Defining Manhood for Your SonMay 30, 2012
Does your son know what a real man is? Byron Yawn, a pastor in Nashville and a father to three, lays down the Man Laws, and attempts to spell out manhood as it's described in the Scriptures.
Does your son know what a real man is? Byron Yawn, a pastor in Nashville and a father to three, lays down the Man Laws, and attempts to spell out manhood as it's described in the Scriptures.
Defining Manhood for Your Son
Bob: As a dad, how much time do you spend correcting your boys versus the time you spend affirming and encouraging them? Here’s pastor and author Byron Yawn:
Byron: I tell my sons all of the time – I observe these things in them – I’ll tell them, “Son, you’re so gifted in this area.” I will dialog with them about it and I’ll help them see it. It encourages them along. In doing that, I’m helping him to have self-awareness: where he’s deficient, where he’s good, where he needs to grow, where there are struggles in his soul that he’s going to deal with for the rest of his life, just to have an awareness of these things.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, May 30th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Every son is longing to hear words of affirmation from his father. Are you generous with that or stingy? We’re going to talk more about it today.
Welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thank you for joining us. If I were to scan your iPod – do you have any music on your iPod?
Dennis: What’s it to you?
Bob: I just want to know what you would have been listening to.
Dennis: It’s personal. What?
Bob: What might you have been listening to in recent days? Here’s my real question . . .
Dennis: Andrew – Andrew Peterson.
Bob: OK. Alright. That’s good. You get a high five from me for that.
Dennis: It might not be on my iPad, but it is – what’s it on?
Bob: It’s on a cassette! Do you have a cassette?
Dennis: No, no, it’s not on a cassette!
OK, if you want to do that - would you share with our listeners what you did; what you tweeted? You want to tell them what you tweeted?
Dennis: If you want to play this game, you know what? I know the Bible says not to give insult for insult, but this is just having some good times and fun. We’ve got a pretty good crowd out in the outer area of our studio. This is a good eye-witness.
Bob: This actually involves our guest. Did you know that?
Dennis: Does it really?
Bob: Yes, I was on my way to Nashville, and I was going to try to hook up with our guest who is a pastor in Nashville. Can I introduce him?
Dennis: You can.
Bob: Byron Yawn joins us on FamilyLife Today. Byron, welcome.
Byron: Huge privilege to be here, guys! Thank you.
Bob: Byron is the pastor of Community Bible Church in Nashville. He’s an author and a speaker. I was trying to send a direct message to Byron. I was trying to send him a direct message to say, “Hey, give me a call on my cell phone so we can figure out where we’re going to have lunch!” (Laughter)
But it didn’t go as a direct message. It went to the whole twittersphere. It was my phone number.
Dennis: He tweeted his cell phone number.
Bob: Have we had enough of this?
Dennis: We have, we have!
Byron Yawn has written a book called What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him.
Bob: The reason I was asking you about your iPod was because he’s got a list in here of what he calls Man Laws, right?
Byron: Man Laws, right. You may never refer to clothing as an “outfit.”
Bob: On you! You can call your wife’s clothing an outfit, right? Can’t you say, “That’s a nice outfit” for her?
Byron: Technically, yes, but you could also use other terms if you just wanted to be safe.
You can’t ever say “outfit.”
If you have something on your shoe . . .
Bob: On the heel.
Byron: On the heel, and somebody says, “Hey, you’ve got something on your shoe back there,” you can’t do the pirouette thing and look back. There’s no way to look masculine doing that.
Bob: Where you look over your shoulder?
Byron: No. See, that’s just – it gives me the willies.
Bob: That I even pretended like I was doing it. (Laughter)
Byron: You’ve got to pick your heel up in front of you. (Bob demonstrates)
There you go, that’s how you do it!
Dennis: The one before it was good, too: “You must be able to locate at all times the duct tape in your house when asked.”
Bob: You have to know exactly where it is and be able to lay your hands on it in about five seconds.
Dennis: That’s a man-tool; that’s a man-tool.
Well, your book is about manhood and real identity of manhood. If you were asked to really give us the essence of what true manhood is all about, what real masculinity is all about, how would you answer the question?
