Mentors

Mentor defineA big brother. A father. An uncle. A grandfather. A best friend’s father. A youth leader from church.

Every person, but young men especially, need an older man to pour into their lives. We need someone to help us learn how to be a man. In our society, we put a lot of pressure on young women but there is also a lot of pressure put on young boys to become manly men. There are certain things that men must know. Things it is expected as a man we are aware of. There are also expectations for men which will dramatically change the world all of the men on the planet would get it right. Once these boys develop into men and then as they take on the roles of husband and father, the expectations only get higher.

How do boys learn to be men? How to boys learn the critical ‘man-stuff’ they need to know? The same way any of us learn anything – someone teaches us.

We need someone who will teach us how to treat women. Women are to be treated with dignity and respect, not as objects for our use and abuse. Boys and young men need someone to teach them the proper way to speak to a woman. The proper way to treat a young woman. I am not necessarily a supporter of the whole idea of courting, but certainly something has been lost in the way our youth and young adults are approaching dating. It has lost the special-ness and wonder it once had. It is now a commonplace, ordinary thing and not something that is special. We have lost to excitement and mystery of entering into a relationship with the opposite sex. There are a myriad of societal issues that could likely be traced back to this… that is a discussion for another time! As boys we need someone to teach us how to treat girls and ultimately women.

We need someone to teach us the mystery, wonder and exhilaration that is fire. This is essential to being a man. Other men will immediately gauge the usefulness of a man based on whether he can build a fire. Whether you use raw elements, a flint stone, lighter fluid or straight gasoline a man must be able to make a fire. This ties into a man’s overall outdoorsyness. Men are supposed to skilled outdoorsmen, too. How good of an outdoorsman can you be if you can’t start a fire.

We need someone to teach us how to properly grill meat. Any meat. Dead animal cooked over open flames is quintessential manhood. Without this ability, is a man really a man? Grilling is more than utilitarian preparation of food, it is an art form. It is something special.  Magic happens when meat is grilled.

We need someone to teach us sports. Almost without exception, it is not possible for a group of men to arrive at a park, field, friend’s house or church without some sports equipment. It could be as simple as a football, soccer ball, Frisbee or a baseball and glove. It would seem as though men are hardwired to play sports. In a group of dudes, even the ones that aren’t ‘athletic’ will find themselves getting drawn into the exhibition off sports. While we seem to be inherently keyed into sports, we still must have someone take the time and interest to cultivate the athlete inside of each of us.

Who teaches us these critical life lessons? It is often our father. Sometimes it is an older brother. It can be an uncle. Maybe a grandfather. Maybe it is your friend’s father. Or it could be a youth leader from church. Or maybe it is all of the above. As boys and young men we need someone to teach us important skills and lessons we need in life. We need someone to mentor us.

We all do. We all need someone to pour into our lives and help us to grow. It doesn’t have to be a perfect mentor. It just needs to be someone who cares about us enough to walk through life with us for a season. Mentors change. Seasons and times of our lives change and what we need out of mentors change. But, no matter the season of life we are in we need mentors.

Who has been a mentor to you? What have they taught you? Who have you been able to mentor?

An Unpleasant Emotion

fear 1

fear

ˈfir/
noun
  1. 1.
    an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

    “drivers are threatening to quit their jobs in fear after a cabby’s murder”

    synonyms: terrorfright, fearfulness, horroralarmpanicagitationtrepidation,

    dreadconsternationdismaydistress; More

There you have it. Fear.

When I think of fear, I can’t help but to think of The Replacements and the classic locker room scene where the coach asks them to admit their fears. Watch it here.

I have come to believe the reality of life is that we are held back in every aspect of lives by fear. Fear takes on many faces and comes in many forms, but the ultimate reality is that fear controls us all at some time or another. Fear traps us and keeps us from being able to move forward in life. Fear inhibits, prohibits and limits us from moving. It paralyzes. It overcomes and overwhelms. It conquers and leaves devastation in its wake.

Why? Why do we let fear immobilize us the way we do? Is fear really that powerful? Does fear really have that much control? Has fear been unlimited power, rendering us powerless to battle against it?

