My friend Morgan Snyder tells a story of one day driving with his pre-teen son. They were on their way to an adventure, I’m not sure what, a hunt, hike, fishing trip maybe. But he asked his son, “What are the top things a man needs to survive?” After a few moments his son replied, “A cell phone and a wallet.” Morgan was thrown off balance. In his son’s mind, and maybe in the world today, the basic survival tools begin with a cell phone and a wallet. Well, that is probably right in many ways. I think that when I travel, the two things I know will get me out of trouble and back home would be a cell phone and my wallet. But that wasn’t what he was looking for.
Snyder has been on a mission to recover his own heart for years. He is driven to help other men do the same. He shared an idea a couple years ago that I loved. “What does a man need? What can a man have, buy, say, or do that would get him on track to regain his heart. To rescue him from the cubical, rushed, screen time. A life surrendered.” I was amazed at his simple but profound first step — buy a knife.
There is a newer movie out now starring actor Will Ferrell. He is a father and a husband who takes his family on vacation skiing. While at the ski resort a landslide roars down the mountain. The disturbing part is that he runs away, ahead of his family, leaving them. After discovering his family, his wife begins to question his cowardice. I could barely watch the movie. He was an untrained, beat down man who had no idea how to take care of himself or his family in a tough situation. The opposite of what a man was created to be, and he began to realize it. That was Snyder’s point too. What does a man need to truly be a man and how does he find it? Where does he go to get trained?
You hear the stories of a man who lives through a horrific accident and something in him shifts. Maybe one day his wife comes in and says, “It’s over,” and files for divorce. A financial set back rocks his easy chair, football watching, 9 to 5 life. In that moment, as the future rolls out, he is faced with an awakening. He knows he can’t keep doing what he was doing. Life has got to be more. Prayerfully it is not on our death bed, in a last breath, “I wish I had done more,” we figure it out.
For me it was late one December afternoon. I had built my construction business and that year was going to be the best financial year ever. But inside, I didn’t have it. I was unhappy, getting up was a chore, and God was speaking to me for months leading up to that day. I could not imagine what the future held in a lot of areas, but I knew that something had to happen. I took my tools out of my truck that day and turned the page.
I’m not going to council you on how you should go about finding your masculine heart. Too many brilliant men have written on that and I recommend you start that search with them. John Elderedge, Morgan Snyder, and Robert Lewis of course. Those guys broke me wide open. But I will give you some tips on things you should and can be doing starting now.
Go buy a knife. Buy a stone sharpener and learn how to use it, if you don’t already know. Start a project, build something. Go fishing, hunting, hiking or camping, all things that will give your heart blood.
Go find some men and do something with them outside. Ask a man who possesses the qualities of manhood you respect to lunch. You might be older and have spent a little too much time in the easy chair. Get out and be around men, you don’t age out in the Jesus fight, you don’t.
Take a couple boys to the shooting range or fishing. Help them feel and learn who and what a man is. Learn with them. Heck, buy a boy, your son, or grandson a knife. Teach them about safety and responsibility. There are powerful lessons to be learned.
Henry David Thoreau said, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
I feel more alive with a hammer, a chainsaw, a knife, a fishing pole, or a rifle in my hand. I feel more alive looking back at the mountain I just hiked, while cleaning a deer, or over the project I just built. Snyder’s son was partially correct, a phone and a wallet are tools, but not life. Dig in deep, don’t wait. Ask Jesus to reveal your heart, it’s there for the asking.
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. - Proverbs 4:23
TJ Greaney is the founder of Kids Outdoor Zone and an award winning outdoor travel and adventure writer, photographer, radio show host and past President of the Texas Outdoor Writers Association. He published a Texas lifestyle magazine with his wife, Sandra, for more than 20 years from their home in Austin, Texas. He is also co-host with his oldest son, professional bass angler Cody Ryan, of the #1 outdoor adventure radio show, The Outdoor Zone. TJ’s daughter graduated from Texas A&M as an Ag teacher, his youngest son Jon-Michael is working on his Photography education. If you ask TJ his passions he would tell you. Jesus Christ, his family including dear friends, the ministry of KOZ, writing, coffee and the cool air of the mountains. He is involved daily working with KOZ leaders, creating materials, fundraising and mentoring.