Posts tagged real men accept responsibility

A father, a son, and a lifelong lesson

lifelong lesson - Stepping Up

Bob Helvey, one of my colleagues here at FamilyLife, tells a great story about another father who stepped up and was intentional in training his son with a lifelong lesson.

When Bob was 10, he was a paperboy, and on one cold Virginia night, a gust of wind knocked him off his bike. Then he watched in shock as his bundle of newspapers came apart and blew away.  At that point, this boy had a choice: He could step up, be responsible, and retrieve all the papers, or he could give up and go home.  Bob did what boys do — he pedaled home.

When he arrived, his father said, “You sure finished your paper route early.” Bob explained what had happened, and then his father said, “Get your coat, Son, and meet me in the car.”

They drove to the scene of the crime, and Bob felt some satisfaction when he didn’t see any newspaper pages on the ground. But his dad parked and told Bob to follow him. They walked to a nearby house, where they were greeted by a man who invited them inside. There Bob was confronted with an amazing sight — an entire room full of newspaper pages! With hardly a word, the two men helped the young boy piece every newspaper back together. Then Bob proceeded to complete his paper route with his father as chauffeur.

A Lifelong Lesson

That character lesson was so powerful that Bob wrote about it 40 years later in a tribute to his father. “It was a little annoying that Dad didn’t give me a lecture,” Bob wrote. “He knew he didn’t have to. The everlasting warmth I felt of a difficult task completed, a duty fulfilled, was its own mentor.”  Bob wondered how his dad had known just where to go that day. Years later he learned that, after the accident, the neighbor had called his father to complain about his “good for nothing” son. “Together they conspired to teach a young boy a lifelong lesson,” Bob wrote. “It worked. The neighbor must have been a father too.”

God gives us a unique opportunity as fathers to join Him in what has to be one of the most noble, transcendent assignments we’ll ever have as men: He gives us the privilege of joining with Him in shaping the next generation of men. But we won’t fulfill those responsibilities unless we’re willing to step up and be intentional in how we raise our sons.

Copyright (c) 2014 FamilyLife.

STEPSeek - 10-point checklistYou just read a post by Dennis Rainey, “A father, a son, and a lifelong lesson” on the Stepping Up blog.

STEPThink - 10-point checklistWilliam Bennett, author of The Book of Man, talks about his shaping influences as a boy on FamilyLife Today.

STEPEmbrace - 10-point checklistBuilding character starts with “Modeling Integrity to Your Child.” Read the article on

STEPPass - 10-point checklistThis story is featured in Stepping Up™  video series. Consider leading a father-son group through Stepping Up.

3 lame excuses for why I don’t initiate


The Courage to Initiate

Initiative is the essence of manhood. Nothing comes to the man who is passive, except failure.

Men are not meant to be spectators. Real men accept responsibility rather than making excuses and look for solutions instead of casting blame. They reject the “I’m a victim, so let me off the hook” mentality and find a way to push ahead through the storm. On the other hand, the disengaged man, whether single or married, will settle for diluted, bland maleness. Life happens to him; he doesn’t happen to life. His expectations are low. And so are his achievements. I hope you’re not counting on him. I hope you’re not him.

Abdicating their roles

Some men demonstrate more courage in their jobs than they do in their families. A friend recently made an observation about a neighbor and expressed questions about why some men don’t step up at home:

Rebecca is in her late thirties and is married to Bill, a man in his early forties who is a successful CEO of the leading oil company in a Middle Eastern country. Bill was a U.S. oil-company exec when they met fifteen years ago; then they moved [to the Middle East], had children (his second family), and raised them until they started school. Rebecca [and their children] moved back to the U.S. to get the younger son, who has ADHD issues, the right educational environment. For the past five to seven years, she’s lived here, and Bill has visited about once every month or two — it seems to work for them. However, the boys are growing, now twelve and fourteen and out of control, and she can’t handle the virtual single-mom thing anymore. Finally, Bill announced last month that he’s stepping down from his international gig and coming home to spend more time with the family. Everyone is excited. His twenty-two-year-old daughter by a previous marriage is posting the news to her Facebook page — “Dad’s coming back!” Sounds like he’s finally agreeing to engage in the family he supports financially, right? No. Yesterday I learned that the twelve year-old son is being shipped off to military prep school, and Dad is considering a new job in Ireland. Jaw dropping.

Why is it that some men can initiate great tasks and conquer overwhelming obstacles at work, yet remain passive in relationships or in leading at home? It’s as if there’s a disease that infects the male species. None of us is exempt from the passivity virus. Over the years I’ve done a little inventory of my life and listed some of my own lame excuses for why I haven’t taken the initiative when faced with a duty or challenge:

Lame Excuse #1: Taking the initiative is hard work, and I’m tired.

I hate to admit this, but pure selfishness and laziness have been the cause of most of my passivity. In years past, after solving problems at work, I just wanted to vegetate, watch television, and not get involved with cleaning up the kitchen, helping with homework, or putting the kids to bed. And I certainly didn’t want to deal with bigger issues, such as repairing a breach in my relationship with my wife or addressing a disciplinary issue with a child. On multiple occasions I’ve had to pry myself out of my easy chair and into situations that I would rather have ignored. Being a man will involve pain. Initiative requires sacrifice and self-denial.

Lame Excuse #2: I don’t know how to initiate.

When I was single, developing a relationship with a woman was risky. The learning curve was steep, and there was always the fear of rejection. Later, as a husband, at times I found it easier to abdicate leadership to my wife. As a dad I knew I needed to develop a relationship with my daughters and take them on dates, but what were we supposed to talk about? Other responsibilities, such as having a “birds and bees” conversation with my children, were awkward and easy to rationalize putting off until sometime in the future.

Lame Excuse #3: Taking the initiative means I might fail.

Or it may mean I’ve already failed, and it’s easier not to risk failing again. Whether it was asking a young lady out on a date when I was single, hammering out boundaries and discipline for the children — or just dealing with the basics of leading my family, I found that the fear of failure creates a gravitational pull toward passivity. But real men take action. And when they do, great things can happen.

So, men, what is it for you?  Do you have some “lame” excuses that you’ve used or maybe continue to use to keep from being real men who accept responsibility?  What is it that today you can say “no” to or “yes” to that would be a departure from yesterday and be a step toward initiating leadership in your family?

Adapted from Stepping Up, by Dennis Rainey. © 2011 by FamilyLife Publishing. All rights reserved.

STEPSeek - 10-point checklistYou just finished reading “3 lame excuses for why I don’t initiate” by Dennis Rainey on the Stepping Up men’s blog 

STEPThink - 10-point checklistWhat will you do the next time a task seems too hard, you don’t know how to do it, or you’re scared of failing?

STEPEmbrace - 10-point checklistLearn the two basic directives for men in “The Masculine Mandate” by Richard D. Phillips on

STEPPass - 10-point checklistSeriously consider leading a group of men through the 10-week Stepping Up video series.


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