Real Men Lead

This article can be found in the June issue of Think magazine by Focus Press.

Real Men Needed

When God instituted the family in Genesis, He set forth an organizational pattern that is seen throughout scripture in familial relationships and eventually in the organization of the church. This is particularly true of parenting as we see in 1 Timothy 3:4, 5. Here, Paul sets forth a direct connection to church leadership and the home, “He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God . . . ?)

God uses the home as His proving ground for those who will be given the task of leading the church. The wisdom here is obvious as both are families, both have their rebels, and both have their followers, all of which are in need of love, guidance, and a Savior. It is the task of men as father figures to lead the children of both institutions toward eternal life.

Unfortunately, real men can be hard to find. In television’s “Two and a Half Men,” I doubt that any positive male characteristics were shown. The ads for the show were certainly void of any. Everywhere you look from JC Penney commercials to television and the big screen, men are the punch lines. Why? Because their role has been downplayed over the last several decades and thus minimized to an almost useless position. Our young men do not know what it is to be a man because so few of us stick it out. We do not work to fulfill our task set forth by God and thus the home and the church suffer.

In my work as a youth minister and now as a counselor, it is difficult to explain “God the Father” to a young person who has never known his or her own father. They only know that “father” is the man he has never seen or the man who never goes to his ball games or the man who does not love his mother. Many fathers are physically present but emotionally absent. Studies have also shown that ninety percent of dads are out of their children’s lives within five years after a divorce. Men do not realize the toll this is taking on our society. A noted sociologist, Dr. David Popenoe, is one of the pioneers of fatherhood research. He says, “Fathers are far more than just ‘second adults’ in the home. Involved fathers bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring.” (

Our homes and our congregations are in desperate need of real men who will lead effectively with eternity in mind. As Jesus is the mediator between mankind and God, men are the midpoint for others to God whether they are the members of a congregation or the children in his own home. Hopefully, our congregations can supply these real men.

Firm Yet Kind

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4) The part of the passage we typically focus on is the latter, “ . . . bring them up in the discipline . . . of the Lord.” We like this. It is the end result of what we hope to accomplish. The first part that gives specific instructions to fathers is often glossed over and forgotten so that the “discipline” part might be proclaimed. However, if we are to accomplish the second command, the first must be understood.

Men are called to be the leaders in the home and in the church. The “how” of doing this is often missed but is encapsulated in Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger . . . .” If you can follow this passage, the ripple affects of your influence will be felt for generations. However, this verse can be confusing. “If a man is to lead a congregation of the Lord’s church or his home, is he not going to do things that make his children (those under his care) angry?” Certainly! However, there is a difference between being a man of your word with principles who leads from the heart versus one who provokes those most dependent on him with mindless actions.

A Climate of Fear: The opposite of Ephesians 6:4

All is quiet at home. It is 5:15pm. Mother is cooking, junior is doing his homework and the dog is resting on the porch. Suddenly, a truck pulls into the drive. The dog scampers away, and mom hurries to get any last minutes tasks complete before her husband (with a fiery temper) comes through the door. As he enters the kitchen, mom listens to the pace of his walk and carefully observes how he puts his lunch box down; obvious signs of whether it is going to be a good evening or a bad one. Junior continues with his work, otherwise dad might accuse him of being lazy. This is the way dad likes it; family members doing as they are told. There is little affection but plenty of fear and order.

This is the typical setting of a physically abusive family, but similar settings (although less extreme) can be found in our congregations and our homes. Men can be quick with a criticism or lack in the giving of much needed praise. A boy who never hears, “good job” from his dad may never grow into a confident man. A girl who never hears how beautiful she is from her dad may look for validation from boys who only want one thing. These scenarios do not facilitate the building of soldiers for Christ or young people who grow into healthy adults.

