I was recently up in Canada on a backpacking/canoe trip with my good bros from Pilgrimage. And one of the highlights of my week was our solo day, where we break off from our group, find a place in the woods, hunker down, and get with God.
I found a gorgeous spot on the shore of our lake, the sun was coming up, and my view was majestic. Warm mocha heated on my mini stove. Perfect place to chat with God and listen to God.
At the age of (almost) 51, I feel as if I am in a season of life where my influence is greater than at any other time. This is not about giving myself a pat on the back; rather it is about the time it takes to learn lessons. After I hit my finger with a hammer for the 10th time, I start to learn both what to do and what not to do. God teaches through life.
And experience can be a very valuable thing.
I look at the state of us men today and it becomes weighty at times. I listen to men talk about their lives, I hear their struggles, I see their pain. I see young dudes without a compass guiding their lives and a lack of older guys willing to come alongside. The generation gap seems to just be getting wider and the chasm deeper.
And so I see guys doing one of two things: 1) either jumping the ship of faith, saying something to the effect that they just are not sure about this “stuff” anymore, or 2) putting on the “everything is OK” mask and quietly disengaging from what is relevant.
If you watched this year’s Super Bowl, you will recall it was one of the greatest comebacks in Super Bowl history. Though the Falcons led for 59 of the 60 minutes of the game, the Patriots pulled out an unbelievable comeback, scoring 31 unanswered points and erasing a 25-point lead. And to top it off they won it in overtime.
I am not sure I have seen the likes of it.
Have you heard of the term “extreme sports?” It refers to activities that typically involve more risk because of speeds, heights, exertion on the body, or equipment used.
There is an interesting playlist on TED that involves such examples as Ueli Gegenschatz wing-suit flying over 100 mph as he races through canyons. Or Ben Saunders, who successfully navigated an 1,800-mile journey from Antarctica to the South Pole and back. Or Guillaume Néry, who attempted to free dive 400 feet below the surface of the water in less than 3 1/2 minutes…all without an air tank.
I grew up in California and loved the Pacific Ocean. Living in Wisconsin now, I miss the sandy beaches, the rugged coastline, and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore. A few years back, my family and I visited my sister and her family in the LA area. A fun day trip was going to one of the local beaches. And one of the highlights was grabbing a boogie board and catching the waves and riding them to shore.
Part of the fun was hanging onto the board and floating, feeling the cool water around me and the soft sand beneath my feet. It was not long, though, before all of us were getting farther and farther out to sea and moving down the coastline.
I was not paddling out from the shore nor was it my intention to move down the shoreline. I was just drifting.
I remember when I moved to Wisconsin, one of the benefits I gained was a beautiful drive to my workplace. When I lived in Oregon, I was surrounded by exquisite outdoors, but my commute to work involved driving to a park-and-ride and then taking a 45-minute transit train to the heart of Portland.
Not exactly breathtaking.
So I had a “first” in these last couple of weeks.
I had the privilege of attending a Sportsmen’s Retreat at Hidden Acres Christian Center. Our preaching pastor was asked to speak to a bunch of dudes about being manly in Jesus and he hit the bullseye. The uniqueness of this being a first for me was not attending a men’s conference, it was the fact that it was for hunters and sportsmen. I have never hunted in my life!
Camo. Bows. Rifles. Handguns.
Bullets. Flying. Everywhere.
Managing conflict? Or having a tooth extracted with no pain killers?
Hmmm…many times it seems as if I would rather go with option two.
Why is that? Why does it seem like the craft of resolving conflict is such a poorly-developed tool in our culture today?
It is one thing to deal with conflict. It is an entirely different matter to manage conflict well.
I am a recovering people-pleaser.
OK, it’s out. I’ve said it.
There is a lot of self-admitted brokenness going on in my life. Granted, I realize I have blind-spots to other areas as well, but just what I see myself is enough to overwhelm me sometimes.
But on this journey of mine over the past 50 years, there has been one area that God has brought to the forefront that has caused more danger in my life than perhaps any other, and that is people-pleasing.