FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Iron Sharpens Iron

with Brian Doyle | June 12, 2013
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When men are built up and encouraged to live for Christ, everyone wins. Brian Doyle talks about the need for men to mentor and build into other men, as his ministry, Iron Sharpens Iron, seeks to do.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • When men are built up and encouraged to live for Christ, everyone wins. Brian Doyle talks about the need for men to mentor and build into other men, as his ministry, Iron Sharpens Iron, seeks to do.

  • 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.

Brian Doyle talks about the need for men to mentor and build into other men.

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Iron Sharpens Iron

With Brian Doyle
June 12, 2013
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Bob: A lot of guys feel ill-prepared to be the spiritual leader in their family that they know they ought to be. Brian Doyle says, “The issue is not a lack of desire on the part of the man.” 

Brian: See, men want to do well at home. That’s why they pick churches with exceptional youth ministry, exceptional children’s ministry, maybe, exceptional women’s ministry because they love their family and they want their family to grow in Christ. So, they go and they bring them to church, drop them off, and say, “I hope it all works out.”

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, June 12th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Brian Doyle joins us today to talk about how churches can do a better job of equipping men to be the leaders God has called them to be. Stay tuned.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I’m just trying to think back. What was your very first Promise Keepers event that you spoke at? Do you remember?

Dennis: Oh, how could I forget?! It was at Cowboy Stadium in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.

Bob: What year?

Dennis: Sixty-one thousand men. That’s a good question—maybe ’94, ’95—somewhere in there. I’m not sure; but all I know is I didn’t know whether I’d faint, pass out, or have to run to the bathroom in the middle of my message. I mean, that’s a lot of folks!

Bob: Biggest crowd you’d ever spoken in front of—

Dennis: It really was.

Bob: —at that time.

Dennis: Great privilege.

Bob: And I think a lot of us have kind of forgotten the legacy of Promise Keepers; but in the ’90’s, Promise Keepers was singularly calling men to what you’ve been calling guys to over the last five years—to step up and to be the men God’s called them to be.

Dennis: Yes, I began my message—and I know the Promise Keepers’ leadership—

Bob: —was a little worried.

Dennis: They had to nearly pass out.

Bob: I remember this.

Dennis: In fact, let me introduce our guest because he worked for Promise Keepers for a number of years. Brian Doyle joins us on FamilyLife Today. Brian, welcome to the broadcast.

Brian: Delighted to be here. Dennis, love you. Love you, Bob—great to be here.

Dennis: Brian has been married to his wife Barbara since 1987. They have five children. He is the founder and President of Iron Sharpens Iron—also, the host of the Man2 Man Express daily radio program, up in New England.

Bob: And we should say—for our listeners who don’t know what Iron Sharpens Iron is—that’s a ministry that is doing conferences for men, all across the country. Tens of thousands of guys are getting together, on weekends, to understand God’s design for manhood. 

Dennis: Yes. And I want to find out more about that, Brian, from you; but I have to take you back to Cowboy Stadium. I began my message—because there had been some controversy. There were some women’s groups that were protesting. You may remember the day. I began my message by saying something to the effect, “We’re here today to put women in their place.” [Laughter]

Brian: Wow!

Dennis: And there was this pause. It was like the air of that stadium got sucked out. I said, “The place that the Bible calls men to put them—a place of honor, of dignity—a place to be nourished, cherished, admired, built into, to be discipled, to be loved on.”

Bob: And at that point—.

Dennis: And at that point, that entire stadium erupted—

Brian: Wow.

Dennis: —in applause. And of course, I took away what the press would have loved to have had a line—to have completely lined us all up and shot us, in the papers, the next day—but it ended up being a great time. God used Promise Keepers. In fact, is still using Promise Keepers, I believe, through guys like you.

Brian: Well, that’s exactly it. I mean, we are a result—as are many ministries like Iron Sharpens Iron—

Dennis: Right.

Brian: —we are a result of what God did—what I would call the phenomenon of Promise Keepers. There is no logical explanation of how that whole thing happened. It was really a God-sized phenomenon. And yet, a ministry like ours is a result of what God did. It just—now, you have these outgrowths. Really, at last count, I had 43 different ministries that had sprouted out of the Promise Keeper movement.

Dennis: Wow.

Bob: And PK is still going today, too?

Brian: Yes. They are still there. It is a different thing. It’s downsized and not like it was. It’s not that big gorilla; but really, the big gorilla part of Promise Keepers is the 43 ministries that came out of it.

Dennis: Yes, I would agree with you. Explain to our listeners what the—really, the goal of Iron Sharpens Iron is.

