met each other before. This was the first time they all were in one place together.  What amazed me the most was how well they got along with each other, from the beginning of the weekend everyone who was there acted as if they had all been a part of each other’s lives for a long time.  Over and over throughout the weekend, I got continual compliments on how I had chosen amazing friends.

The weekend didn’t start out well.  Due to the horrific Tsunami happening in Japan, the news Friday morning said they were expecting it to reach the Oregon coast.  Evacuations were taking place and we were unsure if we would be able to make it.  Later in the day we were able to head for the beach as the Tsunami warnings were removed.  4 of us arrived first, after getting settled decided to go for a walk.  As we made our way down to the beach we could see the tide was in, but heading out.  After walking about ½ mile we chose to head back.  As we made our way back we the tide had gone out and the rocks and tidal pools were exposed and we headed over to check them out  5 minutes into looking around the tide began quickly moving in and we were surrounded by water.  We mad our way towards the shore, standing on the last rock available and thinking the tide would go back out waited for a bit.  The tide wend down a little but only returned with a stronger force and the water was climbing.  One of my friends jumped and went under, we watched as he disappeared under the water, unsure what to do, quickly he came to the surface and made his way up the beach.  The water went out a small amount and my other two friends jumped for it and headed up the beach.  I stood there on the rocks waiting for the water to go down but it wasn’t.  I grabbed my digital camera in my right hand and held it above my head and placed my cell phone in my coat pocket and held it with my left hand and jumped.  I ended up falling into the water up to my neck, soaking my phone and camera both.  I quickly stood up and made my way to the beach.  We all stood there staring at each other, shaking our heads in disbelief.  Thankfully we were all safe.  The ocean had destroyed 2 cell phones and a digital camera but no lives were lost and we were incredibly thankful.

The rest of the weekend was spent hanging out, eating delicious meals, a ton of laughs and an EWOK cake.  Many games of Settlers of Catan and enjoying being around great friends.  Usually for me it’s incredibly difficult to watch weekends like this come to an end.  I was sad to see it end, I wished it could have lasted for a week.  I am so thankful for all the men who were able to come and join me.  As I think back over the last 20 years I am amazed at the men God has put into my life.  As men have come and gone in my life, other men have come in and filled that gap. For that I am incredibly thankful.

 

Oh yeah, how does the beard play into all this?  In September 2010 I contemplated growing a beard.  Never before in my life had I grown one.  I have attempted a couple of times, but after a week or so, I couldn’t stand the itchiness of it and gave up.  Since my son was born I have always had a go-tee and since the early 90’s I have kept my hair very short.  A friend of mine was getting married in October and asked me to be in his wedding.  Finding out I was going to be in a wedding I decided to hold off until after the wedding.  The wedding took place and that was the last day I shaved or cut my hair.  I made the choice to wait until my 40th birthday to shave it all off.  Despite numerous comments through the months about me looking like Moses or Grizzly Adams, I held true to my word and didn’t cut any of it.  Finally this weekend came and I was more than ready to return to my original face.  I have no intentions of ever-growing long hair or a beard again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was thinking of adding 40 things I learned over the years, but I shall forego that.  What I will add is a few things I have learned in my 40 years.

My relationship with Jesus is the most valuable relationship I have.  When everyone else has failed me he has always been with me.  The model by which he lived his life, investing in 12 other men for 3 years, serving others and living his life for his Father’s purpose is something I will spend the rest of my life trying to emulate.

My wife is one of the greatest blessings I have.  I am by no means worthy of her.  She is truly a gifted and amazing woman.  I fell in love with her heart from the beginning and it’s still the one thing that draws me back to her daily.  After spending countless years praying for a wife, God has blessed me with the right woman for my life.

My 6 kids continue to amaze me daily.  I never thought I could love someone the way I love them.  God has perfectly designed my family and each child he has allowed me to be a Papa to is a dream come true.  My greatest desire was to be a Dad someday and it is so much more than I ever dreamed of.

Most of my 20’s and 30’s were an exercise in being unwise and selfish.  I have more regrets than I can count and that is no way to live your life.  Living a wise life, no regrets and considering others as more important is the way to go.

There are so many other valuable lessons I have learned, to many to list out here.  Most importantly live life as though it’s your last day on earth, for one day it will be.

