Manliness in Marriage: The How-to Guide to Preparing for Marriage

No one will mistake me for the classic manly man — I currently have no beard, I’ve never really hunted or killed anything (on purpose at least), and I’m only a fan in theory of camping.

When I was a single guy, I knew that one day I’d need some “manly” skills — and not necessarily the gun-toting, camo-wearing kind. More like the “I-just-need-this-in-life” kind.

A band of brothers.

A band of brothers.

It started with a group of young guys I went to college with. We identified a man we respected and asked him to “teach us his ways.” We all realized that there were so many basic masculine skills we were missing from our “toolbox.”

Then and there we started our weekly gathering called the “Band of Brothers.” Over the course of a few months, we learned how to be men. Here’s what we learned and how you can recreate the same thing (including but not limited to how to roof a house, fire a gun, sharpen a knife, change a tire, change the oil, dress like a man, cook meat, and use tools).

The Syllabus 

Before we began the process, a syllabus was created to guide us. It opened with this course description:

It has been rightly said that higher education grooms the mind, but neglects the body.  It could be added that the social construct of men is designed to be developed outside of the classroom by accomplishing difficult tasks amidst hard work.  Many times this takes the form of sports.  However, we need to equip men in their masculinity who will in turn lead other men and develop a culture of expressed masculinity.  This is an essential component of theological education and equipping for ministry – regardless of what that ministry might look like.

The syllabus continued and emphasized the danger in having only mental knowledge with no knowledge of several basic masculine skills:

Many men leave college uniquely equipped to handle and apply the specific knowledge needing in their respective fields.  However, the student’s ability to impact culture can sometimes be undermined by a lack of knowledge about more masculine areas of interest.  In their churches and workplaces they will gain credibility, broaden their impact, and increase their leadership profile if they properly learn several basic masculine skills.

The syllabus also included a brief schedule, some recommended reading, and contact information.

What We Learned 

I can’t emphasize enough how formative and helpful this was to me and the other men who took time each Tuesday to learn a new skill.

Every week for a semester we would gather together to learn a new skill, often times being taught by a subject-matter expert — a police officer, a Navy SEAL, or a school president for example. These lessons included (but we not limited to):

  1. Roofing a house
  2. Firing, disassembling, and cleaning guns
  3. Building fires without matches
  4. Learning the basic components of an engine
  5. Changing tires, oil, and spark plugs in a car
  6. Learning and using basic tools
  7. Sharpening and using knives
  8. Backing up a trailer
  9. Driving a tractor
  10. Stringing a barbed wire fence
  11. Dressing for corporate functions (a.k.a, “dressing to kill”)
  12. Administering battlefield first aid
  13. Camping without a tent
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Old blue, the truck I applied much of my learning to a few years later.

In each and every category we learned as much as possible and did as much hands-on training and learning that time would allow. On some occasions, one of those in the group would be tasked with researching and teaching the next week. It gave us an opportunity to both learn something new and to learn how to teach and lead other men.

Recommendations 

This is by no means an exhaustive description of how to do this. We met once a week. You could gather a group of young guys together once a month to learn a new skill. The bottom line is this: I think this type of “class” is needed. I can’t emphasize enough how formative and helpful this was to me and the other men who took time each Tuesday to learn a new skill.

In summary, here’s what you need to do:

  • Identify a man who “knows” it all and ask him to teach you or a group of men
  • Put together a plan (syllabus if you need to) and write the plan down
  • Meet no matter what
  • Use subject matter experts where you’re lacking

Looking forward to reading your comments and answering any questions you may have.

manhood101

MANHOOD 101: Making Decisions

I had the great pleasure of contributing to The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’s latest series on “Manhood 101.” Believe me, I’m no expert but I made my feeble attempt to add to the conversation, primarily by standing on the shoulders of other great men I’ve learned from during my short time here on planet earth. You can read my contribution to the series here.

The irony of writing an article on decision-making is not lost on me. As an incredibly young man, the amount of tough calls and life altering decisions I’ve made is laughable.

Thankfully amidst a world full of options, choices, and decisions, God has provided me with the same Holy Spirit and the same Word he’s provided everyone else to “understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17).

Like many, I’ve attempted the time-tested and failed methods of decision-making:

  • Flipping to random pages in the Bible.
  • Counting seeing a double rainbow as a “sign”
  • Feeling some inner peace.
  • Dreams (most likely inspired by Chipotle).
  • Making a decision based on what I “felt” after fasting.
  • The good old “flipping a coin”

Each and every one of these methods were more often than not rooted in a deep sense of anxiety and lack of trust in the Lord. If I’m honest, making a decision is difficult. The stakes are so often high and life-altering.

// MANHOOD 101: Making Decisions //

Packing Up: How to Fight For Your Family in Transition and Change

My latest article is over on the men’s channel at CBMW.org today:

If you asked me a few years ago if in the span of three years I’d get married, graduate college, have a baby, live in three states, and work three different jobs — well, I’d probably slap you.

Yet here I am once again with a sore back and tape residue on my fingers. Mmm. The sweet smell of cardboard.

Change is scary and complicated. It’s so easy to be paralyzed by doubt, despair, confusion, or stress. Sometimes it’s all of those things at once.

Perhaps most difficult about change — whether it be a major life change or simply the the few hours after work — is remembering that it’s not about me.

It’s not my transition. It’s not my move. It’s not my change.

As the boxes pile high or the baby gear fills up the second bedroom, the ongoing struggle with selfishness rises. What better excuse to neglect others than I have so many details to take care of these next few weeks. Yet more than ever, my family needs me.

With that in mind, I offer you four keys to fighting idolatry in our greatest of transitions and change — whether that be a new baby in the family, a major job change, or a move across the country (or in my case all of them at the same time).

// Read the latest at CBMW.org // 

Essential Books for High School Seniors

Some of the most helpful things I have received in the course of my life come in lists. One of my favorite lists has always been the recommended book list. I believe that the transition from high school to college in many ways is one of the most important transitions in your life — and one of the most exciting! Untitled-2-copyBecause of this, I’ve created the Essential Books for High School Seniors cheat sheet for High School students, parents, grandparents, or anyone who’s thinking about giving a gift or helpful book to a high school student. In this cheat sheet you’ll find:

  • My absolute favorite book on growing in holiness
  • The best book out there to prepare yourself for college (and to prepare Mom and Dad for college)
  • A book that actually changed my life 
  • Bonus notes and bo ok recommendations

Best of all, it’s FREE. In order to receive your copy simple fill out the form on the right-hand sidebar and I’ll send you the link to the FREE copy of Essential Books for High School Seniors.  You can sign up for updates by clicking here. Once you’ve completed the initial process of email confirmation you’ll be sent your copy of Essential Books for High School Seniors.  Enjoy. 

C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

“But they aren’t distinguished — no more than anyone else. Don’t you understand? The Glory flows into everyone, and back from everyone: like light and mirrors. But the light’s the thing.” “Do you mean there are no famous men?” “They are all famous. They are all known, remembered, recognized by the only Mind that can give a perfect judgement.”