I know because I feel it, too. Thirty-something with a good job, a great family, and some cool toys acquired over the first half-ish of your professional working career. You want more, but more of what? That sense, the little feeling, what is it?
I measure up. I have a house. It’s not as big as the houses of my friends. I earn a decent salary. It’s not as much as I believe I’m worth and it certainly doesn’t measure up to those friends who have the bigger house…and the new Honda with the duel-screen DVD player. You know who I’m talking about, the family that seem to take the trips that I want to provide for my family.
That guy who has the bigger house, the new car, and travels the world with the confidence of Indiana Jones, he feels the same way you do.
Thoreau it all a way and find your Walden. (It took me nearly 30 seconds to think of that) This is where purpose resides.
Look, I’m not saying that you have to toss that cool new Mac Air, stop using deodorant and wipe your ass with surrounding roughage. I’m talking real change, the kind that takes place in your heart, mind and soul. I’m talking the hard kind of change.
It was a two-step reality check that set my sail. I nearly lost my family and God stepped into my life.
Now, before you write me off as some Christian zealot waiting until the middle of my musings to spring my trap of damnation, take a second to realize that I’m writing about what worked for me. I’m writing about concepts, not fire and brimstone. I don’t even know what brimstone is or why it’s pejoratively coupled with fire. Heck, I don’t even know if I can use pejorative as an adverb…but I did. Call me crazy.
Out of a sense of something between curiosity and guilt, coupled with a strangely unexplainable desire, I attended Promise Keepers in Atlanta, Summer 2006. The speakers captivated me. I was a bit freaked out at the same time by 16,000 men cheering across Philips Arena, “Yes, yes, yes we do. We love Jesus, how bout you”. I’ve always considered myself a Christian, but not one that screams about it. Seems a little preacher-with-bullhorn-ish to me, but whateveah’.
After a day-and-a-half filled with biblically-centered motivational speak, comedians, and a killer rock show (I don’t even like Christian rock), I emerged with three concepts that changed my life forever. In theory, only one deals with God. In my reality, they all do. I’ll get the God one out of the way first.
Concept #1: God has created everyone for a purpose. Purpose has nothing to do with money, power, or fame. You will be who you are, period. Finding who you are is nothing more than being mercilessly truthful with yourself beyond the point of mental fatique. Then–this is the hard part–you have to accept it.
Concept #2: The only way to face life full-bore is by enlisting the strength of another. Personally, I choose God/spirituality/holy spirit/whatevah to help me. This hasn’t been easy, but it has given me more than I could have ever achieved on my own. Now remember, I’m explaining a concept here. Tracking me? Concept. That concept is that if you believe you can do life solo, you’re traveling a path of disappointment. You have to give it up, your mind, body and soul. Make yourself emotionally vulnerable and you become stronger.
Concept #3: Become the leader of your family: Say what you will, but I believe that there can be only one king, one leader at the top of the chain making the FINAL decisions. The reality is this (I am so going to take it on the chin for this one), women want men to be the leader of the family. In a family, especially one with at least one child, (most) women desire the man to be the provider. They want the man to make the hard decisions. They want the man to take care of the stereotypical man stuff along with being rock-solid on all matters.
I’m NOT saying that women should be subservient. I’m NOT saying that a man should make all decisions without consulting his wife. Or without giving her the respect that she deserves. I am NOT saying that the woman ranks second in the household. And I am NOT saying that a woman would simply fall apart without a man. C’mon, people, everyone knows that women are smarter and usually more rational than men. Hell, I would fall apart without my wife; she holds me together and makes our family run.
Leadership is a trait lacking in the majority of people; it’s not usually something that we are taught in school, and it’s a hard concept to understand. Most intelligent people will actually decline such positions of authority simply because it’s difficult, extremely stressful, and gives more responsibility than most people want. The fact remains, however, all families need leadership.
Be a leader by being a humble servant to your family. Include your wife in all major and semi-major decisions. Give her opinions as much–if not more–weight than your own.
Be decisive. Trust yourself. Do not waiver in that which you believe. Have your “yes” mean yes and your “no” mean no in all matters.
Discipline your children after thinking intelligently about the “crime” committed. Most adults don’t understand that children desire discipline. They need it, and they want rules. Enforcement should be out of love, not anger. Wait until you are no longer angry before allowing the child to learn that all actions have consequences. Beating NEVER helps a child understand the meaning of integrity and trust.
Give to your family what they most desire from you. Don’t presume to know, you have to ask. THIS is what it means to provide for your family. And when you do, they will give you—without even thinking about it—that for which men yearn most, to be respected and admired.
There is one last thing, but I didn’t learn this from Promise Keepers. Be open to the thought of God and spirituality. If other things aren’t working for you, explore. Christians won’t bite you. They won’t stone you for having once cheated on your wife. They won’t make you do anything that you don’t want to do. Think of it as knowledge being power. You once explored the alphabet, and now you can read. Now you can choose to read or not read any thing you wish. Your decisions are based on an intelligent understanding of how words work, not a preconceived notion of how letters fit in a particular order to form words….um…you know what I’m saying.
A great place to start without having to face all of those silly Christian people on Sunday morning is a book by Lee Strobel, a journalist, an agnostic journalist, who set out prove or disprove the myth of Jesus in A Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence.