Archives For Faith

Survival is Insufficient

January 25, 2019 — 2 Comments

“Survival is insufficient”

I have been fascinated with post-apocalyptic stories since I was a kid. There are variations of these stories and each has its own cause of societal breakdown like a virus in Contagion, zombies in World War Z, nuclear fallout in The Day After, or even a mysterious cause like in The Road. I love each of them for what they set to achieve in telling a survival story. Enter Station Eleven, the most subtle of them all. “Survival is insufficient” is the motto of a traveling Shakespeare troupe in Emily St. John Mandel’s novel Station ElevenThe line comes from Star Trek: Voyager. I read Station Eleven a few years ago and this motto has stuck with me ever since.

Station Eleven is a light, often beautiful novel which manages to be both elegiac and optimistic as I read an from early review I read. The novel is set before, during, and fifteen years after a frighteningly efficient flu virus wipes out most of humanity within a week. The main characters are followed as they travel around Michigan and Canada on wagons. Station Eleven focuses transition between previous everyday life and the current apocalypse, and then between apocalypse and what comes next. Normal life again.

I’m also reading Island of the Lost, a story about two shipwrecks on opposite ends of the Auckland Islands, 250 miles south of modern New Zealand in the mid 19th Century. In 1864 Captain Thomas Musgrave and his crew of four aboard the schooner Graftonwreck on the southern end of the island are utterly alone in a dense coastal forest plagued by hurricane gusts, stinging blowflies, and near starvation.. Captain Musgrave—rather than succumb to this dismal fate—inspires his men to take action. With few tools, they build a cabin and, remarkably, a forge, where they manufacture their tools. Under Musgrave’s leadership, they band together and remain civilized through even the darkest and most terrifying days.

Incredibly, at the same time on the opposite end of the island—twenty miles of impassable cliffs and interior mountainous terrain—the Invercauld wrecks during a horrible storm. Nineteen men stagger ashore. Unlike the Grafton, the captain of the Invercauld falls apart given the same dismal circumstances. His men fight and split up; some die of starvation, others turn to cannibalism. Only three survive. Musgrave and all of his men not only endure for nearly two years, they also plan their own astonishing escape, setting off on one of the most courageous sea voyages in history.

What was different between the two? What set Musgrave apart was that he focused his men on staying focused on moving at all times. They created tools, hunted, studied indigenous animals, read the Bible to each other, and even taught each other languages. Despite their circumstances, Musgrave and his men were growing in their hearts and minds while physically surviving.

Survival is Insufficient. 

None of us know how we would handle each of these dire circumstances. Each one poses a new reality for its characters whether fiction or non-fiction. Thank God most of us will never encounter anything like these ships. Each day of our lives can feel like drudgery and we spend our time as though we are merely surviving. I love a good schedule and staying busy. That means I accomplish a lot of tasks. Yet, I rarely pause to reflect or think about what it all means. Reading these stories serve as a wake-up call to me because the way I live my life can be perceived as living through apocalypse or shipwreck. I am left with these questions:

  • How am I reading more widely? How am I writing?
  • How am I learning how to be a better and more loving husband?
  • How am I learning how to become a better father?
  • How am I growing in grace to follow Jesus more passionately?
  • How am I growing to be a better professional at work?
  • What am I doing to become a better leader and encourager to those on my team and those around me?

Our lives may not be the backdrop of an apocalypse but deep down it can feel like it. What questions do you need to ask of yourself to live and serve better?

“Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 CSB

Resilience.

The word is often misunderstood. Most people think the word means “bouncing back.” We often refer to people, especially kids who get knocked down as “resilient” kids. While there is some truth in that comparison, I have learned that resilience as a life virtue is something much greater. And important.

glencoe-panorama-ray-devlin

Glencoe Valley, Scotland. Photo by Ray Devlin

This post is a reminder of why I started writing–thinking of my children first, and then others that I love and want to encourage. In life, we are forged by our experiences and resilience is the tool. It is tempting to retreat when hard times come our way. As I reflect on my life, I’ve been guilty of doing so and regret it every time. Self-doubt, insecurity, and depression can haunt us. They are the levers of defeat and none of us can escape them fully. Enter resilience. My reminder of resilience is the picture above of Glencoe Valley in Scotland. It hangs in my office. Glencoe was carved out of some of the harshest weather of the Scottish Highlands. I’ve traveled through Glencoe in clear skies, shadowy mist, and even blanketed snow. There are no perfect weather guarantees at Glencoe and that is why it is so beautiful and mystical. It haunts me because it is resilient.

