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Dad as Protector

10 Jan

Christmas 2012When Josiah was born, I remember the first time that I took him in my arms. I carried him like a fragile flower. I didn’t want to put him down, but felt as if he was safest in my arms. There he was protected, and I never wanted to let go. The years have passed, and Josiah barely fits in my arms. Even if he did, his energy level doesn’t allow him to slow down. Josiah spends his days running here and there, trying to keep himself occupied.

Today, in the middle of a friend’s birthday party, he fell and broke his arm. I was not there to catch him, save him, protect him. I wish I had been there, and kept him from the pain and suffering.

As I sat in the emergency room, the what ifs invaded my mind bringing with them feelings of sorrow and frustration. Why did it have to be him? Since birth, my son has had a broken leg, a broken finger, and two other broken bones.

It is not fair. It is not fair to him, and definitely not fair to me.

So why?

In that moment, I remembered that God is in control and not me. God has a plan for my little boy, and I need to accept that His plan includes a broken arm. I may not like it, or want it, but I have to live with it. His plan for Josiah may bring me to tears, or anger. However, there comes a point when I need to stop fighting, whining, and crying, and step forward in faith. A faith in God’s love. A trust in His care. A Hope that He will see my little boy through.

As I sat in the x-ray room, I took my first step – a step to trust that God has a plan. I braced myself as they put my little guy under, and prepared to set his arm. Tears rolled down my checks as I embraced that even pain can come from the hand of the Father. The lab tech, worrying that I was about to faint, asked me if I needed a chair. I sat down, and begin to feel relief. I am not sure if it was from the chair or the freedom that accompanies faith.

Today it was a broken arm. Tomorrow it will be a broken heart. Many things, good and bad, will come upon my little boy. Some that I like, and many that I won’t.

My arms can’t keep him safe forever, because God didn’t design us merely for protecting our children. Instead, God designed me for trusting – a concept that I find much more difficult.

Rites of Passage – A Must-do for every Dad

2 Jan

Turning 16 is a critical time in a boy’s life.  Not simply because they can apply for a driver’s license, but because it is a time when difficult choices are being made.  A time when a boy needs a solid foundation on which to base those choices.   A time when a boy needs direction and leadership.   I believe that the most important source of this direction is his dad.  But the message given by a dad may be easier to hear, if repeated from other godly men.

When my oldest son, Logan, was a teenager, I was listening to the radio station when they described a special activity a father planned for his son when he turned 16.  The father arranged for a group of godly men to take a long walk with his son to share their advice and encouragement about growing into manhood.  While I was not an expert in living a godly life and not a gifted communicator, I knew this was something that I needed to do.  I gathered a group of men whose faith I respected, and would have a unique perspective on becoming a man.   My desire was their advice and encouragement would provide a solid foundation and direction for my son as he entered adulthood.

father and son share a rock from Flickr via Wylio

© 2012 Doug McCaughan, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

Two months before I started to talk with my wife about which men should be asked to participate in the relay walk.   We narrowed the list to his youth pastor, his grandfather, and a coach from school.  My wife suggested that I should also be one of the men walking with my son, so I added my name to the list.

Then I prayed:  first, that the men would all be willing to participate and second, that I could get them all together on a Saturday morning.   I contacted each of the men to ask them if they would be willing to spend 10 to 15 minutes on a walk with my son to provide advice and encouragement to him about growing into a godly man.

A couple of weeks before the walk, I sent an email to each man with a map of the route, and where each man would wait for my son.  Then following the mid-morning walk, I planned for us to gather at nearby restaurant for lunch.

I then began to plan what I would say to Logan on the walk.  It was an opportunity for me to share my heart with my son, and to point him toward the Lord as the foundation of his life.  Prior to becoming a follower of Jesus, my main concern about him was to achieve good grades, and be “successful.” But now my main concern was that he grow close to the Lord – and follow His leading.

My son was overwhelmed by the messages shared by these men, and that a group of men would be willing to spend their Saturday morning focusing on him.

My son is now a young man, and still follows the faith.  The Lord has blessed him in countless ways, and continues to draw him closer to Himself.   There have been numerous people and experiences that have helped him along this path – both before and after his 16th birthday.  But I know that this rite of passage was one of the key experiences that set his course.

Several years later, I planned another relay walk this time for my second son, Kellan. As I gathered this new group of men, I invited Kellan’s older brother to participate.  What a blessing it was to see them walk side by side that morning.

I strongly encourage all dads to arrange a man walk for your son’s 16th birthday.  The walk will be a very special time for you, your son, and will have a lasting impact on everyone involved.

Written by Ron.

If you have a story of a rite of passage that will encourage other parents, please send it to gdavid@earesources.org.

Your Mentor is not good enough.

15 Nov

 

You may have a good mentor.  You may have a great mentor. You may have the world’s best mentor. However, I have bad news for you.

 

Your mentor is not good enough.

I believe in mentoring relationships.  Well, I actually believe in symbiotic relationships which better expresses the mutual benefits of the relationship.  I also prefer the word discipleship (2 Timothy 2:2), but since neither of those words are trending, I will stick with the word mentor (imagine your favorite sad emoji – here).

Here are four reasons why your mentor is not good enough.

The instability of life.

The geographical instability of Emerging Adults causes instability in many other areas of life including: income, living situations, and relationships.  Distance affects our relationships, and it doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder.  While relationships can continue long distance, you can’t get a hug online.  Make sure you have multiple healthy relationships in case your life (or their life) makes a sudden left turn.

