About the Guest
Courage involves more than stereotypical blazing guns and clanging swords. According to John Majors, true courage is facing one’s fears, dying to selfishness, and stepping up to the things God has placed into your life.
According to John Majors, true courage is stepping up to the things God has placed into your life.
Bob: There’s a link between manhood and courage, but John Majors says a lot of men don’t understand what real courage is.
John: Courage isn’t, “I did a bungee jump,” or, “I jumped out of an airplane,” or, “…did something that was hard or made me nervous.” Courage, inherently, has a Christ-centered factor—or it has an others-centered factor. The most courageous thing you can do is lay down your life for someone else. Ultimately, giving God the glory—that is the most courageous thing you can do.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, June 10th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’re going to talk to a couple of guys today who have a passion to see guys talking to one another. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I think the guys we’ve got in here—who are guys who have read your book, Stepping Up—I think they got it; don’t you?
Dennis: I think they did! I think they captured it. In fact, they did better than capture it—they’ve multiplied it.
Bob: Yes, that’s right.
Dennis: Tim Grissom and John Majors join us on FamilyLife Today. John, Tim—welcome to the broadcast.
Tim: Thank you. I’m glad to be here.
John: Thank you.
Dennis: John and Tim both work here, at FamilyLife. Tim is Senior Editor of FamilyLife Publishing. John has worked on Passport2Purity® and The Art of Marriage. Together, these guys have collaboratively—that’s a good word; isn’t it?
Tim: That is a good word, yes!
Dennis: They have worked together to produce the Stepping Up™video series workbook. You guys have been a part of FamilyLife for a number of years. We’re all about practical application of God’s Word and teaching God’s Word. Was that what you were all about in creating this workbook for men—this ten-part DVD series that guys are digging into, all across the country—you’ve actually created a workbook, here, for them to be able to apply it; right?
Tim: Absolutely! I think you can capture a guy’s heart quickly, but you also want to help them process the truth. We try to be very practical and thorough with that.
Bob: Yes. In fact, I want to go back to one of the early meetings we had when we were laying out the framework for the Stepping Up video series because Tim and John were both in the meeting. We were talking about what the different sessions ought to be about. We talked about how the video would be designed to kind of inspire and motivate guys and paint a picture for them.
But we said that the real heart of what goes on in the Stepping Up series is going to happen once the lights come back on, and the DVD player has been turned off, and guys huddle up. John, what is it that guys are doing, in the huddle, that is so powerful?
John: What we wanted guys to do was to pick apart what they saw and apply it to their lives, personally. We really wanted them to dig into the Scriptures, as well, and say, “What I saw on screen—I got a broad concept on courage. Now, what does the Bible say about it; and how do I apply that to my life?”
We also wanted to be sure that we gave guys enough content to dig through that it wasn’t just, “I saw a video, and answered a couple of questions, and I moved on.” But since it’s called Stepping Up, we wanted them to feel like, “I was called to step up in the amount of work or effort I had to put forward.
Dennis: John, you really feel like that’s best done in a community with other men—that men need men to truly step up, over a lifetime.
John: Yes, absolutely. I think we’ve seen that with our Homebuilder® series, as a good example, at FamilyLife. People go to an event, and they have a life-changing experience; but it’s that community, over many months, that helps support them—hold up their arms. I think with men, especially—men get so isolated and feel alone. But if you get a group of guys together and they feel that they can trust you, you’ll start to see some deeper change.
Dennis: Tim, you’ve been through your own journey—your own valley in your life.
Dennis: You lost your wife a number of years ago.
Dennis: How did men—a group of men—come around you and help you through one of the most tragic circumstances that can ever happen to any husband and father?
Tim: Well, that’s an interesting story. Actually, just a few weeks after my wife passed away, in December of 1999—this is not going to sound spiritual at all—we were at the tail end of the football season. A friend of mine, who liked to watch Monday Night Football—and I like to watch Monday Night Football—he called me one day and said: “I’m at my house, watching football. You’re at your house, watching football. Tonight, I’m coming over to your house to watch with you.”
