FamilyLife Today® Podcast

From Men to Mentors

with Dennis Rainey | September 13, 2011
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Who was your model for manhood? Dennis Rainey talks about a mentor’s role to be available, purposeful and authentic.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Who was your model for manhood? Dennis Rainey talks about a mentor’s role to be available, purposeful and authentic.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Who was your model for manhood?

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From Men to Mentors

With Dennis Rainey
September 13, 2011
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Bob:  Every man ought to be intentionally investing his life in another man’s life.  Here’s Dennis Rainey.

Dennis:  I think in this age when we have so many young men coming out of homes where there aren’t fathers, I think this is a responsibility older man have to look around and go, “Is there somebody in my life that I need to reach down on the steps and call them to step up to manhood?”  You might not call it formal mentoring, but that’s what you’re doing.  You’re discipling them; you’re training them in life and what the Bible teaches about how to live life.

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today® for Tuesday, September 13th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine.  Stop for just a minute and think about a younger man you know, and what it might look like if you were investing in his life.  We’re going to talk about how you do that today.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us. 


Dennis:  Bob, did you know that men have it easier?

Bob:  Have what easier?

Dennis:  Life.

Bob:  I didn’t know –

Dennis:  Somebody sent this to me, and I included this in our daily devotional, Moments with You.  In a way, I can’t believe I printed this, but now I can’t believe I’m saying it here on the air.  Just listen to this and see if you agree.

Bob:  Okay.

Dennis:  When you’re a man, your last name stays put.

Bob:  That’s true, yeah.

Dennis:  The garage is all yours.  Wedding plans take care of themselves.

Bob:  That’s true.

Dennis:  You can never be pregnant.

Bob:  Yeah.

Dennis:  Wrinkles add character.

Bob:  Yeah, yeah.

Dennis:  The occasional well-rendered belch is practically expected.

Bob:  And in some cultures polite, I might add.

Dennis:  Yep.  You’ve got one mood, usually all the time, usually.  Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat.

Bob:  That’s right.

Dennis:  A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase.

Bob:  Uh-huh.

Dennis:  You can open all your own jars.

Bob:  Yeah.

Dennis:  You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness, usually.  If someone forgets to invite you somewhere, he can still be your friend.

Bob:  Yeah.

Dennis:  Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack.  The same hair style lasts for years, maybe decades.  You have to only shave your face and neck.  You can play with toys all your life – although that’s not a good idea.  One wallet and one pair of shoes, one color for all seasons.

Bob:  Yeah.

Dennis:  And you can wear shorts no matter how your legs look and you can do your nails with a pocket knife.

Bob:  Well now wait.  This wearing shorts thing --

Dennis:  I’ve seen your – stick with long pants, Bob.

Bob:  I’ve gotten some ridicule for that.

Dennis:  Well, there are some advantages to being a man.  That’s totally a spoof, obviously, but I just finished a book called Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood.  In the book I’m talking about five steps I think every man should aspire to. 

Number one, he needs to move from boyhood to the second step of adolescence, to the third step of manhood.  He needs to realize there are two steps beyond manhood that I think God wants us as men to embrace and be responsible for if we live long enough.  The fourth step is that of being a mentor. 

Already this week I’ve mentioned II Timothy 2:2.  I’m going to read it this time instead of doing it from memory.  Paul writes to Timothy.  He says, “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

What Paul is saying here, although he didn’t say it this way, this is going to be my paraphrase:  “Every man needs a mentor, and every man needs to become a mentor.”  In other words, we all are a part of a spiritual relay race where an older generation is passing on truth to us, and we in turn take the baton and place the truth in a younger generation’s hand to carry on to their generation.

Bob:  Yes.  Or to put it another way, we all need to be drinking in from somewhere, and we all need to be pouring out into somebody else’s life.

Dennis:  Yes.  The problem is, Bob, fear keeps us from edging out and really attempting a mentoring relationship.  We’re afraid to go ask someone to mentor us, or we’re afraid somebody may ask us to mentor them.  I’m convinced that stepping up from manhood to mentor is going to demand courage.  I think it’s why so few guys do it.

Bob:  And you would agree that it ought to be the mentee or the protégé who should seek out the relationship.  In other words, I shouldn’t be going around to younger guys and saying, “Would you like me to mentor you?”  It seems a little arrogant to do that.

