Fatherhood Manifesto

Fathers, guard well what has been given to you.
It is not your job to simply bring home the bacon.
It is not your job to simply make sure the lawn is mowed.
They don’t need your wallet, even though they will some day ask for it.
Security is important, but it is not everything.
What they need is different.
What they need can’t be purchased.
What they need is set apart.
What they need is you.
All of you.
Heart.
Soul.
Attention.
Affection.
The part that may be locked deep inside of you.
It is time to reach in and let it come out.
They need to see the real you.
Imperfections and all.
They need you.
They need to know you love them.
They need to see that you love them.
No matter what.
Even when they are bad.
That you will always love them.
That you love them so much that you will show them a different way.
Through your gentleness and respect.
Through your consistency.
Through discipline.
By being authentic.
By being all there.
By showing them the example that you’ve been called to show.
Even when it hurts.
And even when you don’t know how.
This is your job.
When the world tells you it is about buying their heart.
You will win it by a different method.
You will win them over with love.
And they will change the world because of you someday.
Now go live it.

Dads, what is the single greatest challenge you face as a father? Those that are not dads, what is something you’ve picked up about fatherhood that may help the rest of us?

Lone Ranger Christianity

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Rewind Post: Lone Ranger Christianity- when a person tries to be a follower of Christ all on their own, without any authority, relationships or accountability.

I used to be a Lone Ranger Christian- set my own rules, played my own game. Yeehaaw! Sounds like fun, but even the Lone Ranger had Tonto by his side, watching his back, helping him out and kicking some serious tail! Before too long as a Lone Ranger Christian, I got my tail seriously kicked, over and over again. Sadly, I see a lot of people go through the same thing every day. Lone Ranger Christianity breeds all kinds of forms of faith, with no real limit or constraint other than one’s personal belief or opinion. It is a reality of the world we live in and a struggle for many of us.

What is the opposite of Lone Ranger Christianity? A phrase we hear alot of: Biblical community. I asked the question last week, “What is Biblical community?” & received great responses, thanks guys!

@MarcyMcConnell authenticity, growth, fruit/results

@NoStonesThrown the way the church is responding to Haiti and other needs. That’s biblical community.

@CFlemmingVisual A Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered network of interdependent nurturing relationships…

Josh Snead A living, thriving and selfless body of believers governed by The Word and seeking relationship with Him.

Hallie Arnold A Biblical Community is not just Reading and studying the Word together, but seeking it’s relevance in one another’s lives and holding each other accountable in doing as it commands!

It is interesting to see these truths evidenced through the Scriptures in the early church: “They committed themselves to the apostle’s teaching (Word/Christ-centered), the life together, the common meal (accountability & relationships), and prayer (receiving the Spirit). Acts 2:42. In verse 45, the writer says “they sold whatever they owned and pooled together their resources to meet needs.” (much like Haiti). In verse 47, he goes on to say that “Every day their number grew.” (growth, fruit, results)

Here is a great set of questions you can ask yourself to tell if you are a Lone Ranger Christian or not:

1. Do you have the Word of God in your life regularly, centering your life on who you believe has authority on your life (Christ as revealed through the Word) not your own opinions?

2. Do you have accountability, living life close enough with others to help you live the way you say you believe?

3. Do you have prayer in your life? This is the way God will empower your belief and help you to be who He has called you to be, through His Spirit.

4. Are you helping meet other’s needs because of your belief? This includes trusting God with your resources as you help meet these needs.

5. Are you seeing growth or “fruit” in your life as a result of what you believe? What is different in your life because of your relationship with Christ? Who is different in your life, because of Christ living through you? The Bible uses the example of trees without fruit, claiming fairly harsh consequences of trees without fruit.

If the answer to any of these is no, you may be some version of a Lone Ranger Christian! Without his Word, you have no authority in your life. Without relationships, you have no accountability. Without prayer, no have no source of connection or power. Without serving others or meeting other’s needs you have real love for others (yeah, I said it). Without others in your life helping you grow, you have no legs to your faith.

