Our church has D-groups. We call them Discipleship groups. We’ve loved our D-group since we started here at New Beginnings. Over the last semester, we’ve got to know each other better and opened up some good discussions over how God’s word has practical implications on our lives. We’ve had some healthy, heated times of interaction over different stances. We’ve had a handful of service projects and tried to think of ways of truly being missional with our time inside and outside of group. We haven’t even scratched the surface of opportunities in this area, but there is great desire to grow in this area.
This semester, we’re doing a new format: Week 1—Normal Group; Week 2—Women’s Group; Week 3—Normal Group; Week 4—Guys Group. We thought this would open the door for more authenticity and an environment to go deeper in some of those relationships. Our guys group is going through The Dude’s Guide to Manhood by Darrin Patrick. Darrin is vice-president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network and Lead Pastor of The Journey in St. Louis. What I appreciate about Darrin is his keen ability to call men out of immature, boyish pursuits to engage in true Biblical manhood. It’s also interesting when the book’s outside endorsements on the front and back covers range from Duck Dynasty’s Willie Robertson—to Purpose-Driven Life author and Saddleback Lead Pastor Rick Warren—to Christian hedonist, paradigm-shifting, John Piper, who has authored a plethora of deeply inspiring theological books as well as being the Senior Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis until his retirement this past year. That’s a pretty impressive expanse of endorsements.
In chapter one of the book, Darrin shares one of the driving forces that made the issue of Biblical manhood and Biblical leadership become so crystallized in his heart. He states how his own dad had been around as he was growing up and how he was a very hard working man with high expectations of work ethic. His dad was around, but not very present.
He states how most men head out into life without direction—without truly knowing what to live for and how to go about living for the right things. Most men are left to themselves to figure this out. It was years later when Darrin found out from his dad why he had been so distant and aloof as Darrin grew up:
- “‘When you were about three years old we were all at the dinner table and you were playing around with your food. So I told you to knock it off and eat your damn green beans.’ My dad slumped in his chair as he continued to tell the story as though it were not about us but about some other father and son. ‘Your mom and your sisters didn’t understand that I was trying to help you become a man. Darrin, men eat what is put before them! I wanted you to be a man and quit playing around at dinner. But every time I tried to coach you, your mom and your sisters started yelling at me, saying I was being too hard on you. I should just leave you alone. So I said, Fine, I will leave him the hell alone. You raise him.’” 1
And that was it. Did you get that? Did you see what his father’s view of training a young boy was all about? Did you see how easily he threw in the towel when he faced resistance? Did you see how this young boy was left to find his own way and find his own direction in life for what to live for?
How many times does this happen? What was it for your parents that may have allowed them to abdicate their role of pointing you to live for Christ and His kingdom above all other things?
It may have been something very different in your family. But no matter what it was, large or small, there is usually a wound left. And I’m not speaking or catering to the whole “victim” mindset. This wound is much bigger than one person’s singular emotional, self-esteem complaint. Our identity as an image-bearer re-created in the powerful work of Christ and His cross overcomes any emotional or self-esteem problems! I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the ripple effects and implications from generation to generation that occur when a parent decides to “check out.” And specifically, to check out spiritually.
“Sure, I’ll take em to church. Sure, I’ll make sure they have shoes and coats and food on the table. Sure, I’ll even attend their games or extra-curricular activities. But truly connect with them on a heart level of pursuing them, knowing them, appreciating their differences and perspectives, and engaging to lead their heart passions towards something or Someone worthy of all passionate pursuits—naw—I’m done.”
Darrin says he was stunned. He was shocked. He had no idea such little things had such great affects on their relationship and on his quickly unraveling life of pursuing other idols and other things for pleasure. No one was giving him direction. No one was pointing him to something worthy to live for.
By God’s grace—Christ tracked him down like the “hound of heaven” as Lewis puts it, in the middle of his sin and debauchery and idolatry. And while he was still reveling in sin “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
So have you ever spoken to your parents to find out what went on in spiritual formation as you were growing up?
What about yourself? What are you doing to see spiritual formation and growth happen in the lives of those in your family or those around you at home, work, and play?
Are there things you’re still struggling to figure out or struggling to see as eternal investment? What things are getting in the way of that?
Make sure your spiritual legacy is set on a path of hope and grace and enjoyment. Don’t let something as little as some green beens or something as temporal of a successful corporate career steal an eternal blessing of spiritual heritage away from you family.
Don’t abdicate your spiritual role. Engage for the glory of God and your most pleasurable enjoyment!
Sankie P. Lynch
1. Darrin Patrick The Dude’s Guide To Manhood (Nashville: Nelson, 2014) xvi intro.