Standing in the Gap
About the Guest
What makes a gentleman? Former youth pastor DeWayne Washington tells Dennis Rainey about the changes he sees among the boys, ages 8 to 18, who attend the Gentlemen's Society, a program that seeks to train young men in the art of dressing, speaking, working, and acting like gentlemen.
What makes a gentleman?
Standing in the Gap
Bob: When a young man becomes a part of The Gentlemen’s Society in Fort Worth, Dewayne Washington teaches that young man a creed.
Dewayne: The creed is, “I’m a gentleman. I have honor. I do honorable things. I have integrity. I do the right thing when no one is looking. I have respect for myself and others. I value my education. I am a gentleman.” So, they start there at the very, very basic of what a gentleman truly is.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, December 20th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife® Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Today, we’ll hear about how Dewayne Washington is challenging lots of young men to step up and become godly gentlemen. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. Before we dive into what we’re going to talk about today, it’s been really interesting and exciting to see—a lot of FamilyLife Today listeners—
Dennis: It has.
Bob: —over the last several weeks, have been hearing us talk about this matching-gift fund that’s going on here; and they’ve been responding. They’ve been going online at FamilyLifeToday.com. They’ve been calling 1-800-FL-TODAY, and they’ve been letting us know, “We listen. The program’s making a difference. It matters to us, and we can help.” That’s been some $10-donations, and some $100-donations, and some donations bigger than that.
As you know, Dennis, every donation we’re receiving this month is being matched dollar for dollar up to a total of what is now $3.5 million. That matching fund has been growing even as we head toward Christmas this week.
So, we’re hoping listeners will call us at 1-800-FL-TODAY or go online at FamilyLifeToday.com right now and say, “We want to help. The program makes a difference in our lives, and we want you to continue to be here.”
Dennis: Bob, as we’ve gone through the past year, you and I have talked about the great radio broadcasts we’ve brought to listeners and how we’ve ministered to them. We’ve also taken a look at stations where we’ve not heard from many listeners who want to keep us on the air.
So, we really need to hear from you if you’ve benefited from FamilyLife Today and would like to make a donation; or if you can’t make a donation, write us an e-mail or a letter. Tell us that this broadcast has made a difference in your life, your marriage, your family—maybe someone else you know.
Right now, here at the end of the year, when we need to hear from listeners and we need to take full advantage of this matching challenge, this would be a good time for every listener—I mean everyone of you who is listening to this broadcast right now—to either pick up the phone and call 1-800-FL-TODAY, or go online and make a generous donation so your gift will be matched dollar for dollar.
You give $100; it’ll become $200. Whatever amount you can give is going to be matched because we aren’t anywhere near taking full advantage of the matching challenge.
Bob: That’s right. Our website, again, is FamilyLifeToday.com. You click on the button that says, “I Care”, and again, that donation is going to be matched dollar for dollar. We just want to say, “Thanks,” in advance for whatever you are able to do. We hope to hear from you. Again, as Dennis said, even if you can’t make a donation, let us know you are listening because it is always important for us to know that the program is making a difference in your life.
Now, we’re going to talk about raising sons today. You raised two young men of your own. I was just sitting here thinking through your sixth grade Sunday school class that you taught for what—almost 10 years; didn’t you?
Dennis: Well, actually 11 years.
Bob: In that time, you invested in the lives of a lot of young men. You’ve kind of mixed it up and been in a mentoring relationship with younger men for a long time; haven’t you?
Dennis: I have, and it’s been one of the most rewarding things that I’ve ever done. There were 550 young people, over an 11-year period, who went through my sixth grade Sunday school class. At the end, I had 75 11- and 12-year-olds in there. Those young people kept getting younger and younger each year. I just would go, “Amazing that somebody like me can relate to them.” It really was a great privilege.
The reason is that I believe the hope for our future is really built on the generation that’s about to come. I think an older generation really has the responsibility to reach down and make an impact in a younger generation.
We’ve got a guy here in the studio who is nodding his head in agreement. Dewayne Washington joins us again on FamilyLife Today. Dewayne, welcome back.
Dewayne: Thank you so much for having me back. I appreciate it.