Don’t Be a Lone Ranger Christian! Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto! Ask God to give you the wisdom to see what you need to to do to leave the prairies and step into community. What can you do to take a step in the right direction? Who can you seek out? Please share your ideas in the comments.

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3 Things Your Wife Wants Today

I recently did an interview with Macy that gets more traffic than any other post on this blog (5 Things All Wives Want From Husbands). To date, the post gets more traffic that any other post on my blog. Maybe I should ask for her perspective more often! Men have such a different perspective, and it is often difficult for us to really know what our wives need. Here is what most men think when really need:

Put bread on the table.

Bring home that bacon baby. Period.

Nice try.

While stability & provision is obviously important in marriage and honorable as a husband and should not be overlooked, it certainly isn’t the only thing that wives need.

Here are 3 Things Your Wife Wants Today. She needs you to:

1. Set the spiritual pace. You don’t have to be a spiritual super star to lead your family spiritually. Be humble. Seek God. Put others before yourself and serve. Lead by example and set the pace for her. She wants you to help lead. It doesn’t mean you are at it alone, but you have to want to have a growing spiritual life. Ask God for help and go for it!

2. Build Emotional health. Do you know how she is doing emotionally? Is she tired? Discouraged? Lonely? Ask her and listen without trying to fix her and see what happens. Give her the time that she needs to have margin and health in her life.

3. Be the relational glue. Ask the question, “What are we doing to intentionally to relate to one another each day?” Share a meal together. Go for a walk. Go on a date. Put the phone down and just do something together where you are talking and listening. She needs this type of intimacy as much as you desire physical intimacy.

Here’s the deal. If you are waiting for her to set the spiritual, emotional and relational compass for your family, you are not really leading your family. Taking a passive, backseat approach is going to yield negative dividends down the road 100% of the time. It a losing investment! If you pulled money out of you banking account every day and never replenished the supply, you will eventually go broke. On the contrary, if you put in more than you take out over time, you will experience growth over a lifetime.

Marriage is the same way. You reap what you sow. Don’t wait until your kids are out of the house and you don’t even know each other! You will have an uphill battle at that point my friend and for many it is too late.

Ladies, what is missing here? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

You Were Made For Greatness

You were made for greatness.
It doesn’t matter where you were born.
What job you have or don’t have.
Where you did or didn’t go to school.
The color of your skin.
Or even what your last name is.

You truly were made for greatness.
Great things.
World changing things.
Things that change generations.
You were made for this.

Greatness comes not from blood lines
Or from complicated equations
Not does it come from certificates or qualifications

Greatness comes through us
Around us
And in us.

What is greatness?
I would say what matters 50-100 years from now.

Greatness is what we look up and see that remains after the headline of the week.
After the rise and fall of the economies.
Greatness doesn’t care about good days or bad days or in between days.
Instead it fixes its eyes beyond.

Greatness is when lives are changed through history.
When stories are made.
When pain is endured
And people hang through difficult circumstances.
And don’t give in.

It doesn’t matter what kind of house you live in.
Or you drive to get from point A to B.
Or the credit line at your finger tips.
Greatness is not limited by these things.

It is set free by hard work.
Greatness is released by faith in what is not always seen.
Greatness points not to oneself, but to something bigger than any one self.

We crave greatness even though we don’t know why.
We want to be apart or something bigger.
We were created this way.
To want to be sort of the bigger story.

We were created for greatness. Not the name brand kind.

We were created for kind of greatness that lays a life down for the good of someone later or something bigger.

The kind of greatness that asks for no acknowledgement, but rather responds in obedience.

This is what you were made for.
Not those other things.
The shiny things.
Not the good things.

The great things.
This is what you were made for.
You were made for greatness.

