Every man has a story and every man is in the midst of a story. God is the ultimate author of all things, including my story and your story (see Romans 8:28; 11:36). A man cannot truly step into Authentic Manhood until he begins to see his life as a narrative—an epic adventure, a tragedy, and a comedy all rolled up into one, with an ending that has yet to unfold!
I remember, in my twenties, being in a small group of men and being challenged by them to write down my heritage, my high points, my hurts and my heroes for the purpose of sharing my life story with the group. Being encouraged to look back, put my story on paper and share those discoveries with other men was powerful. Giving focused attention to my past, giving voice to the shaping influences of my life and sharing the good, the bad and the ugly of all that is me with trustworthy men was profound. Equally as powerful was hearing them do the same and realizing that though my story is unique, as a man, I am not alone. We all have been shaped by defining moments, decisions, painful experiences, and personal relationships.
In my thirties, that “look back” got enhanced and nuanced as I listened to Dr. Robert Lewis teach Men’s Fraternity and the Quest for Authentic Manhood. Men’s Fraternity was the movement that birthed and inspired 33 The Series. I was struck by Robert’s clarity in telling his own story. His discoveries from his past were like keys that unlocked significant doors in his present. I learned from Robert that we are all deeply influenced by our fathers, mothers, friends, mentors and even our own heart.
We all have been shaped by defining moments, decisions, painful experiences, and personal relationships.
In my forties, the role of “story” went nuclear as I invested in several significant experiences with intensive counseling. Trusted, skilled, and trained men led me through experiences that forced me to look back into my story and explain me, to me. They helped me not only process my life experiences, but also capture the emotions that went with those experiences. What started on those couches was a rediscovery of my heart. As a young man, I learned to live out of my head, not out of my heart. I learned to think and accomplish, but I forgot how to feel. Here’s the problem: living out of your head and with your hands usually works well in school, work, and with machinery but not so well with God, your spouses, kids, and friends. Those closest to you want your heart.
It is my deep desire that every man who experiences 33 The Series will not only be equipped, but will also have the courage to “look back,” so that he knows his story, understands his own heart, and is able to give his heart to those he loves. Chip Dodd cast a vision for me to “Live fully, love deeply, and lead well;” and that is my desire for every man on the journey to Authentic Manhood.
This article is an excerpt from 33 The Series Volume 2: A Man and His Story. View Session 1 of A Man and His Story.