People were trying to bring their children to Jesus when He said, “Permit the children to come to Me . . . .” (Mark 10:14) His disposition had to have been an important factor here. The people wanted to come to Jesus. A father who does not communicate love to his family but rather promotes unhealthy fear as a motivator will create an uncomfortable climate that grows bitterness and resentment rather than faith and love.

Leading by fear can cause poor motivation, resentment, and rebellion. If I continually teach my child to fear my hand while not communicating love and respect, bitterness can set in. While corporal punishment can be effective, it is often not the best teaching tool. In a spiritual sense, we should fear Hell, but a greater depth of love moves us to the fear of missing heaven. Men, we are to do the moving. Moses helped to “move” the children of Israel out of their bondage and closer to God. This is our task.

Because of a lack of ineffective leadership, children often find guidance in the wrong places. Church members look elsewhere because they may not see the appeal of Christianity from those leading the local congregation. Do you talk about happiness and are never happy? Do you talk about self-control yet have your own vices? Do you talk about loving your wife, but your relationship is rocky at best. If we do not show that Christianity is the best way to live, our leadership at home and in the church will fail.

Bringing Them Up Is a Process

Many men lead with fear as their only tool because they do not know what else to do. While the actions of our children may legitimately anger us, we must not let this linger. It is possible to let go of the anger by realizing that bringing up and leading children is a process. Ephesians 6:4 says to “bring,” Proverbs 22:6 says to “train,” and Deuteronomy 6 tells us to “teach.” All of these are processes that take time. Plus, what does yelling at your five year old or teen really accomplish? Children are going to constantly make mistakes, and if this is accepted as a way of life, it will be much easier to handle. We must remember that it is our job as fathers to teach them the right things. They mess up. That’s why they need us.

In the story of the prodigal, the father allowing his son to leave was part of the process in the boy’s upbringing. Father’s today in similar situations eventually have to let rebellious teens (and members) go. This is the epitome of leadership that trusts in the wisdom and the timing of God to work on the hearts of those we love. In certain circumstances, this is part of the process of learning just as it was the process with God and the Israelites. “Then He gave them into the hand of the nations, and those who hated them ruled over them.” (Psalm 106:41) In both scenarios, these children came home.

If fathers and church leaders act with love and eternity as their goals rather than with fear and control, those they are responsible for will be able to speak well of them as David did in Psalm 22:4 and 5. In You our fathers trusted . . . To You they cried out and were delivered; In You they trusted and were not disappointed.”

BOOK REVIEW: Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men by Leonard Sax, M.D, Ph.D.

I work with middle schoolers and a lack of motivation is definitely seen in many of my boys. For some, it’s a phase as they leave the sand box and discover girls. For other, large portions of our boys, they get into an apathetic rut and continue through high school and for a long time thereafter; possibly for the rest of their lives. They simply find new ways to live their lives as slugs. Why? I’ve had my theories but after reading Boys Adrift, I have research-based answers that are difficult to argue with.

Sax writes in an easy to understand way that does not seem to come from his own political or religious views. Instead, he quotes from his solid research and that of others. Sax does not come across as accusatory to parents but writes out of a sincere concern for the welfare of our boys and those adults who want the best for them. This is reflective of his desire for people to know the truth.

I believe Sax has many of the answers that parents and schools are looking for when they ask of a talented young man, “why won’t you do anything?” Sax analyzes five cultural factors that he believes keeps our boys from excelling, and in a larger sense, weaken our society.

The five factors are education, video games, ADHD meds, endocrine disruptors, and our culture’s views of manhood and of becoming a man. For education, I don’t believe his advice would bode well with any school system that is stuck in their same old ways. However, individual schools and parents could benefit from his view that how we educate our boys can actually make them hate school. From his home in Philadelphia, I am sure there are plenty of private schools that could implement his thinking tomorrow. However, based on my experience, the threat of nuclear war wouldn’t make some people change their view of how students should be taught.

