If you’ve been following DadPad at all you have noticed that I have been writing a series of these blog posts–4 key relationships every man needs for success in his life. I had a couple of posts that came up, one for Easter weekend and the other related to the firing of Bobby Petrino as the coach of the University of Arkansas and my perspective on that sad story. But, I’m ready to finish this series that I think contains what I believe to be the keys of life for us as men to experience more fulfilling, productive and successful lives on this earth.
Link #1, the foundation, is a relationship with God. Without this relationship we are left to wander this life thinking that we are at the center and continue to find out that we aren’t capable of being at the center. God is the creator and having created us, He knows us better than we know ourselves. His power and knowledge allow us to place our lives in His hands and the bible is our guide to knowing Him and understanding a blue print for life that woks.
Link #2 is a relationship with an older, wiser, Godly man. We need a relationship with a man who has been through the wars, traps and temptations and has come out on the other side of them. Not someone who gives us pat answers but cares enough about us to share his life, openly and honestly, but does so from the perspective of his relationship with God and life experiences.
Link #3 is a relationship with one or (preferably) more men who share life with you on a regular basis. We use the term accountability partners to describe these kind of men but I don’t like that term much. I think it gets overused and limits the focus of this relationship. Accountability to living a “right” life, growing spiritually, treating others in our lives with respect and love are all important aspects of being accountable to one another. But I’m talking about a more fulfilling and robust relationship. One that has all the earmarks of great friendship (similar likes, interests, concerns, etc.). If it’s just accountability, it may not last. If it’s a group of guys who discuss hard issues but also get together to have fun, open up their lives with each other and help each other grow spiritually, physically, emotionally and intellectually then it’s a homerun…and life changing.
That brings us to the final Link in this series. It really brings everything full circle and becomes the key to sustaining a society that values relationships above all else–(OPINION ALERT) because when all is said and done if we continue to value the land, animals and knowledge above people, we will continue to see the spiral into the moral abyss that we have seen (OPINION END). I’m talking about the relationship between our older men and our youth, the “next gen” of young men (and women) growing up and being prepared to be the future leaders.
Obviously, this is similar to the 2nd Link in that I believe every man needs an older, wiser man in his life but since this series is focused on what WE can do and the decisions WE must make to enter into these relationships (which is not easy, by the way), this last one is maybe the one that gets overlooked the most. It starts in our homes.
As a dad, I’ve been entrusted to raise my children to love God, love others, become all that God created them to be and then to release them so they can grow and, ultimately, do the same in their lives. Trouble is that our culture is currently experiencing a “fatherlessness” epidemic. The movie, COURAGEOUS was so good at raising this issue to our culture. If you haven’t seen it yet, run out to get the DVD and invite a group of men to see it with you. So many of our young children are growing up without their fathers involvement in their lives physically, spiritually and/or emotionally. There is a growing sentiment that men aren’t needed and the increasing belief that we are interchangeable in our roles as dads and moms. BALDERDASH. (There is a very interesting and well written article in The Huffington Post on this from Dr. Peggy Drexler: Role Models and the Real World—she discusses these issues from a different goal and perspective but a good read and corroborative of the need for men mentors in our young men’s lives) This is creating a huge problem for young men, especially, who have to try to navigate this life all alone. And left to ourselves we will end up walking through this life doing the best we can but falling woefully short of God’s plan and, usually destroying ourselves and those around us.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 ESV)
Not only do we have first responsibility as dads to lead our families but we are also responsible for the fatherless.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27 ESV)
So, men, it’s time that we started opening our hearts and our minds to ask God to remove the pride that keeps us from investing in being a mentor in a young man’s life. (See the relationship between Paul and Timothy for a great model). We don’t have to know all the answers, figured out all of life’s issues or even have lived an exemplary life. In fact the more grit you’ve come through to share about, the more real your relationship will become. It’s time for us in the babyboomer generation to model what mentoring looks like. Do you know what it looks like? Friendship. Caring about someone enough to pull them aside, telling them you are there for them, that there is nothing they can do to spurn your love for them and you won’t abandon them, especially in darker days. It’s not just looking aside as they destroy their lives. It’s investing time, energy and emotion into them so that after they’ve called you every name in the book, ignored you, made dumb and maybe even destructive mistakes they can call you up and you’ll still be there. Not condoning…not condemning. Just there. Then as they grow older they will have a model for what it means to be a friend that is thicker than water.
It starts at home. Establish or reestablish your life with your children, if you can. Then look around. There are young men everywhere clamoring for a caring man to invest in them. They are not projects. They are God’s next generation and we dare not cast our responsibility aside.
I’ve committed to my Board of Directors for JLA Ministries this year that I will mentor at least 4-8 young men. And, as I committed to that, I didn’t have to look hard to find them. Men…dad…now it’s your turn. If you have any questions about what to do or how to start, send me an email at [email protected]. I would love to be an encouragement to you in this world changing effort that starts one man to one young man at-a-time.
WE CAN DO THIS!