I recently listened to a podcast interview with Eric Greitens who wrote a book about the virtue and properly titled it, ResilienceThis is perhaps one of the most important books to our development as human begins. I love the writing style Greitens utilizes as a friend sharing wisdom with another friend. After all, we as frail people needs good friends and mentors to encourage us along the way.

For a long time, I looked at Eric Greitens as someone who is too good to be true. Athlete. Duke graduate. Rhodes scholar. Humanitarian. Navy SEAL. Founder of a non-profit supporting veterans. Governor of the state of Missouri. All accomplished by a 43-year-old. His public appearance is of a man who has done all of the right things.

After reading, it is evident that he as suffered as most people do and has developed a sense of humility about it. Resilience has been an important book to help me dive back into the classics by Homer and Aristotle, and is helping shape the way I think about the world and my life challenges. I am grateful for this book and would put it at the top of a must read for anyone wanting to understand their suffering or how to help someone who is going through trials.

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There are many challenging quotes from the book that I pulled. I hope you will be encouraged to fight through with resilience. You are not alone.

Why Resilience

“We all need resilience to live a fulfilling life. With resilience, you’ll be more prepared to take on challenges, to develop your talents, skills, and abilities so that you can live with more purpose and more joy. I hope something here can help you to become stronger.”

“What happens to us becomes part of us. Resilient people do not bounce back from hard experiences; they find healthy ways to integrate them into their lives. In time, people find that great calamity met with great spirit can create great strength.”

Leadership

“Leaders lead from the front. Never ask someone to endure more than you are willing to endure yourself.”

“Beware the person who seeks to lead and has not suffered, who claims responsibility on the grounds of a spotless record.”

“We are almost always better led by those who have pushed themselves up to and past their limits than by those who don’t know where their limits are.”

The Fight

“And it’s often in those battles that we are most alive: it’s on the front lines of our lives that we earn wisdom, create joy, forge friendships, discover happiness, find love, and do purposeful work. If you want to win any meaningful kind of victory, you’ll have to fight for it.”

“When we have meaningful, fulfilling, purposeful work, it radiates through our lives.”

“You’ll understand your own life better, and the lives of others better, if you stop looking for critical decisions and turning points. Your life builds not by dramatic acts, but by accumulation.”

“What usually matters in your life is not the magical moment, but the quality of your daily practice.”

“If we are intentional about what we repeatedly do, we can practice who we want to become.”

“Resilient people do not bounce back from hard experiences; they find healthy ways to integrate them into their lives.”

Responsibility

“At the root of resilience is the willingness to take responsibility for results.” 

“You are not responsible for everything that happens to you. You are responsible for how you react to everything that happens to you.”

“People who think you are weak will offer you an excuse. People who respect you will offer you a challenge.”

“Any nation that draws too great a distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools.”

Facing critics

“Know this: anyone who does anything worthy, anything noble, anything meaningful, will have critics.”

Understanding pain and hardship

“Resilience is the virtue that enables people to move through hardship and become better.”

“To work through pain is not to make it disappear, but to make it mean something different for us—to turn it into wisdom.”

“To move through pain to wisdom, through fear to courage, through suffering to strength, requires resilience.”

“An unwillingness to endure the hardship of a depressed time keeps us from the possibility of capturing the wisdom and strength and joy that can exist on the other side. There is a season to be sad. Painful things hurt. Allow yourself to be hurt.”