5 Things All Wives Wants From Husbands

Marriage is funny and there are lots of things husbands just don’t understand (how the pillows on the bed multiply every year, why you can’t use the conveniently located nice towels hanging in the bath room, etc.). To try to get into my wife‘s head and perhaps provide some perspective for the rest of us guys (especially the Hopeless Husbands), I asked her if I could interview her for this blog. The result was 5 Things Every Wife Wants From Her Husband. Ready? Here…we…go…

Me: Can I ask you some questions about what wives want from husbands?
Macy: Are you asking for TheWayItCouldBe.com readers or for your own benefit?
Me: Um…for the blog readers I guess. But I’m curious too!
Macy: Ok. What would you like to know?
Me: I want to know this: what do wives really want from their husbands?

Focused attention
Macy: Attention
Me: I’m sorry, did you say something?
Macy: Haha.
Me: Yes attention, go on (Ron Burgandy voice from Anchorman).
Macy: Yes, wives women want focused attention, emotional attention. We need an equal amount or more of what’s given to other things like work or social media (hint for me). Not just being physically there, but emotionally there. Being physically there and not emotionally there is almost worse than being there all together.
Me: Ok, that was a good one, what else?

Do the little things.
Macy: Do things around the house. Do the little things.
Me: What kind of things around the house?
Macy: Anything. As a way of showing you appreciate who she is and what she does on a regular basis. Helping her on the things she does is just a small part. Then, do things that are man things- like mowing and stuff.
Me: And squashing bugs?
Macy: Yeah women take a lot of pride in their home and want husbands to respect that. I even appreciate things like you bringing me coffee and cereal in bed. That is my love language. No matter how small things are. Do the little things.
Me (in my head): Score!

Leadership
Me: Ok, what else do wives want besides attention and doing little things around the house?
Macy: Leadership- being the compass for the family as a whole- giving direction, setting goals, initiative, instead of letting the chips fall wherever.  Yes, we want to speak into the process of course, but ultimately we are looking for real leadership. Wives want husbands to know what direction they want their family to go. They want to be heading towards that direction. Also, wives want husbands to be setting expectations for the family, for the kids- giving everyone an idea of what you expect from them.
Me: Ok, check. Wives want leadership from their husbands. What else?

To be spoiled every now and then
Macy: To be spoiled every now and then.
Me: Why is that important?
Macy: Because it makes her feel special and loved- that she’s worthy of being spoiled. A lot of guys do special stuff when dating, then when they are married they don’t do anything out of the norm. When you spoil her every now and then, it just makes her feel special. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just something with put thought into it.
Me: Like what?
Macy: Planning a special date or day with the two of you or with the family, or just planning something special just for her to do alone.
Me: Ok, thanks for the tip. What else do wives want from their husbands?

Security
Macy: Security
Me: Like financial security?
Macy: Yeah, that is important and some men thinking about getting married don’t understand the responsibility of providing for a family. So financial security is important. But really, I’m thinking of a different kind of security.
Me: Like me going ninja on someone?
Macy: Haha, no really just knowing that you’ll always be there.
Me: Wow, that is a good one. Yep, you are stuck with me.
Macy: Good! And I wouldn’t mind if you went ninja on someone for me either.
Me: Ok, security and ninja skills. Got it, anything else?
Macy: I think in a way it ties together with leadership. In the way that she knows the husband has someone of a direction, the women needs to know he will always be there, regardless of how things go or how he feels.

Me: Ok, explain something here. What is the difference for the women when she has that sense of trust?
Macy: When the man is secure in himself, that gives the woman a sense of security. Like when he knows who he is.
Me: Yes go on (again Ron Burgandy voice).
Macy: Well, if he doesn’t know who he is or where he is headed, it gives her a feeling of insecurity. There have been times in our lives, where you didn’t know what you would be doing- but you knew who you were- a man with a strong spiritual direction. I was secure in the fact that you weren’t going to do anything that didn’t make spiritual sense.
Me: Like when?
Macy: I knew the day you called me and said you were dropping out of graduate school that our life together was going look a lot different than what I had grown up with (a dad that worked for the same company his whole life). But still, I knew you would follow the direction of your Creator. That is security.

