An Uncommen Blog

Honoring Your Father & Mother Isn’t Just for Kids

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I spoke with a friend a few months ago over a beer, and he was talking about health issues his parents were having.  His mom has been battling cancer since her early 70’s, and his dad was at the beginning of stage Alzheimer’s. I could tell he was burdened on what to do as he had to become a father figure to his own dad, as he watched his mental clarity and physical health declining. He asked me “What do you think I should do at this stage?” While I didn’t have much of an answer at the time, that heartfelt admittance raised a very significant question: As an adult man, what does it mean to honor your parents when you are an adult?

In the years when parents care for their children at home, a child needs to respect their parents for the house to operate as it should and to fit into family life.

For many, caring for very elderly and ill parents with a slowly or quickly decreasing capacity to care for themselves, honoring our parents very often takes a new turn. We end up in a parental role with our parents, especially when doing physical caregiving. 

But what of the decades between those times between infancy and elderly, when both the parents and children are an adult and independent and have the freedom to make separate decisions? I call them the middle years.

Honoring your father and mother were among the first commandments God spoke to his people (Exodus 20:12). Paul also is quick to show that in the first commandment with a promise (Ephesians 6:2). Jesus was quick to reprimand the Pharisees for making excuses; using their time, money and resources for religious good at the expense of honoring their parents. Anyone who does that, said our Lord, “nullifies the Word of God” (Mark 7:9-13).

Scripture is clear that the command to love our neighbor is not limited to our friendly neighbor, or even our known neighbor (Luke 10:25-37). Husbands are called to love their wives, not only when they are lovable. Wives are to respect their husbands, not only when they are respectable (Ephesians 5:22-33). Citizens under cruel governments are still called to submit to those in authority (1 Peter 2:13-14). Clearly, the Bible teaches us that our relational commitments are to be unconditional. No matter how nasty they might be, neighbors are to be cared for. Wives, to be loved. Governments, to be respected.

Here are a couple of ways you can honor your parents well into adult life.

1. Learning to forgive is a key to honor. Learning to re-tell the story of a damaged relationship with parents is crucial. We need to recognize our own failings and acknowledge that we all make mistakes. 

2. Acknowledging our parents’ humanity and their efforts are critical components in showing them honor. For those who have suffered in painful relationships with parents, showing honor might begin with seeing parents as wounded rather than wicked, and seeking ways to appreciate the good they tried to do.

3. Call your parents. Seriously. Call your parents and just ask them how their week is going. Ask them what they are thinking about. Ask them when you can get together. Sometimes this is harder said than done especially if there has been a lack of communication in the past or there has been a wound dealt. Especially from our own dads. 

4. Invite them back in. As best you can, plan to do things together with your parents perhaps with your own family. Sure, that can be difficult, but remember when you were helpless and in diapers, your mom or dad was there for you. Now is your time to honor them as an adult.

Article was written by Sam Casey. Sam Casey is the Managing Partner at Banyan Creative based in Matthews, NC.  He tries to remember to call his mom and dad once a week.

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Brothers and Envy

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I long for deeper and closer friendships in my life, and I have been grateful for the men who have come into my world. But, often the same men I would want as a closer brother, I can struggle with deep envy of. I am both drawn to them and their gifts, yet at the same time, I am jealous of them. 

Their presence can almost feel like a threat.

I can quickly start to measure my life and progress against theirs. I can secretly put a scorecard of my life vs. theirs. Comparing their lifestyle, their athletic prowess, their character, their parenting style, their gifts, you name it.

In the Bible, our first story of two flesh and blood brothers, Cain and Abel, does not go well. Inevitably the jealous nature of our fallen hearts, due to sin, ends with Cain taking all his anger and disappointment into his own hand, and killing his brother instead of trusting God.

Continuing down the family tree, you find Jacob and Esau. There is trickery amongst a brother for that longing to be blessed and validated by the Father. And even after all that, Jacob has a son who is thrown into a pit and left for dead. It is all due to the brother’s jealousy of Jacob. Envy turns to a plan for murder.

When we are not blessed, and not given our identity in our Father, or look to Him, we tend to envy friendships and brothers. And it can get messy.

But the interesting thing in all these biblical stories of brothers, and in today, is the root need is our desire to be blessed and affirmed. Their stories and our stories are a search for that blessing from their Father.

Notice that most of us are not jealous of fathers and mentors, as much as brothers near our age and stage in life? Why is that?

I think, in part, it is because we turn against one another and try to compete.

But God’s affirming and blessing of one man is never in the diminishment of another.  He doesn’t give one gift and withhold from another. He might be doing different things, at different seasons, but he can bless all. And he does. It’s not a zero-sum game.

We need to see the gifts of our brothers, and what he has given us as not something we earned. We can’t do something to achieve it. And that is one of the hardest parts to understand. That one man’s gifts could be a gift to us. Because we need each other.

