Your Unique Passions and Talents Should Incite Fear in the Enemy, Not In You

The world speaks often of passion.

We’re convinced that, when we find it, we’ll find happiness and fulfillment. And that’s partly true.

The other vital part of the equation is God because, without Him, we’ll never truly understand our talents, gifts, and passions. 

Jesus explains exactly how we should use them in the Parable of the Talents. When a master leaves “talents of money” to each of his three servants, two of them put the money to work and double what they started with. One servant hid his master’s money so that he ended with as much as he started with. 

The master demanded that the talent be taken from him and given to the others. 

“…’You wicked, lazy servant...you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.  Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance.”

Matt 25:26-29

 God has loaned every person passions, gifts, talents, and resources; they aren’t ours to do with as we please. 

We are to use our gifts and passions to make a big deal out of God. When we steward our resources well, we’ll glorify God and we’ll make the world better. 

Though our gifts and talents are different, our mission is the same: to bring light to the darkness.

We must recognize, however, that the enemy wants to extinguish our lights. The enemy wants to keep us from making a big deal out of God, and he does it by convincing us that the world’s need is far greater than anything we can accomplish. He distracts us with insignificant things, and he convinces us to fear the talents we possess.

The enemy knows that our talents and our passions are the beginning of our legacy. When we give ourselves and our talents back to God, we’re creating a legacy that extends well beyond our own lives. 

Practically speaking, you have abilities that are unique to you, as well as a circle of influence that others don’t share. When you engage your talents to help the people around you, you’re bringing light to darkness. You’re sharing God with other people in a way that changes lives forever. 

The men of Junto Tribe are just like you: men seeking to discover their gifts and to use them to glorify God. The more of us that travel together along this path, the more likely we are to create a groundswell of energy capable of changing the world. 

Join us on this journey. 

We are a brotherhood of warriors created to serve alongside each other in the name of God. We aren’t perfect, and we aren’t fearless, but we take our orders from the One who is. 

The Creator of the universe has given us gifts. It’s up to us to decide how we’ll use them. 

 

 

Photo by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

Men Don't Have the Option to Remain Neutral in the Spiritual Battle that Rages

You are a soldier.

Whether you’re a banker, a mechanic, a builder, or a musician, you’re called to battle. You’re a vital part of the cosmic struggle between good and evil; a footsoldier in the war that rages all around us. 

You may not see it. Perhaps you’ve even come to accept this constant struggle as the new normal; as the reality of life in a fallen world. 

But the truth is so much greater for men of God. 

We were created to protect the people around us: our communities, our families, and our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Instead, though, we have already given up far too much ground. We have allowed the enemy to infiltrate our thoughts and our minds, and we’ve accepted that what he says is true about us. 

We no longer see ourselves as warriors called to champion the cause of Christ. We fail to take a stand for the people who need us. We have a dozen excuses for why we don’t engage, and an ever-growing sense that something is missing

“All this plainly shows us that the mind of man is a scene of battle

where evil spirits clash with God.”

~Watchman Nee

We are at war against an invisible enemy who knows you were created for a purpose. 

The enemy recognizes you as a warrior, even if you don’t. Satan knows that you are a force to be reckoned with, and his best bet is to remove you from the fight. 

If he can convince you to disengage, he inches closer to victory. If he can convince many men to withdraw, the battle shifts largely in his favor. 

He does that by causing men to doubt their true purpose. The enemy convinces us that God is wrong about us, and that we have nothing meaningful to share with the world.

Satan knows your struggles. He knows the pain, uncertainty, fears, and doubts that you carry from your past. He studies them, because they offer easy places to infiltrate. 

Above all, he wants to convince you that you’re meaningless.

He doesn’t want you to know that your passions, talents, and gifts have the potential to change the world. 

“The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, 

the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”

~Steven Pressfield

If that sounds like a tall order, consider this: there are millions of men in the world who bear the gifts of God in their lives. When all of those men use their gifts to champion the cause of Christ, others will be encouraged and emboldened to invest their own gifts in the people around them. 