From that time until now, which is almost 14 years later, I’ve been getting with this group of men every Monday night. We’ve long since stopped watching Monday Night Football and have just done a lot of life together.
Dennis: When that guy first came over to your house, it wasn’t just you and him—
Tim: It was—the first time.
Dennis: Was it? Where were your kids, at that point?
Tim: Well, they were just traipsing around the house. [Laughter] They were in and out of the living room, as we watched football.
Bob: But he came over because he knew that you needed a brother.
Tim: It was companionship and fellowship. He did it for loving reasons. It wasn’t just about football, obviously.
Bob: Fourteen years of getting together with a group of guys on Monday nights, in and out of football season—what benefit has that had in your life?
Tim: Well, it’s just doing life together. We have been through so many circumstances. One of the buddies of mine—his brother committed suicide, here, a few years ago. We walked through that season with him. We’ve been through our children’s marriages. We’ve been through the birth of grandchildren, transitions, struggles in marriages. We’ve just been there for each other. These are gentlemen that I would die for, and they would die for me.
Bob: So, with that context, when you sat down to help guide a group of guys—who may be getting together for the first time, going through the Stepping Up video curriculum— and they’re going to huddle up, after they’ve watched the video, and they are going to start interacting with questions—you didn’t just want them to be coming up with answers to, “What does this passage mean?” You wanted them to be digging deeper than that; right?
Tim: I wanted them to be honest. I think that one of the things that John and I had in mind, as we crafted the questions and wrote the content, was to help men go deeper with one another. I think that men really will do that. I think that they want to do that. We wanted to equip them to do that.
My contribution to the book, as I worked on the content and questions—I had three people in mind as I crafted questions and worked on the content: one was that Monday night group of men, one was my sons-in-law, and one was my own son. All of those are men—young men—that I love and care for. I would want them to go deeper—I want them to go deeper with Christ. I want them to go deeper with one another. So, those questions were crafted with those men in mind, actually.
Dennis: What I want our listeners to hear is that Tim and John didn’t just design this for grown men—men who are already in the season of life and manhood of adult responsibilities—but for younger men, who are emerging into manhood. Young adolescents—13-, 14-, 15-year-olds—have been through this. Certainly, high school students and college-aged kids have gone through this.
We had a couple of young men, from John Brown University, who went through the preview of the Stepping Up video series. They went through all ten together with all of us, and they decided that they wanted to take it back to JBU. They went to the administration. All last spring, every guy on campus went through the Stepping Up video series. That’s really what you were looking for; wasn’t it, Tim?
Tim: Absolutely; absolutely. We want to help get those young men on the right trajectory.
Bob: John, when guys get together and they’re in a small group with other guys— maybe, it’s the first time they’ve done this—and they’ve just watched a video and, now, somebody’s asking them some nosy questions that may feel a little bit threatening—I’m just wondering how many guys are going to say, “I don’t know that I want to be here.” How did you guys address that?
John: We just started a group in our neighborhood—with a group of guys. We had a guy walk in the door and he said: “I just want you to know I don’t really want to be here. [Laughter] I’m only coming because (one of the guys, basically, twisted his arm to come), and I trust him.” He said, “In fact, I’m afraid you’re going to sit me down and tie me to a chair to try to get me to come to church.” [Laughter] We laughed with him; and we said, “No, that’s next week!” [Laughter]
Dennis: I think the way you guys do it—you guys are both expert slow-pitch pitchers. You guys know how to just have a nice lob up to the plate—put it right over the middle, where even somebody like this guy, who doesn’t want to be there, can answer the question—like the first question you have in the first small group, “Who are some of the most courageous people you’ve ever known?”
Bob: Yes, and I’m just curious about that guy’s experience because he came in, reticent. What happened?