Other stuff
Me: Ok, thanks these are great.
Macy: Wait, I have one more.
Me: Um, we’re good here. This is enough for men to work on for the next ten years.
Macy: But this one is really important.
Me: Ok, even though the post is 5 Things All Wives Want, Not 6 Things, We’ll take one more.
Macy: Listening is always a good thing…. it’s pretty important.
Me: What did you say?
Macy: Hahaha
Me: Ok, lets do another interview about listening. I’ve gotten better at listening though right?
Macy: Sometimes…

Me: Ok, last request- can you like this on Facebook at the bottom of the post or share it with your friends at the top of the post?
Macy: That depends how good it is. I only post things I believe in…

Ok ladies, your turn- is Macy on target? Which of these can you elaborate on? What are other things that wives want from their husband? Love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

The Glass or The Mirror: The Ultimate Motive Test

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There is an imaginary test you can use sometimes to determine your motives, whether you are trying to be the central character in God’s story or allowing him to take his proper place as the main character (with you in a supportive role). We’ll call it the mirror or the glass.

If I’m using the mirror, when people look at me or listen to me it is like I am holding a mirror up in front of my face. Instead of me getting all the attention, the mirror points back at them. I’m helping them gain a more accurate picture of themselves and in the process I’m helping them see themselves the way their Creator sees them.

With a lot people, the mirror is broken or fuzzy and the image they see is not really how God sees them. They need help getting the mirror (their self-awareness) in a more accurate state. Sometimes a question helps them get there. Sometimes just listening. Other times, offering perspective is helpful. Most of the time, just the relationship with that person over time can help them see themselves clearly and help grow more into who God designed them to be.

That is the mirror.

Then there is the glass.

The glass approach is when I’m in relationship with someone (any relationship- work, friends, family) and ultimately it is like I am holding up a sheet of glass and pointing towards myself. I am trying to be the central character. In my story and in their story. The glass approach to life and relationships is ultimately all about attention, affirmation and validation. The other person is trying to see themselves the way God sees them (the mirror), but instead we are holding up a giant sheet of glass, saying, “No, look at me. Notice me. Like me. Validate me.”

Reality is that we are broken ourselves and that we have a difficult time helping others when we are still empty inside. We hold up glass and the focus is on us, when instead the focus should be on them.

This is why people burn out in the business world. It’s ultimately all about approval and attention of others. The trap of the glass.

The is why church leaders get into trouble. Ultimately, it is all about the approval of man and we don’t challenge people to live the life that God has called them to live.

This is why leaders of huge organizations don’t survive over the long hall. They are so busy serving themselves that they lose the loyalty of the very ones they are supposed to serve.

This is why men and women have affairs. People look to someone outside their marriage to validate them and make them feel whole. People hold up the glass and portray this pretend image of themselves to others.

You see, the glass is jaded and blurry as well. It really doesn’t show the real person. Rather it hides behind a false self that begs for someone else to fill the emptiness, for someone else to attempt to define who we truly are.

This is the glass, and its weight will one day crush you, and in the end will eventually cut you into pieces. If you don’t believe me and you are on this path, just keep down that track and see where you end up. We simply weren’t created to live that way.

We were not created to hold up the glass that points to ourselves. We were instead created to hold up a big giant mirror that cries out, “It’s not about me!”

The mirror.

When we live with the mirror, we can help people change forever.

When we live with the mirror, we can help others find their true self.

When we live with the mirror, we don’t depend on our brain or our brawn.

Instead we depend on the reflection in the mirror that points us back to who were are ultimately called to be.

So what are you going to choose?

Glass?

Or Mirror?

I hope you make the right choice.

My Kids Didn’t Choose This

Let me start by saying, that I am an imperfect parent with tons of flaws.
I mess up often and do dumb things all the time.
I make our 3yr old cry all the time.
Not on purpose of course.