Dennis:  Well, I think generally it may be more in the lap of the mentee to pursue the mentor.  However, if you spot a young man who maybe didn’t have a strong father in his life or hasn’t had great coaches, great men in his life that have believed in him and cheered him on –

I think in this age when we have so many young men coming out of homes where there aren’t fathers, I think this is a responsibility older men have to look around and go, “Is there somebody in my life that I need to reach down on the steps and call them to step up to manhood, and then offer them the opportunity to learn what that means by developing a relationship together.” 

You might not call it formal mentoring but that’s what you’re doing.  You’re discipling them, you’re training them in life and what the Bible teaches about how to live life.  A young man came to me one time.  I’m going to call him Michael.  And he said, “Dennis, I’m really scared to death to ask you this question,” he said, “But I’d really like to ask you if you’d meet with me on a regular basis and mentor me.”

We were in church together and we’d been in a small group together, and it wasn’t without a context that he came to me.  I said, “Let’s get together.”  Well, for about six months we met together and he’d bring issues or subjects he’d like to talk about, and I’d bring some, and finally I guess there was enough of a relationship that had been developed between Michael and me that he came to a lunch one day and he said, kind of sheepishly, “Dennis, there’s something that is just sucking the life out of me and my marriage and my family, and I need to ask for your perspective on it.” 

What it was, it was a brand new shiny pickup, purchased on debt, a nice, brand-new home with a fat mortgage, and credit card debt that had ballooned out of control to over $30 grand. $30,000, and he was sinking.  I mean, he was embarrassed, he was ashamed, and I looked at him and I smiled and I said, “You know, I am really glad you trusted me with this.  You know what I’m going to say, don’t you?” 

And he smiled and looked at me and said, “Yep.  It’s time and I’m ready.”  So I looked at him and I said, “First thing I want you to do is get all your credit cards out tonight, put them on a cookie sheet and turn on the oven to about 500 degrees, and I want you to bake your credit cards quite nicely until they’re all in one plastic puddle.”

Bob:  Till they’re crispy.

Dennis:  “Don’t let them catch on fire.  Number two, sell your truck,” which he did.  By the way, he did the credit card thing, too.  “Third, downsize your house,“ which he also did, and then I said, “I want you to methodically begin paying off all those credit card debts, the $30 grand you owe,” and I’m happy to report it took him about six years, but he has now done that.  He didn’t declare bankruptcy. 

I happened to run into him about three or four months ago.  He has since moved to another city, but he said this to me.  He said in an email that came after we ran into each other, he said, “I am eternally grateful for the investment you made in me.  You encouraged me to be the man on my 40th birthday, and you gave me the definition of being the man.

Now here’s the deal, guys.  There are all kinds of younger guys on this journey and on this trail, and they’re trying to figure out what does it mean to be a man?  Unfortunately they’re tuning into TV and going on the internet to find out what that looks like to be a man.  You guys, you know that isn’t the place to find out. 

What those younger men need is they need an older man who’s got skin on in their lives, who is speaking the truth, living the truth, sharing life from his failures, his successes, and being authentic and honest with him and just growing with him through life.  Bob, I just think older men are missing one of the grandest treats they’ll ever experience in their lifetimes.  I mean, you’re mentoring younger men.

Bob:  Yes, I’ve been involved in the lives of younger guys, and I’ve benefitted from the relationship, they’ve benefitted from the relationship, and I think you’re right.  I think the culture is giving us such a false picture of what authentic manhood looks like that we’ve got to be asking where do we go in the Scriptures to get the right picture.  Interestingly enough, I’ve looked at the passages in 1 Timothy and in Titus that talk about the characteristics of an elder in a church.

I know some people look at that and go, “Well, that’s for the super spiritual, the really lofty saints.”  I’m thinking, “No, that would be a standard that God would call every man to.”  So for guys to get together and say, “Okay, how are we doing in these areas?  How are you doing in your ability to teach God’s Word to your children or to your wife?  How are you doing in terms of not being pugnacious or a fighter,” one of the things it talks about?  Not given to much wine is one of the things it talks about.

Dennis:  Right.

Bob:  Very practical issues that define spiritual maturity for men.

Dennis:  Yes.  Bob, you’re fishing in the right water hole at that point if you’re going to Paul’s writings to Timothy, because 1 and 2 Timothy are what I drew from in pulling out three primary characteristics of a mentor.  A mentor is much more than this, but just for the purpose of today’s broadcast and for the book that I wrote, these are the three I selected.