I think what gives fear its power is the unknown or the intangible nature of what it does to us. There are times when our fears are rooted in reality or in previous experience. But many times, fear is not rooted in anything other than our own fear of fear or a fear of the unknown or fear of an outcome based on insufficient or incomplete information. Let me explain. On Friday I took the youth from Grace Landing’s group home to a high ropes course. A couple of the obstacles we tackled you had to climb a ladder for about 15 feet, then climb a telephone pole for another 15 feet arriving at the obstacle approximately 30 feet in the air. One of the youth was barely able to make it off the ladder. He was afraid of falling. His fear in that moment was fear of an unknown, or more specifically fear based on insufficient or incomplete information. He was wearing a climbing harness which was secured around his waist. He was securely attached to a safety rope by locking carabiner. The safety rope was proper rigged and secured to an anchor point. There was a trained professional belaying this youth. There was literally no way for this youth to be injured while at the ropes course, yet his fears kept him from experiencing the ropes course to its fullest. His fear based on insufficient and incomplete information – if he fell, he would get hurt or die. His fears were never going to be realized at the ropes course.

This happens to us across the expanse of our lives. We face situations and determine our course of action based on what we think could possibly occur and if it is an outcome we don’t like, we are afraid. We begin to fear the outcome and then fear has crippled us from completing the task at hand. Fear based on a possibility. A possibility that is just as likely to not happen as it is to happen. Fear is at its essence being crippled by the possible. Even when experience supports our fear, there is no guarantee the fears will be realized this time around. For the person who gets married and their spouse breaks their heart and leaves them, just because this was their experience it does mean they should withhold from engaging in authentic relationships with other for fear of being hurt again. They may be hurt again, but they may also find a rewarding relationship in which they are surrounded by the love they deserve.

Fear, in reality, only has as much power as we give it. Fear is only as strong as we allow it to be. Fear can only overcome and cripple us because we allow it to do so.

My hope today is identify fear as a force working against us, only having the power we give it. Tomorrow, I want to identify how to limit the power we give to fear.

How has fear limited or crippled you?

Wisdom

  

It’s 8:30 on a Friday night and I’m on I-75 in the middle of South Georgia. Why?
I’m heading to north Georgia with two of my independent living youth. We are headed for the culmination of a mentoring program they started on the spring. It feels a little odd to be wrapping up the mentoring program I wasn’t really a part of. But tha s kind of how it goes. 

I have mixed feelings about being away from home this weekend. Without letting the cat out of the bag, there’s a lot going on back in Orlando. Ronda and I are in the midst of praying through a big situation for us. On one hand, I want to be there with her. One the other hand, I’m looking forward to the space and clarity that comes with spending a weekend in the woods. 

I suppose that means this weekend has a twofold purpose for me. To capstone the mentoring program and solidify my place in the lives of these youth as a mentor. And to allow God to speak to and mentor me this weekend. I have high hopes for this weekend. I’m trusting God won’t let me down. He doesn’t usually. 

The Celldweller song ‘The Last Firstborn’ is playing. That song always make me think of the Apostle Paul. He claimed his apostleship cake as one untimely born. I feel that way. Not that I’m an apostle, but that I often wonder about God’s choice to love me and use me to fulfill his purposes. But he does. And I believe this weekend he is going to teach me as much as he teaches these dudes with me. 

In some ways, I really need to hear God speak to me this weekend. I need it more than I have in quite some time. We started a new sermon series at church last week on the book of James. I’ve been reading it this week. In chapter 1, James says any who lacks wisdom should ask God in faith that he give generously to the obedient. That’s where j find myself. Asking for wisdom. Asking for God’s spirit of be upon me and inform my decision-making. I want to be a spirit-filled wise leader of the family and ministry God has trusted me with. 

This seems like a good place to close… God grant me your spirit of wisdom to be a wise leader of the people you have given to me. 

A Certain Point of View

watson mill

Luke: You told me Darth Vader betrayed and miurdered my father.

Obi Wan: What I told you was true, from a certain point of view.

Luke: A certain point of view?

Obi Wan: Luke, you will find many of the truthes we hold are from a certain point of view.

We have all heard the cliché, possession is 9/10 of the law. I think it is equally true, if not more true, to say perception is 10/10 of reality. Our reality is shaped by our perspective – our interpretation and understanding of the events and external stimuli we encounter. How we perceive the world around us becomes our reality. We approach life, situations and problems based on the way we interpret the external influences on us.