When envy rises, and I can catch it, it is often an opportunity for me to confess, and get in touch with that need in me. Often, when I admit the jealousy, I find that I am letting go, and giving my own need to God. As opposed to hating someone else, I become dependent on my Father to lead me.

Confess your jealousy vs. letting it build up. I can remember telling a friend recently about my jealousy of their writing skills. It was good to release that to them rather than create a divide between us. It turned out that through sharing, it was an encouraging word they needed. And it brought us closer.

As men, we need to be affirmed, spoken to, called into our identity, and loved. And for most men, it is rare to understand that deep need for the Blessing. 

We layer it with earning it, achievement, and results to be seen. Hence, why we compete and have envy. We think if we could do or be that, we might find it.

James 4:3 says “You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

Next time you see a man you envy or possibly want to grow closer to as a brother, be reminded that he is in search of the same thing you are after. And he might not even know the strength he has. He is probably looking for that same affirming word from above.

What if we were to affirm our brothers instead of competing with them?

We can come together as brothers, seeking the Father’s blessing.

Article written by Xan Hood. Founder of the Buffalo Jackson Trading Co. He’s primarily focused on entrepreneurial ideas in concepts with mission and business. Xan has written several books, started a non-profit leadership program in Colorado, and is in development of a lifestyle clothing brand, Buffalo Jackson, bootstrapping the company from the start.

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Raising a Legacy: A Father to Future Fathers

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The ultrasound bill came in the mail. I laughed. $650 is a lot of money for what amounted to 10 seconds of work. 

My wife and I have two sons: ages 5 and 3. There’s another child on the way. So, when we went to learn the gender of Kid No. 3, there was plenty of cheers from the peanut gallery for a little girl. Extended family, church friends, even Big Brother wanted a little sister. The fact that this is probably the last round for us (never tell God never) only added to the finger crossing. The ultrasound tech pushed some buttons and turned the screen towards me. “Okay, let’s see if we can get a peek,” she said (as I’m sure she says 20 times a day). But before she could even get the words out of her mouth, I knew. My wife knew. We’ve been down this road before. And even a 16­ week­ old fetus has a pretty clear, ahem, package. Well, at least all three of my boys. Family jewels, you might say.

Three boys. I can honestly and proudly report there was no disappointment with my wife and I. We had a hunch — a mother’s intuition and a father’s go­along­with­it — that another boy was in the cards. We were excited. Having three boys is a privilege.

Still, as I drove away from that appointment, the thoughts crossed my mind that I may never have a daughter. There would likely be no daddy­, daughter dances or pink soccer cleats in my future. My wife wouldn’t get to pick out frilly dresses or decorate pink nursery walls. There would also be no boyband posters. No heartbreak over Instagram drama (I’m told it’s a thing). No teenage boyfriends to scowl at. No weddings to pay for.

Hey, having boys will be so much easier, I thought. I know how to do this. Teach them to play baseball. Teach them to fish. Cut their hair short. Show them tough love. Keep them away from skinny jeans. I can do this.

Somewhere between then and now it hit me. I’m not raising three boys. I’m raising three men. Three future craftsmen or entrepreneurs or artists. Three future husbands. Three future fathers. Three future leaders. Three future grandfathers who will be looked to for their wisdom. And what will they do? What will they say? What childhood will shape them and tune them for this future? Gulp. That’s a large load, even for a 33­ year ­old pair of shoulders. How can I possibly teach them everything they’ll need?

I know this responsibility is equal, boy or girl offspring. My load would be no lighter if I were raising girls. But, for me, the notion that I’m a father raising future fathers is sinking in. For the next 20 years, my primary purpose on this planet is to raise a legacy. These three boys will be with me for a short time; then they will go out into the world as men to make a mark. And here’s the surprising part for me: even though I know I will falter, there’s a strength in this mission. Instead of wilting or fearing the impossible task of raising men, God is using it to teach me and push me onward.

In Proverbs 3, Solomon shares timeless lessons to be passed from fathers to sons. The advice is so basic and so simple. Yet, so often misunderstood. It’s not a lengthy to-­do list. Good thing. We’d all fail to accomplish that. Instead, it’s a reminder of the character an Uncommen man should seek and strive to display. If our purpose as dads is to raise a legacy, then our task is to model Proverbs 3 for our boys.

Uphold love and faithfulness. Acknowledge God. Fear the Lord. Honor Him. Accept discipline. Show mercy. Choose humility. Seek wisdom.

Oh, and no skinny jeans. Ever. (I’m pretty sure that’s in there, too).

Article written by Adam O’Daniel. Adam is Communications Director at Movement Mortgage; and also a Writer and Editor. At Movement Mortgage, Adam leads a top-notch communications team building our corporate communications, brand journalism and public relations from the ground up.