 

 Your mentor is not fully equipped to meet all your needs.

I am high maintenance.  Ask my mentors.  Ask my wife.  Ask my friends.
The good news for them is that I am worth it. And so are you.

One individual cannot possibly meet all your needs. Even the best mentors are limited in their own skills, knowledge, and bandwidth. There are people who perform some elements of what mentors do, while failing altogether in other elements.  (Parks 2000)  We all have various needs which may include:  social, vocational, relational, financial, and academic. Take time to reflect and understand the depths of your needs and identify several individuals who can support you.

Your mentor doesn’t have the time to meet your needs.

We all live under time constraints, and have a limited network of relationships.  While our mentor may want to spend time with you, other issues may rightly take precedence in their life.  No single relationship can satisfy the casting needs for the drama of our becoming. (Parks 2000)  We are all needy – at times in life. We need regular support, and putting that pressure on one individual to meet your needs moves a mentor towards burnout. If you always see Jane on the weekends, but she works during the week, maybe you can locate someone who has a similar schedule as you to connect with during the week.

Your mentor cannot give you a proper concept of community.

Mentoring should not simply be done exclusively in coffee shops, but should extend into everyday, dynamic contexts.  While a mentor can help you process the issues in life, you also need mentors with whom you can experience life together.  According to Parks, places that typically represent the power of mentoring communities in young adult lives are higher education, professional education, workplaces, travel, the natural environment, families, and religion.  (Parks 2000)  In a community setting, mentors can see the individual’s behavior, and observe how others respond.

Your mentor is not enough.  This is the purpose of mentoring community and the beauty of the body of Christ.  A church which seeks to build intergenerational relationships is naturally designed to fulfill this purpose.

 
Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing Director of EA Resources, and the Founder of the EA Network – a Facebook community focused on those who minister to emerging adults.

Dad Jokes from the Mission Aviation Fellowship

18 Aug

Humor is important for any home.

I know that my boys think I am funny…

Well, I might be stretching the truth, but they have laughed at me before.

I hope that this video will help you lighten up a bit, and bring some joy to your and your home.  The video includes many DAD Jokes from men who are employed with Mission Aviation Fellowship.  Here is the video.

MAF.JPG

The MAF enables thousands of aid, relief and mission projects in really remote places. Because that’s where some of the greatest human needs are.  You can check out their work at their website.

 

The Debate Continues – Are Beards falling out of style?

5 Aug

Let’s be real.

Most men who have beards really don’t care whether they are in style or not.

I have a love-hate relationships with shaving.  My wife loves it.  I hate it.  Therefore, I usually have about five days of hair growth before I shave it off.

Here is the article.

beardsIn the past few years, a number of predictions have declared the end of the beard. “Sorry guys, beards are over,” said the website Mashable. “Beards Aren’t Cool Anymore,” said Vice.

But beards are still here — at the Oscars, parading down catwalks and on regular guys. Could it be that beards are more than a fashion statement? Continue reading

Religious Trauma and the Binding of Isaac

13 Jul

I have featured Julia’s work, and recently came across this on her blog regarding the Sacrifice of Abraham.

“Deceived, tied up, and held at knife-point — all by his own father? Because God said so? Talk about traumatic!” an older lady exclaimed.

Here is the blog post.

I stopped reading the story of Abraham’s sacrifice to my children when they are younger.  My first born was shaking after I read him the story from a Bible story book, and he still asks me if I would ever kill him if God asked me to do it.  There are many stories in the Old Testament for which a young child is not ready to understand from a developmental point of view.

Julia makes the beautiful point that even when “God provides” during or following trauma – it does not cease to be traumatic.  The trauma still affects the individual – often in painful ways.

I have suffered religious trauma.  I am a victim of spiritual abuse, and struggle with something that I call – “Post-Traumatic Church Disorder.”

You can read more about my own story here.

Julia makes a beautiful point when she states,

It’s hard for the hurt and the hope to coexist. But I think that’s what the story of the binding of Isaac, and the story of any religious trauma, has to tell. It’s not an easy story. But it’s a good one.

Julia Powers is a writer and seminary student at Duke University Divinity School, where she is pursuing the M.Div. degree with certificate in Anglican Studies. Her primary professional interests revolve around pastoral care & counseling, spiritual formation, and young adult ministries. For fun, she enjoys blogging (www.juliapowersblog.com), dabbling in iPhone app development (www.emojicheck.com), reading, and spending time with friends and family.

Posts related to Spiritual Trauma:

 

Leveraging Milestones – Rites of Passage within a Faith Community

11 Jul

Fuller Youth Institute released this article, and I wanted to share because it deals with rites of passage in a faith community.  The article is mislabeled as most of the content deals with addressing milestones and spirituality within a church or spiritual community.

Leveraging Milestones: Making Spiritual Conversations Normal At Home

I believe that the article does a great job of pointing out spiritual milestones or rites of passages for children as they grow into adults.

Here is the article.

My Highlights include:

  • Whether rites of passage or milestones, church communities have unique opportunities to intersect families at these various points and equip them to normalize spiritual conversations within their home life.
  • Our desire is for spiritual conversations in the family ecofriendly-minivan to be as normal as the conversations about basketball or the latest Disney hit.
  • Chart of Rites of Passages and Questions that they answer.

If you are new to the discussion of rites of passages in faith development, here are some additional resources.

What milestones does your faith community acknowledge and celebrate?

How do you communicate the definition and transition into manhood to your children, adolescents, and emerging adults?

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