Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Father's Day Letters

Dear Nephew,

I’m sending you this letter as I promised. It is the letter I mentioned to you over dinner the other day at that Mexican Restaurant. Remember our three-hour conversation?—a marathon which I enjoyed very much.

To begin, let me make one very important point. I forgot to bring this up, last we spoke at dinner. This is so that from this point onward you’ll better understand why I say the things that I do and why I think the way I do.

I am a firm believer that we – meaning you and I as part of the male species, especially in America – are part of a rapidly deteriorating social class. Men in America have forgotten how to be strong, how to be leaders, how to tell the truth, and how to live respectfully.

We have given up our spirit in favor of pleasing everyone and everything else that television and magazines, and popular culture say is appropriate.

We are lost, clueless to who we really are anymore, and we get caught up in the nonsense of what other lost people are trying to tell us we should be. This is why we have so many divorces, so many over-medicated people, so many different kinds of addiction and so many bad fathers and leaders. And the sad part is we call this normal.

Not to get all spiritual on you (but you can handle it for a minute) – there is a passage in the Bible that talks about the sins of the father passing onto the son. Never has this statement been truer than it is today. Fathers have long forgotten (and this includes my own father) to teach their sons how to be men. Instead they’ve passed on dysfunction after dysfunction and frustration after frustration. Supplying a child with the funds to obtain a college degree does not educate him on becoming a man. Neither does providing for his basic needs, or providing a lifestyle of comfort. None of that equates to “manhood.” Yet, nowadays, in this present system of living and learning, this is too often where the road stops.

So then what do we do? Let’s start with this simple fact: If you’re going to teach someone how to be a man, you must first be the man you claim to be. If you aren’t (your life will indicate this) then everything you try to teach will ultimately be worthless and full of holes once it’s tested by life. Others might also tell you that to “be the man, you have to beat the man.” It’s a sports mentality that actually holds a lot of significance if you consider “The Man” to be yourself. To create, sometimes you have to un-do. You have to conquer certain negative aspects of yourself that you have picked up over time. You have to be willing to look back…

When I judge a man (and yes – I DO indeed judge, because we all do if you’re going to be truthful), I use three simple factors to size him up.

Factor One: Does he have a relationship with God? Now that might sound prejudiced, but to me if a man has a relationship with God then he has a life of meaning as opposed to a life of just guessing and hoping that he’s got his act together. He does not wait till his deathbed. Instead he lives a life which already has purpose, and when death comes it cannot shame him. In addition, a relationship with God causes a man to willfully account for his actions.

Factor Two: Does he have a loving and nurturing relationship with his wife? Any man can say anything he wants about himself. However, if he can’t steer his own ship at home it tells me a lot about his top priorities.

I am not talking about life’s struggles or general difficulties. I’m talking about priorities and constancy. Simply put, I never respect a man who does not respect his wife—never. Don’t misunderstand my blunt statement about respect. I do not mean that I am intentionally disrespectful toward him or shun him, but I do mean that I see this person as foundationally flawed, and thus questionable in terms of leadership, advice, and partnership. Any man who claims to be responsible, yet does not love and protect his wife, is ultimately a liar and his life is one entire lie waiting to be exposed.

Factor Three: Does he put the needs of his children above his own? Again, he might claim he has thought of his children first, but study the evidence. How is the relationship between father and child?

Too many fathers believe that if they simply provide a roof over the kid’s head, and food on the table, they’ve done their job. But those things are just basic human needs. These are not the needs of a developing child who is trying to learn how to move through this life and develop vision.

If a father is doing his job there is both discipline and intimacy in the relationship. His children feel safe and secure around him, and have a healthy habit of turning to him for coaching and leadership. All of this is a pattern of order. If you truly place your children first, then you already have placed your wife first, and the rest flows from there. I’ve known many men who think they can do one without the other. But I’ve never once seen it work.

Nephew, being a man is 100% founded in the heart.
Your heart will decide for you what does and does not have value.
Your heart will decide if and when you will risk.
Your heart will stand you up on your feet, or if needed, bring you to your knees.
But the heart needs to be taught, fed, and conditioned for quality.

If you would like to Read More of "The Father's Day Letters" by Steve O. please click the link.

1 comment:

Naomi said...

Sounds like men in the States are not that disimilar to those in the U.K. That's why I'm still single at 40+!