The specific abilities God invested in you perfectly mesh with the needs of His kingdom, and He’s calling you to engage.

The world needs good, strong men with great strength, resiliency, honor, and discipline. The world needs you, and it needs me to engage with the people around us and put our talents to use.

It isn’t necessary to have all the answers. You only have to believe that you’re valuable because you’re God’s. 

Join the men of Junto Tribe as we discover God’s unique design for each of us. We’ll encourage each other, learn from each other, and hear from God as we travel together. 

God needs you on the battlefield.

 

 

 

Photo by Jack Sharp on Unsplash

Why the Right Kind of Surrender Makes Men a Force For Good in the World

Done right, surrender has the ability to make you stronger.

Most men, however, surrender to all the wrong things.

We surrender to fears and we avoid stepping outside our comfort zones. We surrender to desires and we engage in behaviors that wreck our minds and bodies. We surrender to the world’s definition of success and we chase after empty desires like money and fame. 

Not surprisingly, many men struggle with the idea of yielding to anything or anyone. Surrender feels like weakness, and if often defies everything we want to believe about ourselves. 

But in the realm of human performance, yielding to weight is often the first step to gaining strength.

A few years ago, I coached a Navy SEAL prior to deployment. As I coached him through a back squat, I explained that he would lower his body with a barbell on his shoulders, essentially yielding to the weight on the bar. Once he reached a certain point, he would push back to a standing position, effectively overcoming the weight on the bar. 

Even in the form of exercise, he didn’t like the idea of surrender, because America’s elite warriors don’t buckle to challenges.

He, like many men, didn’t understand that the right kind of surrender spawns power and strength. 

Jesus understood this. 

He knew his mission required physical, psychological, and spiritual pain; that death on a cross would be the most painful experience known to man. 

In spite of his fear, Jesus surrendered to the Father. 

The most elite of all men, the man who actually did save the world, understood that surrender was necessary to complete his mission. He had to surrender to God’s plan in order to save the world. 

Jesus teaches us that surrender to the Father develops us into the men we were created to be.

Consider your greatest failure and know that God can turn it into a message of encouragement for others. 

Consider your greatest weakness and know that God does his very best work when we’re at our weakest. 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Cor. 12:9

Surrendering to Christ begins when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable; when we understand that God knows everything about us and He loves us anyway. 

When we refuse to feel shame for our mistakes and instead lean into the struggle, we grow stronger and more powerful. 

Just like the SEALs, men are called to bring light to dark places. 

God calls men to use their skills, talents, passions, and resources to be dangerous.

He created you to engage with the people around you and to protect them from the dark. 

And if you don’t think of yourself as dangerous? Then you’re listening to the wrong voices. 

 

 

 

Photo by Pixabay.

Why You're Exactly the Right Man For God's Rescue Mission

You are writing history today. 

The choices you make today will impact other people and spawn other decisions. The people you interact with today will respond to your influence. 

It was true of Adam in the Garden of Eden, too.

God gave him dominion over everything. He gave Adam a woman to love and work to do. 

Adam was charged with caring for God’s creation.

Something went wrong, though. Somewhere along the way, Adam listened to the wrong voice. When the enemy questioned God, Adam failed to trust what he knew to be true about Him.

The fallout, of course, was sin. Sin that is devastating and far-reaching; sin that took Adam from thriving to struggling; sin that does the same to each of us.

But Jesus had an answer to it. He came to earth and lived the life that the first Adam was intended to live. The Son of God lived a perfect, sin-free life, and then died on the cross in our place. 

Where Adam gave away the keys to the Kingdom, Jesus took them back. 

He took them back so we could resume the work that God put us here to do: to reign, rule, create, and thrive. 

We are to care for His creation and love His people, just as Jesus did while he was here.

But the similarities don’t stop there. While Jesus was here, he spent his ministry guarding against the enemy’s voice. When that voice came, Jesus didn’t argue or debate. He simply quoted his Father’s words, which meant he constantly listened for his Father’s voice.