What’s the big deal about this? So what? This is critical because it sets the framework for how we react to life. I have been told I’m a ‘the glass is half empty’ kind of guy. I tend to have what some call a pessimistic, defeatist outlook. I would argue, it’s a practical, reality-bases outlook but whatever.

Many circumstances we face can swallowed much easier if we have a proper perspective. As I got up and got ready for work, ate breakfast, drove to work and arrives do late what was the cause? Did my alarm clock purposefully not go off at the appropriated time? Did my boys refuse to get dressed solely to irritate me? Was every other driver on the road setting out to get in my way? Is the world just avainst me today? Or did I have a unique set of circumstances which led to me arriving to work later than I planned? Did these circumstances allow me a few more minutes with my family this morning? As annoying as it is to catch every redlight, I can’t help but wondering what I may have avoided on the road by being stopped at those lights.

Our perspective sets the tone for our attitude and outlook on life. Here are three ways to keep perspective in perspective:

  1. Remember we aren’t alone – We barely are facing a situation which has never been faced before. We aren’t the only ones who have suffered in the way we are suffering and likely not the only ones suffering in this way currently. Remembering we aren’t alone is powerful in dealing with whatever life is throwing at us, because we know we don’t have to do it alone, all by ourselves.
  2. Remember there is a lesson in this – I have come realize even the difficult times of my life have taught me something… especially, he difficult times in my life have taught me. It is through the fire that the core of my being has been forged and made me into the man I am today. I am who I am because of what I have learned in the midst of the chaos that has been difficult times in my life.
  3. Remember someone may need our help –  It is possible there are others around us who are also suffering who need us to be there for them in the difficult times. If we can look around us and see those around us who are suffering, we could be in a position to help those who need it. Maybe we are both on the same journey and we are farther down and have words of encouragement to share. Maybe we have already conquered what they are struggling with. Maybe they can find strength and the ability to carry on because of what they see in us.

Life isn’t always easy. We don’t have the ability to control life, but we can control how we approach it and we can control our response to it. Are we going to assume we have to accept the garbage we face in life or are we going to try to look at life in such a way that we can make the most of it?

Make a Choice

  
For my job, I needed to get certified in First Aid/CPR. As I was completing the class, during the introduction the course stressed the need as a bystander when seeing an emergency you must decide to act. First and foremost, you have to make a choice. Make a decision. Either get involved or walk away. 

This is true for everything in our lives. We have to choose, make a choice to engage… to do something. That something is either walk away or get involved. 

This is especially true within relationships. This is true when we someone hurting, whether that hurt is physical, emotional or mental. Each day we make numerous decisions to get involved or to not to get involved. What is the difference between the two? Why do choose to engage in one situation and not another?

Sometimes we choose not to get involved because we don’t want to be bothered. It always takes less effort to disengage than it does to engage. Disengaging is actually the opposite of choosing to engage in a relationship in that it actually does harm.  Not only does it not strengthen the relationship, it causes it to be weakened by causing separation. 

Sometimes we don’t engage because we don’t know what to say or do… we feel unqualified or unequipped for engaging in a way that would be helpful. Oftentimes, if we wait until we are properly equipped or qualified we will never engage. 

Other times, our selfishness gets the best of us and we don’t engage simply because we can’t see past our own problems. We deceive ourselves into thinking we are the only ones with problems or that we are somehow the only ones suffering. We are self absorbed and uncaring of those around us. 

Each day, multiple times in them we will face situations where we must choose to engage or walk away. It’s up to us to prioritize relationship, to prioritize people, to decide to engage and invest in those we care about. 