Got any advice for me as I move into my 40’s?


Real Authentic Men – Trustworthy


We both stood there on the edge looking down. The sun was out and it was hot. Not just the sort of hot it gets in the summer, but really sweaty, scorching hot. We left my house early in the morning and headed down to the river. We were playing around in the water when we noticed the large rock cliff above us. First one to the top is king of the mountain. We both raced to be the first one to the top. I got there first and only with a few seconds to spare as my friend jumped up off his last step on the rocky ledge. The view from the top was amazing and it felt like we could see the countryside. We were sweating from the heat and running up the trail to the top of the rocks that overlooked the water. “Are you scared”? I asked as we both looked down. “No, not at all, I’m not afraid, I can do it” was his response. He stepped forward, looked down and I wondered is he really going to do this. We both just stood their silent as I could tell he was trying to talk himself into jumping down below. Come on man, just do it. I stepped closer to the edge and now saw what he saw. Suddenly the enormous gad that divided us between the water and the ground beneath our feet. I was scared and wanted to back down, but I wasn’t about to do that in front of my friend. We both just stood there looking and not really saying anything. Somehow I managed to get the words out of my mouth and still to this day I don’t know what it was that made me say them. “Do you trust me?” I asked. He said, “Yes”. I reached over and grabbed his hand; we counted 1, 2, 3. The next moment all we could feel was the wind against our skin as we were heading down into the water and suddenly the cold water was enveloping us. We shot out of the water screaming and throwing our arms in the air. We had gone to the top, jumped and were still alive.

Ever had any experiences like that? I am sure at some point in your life you have been right there looking over the ledge, to scared to back out, but not really wanting to jump into the water either. Wishing someone was there to give you a hand, reach out to you and say, “Do you trust me? I am here to help get your through this.” As a kid growing up in Montana I was brought to this point many times. Whenever a challenge to jump from something high, ride our bikes off some huge jump we made or walk out on the ice covering the water, I was up for the challenge. We never let on we were scared. We were to cool to admit that and admit I could have used someone who would stand up and offer to help hold my hand. I just stood their many times talking myself into it and finally going for it. I am glad that I did, because I think that it helped me develop some self-confidence.

For most of my life going back to 5th or 6th grade, I have always been the person people felt they could confide in. Peers and friends would come up to me and say, “Can I tell you something?” “You have to promise not to say a word.” “Ok” was my response and I would listen to what they had to say and keep it to myself. I have heard lots and lots of stories expressing the inner hurts, pains, joys and happiness because people felt like they could trust me with what they were saying. Now there have been occasions where I blew it and shared information when I shouldn’t have, but for the most part, all of that information is still locked inside of me and will go with me to my grave.

I don’t feel like I there is something particularly interesting about me. Well I am a pretty hip, cool person, but really I am just an ordinary guy, so I am always amazed that people feel safe and trust me with the secrets they can’t or won’t share with others. Actually knowing that people feel that way about me does make me feel good, but I try to stay humble. I feel lucky to know that people trust me in that way.

Trust is not an easy thing and as someone who has survived being molested, I haven’t trusted most people, and it was predominantly other guys. The ones who had molested me were male cousins my age and I ended up believing that all guys would do this to me or that somehow something sexually inappropriate would happen between us. I grew up being very suspicious of other guys and always thinking they were either out to hurt me or just plain jerks. It wasn’t until I was in college things started to change. My best friend is actually the first guy who ever showed a genuine interest in me and helped me start to believe he was someone I could trust. Through hanging out and spending a lot of time together I was able to finally move past my distrust of other guys.

Now, years later, having men who have invested in my life and continually pour themselves into my life. Has allowed me to develop safe-trusting relationships with not only these men but with a multitude of other men as well. Having the ability to spend time building a relationship with another guy and allowing him to share about his life, means you have to be trustworthy. It means when he bears his sole, the things he has shared with you aren’t used against him and that you will protect his integrity no matter what. You value that man as much as you value your own life and in helping him you build a relationship built on solid trust. As men begin to get really involved in other men’s lives and get real they need the trust to be there.