Brian: Yes, very clear—Iron Sharpens Iron—our goal is to help the church. Now, from a customer stand point, our customer is the church. We want to help the church train men for spiritual leadership—starting in the home, then in the church, and then the community. So, although the most visible thing we do is a platform of a conference. Really, that’s just the platform.

What we want to do is we want to help local churches succeed in reaching and engaging men and really discipling men, with others in mind—not just the healthy men—not just so that Dennis Rainey can walk with God for a lifetime—but for Barbara Rainey, for your children, and for you grandchildren.

See, our vision is very clear. Really, one of the biggest challenges we have, as a ministry, is casting this vision and trusting God that it would land with church leaders—that when you build into men, everybody wins.

Dennis: Yes. What really gripped you, originally, about the men’s movement? Why did you—why have you given your—really, your adult life to this?

Brian: You know, there were a couple things that happened. I worked through the Navigators a few years—came to Christ through the Navigators, worked for them—was on a submarine base, in the early ‘80’s, working with enlisted guys and saw the camaraderie of mission-minded men in the name of Christ—just incredible the commitment level that came with these enlisted sailors who were going to take the world for Jesus. Literally, many of them went to different parts of the world.

Later, got married, got in the workplace again. Barbara and I would actually volunteer for Weekend to Remember® and FamilyLife. We’d keep doing stuff, and we realized that—I realized that the women really wanted this stuff. The men were kind of, “Eh, I’m doing okay.” We even would do the HomeBuilders® things. I would see guys who were somewhat disengaged and women who were engaged. It was frustrating to me. It was a little bit perplexing.

Later, this kind of set me up for the Promise Keeper thing—wasn’t looking for Promise Keepers. Promise Keepers—from Connecticut—sounded like a Christian party—a big barbeque. [Laughter] I really had no interest in that. I wanted to disciple men. A friend that I trusted, though, brought me out. We went out to Colorado. We met the staff. They were outstanding people.  We went to a conference. It was amazing! I mean, I felt like: “This is masculine context. How do I get this—back to Connecticut?”

When I began to get involved with PK, it was with the idea that if you build into men, it’s really—there are others who are going to benefit. Well, my passion is not just healthy men. My passion is really family. See, if we build into men, with others in mind—that means—you know, God has opened the hearts of men for the people that a man loves the most. You know—whether it’s you, or Bob, or me—there are people that we love more than others. It starts with the people that we live with.

Dennis: One of the privileges of kind of revisiting those moments, back with Promise Keepers, was that there were a number of messages given throughout the day.

Brian: Yes.

Dennis: It was a Friday night, all day Saturday in these stadiums, where tens of thousands of guys would come. There was a message on the Gospel. There were messages on how to live the Christian life in the workplace—and use your place of business as an outreach for Christ—racial reconciliation; but the message they gave me, I thought, was the sweet spot of where those men were—in terms of practically and immediately applying what the Scripture teaches—

Brian: Right.

Dennis: —because they allowed me to speak on marriage and family and how a man can apply the Bible, immediately, in their relationship with their wives.

Bob: Yes. There—as I remember, there were seven promises. Marriage and family was one of the seven.

Brian: Number four, yes.

Bob: But that was the one of the seven—guys were paying attention to all seven, but that one—

Dennis: Well—

Bob: —their ears perked up.

Dennis: This goes back to the days when we had pay phones—but after the message or during the message, in those stadiums, there were lines of men—remember this?

Brian: Oh, definitely remember it!

Dennis: —who went to the pay phones to call their wives—

Brian: Yes.

Dennis: —and ask them—

Brian: They were acting on it, immediately.

Dennis: —to forgive them for their attitude and how they had behaved. In many cases, Brian, it wasn’t just a one shot in a one weekend experience. Those guys did ask their wives to forgive them; and they went back, as different men—

Brian: Right.

Dennis: —to their marriages and families.

Brian: For me—as a Navigator, as a Promise Keeper—we put together this thing called Iron Sharpens Iron—which is taking some of the best stuff that we’re talking about from the Promise Keeper era—this exhortation, this male context—then, we take a little bit of my background and my passion, which is training and discipling. We craft it together and put together something so that we begin and end a day—you guys have been there—with an exhortative calling men out. Men need to be called out. This is part of masculine context. But, you can’t call men out and not help them execute what you’re calling them out to do.

Bob: Right.

Brian: So, a big part of what we do, at our conferences, is training. We have 16 different training seminars—where every single man who comes—whether you’re 13 or whether you’re an experienced grandfather—we want to have something that’s tangible for you. We want to have something so that you know how to connect the dots between good intention and good execution.

