Making the Connection
About the Guest
Isolation breeds fear, and fear chips away at courage. But how can men break down the barriers which often isolate and trivialize masculine friendships? Author Tim Grissom says the first step is to invite transparency by practicing it yourself
How can men break down the barriers which often isolate and trivialize masculine friendships?
Making the Connection
Bob: When men huddle up together to talk about important things—about the things that are really happening in their lives—in order for them to be transparent, they need to see that modeled. Here’s author, Tim Grissom.
Tim: Men are not going to be any more honest and transparent with you than you are with them. So, you take the risk first. You be willing to share areas of life where you struggle, or where you have failed, or lessons that God has taught you, along the way. More likely than not, that will open their hearts to you, as well.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, June 11th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’re going to talk today about the power that comes when men lock arms and step up. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I’m just curious. I wonder if our guests remember the first time they heard you challenging men to step up—the first time—
Dennis: Let’s ask them.
Bob: —they got the message; you know?
Dennis: Let’s ask them. Tim Grissom and John Majors join us on FamilyLife Today. Guys, welcome back. You guys are gluttons for punishment—came back for a second day. [Laughter] You know both Bob and me. You work here—work, here, at FamilyLife, for a number of years. You came back!
John: You just opened the door for all kinds of comments—[Laughter] —very gluttonous.
Dennis: Back to Bob’s question. What do you think?
Bob: Do you remember?
John: Well, having worked as Dennis’s assistant, I got the message in a lot of ways, literally, and in our conversations. [Laughter] I mean, I listened to the transcripts, passed on the tape to a number of other people. So, I’ve heard it early and often.
Bob: So, go back to that time when you were Dennis’s assistant.
Dennis: Yes. Now, Bob is fishing for dirt. [Laughter]
Bob: What lesson—if you had to say, “The major lesson I took away from”—and how long were you Dennis’s assistant?
John: Two—two and a half years.
Bob: Okay. And you were newly-married?
Bob: No kids?
John: No kids.
Dennis: He went on to have three kids. So, I didn’t damage him in his opinion of kids.
John: Not too much.
Bob: What was the major take-away that happened over two and a half years of working directly with Dennis?
John: I think the best lesson—and it comes out in some of the material we wrote, here, on taking initiative—ties into the stories, too, that Weber tells of the scout—the man who goes out ahead of the wagon train—and he finds the problem before anybody else even knows about it. He takes care of it before anyone ever even knew it existed, and no one ever even knows he did that. And Dennis, that’s really your job.
Dennis: Is to be a scout.
John: Yes. That’s been huge in my life—in my marriage, with my children—to think: “I’ve got to get out ahead of the game. I can’t just respond. If I’m in response mode, I’m in trouble. I’ve got to think out ahead.”
Dennis: And if you’re passive—
John: And if you’re passive—
Dennis: —you’re dead meat—if you’re passive.
Bob: You just need to know—Dennis and I were talking, yesterday, about a young man being an assistant for him. Dennis said to me: “You know, the major thing one of these young men has got to under—whoever it is—they’ve got to understand you’ve got to anticipate the issue. Don’t wait for it to happen.” Why is that such a big deal?
Dennis: From my own life, I realized that nothing comes to the man who waits. That’s exactly what comes to him. If you wait, you do nothing—if you’re passive. Now, I’m not talking about waiting on God. That’s active. To truly wait on God and to be patient in prayer, that’s an act of faith.
But to be passive—and sit back and let someone else serve you, let someone else hold the door open for the woman, let someone else help the lady across the street, let someone else warn your kids about the dangers that are ahead in adolescence, to let someone else to have to look out for the physical needs or the spiritual needs of your family, for goodness sakes—and there are a lot of guys who are doing that today.
I’m just concerned, personally, that we have a crop of younger men today who, in their late teens and early twenties, are learning to be passive and to do nothing.
Bob: So, when guys are getting together and going through the Stepping Up™ video series—the series that we created—that’s a ten-part series for men—you get together, you watch about a 30-minute video; and then, you break into groups, and you through the workbook. Session Six is all about taking initiative. I think we start that session with a couple of guys who were firefighters and EMT’s at the World Trade Center.
