Business, Encouragement, Faith, Health, Life Coaching, Men, Relationships, Uncategorized

Higher Learning

After becoming an adult with a family and responsibilities, I quickly learned that there were things that I did not know. Things that if I had known them they would have made my transition to adulthood much smoother. One of those things was performing general maintenance on a vehicle. Well I knew how to change a tire… slightly. Other than that, I was oblivious. So when it came time to repair or maintain things on the hoopties I owned in my young adult days, I would have to call my Dad. Now, I appreciated the fact that my Dad was industrious and versatile enough to know how to do things like change the oil, change my brakes, change my spark plugs, and replace small items like fuses. But if I were to be honest, I cringed at the idea of having to call him to help me! Why, you ask? I didn’t like to call my Dad to help me with my car maintenance issues because, instead of teaching me how to do what I needed help with and work to make me more independent, my Dad would get so engrossed into the project that he would just take over and do it! Interestingly enough, my wife and my sons say that I perform the same way.

One of the advantages, however, to having him “help me” with these projects was that I had an opportunity to watch him observe the issue from various vantage points to see what would be the most advantageous solution. This taught me to be analytical in my problem solving. In hindsight, most of the solutions would involve raising the car up with a jack and attacking the issue from the underside of the vehicle. A disadvantage to these encounters was that Daddy would open his tailgate and pull out all of his tools and had a 10-15 minute preparation ritual before actually starting the work. This man was serious about the tasks! It was like watching a surgeon prepare to perform a delicate procedure. On the flip side, this taught me a great deal about preparation.


Fast forward to 2019. A few weeks ago, I went to borrow one of my Dad’s trucks to help move my sons into their apartment and one of his front daytime running lights were out. I assured him that I could take care of that for him and get it done. Instead, he wanted to repair it himself before I took the truck. I had already peeped out the strategy for what needed to happen to replace the bulb, because I had learned from him to plan before you attack. It would have taken me no more than 15-20 minutes to complete the task. But Daddy, of course, has his preparation ritual. He pulls his truck out to his shed, lets up the rolling door, pulls out his tools,  and brings out his car jack and his utility light. While he is doing that, I had already began my strategy and had successfully loosened the bulb from the casing. I am laughing hysterically inside while he is getting his stuff together. When he gets to a stopping point, right before he puts something on the floor to get up under the car, I respectfully ask,

“Daddy what are you about to do?”

He then says, “Well I have to get up under the truck to remove the bulb.” I then explain to him that I have the bulb twisted off and that it would not be possible to get it out from the bottom because there is a metal casing that will prevent him from accessing it from the bottom. He walks over to the truck and I show him what I had just shared with him. He then sees that the bulb is already twisted out of the casing. It is at that point that he understands that though the bulb is difficult to get to, he doesn’t need to get under the truck to access it, he just needs to maneuver differently from above. He also learned at that moment that he didn’t need the whole tool box, he only needed one tool. Now he still didn’t let me help with the manual activities involved to complete the task, but we saved at least 20-30 minutes by me providing a different perspective on how to complete it.

I see a few interesting takeaway analogies from this story.

  1. Being excluded from a processes can be an advantageous learning experience. It was David’s exclusion from his family that made him a skilled warrior.- I Samuel 17:34-36
  2. A fresh perspective can open up new and more efficient ways of doing things. We shouldn’t be so routine in our operation that we fail to ask ourselves if what we do can be done in a different way that can save us time, energy and resources.- Isaiah 43:19
  3. As men of God we must learn to maintain our position of being the head even in challenging and transitional times. It can sometimes be tempting to lay down our standards in a effort to complete a task, but we should learn to maneuver from above instead of going to a lower standard.- Colossians 3:1-3
  4. Learning from those you teach can be a rewarding as the act of teaching itself.- Luke 7:6-9
  5. We can’t be so quick to judge what we seem as shortcomings in the lives of others, because we might find ourselves being judged by the same standard. -Galatians 6:1

So in this case, I learned from an experience I didn’t like. And even though I didn’t always learn what I set out to learn, my learning experience was so much greater than what I initially intended. The things that I learned from my Dad during those encounters were seeds that he unknowingly sowed that brought him back a harvest. Yeah, I know… it may not have been a big harvest to you, but because I partially threw his day off, it was a big harvest to him (that’s an inside joke that only he and I will understand)! LOL



Is It Pride Or Nah?