John: Yes, he was one of the most talkative guys during the discussion. [Laughter] When everything ended, he said, “I’ll be back next week.” I caught him—he’s a neighbor—out in his front yard, midweek. He said, “Yes, I’ll definitely be there.”
Tim: And did you ask him to go to church the next week?
John: No. Not yet. [Laughter]
Dennis: But you did ask him questions—back to the slow-pitch metaphor—that he could answer and enjoy answering. Most men really do want to talk with other men—they want to get real with other men.
Tim: I absolutely believe that. We carried that conviction into writing the book. I think it’s a myth to say that men don’t want to talk—don’t want to communicate. There are a lot of things going on in their hearts and their minds. Some of them are fears, some of them are successes, some of them are just questions they have about life or about whether they’re doing the right thing. It’s just men showing interest in them and asking them the right questions.
Bob: They’ve got to know that it’s safe—especially, if they’re going to talk about what’s going on in their lives—because, if I’m in a men’s group and you’re asking fact-based questions—so, if you asked me, “What do you think this verse means?” I can engage in that because there’s not very much that’s threatening. Even if I stumble a little bit, it’s going to be your opinion against my opinion; right?
But questions like, “Who are some of the most courageous people you’ve known?” I mean, any guy can get back and tell a story about somebody he knew, whether it was during military service, or back in high school, or somebody he’s known in the office. Every guy can get engaged in that and feel like, “Okay, it’s safe to tell my story here.” As long as the group leader—and I think this is important—as long as the group leader understands—you want to model for these guys that this is a safe environment to be honest about what’s going on in your life.
John: Yes, and you want to be aware of who’s ready for that and who’s not—know when to put the pressure on, know when to back off. But I think it comes back to a context of relationship. This guy came because one guy invited him—that he trusted. He told me: “I’d like to know more about the Bible. I really would, and I’m just not sure how to go about it or how to carve out the time.” He’s had some bad experiences in the church. He’s afraid. His girlfriend is afraid he’ll turn out like a weirdo. So, he’s got all of that pressure going on, but it all comes back to relationships.
Bob: So, in these discussion groups, you are getting into particular passages from the Bible—getting guys engaged with the Scriptures—and even a guy, who hasn’t spent much time reading the Bible—he was okay being there and looking at it; right?
John: Yes. One of the first questions is, “Talk about the definition of manhood in First Corinthians 16:13-14.” We have the passage, there, in the book. We walk through it. James MacDonald, on the video, walked through it. That was one of the more meaningful portions of the video—for a number of the guys—watching him unpack that. So, yes, we dive right into the Scriptures.
Dennis: Back to the subject of safety—a part of what you guys have done, in this workbook, to create safety in the small group, is to ask questions, at the beginning, that are more opinion questions—that are more factual in nature. They don’t really force any transparency— force guys to tell any kind of personal story of any kind. You’re asking how they define courage. You’re asking them what they think about how this passage defines courage in the Bible. That’s not really forcing a guy to disclose where he is with God or what he thinks about the passage.
Tim: No, it’s not at all. As they open up and share, you get to know—as you’re in the group with them and hear their answers and how they respond to questions—you pick up on who they value, who they love, who they trust, what they’ve learned, where they’ve been in life, and what’s important to them. As a leader, it gives you an opportunity—and them, as a participant in the group—they become increasingly willing to open up about their own experiences.
As John said, you have to be cautious about when you do that and how. I think another important part of the book is not just the discussion questions that we’ve given them—but the three days of time that they can just spend on their own, processing through truth from the Scripture, and even just looking into their own heart and experience. So, as well as the group interaction, there’s also personal time for them to just get quiet and think about some of these things.
Bob: Give me an example—in the three days that would follow the group getting together—what would a guy be doing in those subsequent chapters, John?
John: The basic format we’ve taken is that the first day is unpacking the broad concepts: “What is courage?” The first session is on courage. You just talk through, in general: “What do most people think courage is? What are some of your own opinions of what courage is?”