John, as you were working on the workbook for what guys were going to talk about after that session—having been through the “School of Rainey” training on the importance of taking initiative—what kind of questions did you include for guys to interact over?
John: Well, that’s also the session where we highlight Bonheoffer’s life—Dietrich Bonheoffer—and to see him take initiative and stand firm in the midst of the onslaught that was occurring in Nazi Germany. That was a big moment in history that most men won’t face. But it started with him, every day, having to make decisions to stand firm against all the little compromises you were asked to do.
So, what we were hoping to get a guy to process was, “How do I take initiative, in little ways, where I’m tempted to slip into apathy?”
Bob: You’ve got to learn how to do it in the day-to-day, little things, or you’ll cave when the big stuff comes along; won’t you?
John: That’s right. Yes.
Bob: Tim, this section on guys taking initiative was something that you have a lot of passion about; but let me back up and ask you, “Do you remember the first time you heard Dennis challenging guys to step up?”
Tim: The first time I heard it was actually a recorded message. We had started working on a manuscript for the book, Stepping Up. So, I listened to a couple of different versions of the message—where Dennis had preached that—and read a couple of different manuscripts.
Bob: And what struck you about the message when you heard it the first time?
Tim: I think the thing that struck me is—and Dennis will probably recall this. I pushed, for a long time, for him to title the book, “The Intentional Man”, because the thing that struck me the most about just the way that Dennis approaches life is being intentional about it rather than reacting to the things that happen to you—get out ahead.
Bob: So, you see him as an intentional kind of guy?
Tim: I—in so very many ways.
Dennis: Bob, you’re making fun of me.
Bob: Mr. Intentional? [Laughter]
Tim: Intentional for you and for me, I have discovered.
Dennis: I have to tell you about a group of young people that were led by Westley Eyster. Now, this is a young man who is about 16 years old. He, along with six other teenage young men, went through the preview session of the Stepping Up video series. They went through all ten sessions. Over the period of ten weeks, it grew from about seven guys to more than a dozen.
Bob: Yes, they were calling their buddies, at night, saying, “You’ve got to come in the morning for this.”
Dennis: They were increasing in their number. Well, they decided they wanted to be in on the launch of the Stepping Up video event, which was on Super Saturday—the same weekend as the Super Bowl. They called themselves—these seven guys—“The Roof Crashers”. Now, you may wonder, “Why did they call themselves ‘The Roof Crashers’?”
Well, remember in the New Testament, when there was a paralytic who was let down through the roof, by his buddies, to get him in touch with the Savior—the one that they knew could bring help and hope to him and his condition? These young men wanted to get their buddies in front of Christ. They had over 50 young men and men—by the way—in their group—being “The Roof Crashers”.
John: Wow, that’s great.
Dennis: And I was so impressed by these guys. I created a trophy for them. I couldn’t quite afford seven trophies. So, they have to cycle it around all of them; but it’s a trophy that had a wooden base and, then, two sneakers on top of the wooden base—kind of hiking tennis shoes. I honored “The Roof Crashers” for their courage, their faith, and their initiative. Back to this point, they took the initiative to get their buddies in front of Christ; and it made a difference in a lot of men’s lives.
Bob: One of the things that Bill Bennett—former Secretary of Education, former Drug tsar, who appears in the Stepping Up video series—one of the things he says is that taking responsibility for life is at the heart of what real manhood is all about.
When we’re talking about taking initiative—it’s more than taking responsibility. It’s proactively taking responsibility. It’s anticipating what’s coming. That really ties to another theme, which is the whole idea of planning ahead and providing. John, talk a little bit about that session and what we’re trying to do in that.
John: Part of the design of this whole series—which ties into this group of college students—was giving guys a tool that they could use to do ministry. When you call a guy to be courageous—again, it’s easy to ask him to go do something that’s manly and exciting—but you ask him to step into leading his family—I mean—you want to talk about real fear occurs. [Laughter] I had breakfast with a guy this morning. He said, “How do I lead my family well because I’m not doing it well and it’s scary?”