Still, our kids didn’t choose to be born in my family, in well-off middle America with imperfect, yet consistently present parents (Their mom is way more consistent, ha).
They didn’t choose to live in a house with values, respect & a stable & safe environment.

I met some kids at the juvenile detention center in Oklahoma City recently.
Let me know if you want to go there and visit.
The kids I met didn’t choose their parents either.
They didn’t choose to be born in a city (Oklahoma City) where the violent crime rate in 2010 was higher than the national violent crime rate average by 129.78%.

They didn’t know they were going to grow up in a state where 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes (U.S. Dept. of Justice).

Sure, they did choose to make some bad decisions that led to their arrival to the County Juvenile Center. Nonetheless, I’ve talked with these kids.
I’ve heard their horror stories of what it is like to grow up moving around from foster shelter to foster home and around and around the cycle goes.

Many end up in the Juvenile Center because they are bored and got into trouble. Check out my friend Akin.
Some were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time.
One I heard of was just really hungry, so he took some food.
Others just don’t care any more and make one bad decision after another. Most of them end up getting sucked into the prison system, don’t graduate high school & end up stuck in a vicious lifetime cycle of poverty.

I would say most of them lack one thing.
Want to know what it is?
This.
A loving adult who cares about them intensely and shows up consistently in their life.

More than anything, they just need someone who encourages them and believes in them.

Period.
That’s what they need.
That’s what Akin needed.
And that’s what every other kid needs.

So here’s my next question.
Could you do that?
Could you show up in the life of a kid in your city in a way that matters?
Could you give up something comfortable, like a little of your time?
I believe you can.
And I believe their life could be changed.
And yours would never be the same.

So think about mentoring a kid.
Need help along the way or know someone who would be willing to mentor?
Rewrite Mentor Training coming on July 31 in Edmond, OK.
Check out this vid for more info.

Comments? Questions? Love to hear them!

Searching For God Knows What

Macy asked me to hit up Walmart today.
On the way home from church in Edmond, OK.
That’s right Walmart.
I’m not a huge fan of Walmart.
But I’m a huge fan of Macy.
Saw a guy in the parking lot as I pulled in.
He looked very troubled.
And searching.
Searching For God Knows What.
I said hi.
He said nothing.
Ok.
I went in.
I came out.
There he stood.
Just as destitute as before.
Alone.
Searching.
I just wanted to go home.
I didn’t want to stop.
Cause I can be pretty selfish.
So I got in my car.
But there he was.
Alone.
So I got back out.
Prayed, “God help me help him.”
Walked over.
And asked him if I could help him.
His window was busted out & his wallet was gone.
He told me his story.
He lived in Fort Worth 2 miles from where we used to live.
I actually believed him.
I’ve heard a LOT of stories, but his seemed true.
And I had compassion for him.
In the midst of my busyness.
And my schedule.
I stopped.
I listened.
He talked.
I helped him with some gas.
And I listened some more.
He told me he was a heavy drug user.
His arms scarred from years of hits and highs.
They spoke loudly.
Hopelessness.
He then told me he had no hope.
Nothing to go back to.
Nothing to keep living for.
Nothing.
I told him my story.
How I was in a dark place.
Far from God.
And far from hope.
And far from believing God cared about me.
Or my problems.
But I told him that God put some people in my life.
To show me that I was wrong.
And that God did care about me.
So much so, that he put those people in my life to show me.
Sort of like I was in his life today.
Showing him that God was real.
And here.
Not a fictional character in a distant place.
So then I told him some other stuff.
That God has a purpose for his life.
That God never left him.
That God wants him to put his faith in Him.
Through Jesus.
And I told him what Jesus did to free him.
From his addiction.
And his past.
And his hurts and pain.
He listened.
He started to cry.
He cried through rough, hardened eyes.
After some time his tears stopped.
And he looked at me and smiled.
He hugged me.
We prayed.
He told me no one had ever told him what I told him.
I told him that God knows him.
And God is waiting for him to put his faith in Jesus.
And let go of control.
We talked about getting help in Fort Worth.
And that was that.
All I did was show up.
And open my mouth.
And fight my selfishness.
And my busyness.
And my hard heart.
And something good happened.
Despite me & my stuff.
So that was my day.
I think I may slow down a little tomorrow.
And see who else is searching.
Searching for God knows what.