The second day would be, “What does the Bible say about courage?” The third day is going to be diving more into personal application. We designed it this way because we felt like, again, if you’re calling a guy to do a Stepping Up series, we want to give them some stuff to do that is meaningful—that calls them to step up in their own work.
Tim mentioned the myth that men don’t like to read—men don’t like to spend time, working through things on their own. I think the great libraries of the world were built by men. Many of the greatest writers of our time are men. So, we feel like we can call guys up to this. They will respond. The things that I’ve invested the most deeply in—in my life—have been the most meaningful. So, we didn’t want to stay in the shallows; but we also wanted any guy to feel like he could come.
Dennis: You quote some very famous theologians about what courage is. John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.” [Laughter]
John: That’s right.
Tim: Every man can identify with that.
Dennis: Every man can identify with that. George Patton—just kind of the crusty leader that he was: “Courage is fear holding on a minute longer.”
You picture men—maybe, taking a few moments of solitude—meaningful solitude, being guided by this workbook—to reflect on a topic that really is in the chest of every man. Every man wants to be called out and called up to be courageous. You really wanted them to process, and think, and grapple with what courage looks like in their lives.
John: And we wanted them to process, “This is what you think courage is; but, more importantly, what does the Bible say courage is?” We wanted them to really go to the deeper meaning of courage. Courage just isn’t, “I did a bungee jump,” or, “I jumped out of an airplane,” or, “…did something that was hard or made me nervous.” Courage, inherently, has a Christ-centered factor; or it has an others-centered factor—for those who aren’t believers. The most courageous thing you can do is lay down your life for someone else. Ultimately, giving God the glory—that is the most courageous thing you can do.
Bob: You’re saying that you built this so that a guy, who doesn’t go to church, could feel comfortable getting together with another group of guys and going through the DVDs and going through the workbook. I mean, he’s going to be confronted, throughout, with the claims of Christ and what the Bible teaches. Isn’t he, at some point, going to say, “This is too religious for me,” Tim?
Tim: Well, he might, but that doesn’t give us an out. We have to be courageous in our presentation of the Gospel. In fact, I believe that it’s the fourth session that deals pretty forthrightly with the Gospel. We make a point that the most courageous thing a man can do is surrender—
Tim: —surrender his life to Christ. I think that a lot of it goes back to the relationship of the group and what kind of connection they have with that man. There are things, in here, for every man; but we believe that for a man to be a true man—that means being a man of God. Courage comes from God.
I would also say that there is no courage apart from first experiencing fear, and every man has encountered fear in some form. So, every man has some interest in learning what it means to be courageous.
Bob: John, we’ve talked about courage being kind of at the heart of—really, the heart of the first session. Stepping Up is a call to courageous manhood, but the video series talks about more than just courage. What are some of the themes that men dig into, as they go through these ten videos?
John: Courage sets the stage for the whole series; but the entire series flows out of the book Dennis wrote on stepping up to manhood, which is really based on the five key stages of manhood. So, we’ll walk through those—boyhood, adolescence, manhood, mentor, and patriarch. Then, we’ll go into the session on the Gospel, as Tim mentioned.
Then, we want to give guys a definition of what it means to be a man who is stepping up. We use that acronym STEP—“S,” “T,” “E,” “P”—standing firm, taking initiative, engaging with wisdom and grace, and planning ahead and providing—to give them, really, an acronym that they can use, at any time, to self-evaluate: “Am I stepping up right now, or am I stepping down, or stepping away?”
Then, we walk through what it means to lead your family well and to have a vision for their life, and a vision for your community—leading your community—leaving a lasting legacy.
Bob: A lot of the issues of manhood get played out in a marriage or in a family, but you were conscientious to try to make sure the workbook kept single guys in mind; right?