For video games, he is quick to say that boys shouldn’t play them at all. However, he keeps a balanced view characteristic of the rest of the book and states that in moderation, they are OK. He gives clear reasons why they are bad for our boys and as a former game-head, I’m a believer. Games tend to take the place of other more fulfilling endeavors that can more positively shape the minds of our young men.

I have shared his view of ADHD meds for a long time. Here he lays out the ways they work, the ways they don’t work, and the risk factors involved. He leaves it up to the parent to decide whether or not they want their child on meds. Sax gives anecdotal evidence but also scientific evidence by quoting the DSM-IV’s criteria for ADHD and various studies. You can tell that he shares in the struggles of parents who want what’s best for their child in a world they may not totally fit in to.

The fourth factor Sax believes is contributing to underperforming boys is, “endocrine blockers.” Basically, these are chemicals found in plastics that have been shown to accelerate puberty in girls while at the same time feminizing boys. I was very skeptical of this chapter but convinced after he quoted a study done in Puerto Rico of very mature girls and of male alligators that produce eggs (both linked by plastics).  My pediatrician also expressed his concerns when I asked him.

I have written about the poor view of men and manhood for quite sometime, but Sax’s analysis of cultures that help boys become men really opened my eyes. He said, “We twenty-first-century Americans smile condescendingly at such traditions.  Our culture’s neglect of the transition to manhood is not producing an overabundance of young men who are . . . hardworking.” He’s exactly right.

In short, Dr. Sax believes that gender is important. He quotes his book, Why Gender Matters quite often and I look forward to reading that book and his others. He says that three decades of believing that boys and girls are the same except for their genitalia have not produced a paradise of gender equity where boys respect women. Instead, it has given us performers like Eminem . . . whose music degrades women. Well said.

American Chopper Fatherhood

The Learning Channel show, “American Chopper” has slowly made a couple of loud-mouthed grease monkeys into a couple of rich, loud-mouthed grease monkeys. Cool bikes and a lot of family drama make this show entertaining. I enjoy their designs, but also as a counselor, the dynamics of a strained relationship between a father and son compel me to watch. Is it staged? I don’t know. Some believe that it is and you certainly can’t trust TV very much, but whether it is or not, the family issues are real.
One can speculate a lot about what causes their arguments. Everything from money to stubbornness can be blamed for the yelling and the throwing of furniture. Also, whatever it is may depend on the episode you’re watching, but there is a common thread that has been on the show since its inception: a son’s desire to be accepted by his father and the legacy that is being left by that father through his son.
Even if you’ve just seen the commercials, you’ll know that Paul Senior believes that Junior is lazy and never follows through with anything. Wouldn’t it be great as a father though to say that your son built a successful business because of your influence and upbringing? Who wouldn’t want that? But Junior is the competition. So, Senior is pulled in the direction of being a success himself and not begin beaten at his own game. On the other hand, what if he fails? This will then reflect poorly on Senior because he’s the father and has taught Junior all that he knows. No matter who you’re rooting for, Junior and Mikey (little brother) are the legacy that Paul Teutul Senior is leaving behind and if it’s not important to him now, it will be because it’s important to all men.
Junior and Mikey are in a difficult bind as well because working with family is different than working for someone else. Maybe they didn’t always give it their best because they knew their dad would cut them some slack. This isn’t good for business, especially family business, and the animosity among them has finally caught up as Senior has filed a lawsuit against Junior.
Regardless of the cushioning the boys may or may not have expected, all sons want their dads to say, “great job. You did well.” The desire to hear these words but never have that desire met will cause all children to stay away from the dad who, in his own way, may be pushing the child to succeed. Brow beating works sometimes but it can eventually make any child grow hard and resentful.
I could be totally wrong about what is going on with them on the show because the TV hides so much. However, the elements I’ve illustrated are universal. So dads, help your son be the man you want him to be, but inspire him, don’t tear him down. Sons, show your dad you want to become a man that he can be proud of. 