Dennis: He is the founder of The Gentlemen’s Society. Now, usually, when you see “Gentlemen’s Club” or whatever, you’re thinking about—
Bob: What you shouldn’t be thinking about. In fact, I’ve always thought, “That’s the most misnamed business—
Dennis: Oh, yes.
Bob: —“in America.”
Dennis: Oh, yes.
Bob: To refer to that as a men’s club or a gentlemen’s club—I mean, that’s the antithesis of what it means to be a man or a gentleman.
Dennis: You actually are training boys, and young men, and men between the ages of 8 and 18 to become gentlemen.
Dewayne: Yes, sir.
Dennis: You have about 1,000 guys in the Fort Worth area you’re taking through this program.
Dewayne: This year, we will have 1,000.
Bob: When you sit down with a nine-year-old and you’re going to train him to be a gentleman, where do you start?
Dewayne: We start in the same place for everybody. We actually start—the very first course is called “HIRE”. It stands for honor, integrity, respect, and education. What they do with the very first course—they learn that those are the four things that are extremely important to every gentleman.
That’s when they learn the creed. The creed is, “I’m a gentleman. I have honor. I do honorable things. I have integrity. I do the right thing when no one is looking. I have respect for myself and others. I value my education. I am a gentleman.” So, they start there at the very, very basic of what a gentleman truly is.
Dennis: These courses that you teach—and there are 23 other courses; correct?
Dennis: One of them you teach is called “Dressing”.
Dewayne: “Dressing for the Occasion.” I love that course because that course is where we see the most change in people immediately. Let me just tell you what the course is. It is very simple. It’s when we teach the difference between black tie, white tie, business, business casual, and the whole nine—just different types of attire.
Well, the thing is that after that course is done, they always have to come in business attire. So, they always have to wear a suit and tie. They also learn how to tie a tie in that course.
Dennis: There you go.
Dewayne: There are two stories—if I got time to tell it—that just stick out for me. One is there was a gentleman that had brought his son. He was bringing his son to the courses, and he was kind of sitting outside during the courses. This particular course, he asked if he could sit in on; okay? This gentleman is older than I am; and he said, “I’ve never learned how to tie a tie.” So, actually, I have a picture of him learning how to tie a tie with his son. I mean, it was just a very, very special moment for me.
There was another time, and I have this picture—
Dennis: Now, let’s stop for a second and just unpack that for a moment. Why would that be a special moment for a father and a son to be tying a tie together?
Dewayne: For me, it’s important for several reasons. We teach the team all the time—because we see so much miraculous change all the time, sometimes, the team will think that’s normal. I have to remind everybody that we’re changing family trees.
So, the experience that we just gave them, or allowed them to have, dealing with the father and son learning the first time how to tie a tie—that son is going to teach his son, and he’s going to pass on that moment when we’re not even there.
The fact that—number one: We don’t have too many fathers involved to begin with, and we’re allowing them to be able to learn something at the same time—something that they’ll both remember for the rest of their life—you know—the story that this guy will tell his grandson. We were able to be just a little bitty piece of that—to help that relationship in some way, and to help in some way create a society of gentlemen.
Dennis: Earlier, you mentioned that you had about 100 young men in a gathering and asked all of them to remain standing who had a father at home. You got down, and there was only one.
Dewayne: Only one.
Dennis: One young man at home. So, that meant the other 99 had never seen their dad or didn’t have a dad and couldn’t possibly know how to tie a tie as a man would tie it.
Dewayne: Right—unless, someone else has taught them—but not their father.
Dennis: Okay, go on to your second story.
Dewayne: The next story—and I keep some pictures that are just real special to me. I’ve got this on my cell phone as well. If you look at the picture, there’s nothing special about it. It’s one young man teaching another young man. He’s holding him—teaching him how to tie a tie, which is probably nothing special to anybody.
The reason that this is so special to me is that several weeks before—these two kids were actually kicked out of school for fighting each other. I mean, they were fighting each other hard—throwing fists and the whole nine—
Dennis: How old are they?
Dewayne: They’re in elementary school; so, they’re about—one was about 11. I think the other one was about nine, something like that.