Many of the men I encounter fear they are missing their life’s purpose, and I believe it’s because they don’t understand who they truly are. It was true for me at one point, and it may be true for you today.

Perhaps you don’t understand that He designed you to love and to lead.

God designed you for a life of high performance. 

We fail to believe it because, like Moses, we believe God chose the wrong guy. We cling so tightly to our own beliefs about ourselves that we doubt what God says

Moses made the same mistake Adam made, but God doesn’t reprimand him for it. Instead, He promises to be with Moses and to show him what is true.

Like Moses, God has called each of us to a rescue mission as well. He has called us to bring heaven to earth and light to darkness. 

Before we can succeed, though, we must identify the incorrect beliefs we’re clinging to. We must learn to distinguish the world’s voices from the Father’s voice, and we have to correct the doubts and fears we’ve embraced.

When we do, we’ll recognize our role in God’s restoration. He’s reclaiming all that was lost to sin, and He has designed a specific role for each of us. 

We will carry out the same mission Jesus did while he was here: to share God with the people we encounter. 

Ask God to reveal the lies you’ve believed. Ask Him to correct the doubts and fears that have prevented you from thriving.

Ask God to show you the adventure He has designed for you, and then trust Him to walk alongside you.

He has made us a promise: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 

His spirit is with us and in us, and He will use us to change the world. 

What will your history look like?

 

 

Photo from Pablo.

 

Why Abandoning The Battlefield Is Far Worse Than Losing The Fight

People are counting on us.

Our families need our leadership, but we’re so lost in busyness, video games, hobbies, and dangerous addictions that we aren’t accessible to them.

Society needs our innovation and our craftsmanship, but we’ve stopped creating.  

The world needs our inspiration, but we’ve tucked ourselves safely into pecking orders that render us ineffective.

We long to feel like warriors, but we’ve lost our connection to our hearts. Along the way, we’ve become something we were never intended to be.

Ironically, in the midst of it all, the very war that God created us to wage continues, but we’ve removed ourselves from the fight. The prince of this world is waging a war for the hearts of the people around us, and we’re giving up ground daily. We’re walking away from our marriages, abandoning our children, destroying our health, and wasting the very gifts that the world needs most. 

The enemy stands on the threshold of his greatest feat: convincing us that we are incapable and worthless.

The battle isn’t ours alone.

 While we are absolutely soldiers fighting a war, we often feel ill-equipped for battle because we’ve forgotten who’s in charge. We’ve lost touch with our general, who has a battle plan and an all-knowing set of instructions. 

He designed us for this exact battle, on this exact battleground, and it is our duty to stand and defend. 

We are called to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to our Creator. 

That begins when we surrender our earthly agendas to Him. It starts when we recognize that the world’s values are often the polar opposite of God’s values and we adjust our priorities to acknowledge that fact.

It begins when we stop seeking our identity in the world and instead seek to know who God says that we are. And when we make his authority the center of our lives. 

Most of us are on the wrong side of this struggle. Although we may fool ourselves into believing we’re innocent bystanders, the reality is that we’re either on one side or the other. 

We’re in the middle of the battleground, between two warring factions. We are neither incapable nor worthless. We also aren’t neutral, and we should stop trying to convince ourselves that we are

At some point in our lives, each of us picked sides: we’re either living lives of adventure or lives of obligation. 

The enemy continues to advance. Each of us must decide how much ground we’ll give up.

“If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice.”

~Neil Peart

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by https://pixabay.com/en/knight-warrior-horse-soldier-war-2565957/

When Men Shut Down Their Hearts, The Fallout Is Devastating

The attack is so subtle it’s easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it.

While I was working at a military training facility, a Navy SEAL called me over during his rehab session. He was almost fully healed following an injury and he was ready to get himself back into physical shape. 

He asked me about a rehabilitation program I was developing.  

During our discussion, he shared his desire to return to his previous level of fitness. He also said he wanted to “look like a warrior,” and he mentioned Gerard Butler’s character in the movie 300

And I honestly couldn’t hide my surprise. 

One of America’s most lethal warriors aspired to look like a character in a movie because that’s what he perceived a warrior should look like. 

