Posts Tagged ‘manhood’

$100M Man

October 19, 2012

In October 2007, at a men’s retreat I organized and led on “Marketplace Christianity,” I had an intense prayer time on the Sunday morning, sitting in a rocking chair in front of the fireplace. I wept and interacted with the Lord, and felt he told me he had 3 commissions for me, 3 words for me to follow.

1)      Love my wife as Christ loved the Church, and set himself to present her “spotless and without blemish”

2)      Build a $100-million business (I’m assuming he meant gross, and it seemed to mean $100 million per year, as that would be how I would measure a business)

3)      Mentor men

You have to understand that, at that time, I had been in business some 14 years full-time, but was already 55, having gotten somewhat of a late start on entrepreneurship. (In my early adulthood, I specifically chose to have jobs that I could leave at the job when I went home, and would not even do “side work” in electrical, my chosen field.) In addition, even to date, we have never grossed even close to half a million, and the nature of electrical contracting is that it is non-repetitive (if you’re getting called back on the same job, it’s not usually for a good reason, and it usually costs rather than profits) and difficult to “automate” (each job tends to be unique, and the combination of people interacting on a job is endlessly unique and often difficult to navigate).So, I am now 60, and still wondering about that word. Parts 1 and 3 seem to be processes not readily quantifiable, and more of a process than an end-goal, but part 2 is definite and specific, measurable, a sort of True/False question.

I woke up early this morning (3 am) and lay in bed trying to go back to sleep, and this word came to mind. And in the process of mulling it over, I felt I heard Holy Spirit say, “I can give you a 100-million-dollar business anytime. But I can’t do it until I have made you into a 100-million-dollar man.” That really set me to thinking.

What is a 100-million-dollar man? Western Judeo-Christian culture emphasizes the infinite value of one soul. Quite a number of people who have encountered the person of Jesus in some emphatic way have felt that he said to them, “If you had been the only one, I would have died for you.”  In light of that, even $100,000,000 would be paltry sum.

Of course, there has to be more that is meant here. I’m not sure I have the answer right now. It’s definitely something I’ll be praying about. I’m sure it’s about character, probably about capability, definitely about attitude. Whatever it means, I want to be headed in that direction.

The Appalachian Trail is 2,178 miles long, somewhere in the range of 5 million steps. Who knows, this journey may be a “trail” of 100 million steps or even 100 million miles. Still, it can only be walked one step at a time.

A Man Called Marshall

July 23, 2012

Yesterday, Sunday, my wife and I were driving down to have lunch with her son, Allen, who is my step-son (though he has become as much a son as my own flesh-and-blood son), and his son, Colt, our 1-year-old grandson. He is in the middle of family and custody issues that rival a soap-opera, and we, of course, get caught in the middle, trying to navigate the treacherous waters that will bring the most benefit for the little tyke, whom we want to have the best family and spiritual heritage possible in the midst of a not-so-pleasant situation. It IS resolving itself some, but it is painful, and we were going to lunch to try to resolve some of most recent eruptions of the issue.

On the drive down, we are talking about a man who paid tribute to his just-deceased father at the start of a long teaching I had been listening to. We have a lot of respect for this particular teacher, having heard him in person a number of times, but this particular video is on YouTube, and has become relatively well-viewed. Out of the blue, my wife says, “I don’t know what I would say at my father’s funeral. I guess if I don’t have anything to say, the best thing would be to simply keep quiet.”

I was appalled. My wife’s father, Marshall, is in his upper 80’s. He has lived all his life in flat farming country in the Midwest. He was a successful farmer, a major officer in a land bank, and still married—they just celebrated 65 years in May. But that is not where I think his greatest success lies. The last 6 years have been probably the most painful of his whole life, watching his wife be slowly stolen from him by the ravages of Alzheimers. Whether out of stubbornness or perseverance (flip-sides of the same coin to me), he resists putting her in a nursing home. In-home care is costing him into 5 figures each year, and is slowly eating away the inheritance he longed to—and was giving some of—to his 3 daughters. He has had to make necessary adjustments—keeping the stove power off because his wife tried to boil water in plastic, having to restrain her in ways that tear his heart out, watching her weep when she gets up on a Thursday morning and dresses for church and cries because she can’t go (it’s not Sunday), seeing her personality disappear out of a body that is like a walking death endured in a thousand indescribable ways. (The blessings of our medical prowess have brought us curses as well, like the Cumaean sibyl of Ovid, able to live forever, but having failed to ask for eternal youth, withering away till we’re trapped in a jar with only a voice left.)

So I said to my wife, “Your dad is a monument. I wish the world could be full of Marshalls.” I went on to describe some of the ways I admire him—a man who at 88 still lives in the same house for half a century, who still makes his own ammo and shoots prairie dogs, who is still able to drive to visit his daughter a thousand miles away, who is proud of how little he has to recycle, who still eats a simple breakfast—the list goes on and on. I said, “If the world had a lot more men like your dad, we wouldn’t be having all the situations like we are going to try to take care of today. I wish there were thousands of men like Marshall.”

She got teary-eyed and said, “Thank you. I appreciate you helping me see that about my dad.” But it’s true: I would gladly be like a man called Marshall, and I wish far more men had models and monuments like that to look up to.