Humility

“I begin with humility, I act with humility, I end with humility. Humility leads to clarity. Humility leads to an open mind and a forgiving heart. With an open mind and a forgiving heart, I see every person as superior to me in some way; with every person as my teacher, I grow in wisdom. As I grow in wisdom, humility becomes ever more my guide. I begin with humility, I act with humility, I end with humility.”

“If you start with humility, you see every person as your teacher.”

 

I have put audiobooks to rest for the past couple months to focus on a podcast binge.

Most of it has been spent listening to interviews on Fresh Air, The Tim Ferriss Show, Brian Koppelman’s The Moment, and others. I’ve always been liked the one on one interview format to learn about “what makes a person who they are.” It doesn’t have to always focus on some outrageously successful person but it needs to dig into what makes people tick to do what they do. Podcasts are able to successfully do this because tv shows typically have to serve the short attention span of its audience while succumbing to pressure from advertisers. On broadcast television, Charlie Rose is probably one of the few to still do this and the Larry King one on one talk show format simply doesn’t work anymore, which is sad.

Enter podcasts, the hope for the future.

In all of the interviews that I’ve listened to, there is something special that keeps rising to the surface. Good interviewers are able to dig into what makes that person special or discovers moments that helped the person break through in life.

It is simple and it affects us everyday.

As I listened to so many of these people interviewed, each shared a story of how words changed their lives. Whether positively or negatively, words often changed the course of their lives. Here are three examples.

McChrystal leading his team

McChrystal leading his team

General Stanley McChrystal

On one of the podcasts, General Stanley McChrystal shared an important story about his time as a cadet at West Point. McChrystal is one of the most successful military leaders of our age and as a young West Point cadet, he was graded often in the middle of his class. He couldn’t seem to break ahead and several commanders repeatedly told him he did not have a chance to become a true leader in the army. It wasn’t until a senior officer at West Point pulled him aside and pointed out one very important thing. He told McChrystal that his peers repeatedly gave him high marks and believed in him as a leader. The senior officer explained to McChrystal that he had what it took because his fellow cadets believed in him and would follow him. Whereas other senior officers overlooked this characteristic, that moment changed his life. These words became a cornerstone of his leadership as servant leader and he repeats this lesson to others.

field-of-dreams-kevin-costner

Kevin Costner on set of Field of Dreams

Kevin Costner

Next, it may not be a big surprise for an actor to be self-conscious but Kevin Costner shared a story on Tim Ferriss’ Show about when he was in 3rd grade. He was walking in the hallway at school when he was called into a 5th grade classroom. The teacher for some reason wanted to show off and asked the young Costner to complete a complex math problem on the board when he clearly was years away from being able to complete. Costner couldn’t do the math and the teacher began to laugh at him in front of the whole class. Over fifty years later, Costner could recall that moment in such detail as it affected him today. He still seemed bothered by it. In an opposite way, those words motivated him to evaluate how he would treat others, especially working in an entertainment industry focused on “me.” It has served him well as Costner is one of the most well liked and successful artists of the past thirty years. Most people know of his success in sports movies like Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, and Tin Cup but he is also an Oscar-winning screenwriter, director, producer, and now an author.

A Rowdy 6th Grader

Last, this story is about my time as a rowdy 6th grader. I wasn’t a poor student or necessarily a kid with a bad reputation but was distracted and occasionally disrespectful. There was a day in class when I was fooling around with other boys in my class. My teacher was a newer teacher and was trying to figure us out. Mrs. Conley stood up and with the look on her face, you knew she had it with us. She looked us with this look of “you better be quiet now or else….” She then proceeded to walk over to the stereo and turn up the dial to Aretha Franklin’s iconic song RESPECT. She took us around the class dancing to the song and singing the lyrics. It brought a lot of laughter but she took time throughout the year to talk to me and teach me about what respect meant and how to treat others. Boy, did she work me over and almost 25 years later, it still sticks with me. I am thankful for Mrs. Conley and am pleased she is still teaching and impacting lives of the next generation.

 

Our life is full of scenes of words to build us up and words to break us down. We can choose to be crushed by these words or we can use them to lift us up.