Bob: I think I saw—am I right?—40-plus events. Or is it more than that?

Brian: Yes, it’s 65 this year.

Bob: Wow! Sixty-five events—and these will range in size from maybe a couple hundred guys getting together to a couple of thousand guys; right?

Brian: Yes. You are going to find nowadays—of course, we started in the northeast, where the thousands are. Believe it or not, in the northeast, there are thousands.

Bob: It’s amazing.

Brian: But now, it’s happening in different parts of the country. Yes. What we need is critical mass. See, this is, again, part of the Promise Keeper lesson. You need men together. You need to fill whatever you have—whether it’s a sanctuary, an arena, or a stadium—you need to fill it so there is this critical mass.

Critical mass is part of God showing up in a man’s life, where he will let his guard down; and he’ll hear from God. He’ll hear from the Word of God, the Spirit of God. But if you don’t have critical mass—I mean, worship is part of this experience. My initial memory of the Promise Keeper era—

Dennis: Oh, yes.

Brian: —is Boulder Stadium—“Holy, holy, holy….” at six p.m. on a Friday. The rest of the day—I have no idea what happened. I don’t remember what happened the next day; but I remember thinking: “Whatever just happened, I’ve got to figure that thing out. I’ve got to bring this back home with me.”

Dennis: I love women’s voices, but there is something about—

Bob: About men singing, yes.

Dennis: —2,000 men, 3,000 men—takes me back to the days at Dallas Theological Seminary in Chapel—when you had men singing those great hymns of the faith, knocking it out, on their feet.

Brian: Well, you know, what we’ve found is that for the most part—and this is a hard thing to be a worship leader in a church on Sunday morning—old and young, men and women, different maturities. But when we come together at a men’s conference, it is much easier. You pick songs. We’ve got 30 songs we give worship leaders, “You pick of these songs you want,”—30 songs that work for men, at a certain octave—songs of war—songs like A Mighty Fortress is our God.

Dennis: Oh, yes.

Brian: Holy, Holy, Holy—sing to the Lord, sing to the King. So, they’re songs that resonate with a man’s spirit because it’s important that a man’s emotions get engaged when he worships.

Bob: Talk about why that’s so important for a guy to get emotionally engaged because a lot of guys are like: “I don’t want to go there. They are going to manipulate me; or I just rather keep it up, here, in the head.”

Brian: You’re saying the head. It’s head versus heart. When you get guys worshiping Almighty God, their heart begins to get engaged. They begin—that’s part of the Lordship of Christ—being under the Lordship of Christ means that you’re surrendering.

I’m at conferences, and guys are surrendering. Guys are doing things with their hands, and their body, and their posture that they would never get the opportunity to do.

Dennis: Right.

Brian: So, we’ve got to create a safe place where men can get connected to Almighty God.

Dennis: It’s not either/or. It’s both/ and.

Brian: Right.

Dennis: It is both the head and the heart. I know you have a passion about this because this is what it’s all about. It’s about discipleship. It’s about viral, spiritual multiplication. You’ve had a privilege of seeing how God has used the Stepping Upvideo series with men because that’s a passion of ours—

Brian: Right.

Dennis: —here, at FamilyLife. We want to put this tool in the hands of guys—

Brian: Yes.

Dennis: —not just pastors, but laymen who are in businesses, and neighborhoods, in churches, in communities—who can make a statement to their community.

I’m about to go speak in a smaller town in Alabama—a number of churches that have joined together—but it’s all been done by laymen. They’ve pulled it together because they have a passion for their community. Talk about what you’ve seen and how God has used Stepping Up—the video series—to impact men.

Brian: Well, it does really resonate with the head/heart thing because when you think about all the different aspects of discipleship—you think about what we do in a church or even out of church—whether it is the workplace or other places—a man is—the people that he loves most, he wants to succeed. He wants this significance that comes from that legacy. He knows that he has primary responsibility for building into his family. Yet, he is completely ill-equipped for this job.

The idea of men in the 21st century is that we live in a professional environment, where we write checks to people. I call it a general-contractor mentality. Most likely, you’ve got people helping you in church life, people helping you in the schools, people helping you with music with your kids, coaches. You’re delegating, delegating, delegating. You’re in charge, but you’re delegating.

Bob: A lot of sub-contractors there, yes.

Brian: A lot of sub-contractors. You’re technically in charge because you are overseeing the whole operation.

Dennis: And a man doesn’t want to look unprofessional.

Brian: No.