Sometimes, as men, we find ourselves in positions where we are struggling to make things happen for us or our families. We also find ourselves working to be successful at whatever we find ourselves doing on a daily basis only to hit roadblocks and dead ends. In those moments, when we have exhausted all of the options within our own capabilities, what do we do? If we are honest, most men (correct me if I am wrong) go inward or isolate.

We enter into mild to severe states of anxiety and/or depression because we feel defeated, depleted and deflated. This lull in our life is increased when we know that there are others looking to us to make things happen. However, there is always a choice to get out (I Corinthians 10:13). The issue is that we have to use what our masculinity views as a cuss word. The “H” word. Not the one you are thinking about. No…the other one: HELP!

What is it that makes us as men so apprehensive about asking for help? After all the very fabric of the relational aspect of humanity is founded on the concept of help (Genesis 2:18). Even Jesus, in the process of performing His greatest miracle, needed help (Matthew 7:32). So if both the first and last Adam in the perfection of placement and power needed help, why is it that men almost become ill at the thought of asking for help from others?


One reason could be because of conditioning. We may have been raised with an ideology that teaches that we have to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. Another reason could be shame. We may have done some things intentionally or in error that put us in the position to need help. There may also be a fear of disappoinment or rejection. Hearing no can sometimes cut into our psyche to such a deep extent that we take it personal and harbor that pain for years, and it can sometimes point back to shame. What about the dreaded “j” word? Being judged and belittled for actually needing help can be worse than being rejected, especially when the help is extended with a side serving of anger, resentment or degradation. This also produces shame. The final suggestion is that we may have too much pride to even give the appearance that we need any kind of assistance, because we say to ourselves, whether inherently or through our training, that a man doesn’t show any sign of weakness. It’s that attitude that says, “Even if it kills me, I will die before I let anyone know that I am in need.”

Whether it is our conditioning, training, shame or pride, none of it leads to the demonstration of responsible manhood. Each of these demonstrations are attitudes of isolation. Proverbs 18:1-2 teaches that it is foolish to separate ourselves, because the end of that mode of operation leads to nothing but the discovery of our own frailty (PKJ Translation). In other words isolating ourselves in times of need is STUPID!

So refusing to ask for help from our spouses, our relatives, our friends, the family of God and even God himself, may not necessarily be prideful, but it is definitely STUPID! I can’t speak for anyone else, but I personally need to learn to stop acting STUPID…SOMEBODY HELP ME!!!!

Encouragement, Faith, Health, Life Coaching, Men, Relationships, Uncategorized

Close That Door

If you were like me, as a child, I often practiced the dangerous habit of leaving the door open. Out excitement to get to what was on the other side of the door or the logic I had that it’s okay to leave it open because “I’m coming right back” or  “I’m going right back out”, I would leave the door to the house open. However, my Momma didn’t play that! Even if I had walked several yards away from the house after leaving or went in to another room after coming inside, I would hear the sharp command to, “COME BACK HERE AND CLOSE THIS DOOR!!!”

I used to think my Momma was being too extreme and over the top. I used to think to myself, “Dang Momma! Why you have to hollah like that?” And if I was down the street and she had to come all the way outside to tell me to do it, I would (only in my imagination) look at her and be like, “Now if you put your slippers and gown on and walked all the way from your room to the door to stick your head outside, why you gotta call me all the way back to the house and tell me to close the doggone door? You are standing right there! You close the door!” Then I would imagine her punching me in my mouth, so I would shake that imagination and walk back to close the door.