Paul reminds us in 2 Timothy 1:7,

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

In fact, this is a mere sprinkling of encouragement you can find from Paul and others in the Bible. It is a reminder that encouragement is needed more than ever in our lives today.

God whispers to us encouragement everyday through his Word and through others. 

But, just as the serpent spoke nonsense to Adam and Eve, we also must pray for discernment. In those moments, remind yourself that you are not alone and that encouragement is still there.

Instead of sharing words to break others down, share words that matter and can change hearts.

You never really know the power of these words at the time but they can change the direction of a person’s life.

As you read this post, possibly millions of people have read Go Set a Watchman, the highly anticipated first-written draft and sequel to the beloved To Kill a Mockingbirdboth by Harper Lee.

The first printing of Harper Lee’s anticipated first book, Go Set A Watchman made recent history with a first printing of 1-3 million copies (depending on last-minute pre-orders). For comparison, To Kill a Mockingbird printed only 5,000 copies in 1960 for its first printing. Most 8th and 9th graders in the United States read it in their English or American Literature classes and most likely will continue to do so for generations to come.

I don’t anticipate Go Set a Watchman to be received in the same way.

In addition, I am not ready to read this book and probably never will. 

I, and many others are still not convinced that Harper Lee has given genuine and of sound mind consent to have the book published. I would not expect there being legal issues, though. It is not definitive though whether she gave the publisher the “go” to publish it. Nevertheless, I am no conspiracy theorist as there are plenty of articles that have covered the issue. Due to her health, rumored to be almost blind and deaf, I cannot imagine she has even looked at the manuscript in years.

The title, Go Set a Watchman, comes from the Bible, Isaiah 21:6 (KJV):

For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.

It alludes to Scout, now commonly known as Jean Louise Finch, and her view of her father, Atticus Finch, as the moral compass (“watchman”) of Maycomb. Atticus Finch is indeed the watchman in To Kill a Mockingbird. 

Scout (Mary Badham) and Atticus (Gregory Peck in 'To Kill a Mockingbird' (1962)

Scout (Mary Badham) and Atticus (Gregory Peck in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ (1962)

I read To Kill a Mockingbird twice in high school; once at my first high school in Kansas City, then again at my second high school in St. Louis. I read it during such an important point of my life, in my formative years and during a move in which I felt so alone and like an outsider, much like the characters in Mockingbird. The book helped me see people better from their perspective, to be patient, courageous, and not rush to judgment. I trust other children experienced it in similar ways.

It is hard not to admire Atticus. Played brilliantly by Gregory Peck in the movie by the same name soon after the book’s release, it is probably the finest adapted screenplay ever created. The American Film Institute in 2003 released its 100 Heroes in 100 Years list and Atticus Finch topped it. I don’t think I’ve ever stood up and cheered louder when the list was announced during the television special.

In the new book, Go Set a Watchman, the Atticus we know is humanized further and is discovered to be more of a racist and complex person. In Lee’s new book, he is a changed watchman.

Atticus Finch matters to me, and many others I suppose, because he is one of the closest personas we could envision to what God looks like as a our Father. We know Atticus is not perfect, unlike Christ, but he is as Peggy Noonan refers to as “calm, reliable, full of integrity and always there-the kind of father anyone would want and few would have.”

I mourn what has become of Atticus Finch in this book. But, who am I to judge? After all, he is just a fictional character. But he still matters like any beloved character we love who passes away – I wrote about this a few years ago as often times it can feel like we lost someone we really knew. I don’t want to lose Atticus, though.

But, we can rest assured.

“Atticus never lived and can never die, and if you want to visit him you can pick up a book. America is an interesting place and we don’t have to look to fiction to be inspired.” – Peggy Noonan

Wise and comforting words, Peggy.

There is more to Atticus, though.

If we truly want to find Atticus, read the book of John in the Bible and you’ll see him more beautifully than ever. Atticus is a mere modern-day reflection of our true Father.

He has always been there and has never left us. Rest assured.