Prior to Movement Adam was a journalist for the Charlotte BizJournals, with experience covering finance, Fortune 500, technology, startups, economic development, human interest and sports. Connect with Adam here.

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The Frivolity of Time is Stealing Your Manhood

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“The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.” – C.S. Lewis

I think I was about ten years old when I first saw Terminator. I lived out in the country and didn’t have access to whatever movie or show was popular at the time. So, my grandmother would bring home a stack of VHS rentals to keep me entertained. Most of the time she had no idea what the videos were about but figured guns and robots were ideal for a young boy. I had no clue what I was watching. This amazing and terrifying story of an apocalyptic future ruled by time-traveling robots unfolded into new areas of my brain. After that, I was hooked on the concept of time travel. As an adult I still love the idea, overused as it may be; it opens the door to nearly unlimited and shifting storylines. Lately, however, what has truly caught my attention about the concept is just how different it is from the reality in which we live.

We Are Finite

One of the amazing things about the concept of time travel is that all of time is made available to us. Want to go back in time and chew out your boss and then go forward in time to see what the consequences are? No problem. Wish you knew how life would have turned out if you had stayed with your high school or college sweetheart? Easy. Wish you had spent more time with your kids? Push a button and it’s done. Now contrast this with how time actually works.

You and I have this very moment, and then it’s gone. That’s it. We have no control over the past and very little control over the future. We are bound to bodies and a world that is diminishing. As humans, and as men, we have always placed value in rare things, yet in the last few generations, we have come to have a frivolous view of our brief and allotted time.

A Man Values His Time

“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.” – Ben Franklin

The value of our time equates to the value we place on our lives, for the two are tied together. Yet, our world of ease often leads to the wasting of time, and we have unknowingly adopted the aristocratic Victorian view of happiness: that it is derived from fleeting pleasures and comfort. However, as men, we were made to work and to grow, and the purposeful investment of our time has a strong correlation to our quality of life.

Whenever I think about this topic, my mind goes quickly to the countless hours spent on Facebook or Instagram, or the weeks of my life I have lived in front of the television being entertained by the fictional lives of others. Someone once said, “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time,” though I don’t believe I agree with that statement. There is a prudent use of our time, which includes taking it easy, but I have found that unscheduled time is more often squandered than not.

Final Thoughts

Much of our wasted moments stems from the belief that we (and thus our time) are not that valuable. That we cannot make a difference in our small window of time with our small sphere of influence. The truth is, we are making a difference regardless. To bring it back around, each of us experiences a constant butterfly-effect — geeks, you know what I’m talking about! Everything we do matters. A frivolous view of time steals from our legacy and robs us of the manful life we are called to live. Though our names may never make it into a history book, generations to follow will be moved by our actions.

Article written by Michael Yarbrough. Founder of WolfAndIron.com, author and also chief craftsman at rusticandmain.com (hand-crafted wooden rings). Mike is a true renaissance man.

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Write A Tribute For Dad

June13

When I first heard about this idea of writing a tribute to my dad, I knew I didn’t have a choice. I had to do it, even though I knew it would be a stretch goal. I felt so nervous about it that I procrastinated way too long.

I first heard about the idea from Dennis Rainey from Family Life at a meeting of the Fatherhood Commission in the first week of December 2015. As leaders of the “Fatherhood” movement, his comments inspired us to take the simple action of writing down what dad has meant to us over the years. We were especially encouraged to present him this tribute in person if said father was still alive. As Dennis was showing this idea, I could see how it would benefit me. Through taking some time to think intentionally about and write down my dad’s contributions to my life, I would experience a surge of gratitude for the positive things. But, since my dad happened to be still alive, and we had a relationship, it would also give me the chance to encourage him by appreciating specific things that I was grateful about receiving from him.

In my case, I didn’t work up the nerve to write and present a tribute to my dad until his 74th birthday, which was almost eight weeks later. This was pretty risky because he was already quite ill. In fact, there were plenty of excellent opportunities to share it with him before then: including right away, Thanksgiving, my birthday, Christmas, before he went in for major heart surgery, etc.

Knowing I had no business waiting any longer, I invited our family to come over to present my tribute to him. Now that I was on the hook, I sat down to write the day before our scheduled visit, writing these words at the top of the page: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME? Then I hit the worst writers block I have experienced in a long time. If I was ever to write something important, now was the time. My mind went blank at the magnitude of the assignment. I wondered, “how can I get out of this?”. It was too late now; there was no turning back.

At first, I tried to write long and flowery prose. To be honest, I couldn’t figure out how to decide what to try to include and how to say it. Then, an idea: just write bullet points. For me, this made it much easier. Just get little ideas out instead of trying to tie things together into tidy sentences and paragraphs. First, I wrote 10. Then 20. Then I walked around and wrote a few more. I was on a roll. When I was in the shower, I thought of about a dozen more. Finally, I ended up with 50. Not bad. Especially since I was kind of nervous about writing at all. I printed out two copies and went to bed wondering how it would go when I presented my tribute the next day.