As I grew older I understood two things about why my mother took closing the door so serious.

  1. She wasn’t just fussing or being mean. She wanted us to learn to close the door behind us to keep the temperature inside the house stable and to keep the animals and insects out of the house.
  2. She wasn’t responsible for closing the door because she didn’t open it. She was trying to teach us to be responsible for correcting our own errors.

As men, we sometimes leave doors opened to wrong relationships, old habits and perverted behaviors, unwise spending and bad opportunities. We sometimes leave them open because of the excitement of interacting with what’s on the other side. At other times we leave them open because it’s comfortable. If we were to narrow those reasons down, we could conclude that we leave doors in our lives open as a way to easily escape. We have a tendency to want to escape the monotony and discomfort of life. Yet, in our pursuit of excitement and comfort, we fail to see that we are negatively impacting the atmosphere of our lives and giving access to things that can irritate us, attack us and even destroy our lives from the inside out.

If you are like me, there are times when we know that we have gone too far on the other side of the door. We know we have gone too far because our excitement turns into fear and our comfort turns into complacency. We are either filled with shame and condemnation which makes us afraid that we will get caught coming in from the other side, or our conscience is so compromised that we justify why we should just stay on the other side or continue to bounce in and out. In both instances we can find ourselves asking, “God why don’t you/didn’t you just close the door so I won’t keep/wouldn’t keep going in and out.”

God’s response to me has been, “I didn’t open the door, and I am not the one that left it open, so I am not the one responsible for closing the door.”

In Jonah 2, we can see this picture played out as Jonah decided to enter a door that God never told him to enter and began to suffer the consequences of his choice. The verse that strikes me is verse 8 where Jonah says, in essence, “If a person continues to deceive himself into thinking that he is right or justified when he knows that he is at fault, he delays his opportunity to receive mercy from the Lord.”

If we are too far beyond the door, the right response is not to blame God for not closing the door. The scriptures teach us that mercy rejoiceth against judgment (James 2:13). So God would rather show us mercy than to judge us for incorrect behavior. However, the scripture also teaches that God gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). So, if we find ourselves too far on the other side of a door that we should have closed, we should first humble ourselves and ask God for mercy to get back to the other side and grace to shut that door, forever.

The more excellent truth is this; if we have a door that we know should no longer be open, we need to take the responsibility and become urgent about closing those doors (listen to YouTube video above. I do not own the rights to this music), because some doors will take us to places that mercy won’t even go (Proverbs 2:16-19).

Encouragement, Faith, Health, Life Coaching, Men, Relationships, Uncategorized

Holding Back The Tears

While growing up as an adolescent, I can remember a time when my mother was in the hospital and rehabilitation for 5 months after being diagnosed with an illness that affected her nervous system and temporarily paralyzed her from head to toe. This was a disease that had only been diagnosed in one other person in the United States, and that person eventually gave up on recovery and passed away.

My mother and father had divorced 4 years earlier. My father took a job with the Army National Guard and was residing 155 miles away from my home town, and my mother was now hospitalized in the same town where my father resided. Already affected by the trauma of divorce, now I am approximately 3 hours away from both of my parents with separation anxiety at an all time high because of not knowing if my mother would ever return home or be back to normal, and being bounced from one aunt’s home to the next.

In the midst of all of this, one day after school and preparing for an activity at church, one of my relatives, whom I had a great admiration and respect for, decides that it is necessary to have a conversation with me about the emotional health of my family during this very challenging season. She looks at me sternly and says to me that all of my siblings are going to be sad and cry because of my mom’s condition and the stress of her recovery. She then closes the conversation by saying, “They can cry, but you…you can’t cry.”