First of all, a mentor is available.  Now, if you’ll ready 1 and 2 Timothy, you’ll find that Paul wrote letters to Timothy, he consulted with Timothy, he was there for Timothy, he prayed for Timothy, he was engaged with Timothy on an ongoing basis.  So much so, even at the end of his life when Paul is writing from prison, he’s writing Timothy.  He’s passing on his life.  He’s available.

A number of years ago I ran into a guy whose name is Don Soderquist.  I was actually trying to raise a little money here for FamilyLife to keep our broadcast on the air and sharing about the strategies of FamilyLife and how we’re trying to build marriages and families here in America and around the world.  I was talking to Don about possibly joining with us and being a part of the team. 

I was presenting this little power point to him, showing him the growth of FamilyLife, 600 percent over a ten-year period.  I was kind of proud of that graph, you know.  It was really upward and all that.  All of a sudden it hit me who I was talking to.  Don Soderquist went to work for a guy whose name was Sam, Sam Walton, in 1980 when Walmart was $1 billion in sales as a company.  Twenty years later when Don left, it was a $200 billion plus company.

Bob:  All of a sudden your 600 percent graph didn’t look so great, huh?

Dennis:  It was like twinkies.  It was like, “Yeah, I know it’s a ministry, but . . . . “  I started laughing.  He said, “What are you laughing about?”  I said, “Oh, I kind of realized who I was talking to.  You were the COO of Walmart, and here I am talking to you about the growth of FamilyLife.  I know that everything has its context, but I just couldn’t help but laugh, Don, at the irony of me showing you my growth chart here.” 

I said, “By the way,” I said, “Would you be willing to give me a day of your time to mentor me around vision casting?”  He said, “Let me think about that.”  So I got back with him and he said, “Yes.”  So I drove to northwest Arkansas and spent a day with him, talking about how you cast a vision, because I believe what the family is going through today is really the result of the media and the culture just dumbing down marriage and family and removing what the noble call is, and the noble vision that God has given marriages and families, and I want to call people to that.

Bob:  At the same time that the culture is doing that, men have not been stepping in and casting that vision and pointing people in the direction of that nobility.

Dennis:  And Don really helped me with that.  But the point is this:  Don was available.  He was a mentor available for just a day to spend time with me, and you know what?  That was a great day.

A second aspect of a mentor is he is purposeful. 2 Timothy 2:2 is a great reminder of that.  Paul says, “Look, Timothy.  These things which you have heard from me, listen to me, be intentional.  Pass them on to not just men, but pass them on to faithful men, and by the way, Timothy, make sure those faithful men are passing them on to others.”

I think a mentor needs to look at a younger man’s life that he’s mentoring and be purposeful around the issues of life that he’s facing, and help him deal with those issues biblically.  A young man that I was mentoring, it became very, very clear that he needed to write a tribute to his dad.  I sent him my book, The Best Gift You’ll Ever Give Your Parents, and I challenged him to write a tribute to his father.

The interesting thing was, it didn’t take him a couple of years like it has other younger men I’ve given this to.  This guy wrote his tribute in about two months, and read his tribute to his dad, and said, “You know what?  I’m free.  I’m emancipated.  I’m my own man now.”  He did not realize some of the anger he had toward his father that he gave up.  As he moved toward honor he realized he had to forgive his father. 

All I was doing, Bob, was listening to his story, and I was thinking, “I want to help you as a younger man move to a new phase in your life by putting your finger on an issue that’s eating your lunch.  It’s going to be like battery acid to your soul if you don’t deal with it.”

What a mentor does is he puts his finger on those issues and he coaches a young man to step up and deal with it.

Bob:  He’s intentional.  We could use that word, couldn’t we?

Dennis:  We could use that word.

Bob:  Mr. intentional.

Dennis:  We could use that word.

Bob:  I’m ribbing you because your son, Benjamin – that’s the word he used to describe you.  It’s intentionality, it’s purposefulness.

Dennis:  You’re referring to the story of a friend of mine named Chip who asked my son, Ben, during the St. Louis Cardinals World Series when they beat Detroit – Yeah, that’s a great moment.  He asked my son what one word my son would use to describe me, and my son used the word “intentional.”  Initially I didn’t like it.  Well, since it’s accurate I’ve had to learn to like it.  But actually it’s not a bad word because an intentional person is thoughtful about what they’re doing.