John: So, we wanted to create a tool that would give a guy an opportunity to do ministry with other men and to make it as easy as possible. He doesn’t have to wait for the church to have some big program—big event. It can multiply on its own. And the stories you’ve told already—you’re showing that, in so many ways, that we’re doing that.
But when it comes to planning ahead and providing, we want a guy to—not only think about his own life—but to think of others and, “How do I engage and help them plan ahead and provide?”
Bob: So many guys would hear about doing ministry on your own. They would think: “I am not up for that. I mean, somebody is going to ask a question; or they’re going to find out about the real me and go, ‘What are you doing leading this study in the first place?’” Tim, how does a guy deal with that?
Tim: Well, I think that we define ministry very simply as friendship. If you know how to be a friend, you know how to minister to people. In this case, I would say men are not going to be any more honest and transparent with you than you are with them. So, you take the risk first. You be willing to share areas of life where you’ve struggled, or where you have failed, or lessons that God has taught you, along the way. More likely than not, that will open their hearts to you, as well.
Bob: You know, there was clip in the Stepping Up series that actually didn’t make it into the video—was one of the things that got edited out.
Dennis: Now, you happen to know about this, Bob, because—
Bob: Because I was there helping to make the call on what got in.
Dennis: Bob shot more than 100 videos—
Dennis: —that comprised this series. Really, several of them didn’t make the cut because they weren’t quite on message or weren’t good enough because we wanted this to be an outstanding video series.
Bob: We sat down and did interviews with guys like Matt Chandler, and Robert Lewis, and Stu Weber, and Crawford Loritts, and Voddie Baucham. And I remember sitting down with James MacDonald, the pastor in Chicago. We were talking about manhood. What I learned, in the interview, is that he did his doctoral thesis on the verse in James that says, “Confess your sins one to another, and you’ll be healed.” He applied that verse to men’s ministry. He said, “I believe that, at the heart of men really getting engaged, there has got to be this opportunity for transparency and for confession.”
One of the things he said—and again, this didn’t make it into the series. It really didn’t fit, but it stuck with me. He said, “If you’re in a group setting, or one-on-one with a guy, and a guy talks about an area where there has been a struggle or he talks about an area where he’s threatened or feels challenged”—James MacDonald said, “You’d better—the next thing that comes out of your mouth better be you talking about an area where you struggle, too, so that that guy knows he’s in friendly territory.”
If you say: “Man, that’s tough for you. I’m sure that’s hard for you,” he’s done! He’s never going to share anything else with you because you’re not a guy he can relate to. He said that confessing of our sins one to another—for you to step up and say, “You know, let me tell you how I’ve struggled in that area,” and just laying it out. He said, “That’s critical if you want that dynamic to thrive.”
Dennis: There was a group of guys, in another part of the country, who went through this—I think it was about 70—and they met at church. That was the best location for that to occur. They got one of the first ten-part series that we created. I know because I shipped it out to my buddy who helped lead the group.
I’ll never forget. Right after it finished, he called me up and said: “Hey, Dennis, I’ve got to tell you that I just got back from church. One of the guys who attended our ten-week study was just baptized Sunday morning.” He’d come to this gathering of men— kind of curious, kind of stand-offish about Christianity—had listened, had engaged. In the process of doing what you guys had crafted, here, in the book, he believed. He had embraced it. So much so that he gave his life to Jesus Christ and wanted to proclaim it publicly.
Bob: Well, you went on a hunting trip with a group of guys, several months ago, and went through some of these sessions with them; didn’t you?
Dennis: Yes, I did. It was fun afterwards to hear how some of the guys used it. One of the guys is a big hunter. He had another hunting trip—that he took his sons on and, also, a young man who was dating his daughter. He said, “We just set up a little computer, there in the car, popped the DVD’s in the computer, watched the screen, and formed a small group with my two sons and a young man who was dating my daughter.” He said, “On the way there, we went through four sessions. On the way back, we went through another four.” He said, “We didn’t get through all ten.”