Byron: The question really isn’t what is manhood as much as what does manhood look like when Christ is in it? I think that one of the observations that I’ve made in my own life is that when I come across books on Biblical manhood or being a man, you know as a Christian – being a Christian father and Christian husband – that we point to all kinds of examples. Some are biblical - Moses and otherwise, and some are historic, but rarely do I find a chapter on Jesus.
I think, without a doubt, that Jesus is the definition of what it means to be a Christian man, a biblical man.
Bob: Okay, but you know that there are women who are listening who are saying, “So is He not the model of what it means for me to be a follower of Christ? Is He just a picture of a man?”
Byron: I think Jesus Christ and the Gospel are also the perfect example for femininity as well as masculinity. Ephesians chapter five, when it describes the wife’s role within marriage, points to Jesus. When it describes the man’s role within marriage, it points to Jesus. The virtues of Christ and the person of Christ, in the male, affect him in particular ways.
Bob: So how do we tease that apart? How do we find what it means for a guy to be a godly man; what it means for a woman to be a godly woman if we’re both looking at the same person?
Byron: When I sit down with couples in premarital and I ask the bride, “Tell me what it is you’re looking for in this man,” when she gets to the end of her description, what she has described is a really good girlfriend, not a leader.
If wives, many of whom pray for their husbands to become the spiritual leaders, if they ever really got that prayer answered, they might not want what they get. A biblical man - a Christ-centered man – will love Christ more than he loves his wife so that he can love his wife as he should. Sometimes that requires self-sacrifice; the lowering of your living standard to do what you should do with your resources.
So, masculinity under the Christian banner is not William Wallace. It’s Christ. It’s humble. It’s self-sacrificing. It’s quiet. It can be ordinary. It can be invisible. It fits all kinds of contexts.
Dennis: All kinds of personalities.
Byron: Absolutely! It’s not a guy that likes to swing from one rock to the other or who likes to hike the Blue Ridge Trail and tie knots, you know? It’s not exclusive to one type of personality. It’s Christ embodying a man through the Spirit; affecting him in a way that looks like Christ coming out as he serves his wife and his children.
I mean, Jesus dispelled the notion of over-the-top masculinity with His own disciples as they approached Jerusalem and said, “Hey, which role in the Cabinet am I going to get?”
Jesus turned His disciples – well, He pulled them over onto the side of the road – and said, “Now you’ve been taught your whole life to view leadership like the Gentiles view leadership, with authority and power. But I tell you it’s not that way with you nor shall it be. When you get authority, he who wants to be the greatest of all will be the servant of all.” Jesus preached lowly, humble, broken servanthood.
I think it takes more strength of character to serve and to use your power and authority for the good of others than it does to use it for yourself. That’s Christ, in a nutshell, Who had all the power of divinity but didn’t use an ounce of it to relieve His own suffering but to serve others. That’s biblical masculinity.
Bob: You were adopted by your dad when you were five years old. Did he model authentic, biblical manhood? Did you see these qualities in him?
Byron: The most consistent man I ever knew. I mean, you could set your watch by his life. Just that alone taught me volumes of what it meant to be a man just about life in general; about success, about accomplishing things. I mean, it was all kind of resident in this aura of who he was. I don’t mean to marbleize him. He was a sinner saved by grace, but was a very consistent, trustworthy feature – a mooring in my life.
Bob: You’ve written a book called What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him.
What were the things that your father not only modeled for you but told you? How did he help shape you to become the man you are?
Byron: One of his main emphases, particularly throughout my life, was on that message of consistency and plodding – being diligent in the small things over a long time is what produces real results in life.
Don’t aim for the get-rich-quick scheme. Don’t take the shortcut but discover what you’re supposed to be doing in life and do that. Do it consistently. Do it well and when the time is right, you’ll reap the rewards for that, but it will come at a time where you’re responsible and capable with those greater rewards. So he preached consistency and required it.
Bob: What did that look like in your life? I mean, consistency can sometimes sound to guys like “boring.” You do the same thing; you put your pants on the same way everyday . . .
Dennis: Or being “boxy.”
Byron: But he made consistency exciting. It wasn’t as if he forced me to become something I wasn’t. It was in the things I wanted to do. It could have been in athletics; regardless of how successful I might have been. I will tell you, Bob, in football I was quite successful. (Laughter)
Regardless of how successful I might be . . .
Bob: Pretty small high school?