I wrote down some of the things I’ve mentored younger men in:  facing an unexpected crisis or tragedy, managing his money, developing a real relationship with God, reading good books, understanding the Scriptures and applying them, raising their children, what kind of character is needed to succeed at work, how do you develop relationships with other men?  By the way, Bob, this is a big one.  Most younger men really don’t know how to develop lifelong relationships with other men.  They end up competing with them.  They need some solid friendships.

So a mentor is available.  A mentor is purposeful and third, a mentor is authentic.  I want to read to you from 2 Timothy chapter 4, verses 5 through 7, and just let you ponder the question, “Do you think Paul was authentic with Timothy when he said this?” 

“As for you, always be sober-minded.  Endure suffering.  Do the work of an evangelist.  Fulfill your ministry.  For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.  I have fought the good fight.  I have finished the race.  I have kept the faith.  Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”

Paul kind of pulls his chest muscles back and lets Timothy peer into his heart, and he says, “Timothy, look.  I have been stretched out all the way to the finish line.  Run to finish your race, Timothy.  If you fall down and stumble, get up and keep running and keep facing the finish line.”

Bob, I’ve had two older men in my life, Bill Bright, who is now in heaven, and another man who I dedicated this book to, Dr. Howard Hendricks, who have stayed stretched out to the finish line all the way.  Prof, Dr. Hendricks, is approaching 90.  Amazing.  He has still got a heart that beats for the work of God on this planet.  Every man regardless of what step he’s standing on, needs an older man who is ahead of him in the race of life who can encourage him to keep stepping up and keep stretching out to that finish line and run the race well.

Bob:  Again, I think where you’ve helped guys in this area is by giving us not only a picture of what it should look like, but some very practical instruction on how we can do it.  And then you just looked all of us in the eye and said, “Look, you can do it.” 

You may think to yourself “I don’t have enough to offer,” or “I’ve still got too many problems of my own.”  Every guy can do this, and you’ve equipped us on how to do it in the book Stepping Up.  That’s one of the reasons why, over the next couple of weeks we want to invite listeners to get a copy of this book.  All you have to do is call FamilyLife Today and make a donation in support of the ministry and ask for a copy, and we’ll send it to you.

Go online at or call 1-800-FLTODAY.  If you make your donation online at, just type “STEP” into the key code box, and we’ll send a copy of the book to you.  Or call 1-800-FLTODAY, make a donation over the phone and ask for a copy of the book Stepping Up.  Again, we’re happy to get it out to you.  We want as many guys as possible to read the book and maybe go through it with some other guys, in hopes that this will give guys a vision for what their lives can look like as they seek to be godly men.

In addition to the book being available if you make a donation this month, for those of you who have eBook readers, a Kindle or a Nook or an iBook reader, the book is available in those formats as well.  Right now it’s available for $1.99.  So go wherever it is that you get your eBook for your Kindle or your Nook or your iBook reader, and you should find the book available there, again for $1.99.  That’s the price between now and October 15th

We’re doing this because we hope every man who’s listening will get a copy of the book.  Either make a donation and we’ll send you a copy of the hardback book, or you can download the eBook and use that with your eBook reader, again for only $1.99 between now and the middle of October.  We’re hoping that men will read this book with other men, and that it will spark a lot of guys stepping up to be the man that God wants them to be.  So we hope to hear from you; hope you get a copy of Dennis’ new book, Stepping Up.

It was several months ago when we were together with all of the couples who speak at our FamilyLife Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways, and one of the men who was there is one of the men who has been a mentor in your life, one who we’ve talked about today, Dr. Howard Hendricks.  At the close of the evening, you asked Dr. Hendricks to pray for the couples who speak at these Weekends to Remember. 

I think it would be good for our listeners to hear just what it sounds like as an older man, a mentor and a patriarch to many, many men, to hear what it sounds like as he prays for these couples as they get ready to speak at our Weekend to Remember marriage getaways this fall.  Here is Dr. Howard Hendricks.

Dr. Hendricks:  Father, what an incredible experience it is to spend time with men and women who are sold out to Jesus Christ.  And Father, we are very humble when we listen to so many things that God has used and to realize it’s not me, it’s not us, it’s Christ. 

And Lord we pray that in whatever life we have left we may continue to focus the attention of those to whom we minister on the Lord Jesus Christ, and pray that he may continue to control and shape and impact our life, to the greater glory of our Lord.  So thank you very much for Your grace as seen in the life of each of us.  And we give You the honor and the glory, in Christ’s wonderful name.  Amen.

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