20190808_113042_0000Not having a male figure who could counter her statement, I took it as Gospel and trained myself not to cry; not only in that instance, but never. Fast forward 5 years and I am on the front doorstep of my girlfriend’s house at 9:30 PM. Her parents on their way to sleep and we are discussing something sad and emotionally charged. Then all of a sudden…WHAM!!! I start crying. I mean bawling uncontrollably. In my imagination, I am standing outside of myself looking at myself, saying,

“Bruh!!! What the…hey man! Stop it before I pull ya man card!”

My girlfriend is at a loss as she is trying to console me with the expression on her face as to say, “Seriously!?!? My parents window is right next to the doorstep and you are doing this right now?” I am looking at her through tear-drenched eyes, wailing, unable to speak, and shrugging my shoulders like, “I don’t know what the hell is happening right now!”

That was the weirdest, most embarrassing and uncomfortable moment of my life, and I have never shared that story until this very moment.

As an adult I have often visited those doorsteps in my mind, asking God what that moment was all about. A few years ago, I finally put the conversation with the relative and the moment on those front doorsteps together. I had, for 5 years, suppressed any emotion related to grief or sadness, and in one vulnerable instantaneous moment, five years of emotion comes pouring out at the most inopportune time.

I wonder how many men are conditioned to hold in emotions until they break? To any of the men who may be reading this and saying, “I would never break like that.” Maybe not, but you have probably broken in other ways: spending uncontrollably, sexing uncontrollably, eating uncontrollably, fighting uncontrollably, working uncontrollably, flirting uncontrollably, drinking uncontrollably, being uncontrollably lazy and uncontrollably participating in other addictive and destructive behaviors. Many of these things may very well be the outworkings of years of suppressed emotions, all because someone gave us a false sense of masculinity to the extent that we are leaking masked hysteria, because we refuse to cry.  This leaking is causing confusion in some and unrest in others within our atmosphere. The strangest part about all of this is that we can’t explain why we keep doing it.

But what does crying have to do with my behavior and interpersonal behavior? The tears of a man cleanses him. Studies show that tears produced from allergies and irritation are more than 90% water, but tears produced from physical and emotional pain has more than 70% toxicity. This implies that the poisons produced in our bodies due to pain a removed through our tears. This could be an explanation for the reason women statistically outlive men. This can also be applied spiritually and soulishly as much as it can be applied physically. Crying is often displayed in scripture as one “pouring out their soul”.

In Psalms 126 the psalmist is reliving one of the most amazing moments in the history of his people; when they were experiencing the most freedom they had ever experienced as a nation. So free that it felt unreal. As he progresses through the Psalm we notice that the psalmist implies that the victory of freedom was produced through the delivery of tears. He exclaims that the more tears are allowed to flow, the more we find joy being produced in our lives. I find it interesting that he compares tears to seed, which could indicate that crying should be a normal response to the pains of life that causes tears to flow in small consistent amounts, rather than occasional floods.

As men we may need to consider whether or not we are producing fruit joy through the seed of our tears, or producing confusion and unrest through through emotions that leak through uncontrollable behaviors. I am not recommending going around crying about every negative thing we encounter, neither would I suggest trying to play catch-up. I would, however suggest adhering to the instruction of Peter and let’s begin honestly pouring ALL of our concerns on God because he is concerned about what concerns us (I Peter 5:7).

Encouragement, Faith, Life Coaching, Men, Uncategorized

Stay In The Pocket

Throughout out my years in church, I would often hear organists, pianist and keyboard players yell to their accompanying drummers, “STAY IN THE POCKET!” By giving this command the lead musician would be instructing the drummer to stay in time, stay on beat and maintain the rythm. I might age myself by saying this, but my experience in hearing this directive predates microphoned drums, over-the-ear or in ear monitors, plexiglass enclosures, and even before drummers had a floor monitor or speaker facing them to aide them in hearing the other musicians. 20190807_061728_0000.pngTherefore these young percussionists (mostly young males) would bear the weight of carrying the timing, drive and rythm of the sound that both orchestrated and interpretated the atmosphere of the worship experience. They had to fulfill this task while receiving death glares from the choir director daring them to mess up, competing against the sound of the other instruments, and hearing the blend and direction of the music over the shouts and screams of those who were spiritually and emotionally overtaken in the moment.