 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

– John 1:1

 

 

Every spring brings a flood of new graduates to the world.

During my college years, I received a range of advice from people. Most of it felt sincere and wise while some seemed outlandish. Everyone has their opinions on what to do after college just like the ever-quotable ‘plastics” scene from The Graduate. I have compiled some of the best pieces of advice given to me when I graduated from college.

These are the five pieces of advice that stuck and have helped me most.

the-graduate-plastics1. Never stop learning (but time to start giving)

I was never much of a reader but I came from a family of readers, in particular my mother and grandmother. School always seemed to wear me out and the last thing I wanted to do was read for pleasure. When I graduated from college it dawned on me that I could now read whatever I like and my adult education began. It continued through reading 30-45 books a year, reading and re-reading Classics, history books, modern fiction, and even some other genres I did not study in college. I also have traveled more in some ways after college because when you read more, you develop a desire to visit the places you read about. By continuing your education, you gain a better understanding of the world and how to use your talents to help it. That is where the joy comes in a real education; you apply what you have learned to help others.

2. You will be judged not by test scores but by your head, your heart, and how hard you work.

I don’t miss testing in school and when I entered the work world I discovered that people were more interested in my thought process and work ethic more than what my GPA was in college. It was freeing because I felt I could work hard and be myself as opposed to fitting into a standard education system. For me, endless days caddying on the golf course in the summer showed me the value of hard work and relationships developed by talking with so many seasoned professionals. We are in a world where people serve other people and it is important to remember that people want to know who you are, not what you are.

Practically, my father encouraged me be curious. Take people out to coffee or lunch to learn about what they do. It shows you have initiative but it is also incredibly helpful to develop relationships for the sake of networking. The days are about over where you simply apply for a position and get it without some sort of personal connection.

3. Adventures don’t have to stop

I had a wonderful experience in college but I yearned for something more that was completely out of the ordinary.

In an internship, my boss told me to take time over a week to compile the top 100 things I wanted to do in life. It has become a ‘Bucket List’ more or less and without making it a simple checklist, it has become more of an exercise about dreaming and setting goals. I’ve learned that my goals and desires have changed as I’ve aged but what is underneath is a passion to live an adventure, accomplish things, and make a difference. That takes some serious thought, prayer, and work. It even takes acknowledging that a lot of these on the list can only be completed with the help of others. It even motivated me to graduate early from college and move to Scotland to work and learn about a different culture.

4. Be prepared for some setback

It is part of life. The greats of history (Churchill, Teddy Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Lincoln) all had setbacks. Their secret? They got back on their feet and kept moving. I have written about Churchill and Lincoln’s stories of failure and how they responded.

5. Embrace the unknown

It is okay to not know what to do. This is what happens on a true journey. Practically, you can test on your strengths (Strengthsfinder 2.0) and evaluate your personality (Myers Briggs)  to get a feel for what you want to do. In fact, as I took many of these assessments, they helped me figure out more what I did not want to do. The predictable life is boring, anyway. Pray, explore, and ask for guidance from those more experienced.

Last, I encourage you to watch David McCullough’s commencement speech to Wellesley High school titled “You Are Not Special.”  While the title gives you a double look, it is spot on to understand that we are ultimately part of a much bigger adventure. You are special in God’s eyes no doubt but on earth, the message is clear; humility, hard work, and taking joy in what you do is what will make the biggest difference for you in your journey.

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Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding:
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6
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Cast your burden on the Lordand He will sustain you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. – Psalm 55:22
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What about you? What is the best advice you received when you graduated from college (or moving into your career)? 

This week has left me a bit unsettled in terms of movies. The Oscars came and went I just sighed, “oh well.”

I am usually pretty spot on with movie award nominations (and winners) but this year has been all over the place with no single film standing out for the masses.

As there are so many good books that get overlooked, there are also so many good movies who suffer the same anonymity, especially in the flare of blockbusters.