When it comes to my kids I am more like a mother bear then my wife. Those are the most valuable things in my life and everything I do for them is because of the amount of love I have for them. People don’t get to be a part of my life or the life of my kids if I don’t trust you. You can be sure that if I have any doubt about you with my kids I will not even take a risk. My kids know this about me and know me well enough that they never have to question if I have their back or not. I am my kid’s biggest supporter and advocate. I am open and honest with them and have real heart to hear conversations with them so that they know they can trust me to tell me whatever is going on and I will still love and support them through it all. Even if it meant (God forbid) my daughters came and told me they were pregnant. What little brown hair I have left would suddenly turn gray the moment those words were uttered from their lips, but trusting in the relationships I have built for all these years I know we would be able to work through it.

Being able to trust another person is a big deal. Are you really willing to hand your children over to this person and trust they have your children’s best interest at heart. That’s a question many parents struggle with in many different capacities. It’s a tough one and often times we are left trusting God is protecting my child. It’s not the best part of parenting. There have been many times I have not wanted to let my kids go and do something, but they really wanted to and so in trusting they would make good choices I let them go knowing God is protecting them. Man, I am so thankful when they return to me.

Being a person who is trustworthy means you have demonstrated something pretty cool. For me it means that I trust you enough to hand my most valuable possessions over to you and you will care for it just as I would and return it to me with no harm done. As a man I want my family, friends and others to see me and say I am a trustworthy person. I have seen and know that I can trust him no matter what happens. He has proven time and time again that you can trust him. I would say that is a really true statement of myself. I have developed a trait of trustworthiness and I take that seriously.

 


R.A.M. – Integrity


Webster defines’ integrity as: firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic value: incorruptibility

Theodore Roosevelt – “Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of an individual and of nations alike”

Thomas Jefferson – “Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching”

Ben Franklin – “Let no pleasure tempt thee, no profit allure thee, no persuasion move thee, to do anything which thou knowest to be evil, so shalt thou always live jollity; for a good conscience is a continual Christmas.”

Defining integrity for myself means I act the same way I would whether someone was watching me or not.

Integrity is a something I place as a high value for my life.  Unfortunately, I haven’t always lived my life this way. I learned to lie as a boy and act differently around different people. I maneuvered my way through life putting an image for others while my personal life was living nightmare of shame and dirty secrets.

Most of my life has been spent covering my tracks, wearing masks and putting up a front that wasn’t real. I spent countless hours having to track all this garbage and plan for the future. It was an utter and complete waste of time. My marriage and ultimately my relationships with everyone were slowly being destroyed because of all this.  Even those who thought they were the closest to me had no idea.

My personality is one where I will continually do something, get hit in the head with a 2 X 4 repeatedly, walk away and go right back to the very thing. I guess it’s tenacity but not in a good way. You’d think I would be brain-dead by now as many times as I have been hit.  Why it took me so long I really don’t have an answer for.  In my mid-30’s I finally came to my senses and decided I was destroying everything I really cared about. I decided it was time I manned up.

When I decided to start truly being a man of integrity, I had to lay aside my pride, begin removing the masks and get real with who I a truly am.  My first steps in attempting this was connecting with a group of guys who were committed to doing the same thing, we all came together by God’s divine intervention. My biggest fear going into this meeting was that no one would understand me; they would reject me. The first meeting I went to I remember being physically ill and intimidated and wanted to run as fast as I could and get away from there. I seriously felt like I was going to have a heart attack. My palms were sweating, my heart was beating and I felt light-headed. I listened as everyone brutally and honestly bared his soul. I could tell from the beginning this was not going to be like any other meeting I have ever been involved in. Because of my addictions and the various choices I have made I have always felt like I was the odd man out.   When it was my turn I hesitantly started sharing my life and my stories.  It all began pouring out.  The tremendous amount of  fear and rejection I had carried with me felt lifted. I was able to begin my first steps in being real about who I am.  As I think back to that day, it felt like I spent an hour releasing all the lies I had kept hidden inside, all the evil, wicked thoughts and deeds I had ever done. Something changed that day deep within me. I soon realized the power of truth and its ability to set people free.