So, you go from—“The only tool I have to handle this is my fists,” down to—I just happen—I was there, and I just happened to look up. It’s not like we asked them to help each other. We just looked up, and literally, he’s there helping this guy to become a man. It is like, “Hey, I got it. I’m going to show him how to do this as well.”
Dennis: The 11-year-old was showing the nine-year-old.
Dewayne: Right. Now, we do have some opposites. Sometimes, you see like the eight-year-old showing the 14-year- old. That’s my last story here is—they invited us to an event I had to speak at in Dallas—at Dallas City Hall or something. They were putting on a—kind of like a summit for young people. So, they asked, “Can you bring some of your kids?” So, we brought about 75 kids.
The great thing is—they call me in before they brought the kids into the chamber. I asked them, I said, “Where do you want our kids to sit?” He said, “Well, just have them come in and sit anywhere.” I said, “If you open that door, they are going to fill up all your front rows because they are taught, if they’re in a place where the information is important to them, then, ‘You need to be as close to that information as possible. If it’s not that important, then, why are you there to begin with?’”; right?
He said, “Well, just tell them to sit in the middle.” They opened the door and told them to sit in the middle, and I was so proud of them. They literally came to the front and just filled it all the way to the back; right?
The moment—that was such a defining moment is that—remember, they all have to show up in business attire, okay? So, everything we go to—they are in full suit and tie. Everyone else has pants, sagging to their ankles. I mean, it is apparent which one of these are gentlemen and with Gentlemen’s Society and which one’s aren’t. (Laughter) I mean there is no question.
Dennis: They’ve got their uni’s on—their uniform.
Dewayne: You have no idea how apparent it is. So, they came to me during the meeting; and they said, “Hey, we are going to give all the kids ties—not like your kids need them—but we’re going to give everybody ties; but we have a small problem. We don’t have enough men here to teach the kids how to tie a tie. Can your boys help and teach all the other kids how to tie a tie?”
You had literally our 10- and 11-year-old boys were showing 17- and 18-year-olds—older boys—how to tie a tie. It was a moment for me. (Laughter)
Bob: We’re talking about something that just sounds kind of average—tying a tie, but you are saying this is a marker. There is weight associated with this—that we don’t even realize.
Dewayne: You cannot imagine—I said that, “As soon as I get clearance, I’m going to start filming some of this”—especially with our TYRC boys. These are boys who were locked up and thought that their life were over. When they put on a suit and for the first—I had a guy say this—he said, “For the first time, I looked in the mirror; and I liked what looked back.” He said, “I think I’m going to do this more often.”
This guy was 17 years old. So, he’s been looking in the mirror for 17 years and not liking what he looked back at him. For the first time ever, he was able to like what looked back. That’s not even the kicker.
The kicker is the way that these areas—there’s a lot of homeless people there in these areas. The way that the kids will know that the people are homeless is because of their attire; okay? We talk about it. It might not be fair; right?—but that’s how they would be able to tell that—because I asked them, “Do they have a sign on them that says, ‘Follow me to the shelter’?” Probably not, but they insinuate just because of their outward appearance. They also insinuate that, “If one of those people is approaching you—what’s about to happen—they’re going to ask you for money.” You also insinuate what they are going to do with that money.
”If you did all that based on just appearance, what do you think people think when they see you?” I will take some of the most—what we would consider the most thugged-out individuals that you can possibly lay eyes on—and they will say, “They probably think I’m a thug, or a gang member, or I’m just a really, really bad guy.” Here’s the kicker—I will ask them, “What do you want people to think?”
These same guys, with tattoos everywhere—that we’ve had situations where the judge was attempting to give this kid life in prison at 16—these same guys will look at you in the eye and say, “I want them to say, ‘There goes a good guy. There goes a kid that’s going somewhere. There goes a kid that I can respect.’” I tell them, “Well, then, you need to dress the part; and we’re going to give you the skills to be the part; but take the easy win first.”
Bob: When you say to an 11-year-old, thugged-out kid, “Hey, next week we’re going to learn how to dress, and you need to come back—you need to have a suit, and a dress shirt, and a tie when you come.” He says, “I don’t have a shirt, a dress suit, and a tie; and I don’t have money to get one.”