One that sticks out is the 2014 filmcalvary-8Calvary, starring Brendan Gleeson (remember Hamish from Braveheart?), Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids), and Kelly Reilly (Flight). It is an Irish-made film by the talented director, John Michael McDonagh. I watched it in theater last year and then again this past week at home. I have always had an affinity toward Irish films like The Commitments, Waking Ned Devine, Michael Connolly, In the Name of the Father, Bloody Sunday, and Once. There is something about the unique dry humor in Irish films as well as their ability to hit some of the deepest emotional themes in life through storytelling.

Calvary may just be one of the finest films that has ever moved me. My film aficionado friend Erik Parks featured Calvary as the top movie of 2014, even beating out some of the Oscar winners this year. I agree with him.

 

The Irish sure know how to tell a story, especially a familiar story.

Erik shared a great overview of the movie from his blog:

The opening of this film shows a good priest in confession as he listens to a mystery man recount his years of sexual abuse by a bad priest. He then tells the good priest that as an act of revenge, he plans on killing him in a week. Crazy setup but a fantastic film that shows a faithful man of God dealing with psychological torture as he continues to love and care for the wicked people of his town. Mercy, love, forgiveness and ultimately Christ-likeness are the overarching themes in this dark, but extraordinary little Irish film. (Rated R for sexual references, language, brief strong violence and some drug use.)

calvary-butcherI’m not sure why people are so afraid of the Gospel. When you read about Jesus, this is what we get. It’s very R-rated. It’s bloody. It’s violent. It’s poignant and challenging. As you read in the Bible within the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, you get the nitty-gritty of Jesus’ life and death and in Calvary the movie, it follows well. That is why Calvary succeeds because it doesn’t hold back from real life.

Calvary may be the best movie representation of the Gospel I’ve ever seen.

It is rich with symbolism as well as lines to make you contemplate and pray over.

Father James Lavelle: “God is great and the limits of his mercy have not been set.”

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Father James Lavelle: I think there’s too much talk about sins to be honest not enough talk about virtues.

Fiona Lavelle: What would be your number one?

Father James Lavelle: I think forgiveness has been highly underrated.

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Father James Lavelle: He was a good man, your husband? (to a lady who just lost her husband)

Teresa: Yes. He was a good man. We had a very good life together. We loved each other very much. And now… he has gone. And that is not unfair. That is just what happened. But many people don’t live good lives. They don’t feel love. That is why it’s unfair. I feel sorry for them.

calvary3Your life will be changed after watching it. My encouragement is to go see for yourself and let me know what you think.

 

 

From Boyhood to Killing Lions

September 25, 2014 — 6 Comments

There are times when I get discouraged after watching a slew of movies. Occasionally seem like the majority of filmmakers are playing it safe and opting for just trying to entertain us without any serious thought. Don’t get me wrong, I love entertaining movies but now and then we need to be challenged more seriously. This past month has been great for film-watching after seeing one of the most powerful representation of the Gospel I’ve ever seen, Calvary. Then came the movie, Boyhood

imagesI felt the need to go see the movie Boyhood, directed by Richard Linklater because of the fact that he and others committed twelve years of his life to make the film. Linklater and his team gathered in Texas each year to film ten to fifteen minute short films capturing a year in a boy’s life. The boy, Mason, is portrayed to be an average American kid growing up and you follow him each year as he grows up. In key scenes, you see him interacting with friends, engaging with bullies, introduced to porn, you see a lot of his mother’s effort to support him and his sister, an in and out divorced father played by Ethan Hawke, and multiple step-fathers who are alcoholics. Mason along the way is navigates through relationships and a first love and constantly adjusting to change before him.

Any man would have to be sleeping not to see some part of themselves in Mason’s journey. I sure did.

Boyhood is a long and hard movie but a necessary one to endure and I encourage you to watch it with good friends. My friend Phil commented that he could not stop thinking about for the next day but couldn’t figure out why. It is rated R so I recommend watching it with caution and in context of a different worldview. I also wouldn’t expect any major spiritual revelations from it like your common Christian film. It is a movie that displays hope but also exposes the brokeness in a life without a father consistently being in the life. You can’t help but feel for his mother trying to raise Mason while making mistakes of her own trusting the family to drunk stepfathers along the way. We are reminded in the movie that we live in a fatherless nation.