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"Living Your Own Love Story"

The romantic genre does not top my list of things to watch and read, but I enjoy spending time with my wife and conversing with her about what she enjoys which often includes the latest Nicholas Sparks phenomenon. Therefore, I’ve learned a great deal about this multi-million dollar market.
One of the things I know is that women like romance movies and books, and if men can understand why, they can make their spouses’ lives best-sellers. The latest chick-flick I saw was “Dear John,” and I really enjoyed it. It is what I would call a man-friendly love story as the hero isn’t a blubbering Englishman (i.e. Hugh Grant). Channing Tatum plays John Tyree, a special-forces soldier in the Iraq war who can kick some serious butt. You can’t get much manlier than that.
According to Catherine Lanigan, author of Writing the Great American Romance Novel, all romances are pretty much the same as far as the character elements. In her book, she describes the male hero as someone who is compassionate. He must care about those around him and about what he believes in. Lanigan says that if he’s not compassionate, he’s just a “cold fish or possibly a psychopath.”
Second, the character must be strong in some way. It can be physical prowess, but it can also be commitment to his ideals or in his judgment ability. Next, he must be intelligent and have common sense. Mr. Bean isn’t a good romance hero.
Kindness is an important characteristic of all leading men, but don’t mistake kindness for weakness. He’s never kind to the villains. The hero must also be loyal to the heroine. He can fight with her, but when all is said and done, he will always choose her over everything else. He’s also loyal to those things and people that are important to him. The hero has manners, is complimentary, and never rude except when he has to handle the bad guys.
Men, we must be the above things. Our wives, children, and community need men like this. The guy who works at the cosmetics counter has his place I’m sure, but the world is in need of more John Tyrees. You may be saying, “But I’m not perfect.” Well, thankfully we don’t have to be. Read on.
The final and most important characteristic of a hero in a love story is the fact that he has some sort of flaw. Without this, there is no conflict and subsequently there is no excitement. In “Dear John” Tyree’s flaw was his relationship with his father; something many men can relate to. What is your life’s conflict or your character flaw? What are you doing about it? The answers to these questions may be exactly what your marriage needs.
The imperfection makes the character real, creating a more compelling story. It’s what can make your wife love you too. Sound strange? In romances, it is the hero’s love for the female character that spurs his development in overcoming the flaw. He wants to do better because of her. This is a tremendous compliment to womanhood and your wife will melt when she realizes what you’re doing.
Jack Nicholson said it best to Helen Hunt in “As Good As It Gets.” I refer to this movie often, but it’s so true. Nicholson’s character has stumbled through the entire movie trying to win Hunt’s heart. On the surface he’s somewhat of a non-hero but look closely, and you’ll see that he has all the ingredients I’ve mentioned here. It’s just that his flaw, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, is so pronounced. As the movie climaxes, she begs him to make their dinner date memorable. Like many women, she longs for a romantic moment. He nervously fumbles with his words and finally says to her, “You make me want to be a better man.” Shocked, Hunt’s character replies, “That’s maybe the best compliment of my life.” All the terrible things he had done were gone as she finally saw her crucial place in his life. Hunt begins to like him because it was evident that he was willing to change, learn, and be better than he was all for her. Are you willing to do the same for your spouse?
In short, be a good man to those around you and work to become the man your wife will be proud of and want to be around.
Coming Soon: The female character traits in a good love story.

Babies & Bible Study

Malita and I are slowly growing comfortable with putting Campbell into the cradle roll class at church. She’s still such a handful, but it will happen soon. Until then she goes with us to our class and I am of course distracted. She cries, gets hungry, needs to be changed, and smiles her beautiful smile. How can that face not be distracting?
I may not be giving my full attention while in Bible study, but through my five year old son and new baby-girl, God is teaching me more about patience, fatherhood, manhood, and His love for me than all the sermons in the world. I know what 1 John 3:1 means when it reads, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
I am truly humbled when I think of my love for my children and how much God must love me. What it took for Him to give His son is immeasurable. I just hope that through mine and Malita’s love and guidance, we will be able to give our children to God as lifelong servants. This is what children need more these days than anything: The knowledge that they are loved by their parents and that they serve a God who loves them. This will get them through even the deepest of struggles and there are plenty out there for them to handle.