It hasn’t been easy, my mode of operation even after being involved with those men for several years I still fell back to old habits and patterns. When things got difficult I turned back to my addictions and putting on masks.  As much as I said integrity was a huge deal for me, I was choosing not to live my life that way.  It has taken a lot of hard work to go back and deal with layers and layers of junk.  Even at church the one place I believed was safe, I’ve worn masks and made it seem like I was the “All-American Dad” this great Christian man, father and husband who had it all together.  As a man I have purposely chosen other men in my life that I could get real with.  I have shared all the nastiness of my past with them and have asked them to hold me accountable and call me out on stuff if they thought I was being fake and phony.  This has played a significant role in my ability to apply integrity in my life.

I want others who see me, interact with me or even read what I write to know what you see is what you get, there isn’t some hidden agenda here.  If you meet me in person you going to see me and see how I do life.  Through tough times I have learned the value of living a life of integrity. I regret so many things I have done in my life where I have chosen less than wise decisions. Counseling, men’s groups and committed men in my life have all been the reason I have been able to stop wearing masks and see who I really am, see who God made me to be.

Now I live a very different life. I let integrity be my guide in most everything I do. I choose to be a Real Authentic Man, a man of quality and character. Yes I still have regrets from past mistakes, but as I move forward and mature I realize that living a life of integrity means I can be free and not be held back from the mistakes of my past. Choosing to live my life free from lies and masks makes for a sweet life and as Ben Franklin said a continual Christmas.

 


R.A.M. – God First In Everything


I often struggle trying to understand where folks obtain moral guidelines and principles.  As someone who is a follow of Jesus how do they know it’s not ok to cheat, lie or murder. Who tells them it’s not right? Do they get their standards from what society says is right?  I am in no place to judge others, but it’s a question that has always run through my mind and most of the time I don’t have the answers.  It is also why I enjoy talking with other folks in deep conversations and understanding where they come from.  It help give me a better perspective.

Maybe I am the only one who thinks this.  I don’t know, what I do know is the “church” and those who profess to be Christians have deeply wounded and hurt many others who have honestly been seeking to find truth. This has left folks feeling betrayed and hating God, Christians and wanting nothing more to do with the church. Don’t think for a minute as a follower of Jesus that I don’t struggle with those same thoughts.  There have been plenty of times where I have questioned my faith journey.  In my experience as a believer, someone who has served in leadership and been an active member of the church I have been deeply wounded to the point of wanting to walk away from it all and never return.  These aren’t just one time things, they’ve happened more than I ever imagined they would.

I didn’t start attending a church until I was in the 5th grade.  Once I went and started, I really enjoyed it.  The first church I attended was a Lutheran church, services were actually held in the Catholic church because we couldn’t afford our own building.  The building with it’s stained glass, statues and other decorations was beautiful and held my attention every week.  I enjoyed the services and even as an adult going back home to visit I can still recite the liturgy.  I have truly loved going to church and being part of something greater.  Growing up I never realized all that went into having the church work.  It wasn’t until I got into leadership where I saw a different side of it.

The church is made up of sinful humans, who act out of their brokenness.  They say and do things that don’t always match up with the way God intended them too.  Being able to remember the “church” is just a building, while the people who attend it are the body.  For those of us that are sold out believers, we still have sin issues in our life and will until the day we die, however we are purposeful about constantly seeking to follow Jesus and treat those around us how he would have us treat them.

I continually keep coming back to God because my life and all that I have been through shouts out there is a God and he is in charge. Time and time again I have seen God prove himself in my life through grace, peace, wisdom and love. The only way I am the person, husband, father, friend or leader I am today is because of God and his work in my life.

For me I go back to the Bible as the place I use as my moral compass and guide. I have never read the entire Bible from front to back. I tend to focus on the New Testament, Proverbs and Job. Frankly, I find it difficult to read a lot of the Old Testament writings, they never appeal to me. However, I do believe that the Bible is relevant today just as it was when it was written. I don’t doubt for a moment that what God had to say in the beginning doesn’t pertain to me today. I have learned to take the principles of what he was speaking, test them and then work them out in my mind and see how they fit in my life and in the culture in which I live. For me the center and core of my life is designed around God and his word. The morals that guide me as a husband, father and person in general all ties back to what God has called us to be.

Every single day starts of with reading something from the bible and prayer time. I need it. I’ve always needed it, but as I have grown and mature I need it more. I strive to be the example for my children as they are my greatest audience. I take an active role in our church not just as a leader, but as a participant, I go to church on Sunday, meet with other guys weekly and talk openly and honestly about life issues we all face, I pray with other folks and make myself accountable to stay on track. I open myself up feedback all the time to make sure I am getting it right. Through all that I do it allows me to hear God at work in my life and this includes his word and him speaking to me through others.