Dennis: So, many times, he shrinks back when we call him to step up, and step out, and lead a group of men.

Brian: And he—they’re not ready for that. I mean: “I don’t have training in that. I have my expertise. I know what it is to have expertise because people pay me to do something Monday through Friday.”

Dennis: Right.

Brian: “What you’re asking me to do, I’m not trained in. I’ve not got schooled in it. No one has built into me. I don’t know how to get there.” But this is what’s exciting about church life—is that we’re helping churches to purposely build into men, with others in mind.

See, men want to do well at home. That’s why they pick churches with exceptional youth ministry, exceptional children’s ministry, maybe, exceptional women’s ministry because they love their family and they want their family to grow in Christ. So, they go and they bring them to church, drop them off, and say, “I hope it all works out.” We’re calling churches, now, not to give up on that—

Dennis: Right.

Brian: —but to begin to also build into that man—whether he is a father, grandfather, or husband—so that he can be a portal toward growth in Christ for his wife and kids.

Bob: Brian, the 65-plus events that Iron Sharpens Iron is doing, across the country, this year—you really want that day to be catalytic. If it is not a launching point—if it’s seen as the end in itself—

Brian: Right.

Bob: —you walk away going, “That didn’t work.”

Brian: Oh, that’s my greatest fear. I say, at any event I go to—because I’m up front. I’m on the platform. I say:

My greatest fear is that this would be an isolated event. So, here’s what we’re going to do today. This is an equipping conference. It’s got three components. Number one, it’s got exhortation. We’re going to have an exhortative, calling you out time. We’re going to have training in equipping. We’re going to have 16 different seminars where you can pick what you want to go to.

It’s not going to be about being a spouse—it’s about being a husband. It’s not going to be about being a parent—it’s about being a dad. It’s not about general struggles—it’s about the struggles that are specific to men—whatever it might be.

Finally, we have resources because today you’ve got to get the tools that will move you from intention to execution. You’re going to get tools today to help you grow in Christ, as a man—as an individual—Bible study resources, whatever it might be.

We’re going to give you tools that help you grow in your relationship with your wife—to pray with your wife, to build into her. We’re going to give you resources, as a dad, and as a granddad. We’re going to give you resources to be a man, who is a leader in the church and the community. But you’ve got to get these resources or else this event will stop at 4:55, and it will not produce the fruit that God intended.

Dennis: We want to put those resources in the hands of spiritual multipliers. You’ve got some great guys, who fill the podium and the pulpit. Tony Evans just did one recently with Jeff Kemp—

Brian: Yes, exactly.

Dennis: —I know, on the East coast. Who are some of the other speakers that—

Brian: Crawford Loritts—obviously, one of your friends—his son, Bryan—

Dennis: Yes.

Brian: —Voddie Baucham, which, of course, is one of your friends. My job is to find guys that aren’t just wonderful, articulate communicators, who love God and love God’s Word, but who have a deep burden, that God has placed on their life, to build into men—not to fix men—that’s not what we’re looking for. I’m looking for guys who see through you and see your children, your grandchildren, your great grandchildren—a Psalm 78-type of guy who knows, “When I build into you, the adjustments that a man makes can be felt for generations to come.” That’s who we want on the platform at our conference.

Dennis: Psalm 78 talks about, really, older men passing on the truth about God and their experience of God—

Brian: Yes.

Dennis: —to the next generation because we are in a generational relay race.

Brian: I tell guys, “You’ve got to tell the story, whether it’s Joshua 24—whatever. You’ve got to tell the story about Peter and Paul, about Joshua and Moses; but you’ve got to tell your own story, as well.”

Dennis: Right.

Brian: My kids long to hear my story—“How did I come to faith?”—my wife’s story: “How did we meet? How did God bring us together?” Then, they’ll say, “Could you tell us that story again, Dad?” I’ll go, “Well, didn’t I just tell it to you?” “Yes, would you tell it again?” “Okay.”

Dennis: And those stories get passed down.

Brian: Oh, those stories—I mean—whether through journal, or photography, or whether it’s verbal—that’s a big part of our life—is to make sure we’re passing on those stories to the next generation. Again, that’s Psalm 78.

Dennis: Well, I want to encourage the men who are listening—and for that matter, the wives and the women who, perhaps, are dating some single guys—to get your man to one of these Iron Sharpens Iron events because they really are transformative. When you send your husband, or your boyfriend, or your son to this event, you’re not just sending them to experience a rah-rah cheerleader-type of thing. Now, there is some real meat passed on and some serious challenges; but most importantly, they’re given some marching orders, from a generational standpoint.

