Sometimes people ask me: “What happened to you? What got hold of you to get you to where you are today?” Well, I wrote about it in my book titled: “Rite of Passage.” In case you’re interested, here you go:
My Struggle-My Revelation
As I begin to type the words to this chapter, I sit in my small office in my basement and I look around at it and its contents. It has a small desk, a chair, a book case and a filing cabinet. It has some Christmas wrapping paper, a few boxes and my golf clubs that haven’t been used in almost four years. My little office has a small table with an old fax machine on it and about a dozen, small, framed pictures of various members of my family. There is a picture of all the children when they were small. There’s a picture of my grandmother, who has gone to be with the Lord and another one of me and Pam when we were first married twenty years ago. There is also a picture of me singing with a quartet that I sang with for about ten years. As I look at those pictures and think about those days that are in my past and I think about where I am today, writing this book, I’m struck with a sobering thought: I can’t go back.
Have you ever had that thought? I guess we all have at one time or another. We know we can’t go back and relive another day. When the day is gone, it is gone. Knowing that is good and bad. There are so many things I wish I could go back and do over. We’ve all said it: “If I only knew back then what I know now.” What is it that I know now that I wish I had known back then? Honestly, it’s what I’m trying to write in the pages of this book. Yes, this book is entitled “Rite of Passage,” but it’s about so much more. For years as a husband, father, businessman, deacon, choir member, quartet singer, and member of several community groups, I found I was running wide open. I never seemed to have enough time to do anything well. I was trying to do it all. Here’s the problem with the way I was living: I was missing it!
In Chapter 3 I spent quite a bit of time sharing about the role of the church in helping families raise Christ-centered adults. We looked at many passages of Scripture and by now we should all realize that the responsibility of raising children falls to the parents, principally the fathers. Certainly, you can go back and review those passages found in Genesis 18:19, Deuteronomy 6:1-7, Psalm 78 and Ephesians 6:4 any time you would like. The point is clear: fathers are to be leading the way in discipling in our homes. The truth is that I wasn’t leading in my home even 10 years ago. I hate to admit it, but it is the truth. I was succeeding in everything except in being the spiritual leader in my home. What became crystal clear to me through several incidents and God-ordained experiences was the fact I needed to change or I would lose my family. Am I saying my wife was going to walk out on me and take the kids? Not necessarily, but I am saying I was in danger of raising children that would potentially never truly see a genuine, sincere faith in Jesus Christ. I was leaving this teaching to others because I was too busy to oversee it. I had been climbing the proverbial ladder of success and when I reached the top, I found that the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall.
Why am I taking the time to tell you all of this? Because I want you to know and understand that I am where I am today, in pursuit of building a Christ-directed life, by the grace and mercy of God. The whole idea of Rite of Passage is something that God has revealed to me gradually over the years and it has been a process for me. I didn’t just get here overnight. What I am providing in the pages of this book is a culmination of the last ten years of my life. Indeed, I have learned the hard way what the Bible teaches about leading in my home, and I’m still learning.
As I think back, I realize I wasn’t making disciples of my children because I didn’t understand what was involved. I thought if I got my family to church each Sunday and I served on a few committees and tithed, I had my bases covered. Yet, I knew there was more. But, what was it? Did I need to serve more or be more involved at the church or give more money? What was this nagging in my soul? Finally, I attended a conference where I was challenged as a man. I had never been challenged like this before in the spiritual realm. I had been challenged as an athlete, at the office and even in the studio recording a CD with a quartet, but never like this. The Scriptures opened my eyes to what I knew intuitively, but couldn’t quite grasp: I must truly become a disciple of Christ to make disciples. I must lead my home by dying to myself. I realized for the first time in my life that it was my job to disciple my children, not that of my wife, not the church, or anyone else. This was a life-changing experience for me that sent me on a journey that has since led me to some amazing places.
I can often be an open book about my life. Some may say that I’m too open. I guess that’s probably true, but I sincerely believe it’s important that you know where I’m coming from, particularly if you are a dad reading this book. Please hear my heart! I was a successful business man, had a good marriage and wonderful children. I had also been to the top of what most laymen would consider the pinnacle of Christian service. Yet, I wouldn’t trade anything for the way my wife and children look at me now. Something amazing happened in my life over a period of about nine months of soul-searching. The Lord transformed my thoughts, simplified my focus and challenged me to do what he created me to do. He had given me a passion for truly becoming a committed, dedicated disciple of Christ. My desires changed dramatically. God turned my heart toward my home and discipling my children.
I knew that I was a Christian; however, there was a depth of commitment to Jesus Christ that I had never known before. I was living on the periphery of deep commitment. Yes, I was a believer and follower of Christ, but I thought, let’s not get crazy. We don’t want to go too deep with all of this, right? Yet, Jesus calls us to a radical lifestyle. He calls us to hunger and thirst for righteousness. He calls us to holiness and purity. That means I don’t watch garbage on TV and I don’t listen to ungodly music on the radio. Do you know what’s funny? I didn’t think I did either of those things, but actually, as I look back on it, I did. I was watching TV shows filled with sexual innuendo and bathroom humor, and I never thought anything about it. As I began to study the Bible, God revealed these things to me very clearly. I was listening to the same music everyone else was, yet it was filled with impure lyrics. Finally, my mind was opened to the truth of Scripture, such as Ephesians 5:3-4:
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
Not even a hint of sexual immorality. No obscenity. As I continued to read and study Scripture, as I never had before, I was challenged by passages I had heard all of my life, but now saw differently. For instance, Romans 12:1-2:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
I discovered I was to be a walking dead man. That’s what it means to be a living sacrifice. I learned I am to be holy. Yes, as believers we are called to be holy. But, I had excused away this whole idea by saying, “No one is perfect.” So, I didn’t even attempt to live a holy and righteous life. Don’t get me wrong. I was good, as compared to the worst “Christians” I knew; but being holy and righteous, only Jesus could embody those qualities. I had been deceived. So, many things changed in my home. This is not to say we had a home filled with overtly sinful things. We didn’t. As a family, we decided to do our very best to live a sacrificial life before the Lord. Therefore, TV shows, music and movie preferences changed.
I slowly began to untangle myself from the world and secular worldviews that had been filling my brain since childhood. I became a student of the Bible. I sincerely began studying the Scriptures. I replaced so much wasted time watching TV and surfing the internet with Scripture reading and just spending valuable time with my family. I learned that it is indeed true that you will never be any better in public than what you are in private. So, I had to sacrifice sleep in order to get up early, get into the Word and meet with Jesus. I came to realize that for years I had desired sleep more than I had desired being with the Lord. Over time, my walk with the Lord became so much sweeter and more relaxed. It’s difficult to describe in words, but I hope what I have shared helps you to understand what God was doing in my life.