Boyhood is a powerful and necessary movie to watch because it captures life as we remember it, in the most important scenes.

That is a big reason I started blogging on this theme four years ago. Often, we remember our lives in the most dramatic scenes; the saddest ones and the ones that have filled us with the most joy. We also do remember some random memories but beneath them is usually a deeper story God is telling us.

I recommend Boyhood for any man or woman wanting to understand what it is like growing up in today’s American culture. It won’t answer all of your questions but you will find yourself in Mason and learn to be more empathetic of what most boys face today.

A few weeks after I watched Boyhood, I was sent a copy of Killing Lions to read. It is written by John Eldredge (Wild at Heart) and his son Sam Eldredge.

I’ve always enjoyed Eldredge’s books and appreciate his heart as a writer because it always feels truest to my own yearnings. There are some in the extreme conservative theology crowd, even close friends, who take issue with some of his writing but I encourage you to keep an open mind to understand what he is trying to communicate. I’m learning in life that God speaks to us in many ways starting with his word, the Bible. He also gave us the holy spirit used through experience, books, movies, music, and fathers.

Your heart and your mind needs to be open.

UnknownIn a refreshing style, Killing Lions is a conversation about life between Sam (in his mid twenties) and his father, John. Like Mason in Boyhood, many men today have been raised without present fathers or grown up rejecting men above them. Men have a way of thinking they can figure life out by themselves (including me) and it is literally killing us.

I agree with Eldredge that our lives are broken into the stages of life. I am in my mid-thirties, married, have two daughters, and work in publishing. Prior to that I was in the stages of marriage without kids, single life, traveling, and school.

I am content at times but my wife and I often wonder when we will hit that next stage of life, responsibility, and more?

“just when you think you’ve arrived, you are called up again. As soon as we’ve begun to get a feel for the stage we are at, the next one comes knocking at the door. And though one stage really does prepare us for another, they are never quite the same and so once again we wonder if we have what it takes.”

We can go through life’s journey alone as an island or we can join forces and seek guidance. Eldredge’s encouragement in all of his books is pressing on us the need for other men to show us the way.

“Having a guru or father we can learn from, to guide us down the path of mastery, may be the only way to really know we are heading in the right direction.” – Sam Eldredge

I also have learned that machoism is not what God is calling us to. It is a humility to understand that God continues to work through us and takes kindness in our process. We never lose our boyhood in some ways, which explains a lot of how I feel in this process of going up; constantly learning and reflecting. Do you feel that way?

“Every man is part boy and part man. God requires the man to step up and play the man; but to the boy he offers comfort and healing. Be kind to the boy inside. It is the man God is calling to face down the next lion, but the boy he treated with genuine kindness.”

I love author Thomas Wolfe’s take on man,

“The deepest search in life, it seemed to me, the thing that in one way or another was central to all living was man’s search to find a father, not merely the lost father of his youth, but the image of a strength and wisdom external to his need and superior to his hunger, to which the belief and power of his own life could be united.”

We need other men to guide us. We need our heavenly father to guide all of us.

What do I do with this great wisdom? I am ready to do the following:

  • Ask God regularly to guide me in this journey. (Eldredge has some great prayers to help us start)
  • Be intentional in my time with my father to talk about life’s stages, today’s struggles and triumphs,
  • Re-engage with mentors of mine.
  • Seek to help those younger than me as a mentor.
  • Lovingly talk with my wife more about these things.
  • Teach my daughters about the journey they are on to understand God’s greatness through their femininity and how to deal with men in their lives.

I encourage you to read Killing Lions and watch Boyhood. Let me know what you think!

You can get a copy of the Killing Lions here from Ransomed Heart Ministries. They have some very helpful and impactful free videos to go with the book that I encourage you to also watch.
Boyhood should be in theaters for a few more weeks. Go watch it with a group of friends and share what you think.