I was in an enormous Boy Scout troop from sixth grade through early high school and earned my Eagle Scout in December of 1984. This was a time before politics took over the BSA, and it had a much more manly culture then. Now, you should understand that the difference between our unit, Troop 80, and other Scouting programs was the sizable number of men committed to the cause. Because of their dedication, our Troop became one of the largest in our area, if not the entire state of Texas. Through hard work, patience, persistence, and strategy, the Troop incorporated and even built its own meeting hall.
Very few Boy Scout outfits achieve such stature. The other Troops in the area hated us. Of course, that just made us more proud of who we were. One of my friends, an Eagle Scout with another Troop, always talked like we were the Imperial Guard from Star Wars or something. We were big and tough and victorious at Field Day events. Indeed, it takes a strong commitment from a solid group of men to create such a program.
I believe this intersection of Scouting and my journey was a providential move God brought into my life. (more…)
This past weekend I attended a memorial service for a great man. His name is Walter, and he had a tremendous impact on countless souls during his years on earth. Walter was an attorney who fought for civil rights during the 60s and 70s and even argued and won more than one case before the Texas Supreme Court.
Walter was heavily involved in Boy Scouts of America and lived to serve and support those in need around him. The drive for Walter’s care for others was rooted in his relationship with Jesus Christ. His passion for Jesus was on display for all to see, even in his last days.
All of that is enough for praise at a memorial. For me, though, Walter was more. He was a significant father figure in my life. So when I got word last Thursday night that Walter had gone home to be with the Lord, I told my wife that there was more of a sense of loss in his death than when my adopted father died.
Walter and his family showed me Christ, and he also demonstrated to me what manhood was in a world of so many mixed messages.
In my book, Confessions, I noted that I lived part of my childhood without a dad in the house. During those seasons, my mother tried to include some men in my life, men such as Walter, and his son, Eric, who led me to Christ. 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.
As I scan the neighborhoods of the world today, I see this need being much more pressing in the lives of boys and young men. So I try to convey the love of Christ and work to build and encourage boys and young men the way Walter and others encouraged me.
Today, there are times when I meet a young boy and extend my hand, but instead of offering a high five, I’ll say something like, “Let’s shake hands like men.” Sometimes it’s those little encouragements along the way that helps a boy realize who he is and what he can become as he grows. He needs to hear—from a man—that he indeed is or will be a man someday.
I still remember one of those transformational steps. It wasn’t big, but it was recognition, and sometimes that’s enough to get the ball rolling. We were at my aunt and uncle’s house for some family gathering, and I was the only kid my age there. I was bored out of my skull in the dining area, listening to my mom, aunt, and three or four other ladies talk. Then I heard Walter yell at me from the back patio: “Steve, what are you doing? Come out here and sit with the men.” It was a little thing, but why do I still remember it to this day? Because a man I respected called me out to be with him. If this man was calling me a man, then I figured I’d possibly be a man someday, too. Thus I am.
Who was a powerful man in your life?
If you’d like more on the subject of manhood, check out chapter 4 in the Confessions book. Also available at B&N and Audible.
Like many guys who have achieved their Eagle Scout and others who care about the Boy Scout program, I’ve been watching the recent debate over homosexual leadership with some sense of emotion. Just yesterday the National BSA postponed making their decision regarding the ban for reasons we can only speculate on. What many people don’t realize is that lifting such a ban will more than likely destroy the American Scouting program which has been a huge building block in society for over 100 years. According to the LGBT community, the big push to lift this ban on homosexual leadership is based in a belief that this is really racial and therefore a civil rights issue. That sounds like a good and valid question until you realize that we are talking about a preference or propensity toward a behavior and not a skin pigment or ethnic group.
Do some men and women feel a same sex attraction? I believe so. However, that is not the fundamental question. The real issue is whether or not it’s right to simply act out what we feel. (more…)