Last year on Father's Day my daughter gave me a card that read, "On Father's Day, the world revolves around you. Tomorrow, it can go back to revolving around me, thus restoring balance and harmony to the universe."
Then she wrote, "I love you daddy! You're so handsome, mommy agrees! You're an awesome father! I am blessed to have you as my father."
It brought me to tears. Often, I find notes or messages of encouragement from her. Recently, on the messaging chalkboard we have in our kitchen, she wrote, "My Daddy Rocks!"
In today's world of challenges and complexities, there are many things that try to undermine our manhood. It's sometimes difficult being the men we are need to be. Yet, more than ever there is a need for godly and courageous men and fathers who are willing to stand for what is right and sacrifice for the good of others.
Years ago while I was out doing street ministry with a team, a homeless man named James approached several of them saying, "I need to find Doug Stringer." When asked what he wanted, he said, "I want to be a man for him, because he became a man for me!" You see, I had helped James in some of his time of need and now he was ready to change. When I heard him, immediately the words resonated in my spirit about the Lord. "I want to be a man for Jesus, because He became a Man for me!"
"Being a man for Jesus because He became a Man for us," is at the core of Courageous Manhood. Many find it difficult though, to understand the love of the Heavenly Father because they have not experienced or found love from their earthly fathers. But through Christ, we have been given an inheritance by our Heavenly Father so we can confidently steward what He has entrusted to us.
Because of my personal experiences growing up, I did not know what it takes to be a good father. When I became a father to my lovely daughter Ashley, I knew I needed God's empowering to be the kind of father He wants her to have. Her love and admiration back touch me at my core. I am truly humbled that God has entrusted me with her and is empowering me to be a champion of the faith in her eyes. But I can only do so by keeping my eyes on the prize, Jesus.
I remember a slogan I used when running for student council vice president in the fifth grade. I was much shorter than others my age. I must have inherited more genes from my Japanese mother than my Texas father. My slogan read, "Vote for the little guy who's willing to do a big man's job." It has become part of my life message.
There may be obstacles and challenges all around us, but men who become champions for Christ find there are no limits. Dr. Edwin Louis Cole, founder of the Christian Men's Network Worldwide used to say, "Champions are not those who never fail, but those who never quit," and " Winners only see where they are going, not what they're going through."
John Stephen Akhwari ran the marathon for Tanzanian in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. Although considered one of the fastest runners in the world, he was not accustomed to the high altitude of that city. While competing, he cramped up, and then during the race there was a jockeying for position between some of the runners. Akhwari's knee and shoulder were badly injured. He however continued running, finishing last among the 57 competitors who completed the race (75 had started).
As he finally crossed the finish line a cheer came from the small remaining crowd. When asked by a reporter later why he continued running, he simply said, "My country did not send me thousands of kilometers to start a race, but to finish a race."Likewise, we are not called to only start the race, but to finish the race.
On the first day of the Far East Wrestling Championships when I was in high school in Japan, I fractured my left elbow. My Sensei (Coach) wrapped my arm and had me ice it throughout the night. The next day he asked me if I wanted to continue or to quit. I thought about it for a moment, and then replied, "I've come to far to quit now." You see, my desire to win had become greater than my moment of pain and challenge. In Christ there are no giants too big; no challenges, obstacles or temptations we cannot overcome.
Are we willing to let God do His big job in the world through us? Can our desire to be champions for Christ overcome the challenges and fears we face? With His empowering, we can. May our desire to win always be greater than our moments of pain and challenge.
Recently, a friend who is a Navy Seal showed me the Navy Seal Ethos. This intrigued me because my father was a UDT (Under Water Demolition) Frogman during the Korean War and a Navy Seal during the Vietnam War. When I read through the Navy Seal Ethos, I was struck by the list of non-negotiables. It covers character, courage, commitment, honor, heritage and loyalty. Even in times of difficulty or challenge, these are their guiding principles.
The first paragraph reads, "In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our nation's call. A common man with uncommon desire to succeed. Forged by adversity, he stands alongside America's finest special operations forces to serve his country, the American people, and protect their way of life. I am that man."
We are living in a world of uncertainties. God is calling for a spiritual breed of men who are ready to answer the call to Courageous Manhood. He is looking for common men who, through Christ, have a desire to win that is greater than their moments of challenge and pain. They will be forged even through adversity into the men God has called them to be—men who will walk in character, courage, commitment and honor.
Courageous Manhood is to live for a cause greater than ourselves—men who desire to be a man for Jesus because He became a man for us. By the grace of God alongside many others, I want to be able to say, "I am that man!"
There are times when men need to man-up, grow up and take responsibilities. We are living in one of those times.
Leading up to Father's Day, we want to honor all men who are willing to take responsibility; who pursue the Father's heart for their families as well as those who need to know the love of the Heavenly Father. In the words of my daughter, "You Rock!"
Doug Stringer is an internationally known conference speaker, the founder of Somebody Cares and Turning Point Ministries International, and the author of several books, including Somebody Cares: A Guide to Living Out Your Faith.