Byron: It was the commitment to the team. Exactly -- big fish in a small pond. It was the commitment to the team. It was the commitment to practice. It was the discipline of it. It was, you know, the study of the game. It was being a good teammate. But the consistency of all that kind of stuff – not a starter only, but a finisher. Those were the kind of lessons. . .
What was great about them was that he took the time to pull me aside to give me these little lessons when I was eight and nine that I remembered when I was 29 and 39 years old.
Dennis: What I hear you saying is he enabled you to feel comfortable in your own skin.
Byron: Very much.
Dennis: That’s something that you write about in your book. That’s something that every man needs to somehow embrace and be the man God made him to be.
Byron: That’s a main thrust within the heart of this book is that a father’s role is not, particularly with a son, to groom his son to become the thing that the father always wanted to be or to fulfill the dreams of the father, but to help his son discover what he should be doing with who he is.
I think this a major failure on the part of many fathers: they don’t help their sons discover who they are, where they’re gifted, where they’re not gifted, what they should be doing.
I tell my sons all of the time – I observe these things in them – I’ll tell them, “Son” -- Wade, for instance – “You’re so gifted in this area.” I will dialog with them about it and I’ll help them see it. It encourages him along. In doing that, I’m helping him to have self-awareness: where he’s deficient, where he’s good, where he needs to grow, where there are struggles in his soul that he’s going to deal with for the rest of his life, just to have an awareness of those things.
Dennis: Yes, if all you talk about is what he’s good at and all of the positives, it can become flattery at that point and begin to lose its edge in terms of really helping him grasp what God’s imbued him with – what kind of gifts and talents he has, right?
Byron: Even when it comes to his struggles - my sons struggle with sin and it’s kind of the bends in their frames as human beings. This one struggles with materialism and this one struggles with discipline, which is true of all of us.
I can graciously and gently point those things out and then show him how the Gospel in Christ helps him sanctify those things. Because what ends up happening with most men is that no one ever points those things out and grooms their character. They get into marriage and two or three years into marriage, those things come out – they’re discovered – but they’ve been there all along.
Dennis: Right, right.
Byron: So to help a man get comfortable in his own skin and who he is – that’s a part of it. I think many men suffer from substantial insecurity.
Bob: How did your doctor-father respond when you told him that you thought you wanted to go to seminary?
Byron: I think he struggled. I think he struggled at first because he knew the cost of it. But who I was made sense.
Bob: What do you mean by that?
Byron: Well, after coming to Christ, he observed me in the church. He saw the gifts that God had given me; he’s seen the congregation’s response to me, the elders’ ordination of my ministry roles. He had observed my life and been a part of my life, so when I came to that point, it just made sense. What he feared was the cost of ministry to his son.
Many years later after my first full-time ministry, my dad took me aside. He was visiting and he took me aside. He took me around behind a vehicle right before he shut the door and drove off. He just said something very simple: “Son, this makes sense. This is what you’re supposed to be doing. I see it and I’m so proud of you.”
There are so many men deep into life who’ve never heard that.
Byron: The father never provided that kind of clarity but it’s been hiding in the wide open ever since. I mean, that is a liberating thing to men.
Dennis: And I would want dads to not miss the simplicity of that nor the power. I see a lot of grown men today who have needed an authority figure – a father, first of all – to step into their lives and say, “Byron, you’re gifted. You are really good in this area. I think God’s hand is upon you. I believe in you and I think He’s got great things in store for you.”
To express the power of an older man reaching to a younger man and calling him up – I think every younger man needs not just one conversation. He needs multiple conversations. Your dad wrote you a note at one point?
Byron: He did. I was going to get married and I needed to change jobs to build a little nest egg. I had one of these small, little crises in my life. So I went to my dad, which in and of itself is an awesome thing. You have no idea how many times I’ve wanted to pick up the phone in the past fifteen years and call this man with absolute trust and faith.
But he was there; I was still living in his home at the time and I went downstairs and just sat down and talked to him and asked him some advice. We talked and he prayed. I went to bed and the next morning I woke up and on the kitchen counter was this note on one of these prescription pads that my dad had. It said, “Son, I’ll support you in whatever decision you make. I’m proud of you. Love, Dad.”
I had the state of mind to just absorb what that meant - the gesture of love that was there. I took that note and buried it in a book that I knew that I would never lose and I have kept it with me. There are just a lot of men, sons, who don’t have that type of fixture in their life.
