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.
This Sunday is Father’s Day and for some people that means a powerful time of positive reflection. Dad was great. Others though approach Father’s day with a yawn at best. Either way I typically look at this confused occasion as an opportunity to teach about God’s design for fatherhood and the family. Dads are influential and important beyond measure. When I talk with solid leaders I like to ask them about their fathers and their relationship with them. If I’m studying the life of a great leader from the past or one presently alive that I just can’t get close to I still try to uncover something in connection to their fathers. Almost without exception, the great Kingdom leaders that I know had a good relationship with their dad and he was a tremendous part of their inner formation.
My story is not too shiny in this department. When people ask me about my father I sometimes jokingly reply, “Well, which one”? I suppose I could categorize my journey with dads this way. (more…)
What does maturity and manhood really look like? According to Skyler Wilder who writes for NBCOlympics.com; it looks like David Wise who tore up the half pipe free-style ski event for a gold medal this past Tuesday. In Wilder’s post David is shown to be a great young and mature man who is even thinking about possibly being a pastor some day. I was thrilled to see such credit given to a young man of God. The interesting thing about the post was the number of times Wilder referenced David’s maturity and actually called it an alternative lifestyle. While the immediate context probably is a contrast of David to the other “dudes” who rip up the slopes with more power than I could ever muster, it does raise a question of what manhood really looks like in America and the Post-Modern West. The sad reality is that a young man in his early 20s who is already married and a father with a life focus used to be called normal in western culture. Such is not always the case today. In fact, Kay Hymowitz ran a report in the WSJ a few years ago that simply posed the question; “Where Have the Good Men Gone?” In her article Hymowitz observes that the Western culture is undergoing a phenomina of drop out men of enormous proportions. The truth of the matter is that countless boys and young men in America are clueless as to what exactly it means to be a man. So many of them are lost with nowhere to go and little reason to get there. What does it really mean to be a man anymore?
Are there answers? Does God have anything to say on the issue? Does it even matter? To dive into those questions and more, be sure to join us tonight at 8p Central as we talk with Steve Spicer, co-founder of Marked Men for Christ, and our other guests about manhood and maturity. As always, if you are using Google + you can find the SND page and send in live questions during the show. We will also be checking for questions or comments left here or on our SND Facebook page.
See you soon.