Bob: I’m glad the driver had already seen these.
Dennis: Yes, there you go. But he took what would normally be down time, and he used it to create meaningful discussion around a group of young men, all under the age of 21. I’m going to tell you something. There is a tremendous need today for younger men like that to be connected to an older man, who is not afraid to share with them his own story and the journey he has been on. Most of those stories are going to include failures.
Let me just share with you what one guy said—who went through this entire ten-week series. He said: “The reason why I began studying in this series was because my son, who is now 17, was involved in a gang. I feared for his life. His rebellious actions were a result of me not being a good man and selfishly walking out on him and his mom when he was only four years old. Unfortunately, I have realized the damage I have caused to his life—for not stepping up and doing my duty, as a father and a husband. I lost my first marriage and the love and respect of my son—for making the wrong decision.”
Bob: You know, Dennis, as you read that, I think about some of those pre-planning meetings we had. Tim, I remember your heart for guys like this and wanting to make sure that this is a series that didn’t paint an idealized picture of manhood—that a guy like this would look at and go, “I’m so far from what you’re putting up on the screen that I’m hopeless.”
Tim: Well, I thought, even as Dennis was reading that, “That is a courageous man”—
Tim: —“because he’s accepting responsibility for the bad decisions that he has made in the past; but he’s not surrendering. He’s not giving in. He is running, now, to God and toward the responsibility.”
All of us are broken. All of us have fallen. We all sin. And you’re exactly right, Bob. I wanted every man to feel like this is a study where they could enter, at any point in their life, no matter how broken they are.
Bob: You think that the average guy, who is coming to this series, is probably not feeling confident that he’s doing a decent job—not perfect but doing a pretty good job as a husband, father, as a man—but instead, he’s painfully aware of a lot of his own inadequacies.
Tim: Absolutely. Yes, I think that most men—and probably all men—are aware of the fact that they are broken and they are falling short. They just don’t know where to go or what to do about it.
Dennis: And every man has got a story that in his—really, in his inner being—he would love for another man to hear, and he’d like to share it.
Generally, what I’ve found in these groups—guys come, saying: “You know, I don’t know how much I’ll talk. I don’t know how much I’ll share, but I’ve got a group of guys that I’ve gone hunting with over the past ten years”—and all you need to do is ask one good question. I mean, you’ve got men sharing because, as the group goes on, it gets safer, and safer, and safer.
And you get grown men talking about something that happened to them as a boy, growing up—where they were damaged or hurt deeply—or a big mistake they made as a young husband, in terms of maybe a betrayal that they performed—those kinds of things not only cause transparency but they invite others into your life, who do identify with that brokenness.
Bob: John, there are like four, or five, or six questions after each video series. When guys huddle up, there are a number of questions that get asked. I’m guessing a lot of these groups are getting through two—maybe, one of the questions. I mean, to Dennis’s point—you ask a good question, and guys get engaged. You may never get to the other four of five questions. That’s okay; isn’t it?
John: Yes, it is. Hopefully, depending on the group—I mean—some groups have big talkers; some don’t. So, we’ve designed it so that if your group doesn’t have big talkers; hopefully, there are enough questions to get you through. But yes, it is okay if not everybody talks; but it is okay if you don’t get through much.
Dennis: Well, think about—for a moment. Where can men go to get real, get honest, and talk authentically about where they struggle, as a man, and how they can improve, how they can make progress, how they can grow? Name it. Name the place. I’ll tell you where it is. It’s a bar. That’s where they go! They go to—perhaps, get a little tipsy—which finally gives them the courage to get real and get honest with someone they don’t even know. That’s kind of symbolic of a safe place, in our culture.
Bob: It’s interesting. I was talking to a friend, recently, who was starting to develop this idea for a ministry of bartenders for Jesus. I mean, people who—
Bob: Yes. He’s thinking: “Let’s go in. As soon as guys have had a few drinks and start talking, you can be there. You could just witness to them.” I said: “I don’t know how long the bar would stay open. [Laughter] I don’t know how long the owner would keep you employed.” But—
John: Might do quite well.
