It was late November of 96 and we were packing up to move north for our first full-time ministry after returning from the mission field. The process included securing a moving truck and car trailer in tow. I had never driven anything as big as this truck before and I was a bit concerned, especially with the car trailer attached. My dad never taught me how to handle anything this big before when I was a kid. Actually, he had never really encouraged me that I could do anything bigger than my present reality.
But my friend Todd, who is now a Bible Translator in Papua New Guinea, was with me as we made the final connections for the tail lights. We wiped our hands off and took a deep breath from a job well done. Then, after another deep breath, I said, “Todd, you know, I’ve never really driven anything this big before and honestly I’m a bit afraid that I’m going to wreck it or something.” Todd just looked at me and nodded his head once with a small smile. I went on, “but I guess I just need to be a man about it and push forward.” Again, Todd just gave a small smile and quick nod and only offered the one-word response of, “yup.”
That’s really all there was to it from then on out. We prayed, asking for God’s help. I then shook Todd’s hand, thanked him, and then climbed into the cab and took off. But that’s what I needed. I needed another guy just to tell me that I was a man and that I could do it.
I know I’m not alone in this search. I know it’s been this way before. Way back in the first century, the apostle Paul exhorted men to “be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, and be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” As I read that section even today, I can’t help but imagine how life would be different if men would fully rise up to live that kind of life out. When men actually rise up to take responsibility for themselves and make sacrifices for others, then only good can come from such a culture. Maleness is something we are born with. But it is in working out that masculinity that men are produced. That’s why we need men like Paul and Todd and others who have journeyed with God and are able to point the way for boys and younger men.
I’ve mentioned Marked Men For Christ before in my scribbles and I can honestly not think of a better ministry for men today. Sure, there are a lot of great men’s events. But the key to Marked Men is with its continued strategy of brotherhood. Beyond the initial weekend event where guys are challenged to remove their facades, the ministry calls them to step into life with one another like a platoon of Marines willing to take shrapnel for each other. It’s that iron sharpens iron design that Solomon spoke about in Proverbs 27:17. Men need other men in their lives and this is especially true for guys who grew up without dads. It sure has been true for me.
Part of my childhood was lived without a dad in the house. During those seasons my mother attempted to include some men in my life such as my uncle who walked with God. She didn’t fret over getting more ladies into my impressionable heart. She knew that men and women are different and that I needed the gift of masculinity and the challenge of manhood. Today, there are times when I meet a young boy and in our connecting I’ll extend my hand and instead of offering up a “high five” I’ll say something along the lines of, “let’s shake hands like men.” Sometimes it’s those little encouragements along the way that help a boy realize who he is and what he can become someday no matter what his personal temperament might be. He just needs to hear, from a man; that he indeed is or will be a man someday.
For me I still remember one of those small transformational steps. It wasn’t big, but it was recognition and sometimes that is enough to get the ball rolling. We were at my aunt and uncle’s house for some kind of family gathering and I was the only kid around at the moment near my age. For whatever reason, I was in the dining area bored out of my skull listening to my mom, aunt, and three or four other ladies talk. Then, I heard my uncle’s father yell at me from out on the back yard patio, “Steve, what are you doing? Come out here and sit with the men.” It was a little thing. But yet why is it that I remember it still to this day? Because a man I respected called me out to be with him. If such, then possibly I’d be a man someday too and so I am.
Who are you going to encourage today and what would you add?