It’s a spectacular example of how men allow Hollywood to shape our understanding of manhood. I’ve corrected more than one athlete who believed the notion that strong men must have six-pack abs, massive biceps, and perfect bodies.

It’s also emblematic of the mastery that men inherently desire: mastery of ourselves, our strength, and our skill. 

We hunger for stories of heroes struggling against great odds because it calls to our own desire for adventure and conquest. When we can’t find our own version of it, we settle for cheap imitations instead.

·     We seek our identity in the work that we do. 

·     We seek our identity in the opinions of others.

When the cheap imitations fail, we feel disappointed. Disillusioned. Hardened and ultimately hopeless.

The fallout? 

A string of broken relationships, failed marriages, and wasted talents.

We immerse ourselves in hobbies, addictions, and busyness to avoid the darkness that threatens to overtake us. We shut down our hearts because they yearn for something we can’t seem to find.

But what if we’re simply looking in the wrong places?

 We’ve lost our hearts because we have chosen to believe the world, and we didn’t realize the world is wrong about us. 

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  ~ 1 Samuel 16:7

Begin by asking two simple questions:

1.     Am I more focused on my outward appearance or my heart?

2.     What does my life look like as a result of that choice?

This world is not all there is. This world feels insufficient because it is insufficient

The God who created you has much bigger plans for your life, but He won’t force them on you. He isn’t willing that a single man should lose his heart to the world, but the choice is ours to make.

As long as you have breath in your lungs, you can change your life’s path. 

Will today be the day?

 

 

Photo by Katleen Vanacker on Unsplash

Men, Obligations, and the Slow Death of Leadership

Fighting for a parking space at the grocery store doesn’t count as adventure.

Neither does juggling a donut, a cup of coffee, and a cell phone during your morning commute.

Many of us wouldn’t recognize adventure if it dragged us kicking and screaming from the workplace. 

Fact is, we’ve lost our sense of adventure. We’ve lost the curiosity we had as boys because every moment of every day is structured and pre-determined. We’ve accepted the lie that more is always better, and we’ve exchanged our connection to family for an unrelenting pursuit of the bottom line. 

Try to remember the last time you allowed your sense of wonder to dictate the events of a day instead of your sense of obligation; the last time you postponed a planned activity because a spontaneous idea was leading you somewhere else.  

Something has gone terribly wrong. 

Men have lost touch with their true selves and with the things in life that truly matter. We have stopped seeking our own answers, instead finding them in our media-saturated world.  

Our connection to nature exists only outside our car windows, and our desire to create has disappeared. 

We’ve stopped using our passions and talents to make something bigger than ourselves, instead choosing to chase commercialism. We’ve adopted the world’s empty priorities and we’ve lost the desire to think for ourselves. 

Worse yet, we’ve stopped caring for ourselves, and we’re stressed out, overwhelmed, and tired as a result. We’re lonely because we’re disconnected from the people immediately around us. 

Our lives are unbalanced and unclear, leaving us unable to lead the people who look to us for direction. 

This is not what our Creator intended for us. 

He designed each of us to lead, whether at home, at work, or in the community. He created you to guide others and provide direction, and to create more leaders along the way. 

He created you to make people feel safe in a world filled with danger. 

If that sounds like a foreign concept, understand that God’s plan isn’t the problem. The problem stems from our decision to listen to the wrong voices; to trust the wrong people; and to search in the wrong places.

I know, because I made those mistakes, too.

Just for today, consider adventure, and wonder, and leadership. Consider which connections you’re nurturing and whether they’re the most important ones. 

The men of Junto Tribe are united on a journey to connect with our Creator and discover who He says that we are. As He leads us, we learn to lead others. 

We’d love for you to journey with us; to find your purpose and to live according to it.  

If your legacy on earth was shaped by the events of today, what would yours look like?

 

 

Photo by Ian Espinosa on Unsplash

"Now What?"

“Now what?”

In 20 years as a strength and conditioning coach, I had asked myself that question hundreds of times. After every big win or great accomplishment, the question reappeared.

