MEN OF STEEL
by Tierce Green
The makeshift welding station was strategically positioned at the top of the driveway. Each man passed by it as he arrived. For six Tuesday nights these five young men, all of them in their twenties, gathered on this patio on a journey toward authentic manhood—a journey that began between a father and son, now extended through a son to his friends.
Dave Marks first heard the principles of authentic manhood with hundreds of other men. He and a small group of dads understood the advantage a young man would have if he learned these principles early in life to provide a clear framework for manhood. They designed an experience for their sons, teenagers at the time, to discover what they had learned. Dave is a pretty creative guy so this father/son experience was filled not only with great content but also with an interactive junkyard visit, homemade rocket launchers, a huge ceremonial bonfire and other “meaningful" pyrotechnics!
Dave understood the value of revisiting these principles at strategic times with his son Taylor. When Taylor was nearing the end of his college career, the Manhood Definition and the Four Faces of Manhood were now richer, deeper and even more practical. Taylor's first thought was how his friends needed what he had been learning with his dad. So, Alex, Stephen, Chase, Grant and Taylor huddled up for six weeks around A Man and His Design from 33 The Series to process the timeless principles of biblical manhood together. They decided to meet for a seventh night to share their Action Plans and to seal the covenant they would make to each other.
The conversation on the patio flowed freely. One of the realities that resonated with all of these young men was the phenomenon of so many guys in their twenties who are stuck in extended adolescence. They saw too much of it in their friends and felt too much of it in themselves.
Another common thread was the need to focus on the King and Warrior Faces of Manhood—to reject passivity and lead courageously. One of them expressed his desire to have a more developed Friend Face and to connect with others on a more substantive level. Living with a transcendent cause and investing eternally—these are the things these young men desired.
We moved from the patio to the welding station at the top of the driveway around a two-feet by two-feet steel plate. Looking back on that night we realized the symbolism in many of the elements.
The steel plate was actually a boilerplate. A lot of guys never open their chest up to another man. We tend to stuff our unresolved issues and settle for superficial “How’s it going?" and "I’m fine” drive-bys. We’re like a pressure cooker—a boiler—with a plate that leaks and causes damage to ourselves and collateral damage to others. Real men learn how to rip that plate off and deal responsibly with what is inside.
The steel boilerplate was lying across a large piece of scrap lumber on top of a wheelbarrow. The lumber was leftover oak from their church that was built fifteen years ago. The Four Faces of Manhood—King, Warrior, Lover, and Friend—were welded on the four edges of the plate. Each of the men took turns welding their initials into the plate. They were making a twenty-year covenant to stick together no matter what and to hold each other accountable in their journey toward authentic manhood. The heat of the welding torch heated up the plate, which in turn heated up the wood, filling the air with a pleasing aroma of oak, metal and smoke.
Someone suggested that the steel plate would rust as the years rolled by. We immediately felt that metaphor of life and the strength of the covenant that surrounded it. One of the guys had the idea to weld “33” in the middle of the plate because Jesus is our model of authentic manhood in the 33 years he lived on Earth. These men agreed that their covenant with each other would not exclude others from joining them in their journey. This group was the core that would include others along the way.
I had been invited to deliver a personal challenge to these men. I reminded them of the Laws of the Harvest. You reap what you sow, so you need to choose your seeds wisely. You reap in a different season than you sow, so be patient. Manhood is a process, a journey. And, you always reap more than you sow. Good, bad or ugly, your harvest is only as good as the seeds you sow.
We talked about transitioning well through the seasons of a man’s life, focusing on where you are now while anticipating where you are going, always living with the end in mind. Taylor’s dad pointed out that over the next twenty years these guys would gather at each other's weddings. They would gather at the births of their children and eventually the funerals of their parents. This was the reality of the covenant they were making.
I couldn’t help but think that here I am at the beginning of the winter season of my life, and there they are in their twenties just hitting their stride in the summer season of life. Our common purpose transcended our seasons just the way it should be. We are connected.
Good things happen in an environment like this—an environment of honesty and trust. A healthy level of vulnerability emerges where you can freely express the feelings of your heart, your struggles, your failures and fears. There is safety, camaraderie and genuine community. No one passes judgment on another, but at the same time no one diminishes the truth. This is the brotherhood of real men.
I capped off the evening with this excerpt from a spoken word piece that Tedashii created for us in A Man and His Design:
I refuse to let the sixty-year-old me look back at the twenty-year-old me like, "What was he thinking? Where was the plan?"
And I refuse to let the kid in me look down at that future grown man.
Don’t waste your seasons.