Bob: And the guys don’t have to wait to be sent; do they? I mean, they can do this on their own initiative. They can take responsibility for themselves.

Dennis: I think so.

Bob: I just want to make sure that’s okay. You would endorse that? If there are guys listening—

Dennis: I’m all about initiative.

Bob: —they can go to They can click the link there to find out more about Iron Sharpens Iron—where it’s being held in cities, all across the country—and get some other guys to go with you and spend a day getting pointed in the right direction. Then, use that day as a springboard to go deeper, as a guy.

Dennis: And one other thing I’d say—because I know Brian’s heart—his desire is that this be tied to a local church—

Brian: Oh, absolutely.

Dennis: —somehow, someway. For your group—ideally—now, you might bring some guys who aren’t followers of Christ today—maybe, on the fringes and just in need of some encouragement. But if possible, try to come connected, on the front end, to your local church because when you go back, that’s going to make all the difference in the world.

Brian: You know, it’s not just about content. If it was about content, I would just send guys CD’s and books.

Bob: Right.

Brian: It’s about processing that content with one another. Have you noticed what we call this ministry? Guys call me, “So, what’s the theme?” “Well, the theme is Iron Sharpens Iron.” “Yes, but that was the theme last year. What’s the theme this year?” “Well, the theme is Iron Sharpens Iron because we’re building, and affirming, and encouraging one another.” It’s not just about content. It’s about processing life and the Scriptures together.

Women are growing in Christ, automatically, because they are in relationships. They are prone to—God’s wired them that way. And men, because our nature is to be a little bit, “Take our own deal,”—

Dennis: A little?

Brian: You think so?

Dennis: A little?

Brian: self-sufficient, self-reliant, stand on our own two feet—“I’m okay; you’re okay, I’m fine; you’re fine.” So, we’ve got to be more intentional in processing life together. The men’s conference is just an opportunity to do that.

Bob: I just wish Brian was a little more passionate about this; don’t you? [Laughter]

Dennis: I do, too. I do, too. I believe in this ministry, though, and am excited about men going to it.

Bob: Well, and again, if you go to, there is a link there that will get you more information about Iron Sharpens Iron—where events are being held, all across the country, in the months ahead. Again, go to, click on the link for “Iron Sharpens Iron”.

Get more information about the Stepping Up video series that FamilyLife has created, as well. We’ve designed this to build into the lives of men—help strengthen and equip them to be the men that God has called them to be. A lot of guys have started going through this either with their men’s group from church or on your own. In fact, you could get the kit and get a group of guys together—this summer—meet once a week, and knock this thing out, and have a great time building some relationships and understand your assignment, as a man, even better. Or this is also something your church could go through, starting in the fall. If you need more information about the Stepping Up video series or the one-day Stepping Up video event, again, go to for more information.

Let me also mention that we are making available, this week, copies of Dennis Rainey’s book, Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood. We’re sending it out to you free. All we’re asking is that you cover the cost of postage and handling. We’ll send you the book; and we will include, along with it, a sampler DVD that has Session One from the Stepping Up video series and the first half of Session One from the Stepping Up video event. That gives you an idea of what is included in this series and the quality of the video.

So, again, go to and ask for a copy of Dennis’s book, Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood. The book and the DVD sampler—we’ll send them out to you, free, if you’ll cover the cost of postage and handling. You can also order by calling 1-800-FL-TODAY, 1-800-358-6329, 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.

Now, I also want to say a quick word of thanks to those of you who make this program possible. That would be those of you who are regular contributors to FamilyLife Today—Legacy Partners, those of you who contribute monthly. We appreciate you. And we also are grateful for those of you who, from time to time, will check in with us and make a contribution. Oftentimes, we hear from folks who are just affirming that God is using this ministry in some way in their lives; and they call to make a donation. We appreciate your support of FamilyLife Today.

This month, we’d like to say, “Thank you for your donation,” by sending you a copy of a message from Dennis Rainey—a message delivered, a few years back, to a group of guys—all about how a dad can be a protector for his children as he connects with them, heart to heart. When you make a donation, online, at, click the button that says, “I CARE”. We’ll send out a copy of the CD from Dennis. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY, make your donation over the phone, and ask for the CD from Dennis Rainey. Again, we’re happy to send it to you. We’re grateful for you, as well.

And be sure to be back with us again tomorrow. We’re going to hear some challenges from Dennis on husbands stepping up to be the husbands that God has called us to be. We’ll hear a powerful message from Dennis Rainey tomorrow. Hope you can join us for that.

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 next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas. Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.

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