What does this story show you about the character of God? Love to hear.

10 Things I Believe About My Daughters

My 6yr old daughter Meg wants to talk about God almost EVERY night. I just ask her what she wants to talk about and off we go.

Tonight, she told me she was like a tennis racket & God was like the ball. She said, “Sometimes, I swing and connect with God & other times I miss completely & almost fall down.” Wow, I can relate babe. We talked how that was great, that in our weakness Christ’s power is made strong. How if we had it all together, we probably wouldn’t need God as much.

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She asked me if God made us imperfect so we could depend on him. I thought that was a pretty good question. I thought about in similar way. Our inadequacies & imperfections allow us to discover the love & beauty of a real friendship with God.

Meg and Molly, if you read this some day I hope you saw the love of God in me when you were young. I hope you find a real life example of a dad who messes up, doesn’t have all the answers & cares about you & others regardless of the cost. I hope you find your own faith, your own style, your own unique voice in the world.

Here are 10 Things I Believe About My Daughters. Meg & Molly, I know you are young now, but I am believing at a young age you are some day each going to…

1. Be an amazing woman of God who measures her life not by what she can accumulate but by what she an give away to others.

2. Be an awesome friend to many, a compassionate world changing leader who cares about those that no one else cares about and loves those the world scoffs at.

3. Be an incredible best friend and sister to each other and help one another wade through the thick waters of life, always treating each other with honor and respect.

4. Be an amazing wife to a dude that loves Jesus and serves him first, you second and everything else after that.

5. Be a generation changing mom who loves her kids and shows them how to shape a legacy that will outlast me, you & them for eternity.

6. Be an entrepreneur that uses your ideas, creativity, resources & passion to change families, cities and add value to people’s lives around the world.

7. Have a full understanding of the love of God and not attempt perfection, not judge others, not be exclusive, not try to work your way to his approval.

8. Be protected from evil, and overcome evil through knowing the truth, living with character and integrity, and staying connected to the BIG power of God.

9. Be authentic in such a way that others see Christ through your life every day the way I already do.

10. Obey God, even when it isn’t convenient, comfortable or popular in any way.

I have been entrusted to lead and guide my daughters, but ultimately they are God’s kids and I am excited to see their life be filled with the wonder, joy & passion that I’ve seen in the last several years!

Parents, what about you? What would you like to add to the list of desires for your kids?? Please share!

Waiting Through the Gap to Accomplish Your Big Vision

There can be a HUGE gap of time between your crazy big vision for something (today) and actually living out that vision (some time in the future). There is a lot that can happen during that gap of time.

A lot of time. A lot of waiting. Often a ton of hard work without much pay off. Even pain.

The gap.

That gap is really important.

During that gap of time, what can happen in you (your character) is just as big or likely bigger than what can happen through you (your accomplishments). The time that passes is important. The waiting solidifies your vision and passion. The hard work shapes you. The pain creates character and molds you as you stretch towards that big, hairy, crazy vision. That time is there for a reason.

What reason? Why is the gap there? Sometimes we are simply not ready. There is still molding and shaping to be done before we can truly handle the vision before us. Sometimes it is because we simply aren’t disciplined enough to do what it takes to be to where we want to be. Sometimes it just isn’t the right time yet. We need to wait.

Regardless of the reason for that time, don’t be mad at the gap. Embrace it and learn from it. Learn to wait. Don’t measure your worth based on your accomplishments, but instead by who you are becoming as you strive towards your vision.

Then go work hard and live out that big, hairy dream!

Why is the gap difficult?? Love to hear your thoughts in the comments!