Dale Sadler: Family Counseling Services

Thanks to lots of prayer, hard work, and some great support, I will begin my private practice February 15. This has been a dream of mine ever since I began the program at WKU. I would like to thank all of those who have encouraged me in so many ways; especially my wife, Malita.

For those in the area who are looking for counseling, particularly in the areas of marriage and men’s issues, give me a call at 615-285-0095 or send me an email
I’d like to also reach out to ministers. This job carries with it many responsibilities and those who work with churches in a leadership role don’t usually have a place to go to for counsel. I was a minister for several years and believe I can help this very important part of our community. 
Be sure to visit my website for more information and directions to my office. I will be available for sessions in the afternoons and evenings. Finally, I will be in the company of three very capable counselors and I am so glad that they have given me this opportunity.

Man vs. Wild & My Daughter

I was watching one of my favorite shows last night, Man vs. Wild. Bear Grylls on the Discovery Channel travels the world demonstrating survival skills for whatever area he happens to be in. Last night he was in Panama where he spent some time with a local tribe who taught him how to survive in the jungle. They also gave him several tips on elluding drug lords after they have kidnapped you; a real danger since, on average, three kidnappings happen per day. One of the interesting things about this tribe is that the men cannot marry until they master survival skills such as hunting and tracking. That sounds like a good policy for whatever foolish boy tries to date my daughter. He better have more talents than just being able to play well on Guitar Hero. He better have manners, initiaitive, and at least a small degree of common sense. I’m  not going to spend 20+ years raising a dignified woman only to have some pasty face wanna-be man/boy ruin her life. That being said, my five week old baby-girl is doing great!! To all other concerned fathers out there, here’s an application you might want to incorporate into your parenting plan. It’s not original with me. I received it via email.

NOTE: This application will be incomplete and rejected unless accompanied by a complete financial statement, job history, lineage, and current medical report from your doctor.

NAME_____________________________________ DATE OF BIRTH_____________

HEIGHT___________ WEIGHT____________ IQ__________ GPA_____________

SOCIAL SECURITY #_________________ DRIVERS LICENSE #________________

BOY SCOUT RANK AND BADGES__________________________________________

HOME ADDRESS_______________________ CITY/STATE___________ ZIP______

Do you have parents? ___Yes ___No

Is one male and the other female? ___Yes ___No

If No, explain: _____________________________________________________________


Number of years they have been married ______________________________

If less than your age, explain

______ ______________________________________________________________



A. Do you own or have access to a van? __Yes __No

B. A truck with oversized tires? __Yes __No

C. A waterbed? __Yes __No

D. A pickup with a mattress in the back? __Yes __No

E. A tattoo? __Yes __No

F. Do you have an earring, nose ring, pierced tongue, pierced cheek or a belly button ring? __Yes __No




In 50 words or less, what does ‘LATE’ mean to you?



In 50 words or less, what does ‘DON’T TOUCH MY DAUGHTER’ mean to you?



In 50 words or less, what does ‘ABSTINENCE’ mean to you?




Church you attend ___________________________________________________

How often you attend ________________________________________________

When would be the best time to interview your:

father? _____________

mother? _____________

preacher? _____________


Answer by filling in the blank. Please answer freely, all answers are confidential.

A: If I were shot, the last place I would want shot would be:


B: If I were beaten, the last bone I would want broken is my:


C: A woman’s place is in the:


D: The one thing I hope this application does not ask me about is:


E. What do you want to do IF you grow up? ___________________________



F. When I meet a girl, the thing I always notice about her first is:


F. What is the current going rate of a hotel room? _________________ _



Applicant’s Signature (that means sign your name, moron!)