the BEGINNING of it all

3630_3630_5Monday June 2nd, 2014 started out like any other Monday morning. As the day progressed there were a few differences that eventually bubbled to the surface.
Eli is now 37. He is closer to 40 than he ever has been. This is the first day of his life as  37 year old man. Old man.
That wasn’t the only beginning. It marked the beginning of a journey Eli has been preparing for over the last four or five years. Eli began a new job.
It was the first day of Eli being on staff with Grace Landing, a faith-based non-profit located in Kissimmee. Eli is coming on staff in a new position at Grace Landing which will be a part of the expected growth that will propel Grace Landing into the mainstream of the community based care and foster care licensing realm. Eli will be the first person at Grace Landing to recruit, train and support foster parents. Eli will be the first Foster Care Licensing Specialist in the history of Grace Landing.
This is a very exciting time not just for Eli, but for Grace Landing. This is a move they have been planning for the last several years and with Eli coming on staff the journey is just now beginning. Eli has much to bring to the table for an organization such as Grace Landing. But, Grace Landing has much to bring to the table as an organization for someone like Eli.
As the hiring process began in a very humble way and progressed and moved through to its final stages, it became clear to all those involved this indeed was the direction God had been leading them both.
Eli will be build on his experiences as a case worker for the state of Florida as well as his experience in ministry in the local church, but also his education and experience in mental health counseling. Eli has recently completed a master’s degree in mental health counseling and will be putting his hard-earned education to use in this position.
Eli will be able to further expound and clarify his love and passion for families as he identifies, trains and equips families to serve the foster children of central Florida. Eli has been searching for an outlet such as this to share his insights and passion for the family and this position at Grace Landing is precisely what he needs to be able to do that.
This isn’t really the beginning of it all… but it is certainly the beginning of a time tat will see incredible growth in the lives of both Eli and Grace Landing.
While 37 may be three years away from being over the hill… it is a lifetime away from being the end of the journey for Eli. This is just the beginning…

Setbacks

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Setbacks. Roadblocks. Speed bumps. Pot holes. Getting knocked down. Challenges. Obstacles.

Whatever you want to call them we all experience them.

I love to trail run. Running is sublime in and of itself, but being able to commune with nature and enjoy the run in that environment is truly a pleasure. The downside to it is that I often get so wrapped up in the moment and the joy that I often don’t notice a root sticking out of the ground invariably I trip and fall. And it hurts. It is surprising. Did I mention it hurts? But you get back up and you keep going. You finish the run. And you don’t hesitate to trail run next time either.

This week, brought me my biggest setback in my counseling program. I have to withdraw from my internship. It really sucks. But it is ok. It is out of my hands. The site I was interning at, didn’t have the number of clients coming in regularly that I need in order to complete the hours I needed to complete. So in order to not jeopardize my placement in the program I am withdrawing, reloading for January and I will start again.

Throughout our lives we will encounter roadblocks, setbacks, challenges, obstacles. What do we do when we encounter them? Do we stay on the ground? Do we admit defeat and give up? It would do no good to give up the trail run after tripping over the root, because you would be stuck on the trail and possibly become food for the next skunk ape to pass by (I live in Florida and the skunk ape is our version of Bigfoot).

We can not let these setbacks define us. We have to be defined by our response to the setbacks. And our response to these setbacks needs to be to get up and try again. We can’t let a few setbacks stand in the way of our goals, dreams and becoming the person we want to be.

Reload.

Start again.

Keep trying.

Don’t give up.

This is by far the biggest obstacle I’ve encountered in this program, believe me there have been many setbacks, but it will not defeat me. It will not cause me to give up. I will not admit defeat. I will not fail.

What defines us is not whether we experience a setback or not… it is what we do after we encounter them. Do we get back up? Do we stay the course? Do we finish the run?

Not allowing the setbacks to stop us is more descriptive of who we are.

Get up, keep going, don’t stop.

That’s what I’m doing. How are you going to overcome your setback?

the Undiscovered Country

Star Trek 6 was in my mind, one of the best of them.

In an effort for the Klingons and the Federation to end their war, this term was used to describe the future. No one knows for sure what it is going to look like… except God.

***Vagueness Disclaimer*** I am about to be vague. You are warned.

God has a way of working his plans, despite our efforts sometimes.

Ronda and I have been praying through some things for many months now. And a couple of months of ago, we took the plunge and finally made decision to follow God in a particular way. This was a scary decision for us… but we finally did it.

And God has not stopped moving since we did this. We were subsequently enveloped in a whirlwind of movement of the Spirit. I have no explanation for it, except that God was calling and I listened.

I thought to myself, ‘this is incredible’. It felt like we were getting no response from God until we decided and stopped being ‘like a man tossed by the waves’. I am reminded of Revelation when Jesus speaks to the church in Laodicea, he says he hates their lukewarmness. Is being tossed byt he waves, unable to decide the same as lukewarmness? I don’t know, but I have to think that kind of disunity or inability to move forward isn’t what God is calling us to.

Where does the journey from here? I’m not entirely sure. But I know that I am done standing around and waiting, I am following God in this journey to see where it goes.

God is awesome, and great things are ahead. How do I know?

Because I’ve met this God I follow before and I know what he is like.