Dewayne: Crack-head never says, “I would get high, but I don’t have any money.” So, that’s the philosophy that we use. If a crack-head cannot use that as an excuse, neither can you. Now, what we will do—“We’ll never expect for you to do something that we have not taught you,” because we’re not teaching them to dress in suit and tie; we’re teaching them to dress for the occasion.
So, after they learn the business attire, then, they learn the fact that, “Now, you need to show up in business attire,” which is different from, “You just need to dress up.” We want to make sure that, “You understand that you need to have attire that fits the situation.” If you have a suit and tie on and this is a white-tie affair, you will not get in.
Dewayne: So, we change the mentality first; and then, we have expectations and charges after the mentality changes.
Dennis: Dewayne, a few years back, Bob and I interviewed a gentleman that we really came to love and respect. His name was Harold Davis, and Harold has a mentoring ministry to African American young men in Champaign, Illinois.
One of the statements he made, when we interviewed him was this—he said, “When an older man does not reach down and call a younger generation up, that younger generation perishes.”
Dennis: What you are doing in The Gentlemen’s Society is—you’ve amassed a curriculum where in course, after course, after course, you are plugging boys, and young men, and 18-year-old men—you’re plugging them into older men who are reaching down—
Dewayne: Most definitely.
Dennis: —around issues of dressing, and work, and conscience, and honor, and nobility of being a man—
Dennis: —and you’re calling them up.
Dennis: The thing is—it’s working.
Bob: And it’s spreading now, too. You’ve started a ladies’ society as well?
Dewayne: It’s spread in a couple different ways. We started a ladies’ society there in the D/FW area. We have, now, people calling from across the country to start The Gentlemen’s Society in their area. We now have it so we can start it everywhere. We’re getting Belize up to speed. We’ve got two LC’s down there. I went and met those kids—
Bob: Two LC’s. What are LC’s?
Dewayne: LC’s are life consultants. Those are the young men and young ladies who are the teachers—the ones that actually go and deliver the curriculum there at the site—
Bob: You train them how to start a Gentlemen’s Society and start engaging with these young men.
Dennis: Well, you know what—here’s my challenge for our listening audience. I have to believe right now there are 25 men across the country who’d like to become an LC, who’d like to import what you’re doing into their community and make a difference.
So, beginning with our first broadcast of the day, when you call and get information about how you can find out more about Dewayne Washington’s Gentlemen’s Society, you can ask what number you are. Okay?
Dewayne: Good deal.
Dennis: Say, “What number am I?” “Well, you’re number five.”
Bob: Well, now wait, are they committing when they call or they just expressing interest? I just want to find out what the rules are here.
Dennis: I think the rules are, “If you call, you’re stepping up.”
Bob: Okay, there you go; alright.
Dennis: Let’s get with the program.
Bob: Yes, I’m—
Dennis: This is not for the faint of heart; alright?
Bob: “I’m willing to check this out that”—
Dennis: Yes. Yes.
Bob: —if you call and say, “I am willing to check this out.”
Dennis: In conscience, you want to find out more. We’re not going to waste Dewayne’s time with a bunch of people who just kind of want to circle and not—
Dennis: —land the plane.
Dennis: We need to get on with it here. Twenty-five—I’m looking for 25 LC’s today.
Bob: You’re still looking for people to help fund the project we started earlier this week to send books down to Fort Worth—copies of your book, Stepping Up.
Dennis: I promised them 1,000 books; and I said, “I want—I could give them.” I mean, I could do that, but I thought, “I have to believe there are listeners who’d like to be a part of the process of providing exhortation—biblical exhortation to young men.” At the end of this deal, we’re going to have—well, if you pass out 1,000—Bob, threw out the gauntlet to you, Dewayne.
Bob: We’re going to have 1,000 book reports.
Dennis: A thousand book reports coming back with how these young men are going to step up. That’s what I like about your program, Dewayne, is your not talking about theory.
Dennis: You’re talking about shoe-leather theology of putting it down where life collides with truth—the truth of God’s Word—and demands change and an attitude that changes as well.
Dennis: I just think it is a great opportunity to get involved and make a difference in a bunch of young men’s lives.