Historically, it served as the launchpad toward my next success. It signaled the beginning of the search for my next major project.

And though that might sound inspiring, the question was always rooted in dissatisfaction; born from a sense of discontent.

The problem was that for most of my adult life, I had measured my own self-worth in terms of my career success. I figured if I accumulated enough wins, I would someday prove my worth and feel valuable.

But that day never came. I had spent my entire career seeking the one success that would finally tip the scales in my favor, and my efforts had morphed into an obsession.

Before long, it was taking a serious toll on my life.

No surprise, then, that in the hours following my single greatest career achievement, the question appeared again.

“Now what?” 

 

Fast-tracking to success

In the year prior, I had accepted a position working as a strength and conditioning coach with Navy SEALs. Although walking away from a decade-long career in college athletics was scary, it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

It meant a chance to use my talents and experience to work toward something bigger than myself; a chance to serve those who served this nation.

During my time with the SEALs, I prepared them mentally and physically for the rigors of combat. Like the previous athletes before them, I trained them to be faster, stronger, more capable, and more resilient than their adversaries.

But despite being part of something bigger than myself, I still believed I didn’t deserve these opportunities. I was caught in a losing battle trying to prove my value to myself and the world.

So I did what I’d always done: I pushed harder and worked more.

And about a year into my new job, a text message in the wee hours of the morning affirmed the work I had done. It jolted me from my sleep and informed me that I had unknowingly been part of something big.

While I was sleeping, some of the SEALs I trained had scored a huge professional victory, and the stories of their success had made their way to the news.

In all my years as a coach, I had never been part of something this significant. I could hardly process the scope of what had happened, and I spent the remainder of the time I should have been sleeping scouring the TV for more details.

That’s when the two-word question reared its head again.

“Now what?” 

But this time, the question felt different.  It didn’t feel obsessive, and it didn’t even sound like my own voice asking it.

Instead, it felt like an invitation to do something different; a chance to break the vicious cycle of striving, achieving, feeling unfulfilled, and striving harder.

With those two words, I realized the Holy Spirit was turning the tables on me. He was using my own well-worn question to provoke me to change, and he was inviting me -- maybe even daring me -- to allow him to reveal my life’s true purpose.

Instead of pushing toward the next great milestone or searching for the next big project, I had a chance to look around and understand what God was doing in my life.

Unfortunately, I missed the opportunity. I fell into my old habits and I continued pushing forward. I still believed that the next big success would be the one that finally satisfied.

Once again, I was fast-tracking. In the first year of my new job, I had accomplished what I had previously only dreamed of, and the reality was overwhelming.

Once again, I allowed my identity to be directly tied to my work.

Although the Holy Spirit tried to provoke me to change, I was still striving to score enough wins to prove that I diddeserve success.

I used my unique gifts, talents, and resources to prepare them for combat. I gave them every tool in my arsenal and trained them to win.

I wasn’t even remotely prepared for the tragedy that came next.

 

Exposed 

A few months later, I got word that an entire troop of SEALs was attacked in combat without warning. The men were shot out of the sky with no chance to defend themselves.

None of them survived.

These men were my friends. They had wives and newborn babies, and some had babies on the way. They were sons and husbands, and they had trusted me.

Despite the fact that I had given these men my very best, it hadn’t been enough. I felt completely vulnerable and exposed. The tools I had given them weren’t enough to help them survive.

In the weeks that followed, my wife and I attended a memorial service for the SEALs who were killed, and I found myself feeling disoriented. I was overcome by what these menhad sacrificed for me, and suddenly I was no longer the hero in my own story.

These men helped me realize the importance of training the wholeman. They helped me recognize that my identity amounted to much more than what I did for a living.

They launched me into a journey to discover the true nature and purpose of manhood.

I want you to join me on this journey.

You were designed by God with a distinct purpose, and your identity can be found in him.

He created you to be a warrior and a leader and to serve him with your gifts and talents. Your spirit was created for relationship with him, and when you allow it, he can provide everything you need to live your life.