I believe that real men need a moral compass to guide and direct their lives. Mine happens to be God and the Bible. I can’t imagine what my life would look like without him. I need and want him everyday. I believe for a man to be any good at anything he will need a force greater than himself to guide and direct his path. In my experience I believe men who are authentic choose to get real about who and what they believe and follow. They are proud of these things and allow it to permeate everything about them. These are the real authentic men I know.  Though I may fail daily, I still know it’s the right thing to do and I get back up again and push forward. Jesus is my moral compass.

 


Elusive Manhood


What does it mean to be a man today?  Do you have any idea?  In today’s society there is no definitive answer for this. Its sort of anything goes. Even as a believer and follower of Jesus I have struggled in the church to find answers of what it means to be a man. Jesus is a great model and has many attributes I try to possess, but because so many of our churches have become feminized through the years it leaves men at a loss. I have been actively involved in church leadership for many years and have struggled as a leader to help men in this area.

A year ago I went through Robert Lewis’s series “The Quest for Authentic Manhood”.  Previously I read his book “Raising a Modern Day Knight” (I’ve actually read it at least 10 times) I was amazed at what he wrote in this book and what he was able to carry out with some other men raising their sons into adulthood.  The series and the book helped me solidify traits I believe I need to posses and ones I think most men should be teaching their sons.

I remember a class I took back in high school where I was asked to make a time line and what I wanted to accomplish at certain points in my life. For me, my life has always been about wanting to get married and have a family. I hadn’t really thought much beyond that point. As I have gotten older I have tried to attach certain words to myself that I feel describe who I am and what I am about.

If we as men have no idea who or what we are about how are we going to move forward in our lives. What will propel us to the next stage? I don’t want to sit around and let life pass me by. I want to take life by the horns and live it to the fullest and not live with regrets, because I already have lots of those.

As a man how are you going to define who you truly are? In order to do this I think we have to answer these questions for ourselves first before we can help our sons or anyone else:

  • What are values you want for your life. (Integrity, honesty, hard work, fun, education)

  • What is your life going to be about? (life of serving, making money, achievements)

  • What do you want to do with your life (what will people say about you when your gone)

  • What kind of legacy do you want to leave? (what did you do to change the course of history)

In 2008 I started the year with this huge question over me – what was my life really about. In my mind I had these thoughts and ideas about who I was and what I was supposed to be. This became a daily question I couldn’t get past. The book that most changed me was called “Restless Journey” by Marcus Ryan.

I did a personal assessment of my life after reading this book and it suddenly became very clear to me that my life was about being a great father. The goal I had most longed for my entire life was here and everything I do revolved around me doing this. My job and everything else in my life allows me to focus on my kids and pour my time and energy into them. I have been called as a dad to impact my kids lives in such a way I will change their destiny and create a legacy of deep and meaningful lives.

Does that sounds pretty lofty? It’s actually what I really dream and desire to do. My wife and I look at the history of our families and really there isn’t much to be proud of.  Even to this day there so much junk exists that doesn’t need to be there. I am stopping this with our family and making changes that will enable my dreams to become reality. I am not ok with any of it and part of being a man means stepping up and stopping it. Of course it’s going to be hard and difficult but I was never guaranteed my life would be easy. So I step up, take the bull by the horns and charge forward.

Here’s what I have defined for myself as values I try to live my life by on a daily basis:

Knowledge – continually striving to be better than I am, through various means, which allows my words to be honest and wise, and my actions filled with insight and discernment

Honor – living a loyal life of commitment to God, my wife, kids, family and friends that includes faithfulness, commitment, responsibility and integrity

Fulfillment – living a courageous life filled with passion that allows me to serve others out of love and devotion

Impact – all that I do I do for the legacy I will be leaving behind me

Truth – seeking to live a life that stands up for what is right and just and using my voice to silence injustice, evil and wickedness in the world

*Notice I said try – I am not perfect, I make a ton of mistakes and as much as I hate that, I get up again, dust myself off and move forward.

I challenge all men out there to do the same. Start now by answering those questions for yourself. How would you answer those questions for yourself?