When we arrived at my parent’s house, it was nothing like I had dreamed. My dad was clearly in the middle of something, and we ended up crowding into his office—six of us in a space where two would fit comfortably. I handed him one copy and started reading down the list, item my item. There was seriously no magic, no chemistry. He didn’t look at me once but instead kept his eyes drilled straight ahead on his computer screen. He sneezed once, and we helped him clean up. His eyes were watering pretty bad, but I wasn’t sure if it was emotions or a cold. I got to the end, feeling more relief that I had finished than anything else.

Now that my dad is gone (he passed away about ten weeks later), I am so glad that I took the time to do this thing which seemed so hard at the time. I am glad that I got to read it to my dad in person while he was still alive. I am glad that my kids got to observe this exchange. I am glad that I took the time to think intentionally about 50 things that my dad did for me over the 48 years of my life he was alive. By the way, the experience was so valuable that I repeated it just a few weeks later for my mom.

Some of you may not be ready to write a tribute to dad—yet. Some of you couldn’t think of 10 things to appreciate about your dad. I had far from a perfect relationship with my dad, but we did have one. And in some way, although he lost much of his ability to reciprocate as he became sicker, the experience of writing a tribute somehow made it easier for me to thank him for the things I did appreciate.

If your dad has passed, or you don’t have a relationship now with your father, or never did, there may still be some things that are worth valuing. One lady told me “I will never have the opportunity to meet my dad. But I know that he gave me good genes for nice skin and physical fitness.”  This could be the opportunity of a lifetime to see how to make the positives grow in your life and give you clues about how to overcome the negatives.

Tim Truesdale is a son, brother, and father of 4 who is still figuring it out. Want to join him on the journey? Check out his blog entries or subscribe for periodic content like this here. Be sure to check out practical ways to be an honorable father by downloading the UNCOMMEN app at uncommen.org.

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Check out the Honor Your Father campaign for more inspirational stories and ideas on how to honor your dad at honoryourfathertoday.com.

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Why Interview Dad?

June9

Ever since I was a kid, I liked to pretend that I was interviewing people. Seriously, I remember walking around with a camera and just asking people random questions. Maybe you never imagined interviewing celebrities like me. I would like to tell you about my experiences with interviewing my dad over the past few months before he died.

It’s said that every time an older person dies, it’s like a library burning down. By telling you about my experience, I am hoping that you are inspired to consider doing what I did, and collect some of that vast wealth of experience before it disappears.

Before the interview began, I shared the “why” with my dad. I told him that I wanted to capture things on tape so that the rest of his descendants and I could know a little more about him. I let him know that I wanted to ask him some questions about “details”—like places he lived. I also wanted to ask him about special memories. Lessons learned along the way that he would be willing to share to help us on our life path. He was more than willing to help. I got the feeling he saw the value of our work even more than I did.

There was a more personal reason I had to interview him that was too hard to put into words at the time. It continues to be imperative for me as a man to get a picture of my dad as a fellow man; what made him tick, what was he about, what helped him excel in some areas and contributed to his weaknesses in other areas? In short, I still feel the need to understand my dad from a somewhat impartial interviewer position—as an adult who contributed quite a bit to who I am—both in my DNA and in shared experiences.

In the beginning, at his request, I shared a list of questions with him. This turned out to be not a great strategy. He became more concerned with giving the “right” answers rather than only sharing from his heart. I wasn’t trying to trick him into sounding like a jerk like some TV interviewers do, but it was important to me that he share from his heart without a script.

Rather than creating one marathon session, we took the interview process in 30 or 45-minute installments. That helped both of us stay fresh and energetic about the project. I prepared 10 or 12 questions per session, but always gave myself—and him—permission to go down any “bunny trails” that seemed important at the time. The essential part was giving him time and an opportunity to share what he felt was important.

Interviewing my dad gave him an opportunity to reflect on the amazing things he did through his life in a focused way. In some small way, I feel the experience helped him to see the things he did well and the lessons he learned along the path. It helped me to see him as a real man; flawed and imperfect, warts and all, who took on many challenging assignments to give me the chance to stand on his shoulders.

The best questions will be the ones that you come up with yourself. Here are some good ones to help give you a jumpstart, provided by the Legacy Project.

Tim Truesdale is a son, brother, and father of 4 who is still figuring it out. Want to join him on the journey? Check out his blog entries or subscribe for periodic content like this here. Be sure to check out practical ways to be an honorable father by downloading the UNCOMMEN app at uncommen.org.

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Check out the Honor Your Father campaign for more inspirational stories and ideas on how to honor your dad at honoryourfathertoday.com.

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