Bob: —but you do understand the need that guys have to be able to be transparent, to be honest about what’s going on in their lives, and have another guy look at them and say, “I’ve been where you are, and there is hope and there is help.”
Dennis: You know what we do at the Weekend to Remember®, Bob. We have a theme that oneness is what God calls us to in marriage; but if the enemy can get a husband and a wife isolated, he can destroy that marriage.
Well, I’m going to tell you something. The same thing is true for man—whether it be a young man, growing up in his adolescent years—a young man in college—a young man in his twenties, thirties—married men, who are isolated, can be convinced of anything. They can get off on the wrong track, and they can make some serious mistakes.
What you guys have done, in putting together this workbook that goes with the ten-part DVD series, is you’ve guided men in how to get real, get honest, get authentic with a group of others; and hopefully, get some encouragement, along the way.
Bob: Well, and it’s pretty cool what our team has done, here, too—
Dennis: Well, Bob, before you do that, let me just let our listeners know that I have not forgotten about John Majors—in need of answering my question, “What is—
Bob: The question of courage.
Dennis: “What is the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?”
Bob: Well, we’ll give John a minute or more to think about that while I let listeners know about something very special our team is offering this week. If you’d like to get a copy of Dennis’s book, Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood, we’re shipping it out to anybody who requests it. If you’ll just cover the cost of shipping and handling, we’ll send you a copy of the book. We’re going to include, with it, a DVD that features Session One from the Stepping Up video series and the first half of Session One from the Stepping Up video event.
Gives you a preview of what’s included in the Stepping Up series—and gives you a chance to review the material and consider whether this is something you’d like to go through—with a group of your friends—or something you might want to recommend that the men’s group, at your church, go through together. In any case, whether you use the DVD and the curriculum or not, you’ll get a copy of Dennis Rainey’s book, Stepping Up, if you’ll just cover the cost of postage and handling.
Go to FamilyLifeToday.com to request the book or to find out more about the Stepping Up video series. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or call, toll-free, 1-800-FL-TODAY is the number—1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”. Ask about Dennis Rainey’s book, Stepping Up, when you get in touch with us—how you can get a free copy. Again, we’ll send it out to you if you’ll just cover the cost of postage and handling.
Let me also say a quick word of thanks to those of you who help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today—could not do this without you. We appreciate your financial support.
And this month, if you’re able to make a donation, we’d like to send you a thank-you gift—a message from Dennis about dads and their kids—how a dad can be engaged, heart to heart, with his sons and his daughters—particularly, during some of the tough teen years.
We’ll send out that CD when you make an online donation at FamilyLifeToday.com. Just go there and click the button that says, “I CARE”, to make your online donation; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Make your donation over the phone; and again, ask for the CD from Dennis Rainey when you get in touch with us. We’re happy to send it out to you.
Dennis: Well, John thought he was off the hook, Bob; but he wasn’t. [Laughter] John Majors, good man, here at FamilyLife. Both, he and Tim Grissom, serve well and serve with excellence. Thank you, guys, for being on the broadcast. But earlier, Tim shared his most courageous thing he’s ever done. John, what’s the most courageous thing for you?
John: For me, the most courageous thing I’ve done was probably get up this morning, feed our three-month-old boy, so my wife could sleep in a little longer when I didn’t want to. I think, for me, it’s the little things, day-in and day-out.
I don’t have this life-defining, courageous decision; but it is a series of decisions to be faithful in the little things—to turn away from sin, to turn towards the cross. I think that sums up courage, in my life, which I think, as Tim and I talked about it—it’s good to have that perspective, as we were writing this workbook.
Some guys have this huge, courageous moment and some—as you’ve said—go, “I’ve never done anything courageous,” but courage is required in all the little things, just as much.
Dennis: It is. And in this culture, it does take a real man, being courageous, to be a husband and a father.
Bob: FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas. Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.
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