It will require you to leave your comfort zone and challenge yourself mentally, physically and spiritually, but it will take you places you’ve never been.

So now, only one question remains.  

“Now what?”

THE JOURNEY BEGINS

For too many years, I played the hero in my own story.

I helped people win: NCAA hockey players, Olympians, and professional athletes.

I built champions, and I was good at it.

As a strength and conditioning coach, my only goal was to out-work, out-train, out-learn, and out-coach everyone else. It was the reason I got out of bed every day, and I demanded the same level of excellence from the people I worked with.

Their wins were my wins, and every success drove me to strive harder and double my efforts.

During my time in collegiate athletics, our team won back-to-back national championships in NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey.  As a result of those successes, I was offered a chance to train professional hockey players and a trip to meet the president at the White House.  

By the world’s standards, I was on top of my game.

By my own standards, it wasn’t enough.

No matter how much I accomplished, or how many wins I attained, there was always a voice inside me that told me I was a fraud. I didn’t deserve this kind of success. I didn’t belong here.

So I fought to prove that I did deserve it. I woke up earlier, worked later, and pushed harder. Striving felt noble because I was helping other people achieve their own goals. I continued to achieve, and it led to greater opportunity. Again.

I was offered a job training Navy SEALs, and I felt like I was graduating to a greater mission in life. Although it was intimidating to walk away from the career I had built in college athletics, I loved the idea of using my talents to serve those who had given so much to my way of life.

Instead of coaching athletes who competed for fun and glory, I would train warriors for the fight of their lives. I would train men to protect their country and each other.

But even the new opportunity wasn’t enough. I was caught in a cycle of striving for success, achieving success, feeling unfulfilled, and then striving even harder. No matter what I achieved, I never felt satisfied. I felt out of place.

I desperately wanted to silence the whispers that had haunted me for years. The whispers that told me I was weak. Unloved. Unaccepted. Unsuccessful.

The battle was destroying me, and everything around me.

My unrelenting drive cost me valuable time with my family, my friends, and my God. I wasn’t sleeping well and I was angry, and my wife was worried about my mental health. I retreated into myself and put up walls to keep everyone else out.  

During my time with the SEALs, I had the greatest win of my career when the sailors I trained accomplished their own personal victory. And then I walked through the greatest tragedy of my career when several of the SEALs I trained were killed in combat.

I suddenly realized just how futile all the striving was. I felt vulnerable and exposed.

If winning made me successful, what would happen now? I had given these men my very best, and it hadn’t been enough.

Suddenly, I wasn’t the hero anymore. It wasn’t me that had sacrificed on their behalf, but them who had sacrificed for me. And everything in my life shifted that day.

For too long, I had found my identity, even my self-worth, in my work. Most men do.

For too long, the world lied to me and convinced me to focus on the wrong things, like success and achievement.

For too long, I had no idea what my purpose was.

But then I found a strength coach of my own.

I discovered that I had been lost in the wilderness of the world and I had missed my God’s voice. My God was pursuing me, but I was seeking other things; I was trying to find my self-worth in the world around me. I was seeking my identity in all the wrong places.

I discovered that God had been with me all the time. He knew exactly who I was created to be and what I was created to accomplish. He knew my strengths, and he knew my weaknesses, and he could use them both to achieve his purposes.

Perhaps your own story sounds like mine. Perhaps, like me, you’ve spent far too much time wrestling against the world: trying to find the truth about yourself, your value, and your purpose. Perhaps, like me, you’ve got the scars to show for it.

We really aren’t so different, and there’s an entire generation of men fighting the same battle we are.

The good news is that my God knows exactly who you were created to be, too. He knows your strengths and weaknesses, and he has a plan for you to impact the people around you through your own mental, physical, and spiritual journey.

This is a journey of self-discovery, to help men discover who their Creator says they are instead of listening to the world’s skewed assessment. It’s a journey to break free from the world’s constraints and accomplish our true mission.

It won’t be easy. It won’t be quick. But the journey will be world-changing for you and everyone around you.

The journey begins today.