Dewayne: Perfect; and I love that because throughout the program, we have a concept called “Do What You Do.” The LC’s are taught that—“Find out what this kid is really about”; you know? Everyone will come in—well, a lot of people will come in and say, “Well, I want to be a football player,” “I want to be a basketball player.”
There’s one year we took all the kids and sent them to an NFL camp. We figured out really quick who really wants to be a football player. (Laughter) The cool thing about that, though, is one kid, when he first started—low self-esteem and everything. That kid there, he went—he said, “I want to become a football player.” He went to the football camp. He’s got NFL players on his cell phone right now. He came back—first game, set a school record—sacked the quarterback nine times. To see this kid now; it’s just like, I mean, night and day. He’ll be one—he is actually one of—that comes back and helps teach some of the youngers.
I would like to just add one thing to the gentleman’s statement, when he said that that generation perishes—remember, they don’t go anywhere; okay? So, they stay there. They’re still in the community—so that community perishes.
Right now, we’re—we have a plan for the school district—that we’re meeting with them about. It’s a 10-year-type plan. The whole concept is, “Let’s teach these concepts of philanthropy, of being a great steward of the community. Let’s build that into the curriculum or the fabric of the school district because they stay here. They are going to be your teachers, your principals, and your city councilmen.”
Well, if they weren’t taught the values, then, guess what your city council is going to look like. Guess what your principals are going to look like; but if you teach them those values, then, you actually are not only helping them changing the family tree, but you’re also changing the very structure of the community itself.
Dennis: Dewayne—as you were talking, I just broke out into a big smile; and I thought about this passage in Ezekiel—had to hunt it down here. Ezekiel 22, verse 30. It says, “‘And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land that I should not destroy it, but I found none. Therefore, I have poured out my indignation upon them. I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. I have returned their way upon their heads,’ declares the Lord, God.”
That all resulted because someone did not step up and stand in the gap. What you’ve done, Dewayne, on behalf of a bunch of young lads in the Fort Worth area, and now spreading across the country, you’ve stood in the gap. What we’re challenging people to do here on FamilyLife Today is—I’m looking for 25 other guys who will stand in the breach.
Dennis: So, will you be one? I don’t know who is listening right now. Will you be one of the 25 who stands in the gap on behalf of the next generation? If you want to help pay for the books we’re going to give this ministry, pick up the phone, give us a shout, and say, “I’d like a piece of that action”—it’s better than Wall Street. (Laughter)
Dewayne: It’s a better return; that’s for sure.
Dennis: Better return than Wall Street, trust me. Dewayne, thanks for being with us.
Dewayne: Thank you so much for having me.
Dennis: Keep running to win, man.
Dewayne: I will.
Bob: You can also, by the way, go online at FamilyLifeToday.com if you’d like to help us with the cost of sending these books that we’re going to send to The Gentlemen’s Society in Fort Worth. When you get to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, click the button that says, “I Care”, and just make a year-end donation to help support FamilyLife Today. That will help us with the cost of sending these books down to Fort Worth as well.
The good news is—when you make that donation this week, it’s going to be matched dollar for dollar because of the matching-gift fund that we’ve got going on. Dennis talked about it at the beginning of today’s program. We’re now just passed $3.5 million, and the fund actually is continuing to grow. So, for us to take full advantage of the money that is in the matching-gift fund, we need to hear from as many FamilyLife Today listeners as possible.
Go to FamilyLifeToday.com, click the button that says, “I Care”, and make a year-end contribution to help support FamilyLife Today and help us send these books down to The Gentlemen’s Society as well.
You can also make a donation by calling 1-800-FL-TODAY, 1-800-358-6329. As Dennis said, we’d love to hear from you if you’re one of those guys who’s going to step up and start a Gentlemen’s Society in your community. Let us know about that as well. 1-800-FL-TODAY is the number, or go online at FamilyLifeToday.com.
If you don’t have a copy of Dennis’ new book, Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood, those are available as well. Again, you’ll find them online at FamilyLifeToday.com, or you can call 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
Now, tomorrow, I want to encourage you to be back with us. You’re going to meet a wonderful couple, John and Donna Bishop. They’ve got a remarkable story to share, and I hope you can tune in.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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