It was so impactful to me that I’ve reciprocated that in my own sons’ lives; observing their lives where they’re good and leaving them notes of sorts – but speaking into their lives, helping them see themselves. I mean, they’re supposed to be short-sighted. There is no way they can observe their lives. I don’t want them discovering who they are late in life or what their challenges are late in life. I don’t want their wives to have to finish my role in raising them. I want to love them, and I do love my sons.
So, that note, just that palpable moment of my father’s love encouraging me in a particular direction, particularly in marriage, was so impactful and so influential.
Dennis: It was a statement of belief in you as a man.
Byron: Very much.
Dennis: An affirmation of “You can do this thing. I’m for you. I’m going to cheer you on.”
Byron: Yes, it was really one of those moments where he goes from my caregiver to my coach and my friend. There was a sense in which we were operating on an equal plane at that moment. Just to have that respect from him to me was rocket fuel for my soul as a young man.
Bob: How did your father die?
Byron: He died in a car accident. He was at one of his granddaughters’ performances – a play. It was crossing a street, driving back to the hospital, that he had crossed hundreds of times. My sister was driving. As they crossed – there’s this little dip in the road and a car was coming; it wasn’t speeding – they pulled out in front of the car. He suffered severe internal damage and passed away.
Dennis: After your dad’s passing, you had to reflect back on your last encounter with him.
Byron: That’s a treasure. One of the things I can say about my relationship with my father after he passed away is that there were absolutely no regrets. Our relationship was so strong and so transparent and so encouraging that we had said everything that needed to be said. There was a lot of love between us, a lot of love in our family, a lot of affection, proactively.
He was there visiting me and had the state of mind to pull me aside, having seen me in the context for which I was designed, and just say, “I love you. I am so proud of you. This makes total sense. God is going to use you in great ways, and I just thought you might need to know that.” We hugged and he was gone.
I just had this exchange with my father that every man has yearned for in their life and few have received.
Dennis: I would say to most men who are listening right now, they need to reflect not merely on what was said to them by their fathers or what wasn’t said -- because it would be really easy to fall into that -- but to reflect on what the conversations are that they’re having with their sons and their daughters and their wives and how they are expressing love, affection, belief, affirmation, encouragement.
I mean, life has a way of knocking the stuffing out of people. It’s tough! This is a tough time to be alive and attempt to follow Christ. I think if there’s ever been a time when we needed strong men, courageous men, men who are reaching into the lives of those around them, it’s today.
Byron, I want to express my appreciation for you telling your story, and for this book. I think it’s going to encourage a lot of men to have some talks and some conversations with their sons, their daughters, their wives, and maybe some friends, that otherwise they wouldn’t have and would probably regret. Thanks for being on the broadcast.
Byron: It’s my privilege. Thank you, Dennis.
Bob: I think the issue for a lot of guys, Dennis, is that they want to have those conversations, they just need the coaching. They need somebody to help them with what that looks like. That’s what Byron has done in the book. We’ve got copies of the book What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center.
If you go online at FamilyLifeToday.com, there’s information about the book. You can order it from us online if you’d like. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com or call toll-free 1-800-FLTODAY and ask for information on how you can get a copy of Byron’s book What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him.
And when you get in touch with us, get information as well about the upcoming FamilyLife Stepping Up National Men’s Conference. This is taking place in Chicago on Saturday, August 4th, but it’s also being simulcast in churches all across the country. Hundreds of churches are going to be host sites for this event.
If you’d like your church to be one of those sites hosting this national men’s conference featuring Dennis Rainey, Crawford Loritts, James MacDonald, and Robert Lewis, go to FamilyLifeToday.com; click on the link that says, STEPPING UP.
It will take you to an area of our web where there’s more information about the national men’s conference – the Stepping Up National Men’s Conference, and about the Stepping Up©video series that is being released in August as well. There are ten sessions that you can go through with a small group of guys or you can go through it with your men’s ministry at your church.
Again, get more information about the event and the video series when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the link that says, “STEPPING UP.” Or give us a call if you have any questions at 1-800-FLTODAY.
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Be sure to be back with us again tomorrow. We’re going to continue talking about dads raising sons. Dr. Randy Stinson from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky is going to be here with us. Hope you can be back with us as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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