______________________________ ________________________________

Mother’s Signature                               Father’s Signature

_______________________________ ________________________________

Minister/Pastor/Priest/Rabbi                    State Representative/Congressman

Thank you for your interest, and it had better be genuine and non-sexual.

Please allow four to six years for processing.

You will be contacted in writing if you are approved. Please do not try to call or write (since you probably can’t, and it would cause you injury). If your application is rejected, you will be notified by two gentleman wearing white ties carrying violin cases. (you might watch your back)

To prepare yourself, start studying Daddy’s Rules for Dating.

Daddy’s Rules for Dating

Your dad’s rules for your boyfriend (or for you if you’re a guy) :

Rule One:
If you pull into my driveway and honk you’d better be delivering a package, because you’re sure not picking anything up.

Rule Two:

You do not touch my daughter in front of me. You may glance at her, so long as you do not peer at anything below her neck. If you cannot keep your eyes or hands off of my daughter’s body, I will remove them…

Rule Three:

I am aware that it is considered fashionable for boys of your age to wear their trousers so loosely that they appear to be falling off their hips. Please don’t take this as an insult, but you and all of your friends are complete idiots. Still, I want to be fair and open minded about this issue, so I propose this compromise: You may come to the door with your underwear showing and your pants ten sizes too big, and I will not object. However, in order to ensure that your clothes do not, in fact come off during the course of your date with my daughter, I will take my electric nail gun and fasten your trousers securely in place to your waist.

Rule Four:

I’m sure you’ve been told that in today’s world, sex without utilizing a ‘Barrier method’ of some kind can kill you. Let me elaborate, when it comes to sex, I am the barrier, and I will kill you.

Rule Five:

It is usually understood that in order for us to ge t to know each other, we should talk about sports, politics, and other issues of the day. Please do not do this. The only information I require from you is an indication of when you expect to have my daughter safely back at my house, and the only word I need from you on this subject is: ‘early.’

Rule Six:

I have no doubt you are a popular fellow, with many opportunities to date other girls. This is fine with me as long as it is okay with my daughter. Otherwise, once you have gone out with my little girl, you will continue to date no one but her until she is finished with you. If you make her cry, I will make you cry.

Rule Seven:

As you stand in my front hallway, waiting for my daughter to appear, and more than an hour goes by, do not sigh and fidget. If you want to be on time for the movie, you should not be dating. My daughter is putting on her makeup, a process than can take longer than painting the Golden Gate Bridge . Instead of just standing there, why don’t you do something useful, like changing the oil in my car?

Rule Eight:

The following places are not appropriate for a date with my daughter: Places where there are beds, sofas, or anything softer than a wooden stool. Places where there is darkness. Places where there is dancing, holding hands, or happiness. Places where the ambient temperature is warm enough to induce my daughter to wear shorts, tank tops, midriff T-shirts, or anything other than overalls, a sweater, and a goose down parka – zipped up to her throat. Movies with a strong romantic or sexual themes are to be avoided; mov ies which feature chain saws are okay. Hockey games are okay. Old folks homes are better.

Rule Nine:

Do not lie to me. I may appear to be a potbellied, balding, middle-aged, dimwitted has-been. But on issues relating to my daughter, I am the all-knowing, merciless god of your universe. If I ask you where you are going and with whom, you have one chance to tell me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I have a shotgun, a shovel, and five acres behind the house. Do not trifle with me.

Rule Ten:

Be afraid. Be very afraid. It takes very little for me to mistake the sound of your car in the driveway for a chopper coming in over a rice paddy near Hanoi . When my Agent Orange starts acting up, the voices in my head frequently tell me to clean the guns as I wait for you to bring my daughter home. As soon as you pull into the driveway you should exit the car with both hands in plain sight. Speak the perimeter password, announce in a clear voice that you have brought my daughter home safely and early, then return to your car – there is no need for you to come inside. The camouflaged face at the window is mine