John: Yes. When I was in college, I went through some manhood material, which was tremendous and gave me a definition of manhood; but I also felt like, “This is more for my dad than for me.” It was extremely helpful, and I was glad to have it; but I thought it would be really helpful, in the future, to have something more tailored—that a young guy feels like he could be a part of, as well, and not feel excluded. So, yes, we designed it with that in mind.
Dennis: Your first session—coming out of the first DVD—as we talk about defining courage—ends in both the DVD and in the small group time with the same question. I’m going to ask you two guys to answer that question. You can decide who does it today and who answers it on the next broadcast. The question is, “What is the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?” John’s pointing at Tim! [Laughter]
Tim: I believe in you, John. Let’s—
Dennis: Nothing like having a friend who will volunteer you; you know?
John: Tim’s more courageous than I. [Laughter]
Dennis: Okay, Tim. What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?
Tim: When you first put that question to me—back when I worked on the book with you, a couple of years ago—I had the response, “I don’t really feel like I’ve done anything terribly courageous.” But, in reflecting on that, the most courageous thing that I’ve ever done is something I had to do—and that was the morning after my wife passed away—gathering my—I have four children—gathering my three daughters—my son was fairly young, at the time—and telling them that their mom had passed away the night before.
I remember that moment as if it’s frozen in time—just saying to my children, “Your mommy’s with Jesus.” That’s the most courageous thing that I’ve ever done because it had to be done. It began a long, challenging—but blessed—journey for me and for my four children—but it was breaking the news to my children of their mother’s death.
Dennis: And, as we talk about, in the series, it is doing your duty, in the face of fear. It’s facing down the hard stuff. Telling your kids—that may have begun the process of being courageous, Tim—but we watched you, around here. You continued that initial step of courage with more than a dozen years of being courageous at loving, leading, being a priest of your family—by yourself, as a single parent. You have been courageous!
Bob: I know there are guys, who have heard us talking about this today, who may have been thinking, “You know, this is something that I think our men’s group ought to go through together this fall.” If you’d like to get more information about the Stepping Up video series, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the link there for Stepping Up.
But this is also something you could do over the summer. Get a group of guys together—just friends of yours—invite them over to the house, once a week, and you guys—the five or six of you—sit down and watch the videos and go through the Stepping Up ten-week video series. Again, there’s more information about the series, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. You can see clips from the series—get more information about the whole kit. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information.
Let me also mention something very special that our team is doing. They’ve decided to make copies of your book, Stepping Up, available for any of our listeners for free. All you have to do is cover the cost of postage and handling, and we’ll send the book to you. We’ll include, with the book, a DVD that includes all of Session One of Stepping Up—the video series—and half of the first session of the Stepping Up video event—so you get a chance to see what this video is really all about and get a copy of Dennis’s book—if you’ll just cover the cost of the shipping and the handling.
Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about the Stepping Up resources we have available. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or call, toll-free, 1-800-358-6329; 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY” when you get in touch with us. Again, ask about how you can get a copy of Dennis Rainey’s book, Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood. Just cover the cost of shipping, and we’ll get it to you.
By the way, there’s another message, from Dennis, that we’re making available, this month, to those of you who can help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. It’s a message about dads turning their hearts toward the hearts of their children—a message given at a men’s event, a number of years ago—where Dennis talked, particularly, about dads and their teenagers and how you protect them from danger—from evil.
That CD is our gift to you when you help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation, this month. All you have to do is go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the button that says, “I CARE”. Make an online donation, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Make your donation over the phone, and ask about the CD from Dennis Rainey called Turning Your Heart toward Your Children.
Again, let me just say, “Thanks for your support for this ministry.” We are listener-supported. Your donations are what keep this program on our network of stations, all across the country. We’re grateful for your partnership with us, here, at FamilyLife Today.
And we want to encourage you to be back with us again tomorrow. John Majors and Tim Grissom are going to be here. We’re going to talk more about men stepping up. We’ll look at what’s at the core of biblical manhood tomorrow. I hope you can tune in for that.
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 next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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