This feat was virtually impossible for the young musicians, but as I continued in churchanity I would behold these musical wonders and noticed something very remarkable. Those drummers who would ignore the choir director, intellectually drown out the sounds of the shouts and other musicians and focus on the rythmic body language, hand signals and silent speech of their ministers of music, are the ones who could skillfully and successfully “stay in the pocket”.

As men we are challenged with perspectives that threaten us on a daily basis as we carry out our purpose. Sometimes we tempted to compete with principles and people, such as belief systems, morals, spouses, children, other races and nationalities, coworkers, false expectations and systemic disturbances. We work hard to drown out the sound of emotional and spiritual voices that can easily distract us. In the midst of all of this we are bearing the weight of maintaining the timing of provision, the drive of security and protection and the cadence of purpose.

This all seems virtually impossible. Yet we can find courage to navigate through the skill of “staying in the pocket” when we look in the scripture and see the words of Jehoshaphat as he was being surrounded by threats, distractions and competition. Jehoshaphat gathered all of the men together and prayed a prayer that culminated in the words “Lord Our Eyes Are On YOU.” (II Chronicles 20:12d)

As men, we must learn to drown out distracting sounds and voices, stop competing and start collaborating, and overcome the threats to our purpose by intensively fixing our eyes on the Great Composer of the songs of our lives; paying close attention to His direction, His pace and His words. When we are fixated on Christ, He alone gives us the ability to navigate through crescendos and modulations of life, because He is the Master Conductor who skillfully and effectively orchestrates our lives and teaches us how to “Stay In The Pocket”.

Business, Encouragement, Faith, Relationships, Uncategorized

Tough Choices; Perfect Results

I enjoy movies that fall in the genre of action or drama. I can appreciate comedy as well. My favorite type of drama or action movie is one based upon history of philosophy. These type movies stimulate my thinking, and they often have lessons interwoven into them that make lifelong impacts upon my own personal convictions. One such example is that of a conversation that takes place at the beginning of the movie Great Debaters.

In this particular scene, Dr. James Farmer, played by Forest Whitaker is having a conversation with his son, James Farmer, Jr., played by Denzel Whitaker. James, Jr. attempts to walk in the house and tip toe past his father’s study without greeting him. James, Sr. stops him and reminds him of his expectations of him at the end of each day. The dialogue crescendos into one of those life impacting philosophies that stay etched into my conscience.


James, Sr.- “What do we do?”

James, Jr.- “We do what we have to do in order to do what we want to do.”

In the context of the script, James Farmer, Sr. had instilled this wisdom into his son to imply that great study habits and a good education opens doors to a better life. There was probably not a greater truth for African Americans in 1935 when this philosophy was passed from a father to his son. After seeing Great Debaters and hearing those lines, I began to apply this same philosophy to every effort I put my hands and energy toward.

I must say, however, that I have found myself asking on numerous occasions over the past 10 years, “When do I actually get to do what I want to do? I have been doing what I have to do for a long time.”

This questioning has the tendency to send me on a self-deprecating and self-loathing quest to discover where I’ve failed, what I’ve been doing wrong or what I need to do more of. It also has the propensity to influence me to point fingers at those around me as if their choices are slowing my progress. I can now admit that those responses are neither appropriate nor healthy. While I do have the right to ask how long and evaluate the process, I should never negatively assess the status of my success. Instead, I should apply James 1:4 to the philosophy I’ve adopted from the Great Debaters movie.

“And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:4 NASB

In the process of “doing what we have to do”, we must allow the process to be completed so that our season of “doing what we want to do” is not short-lived and ineffective. This means in our communication and interaction with our spouse, in our season of singleness, in our parenting, in our relationship with Christ, in our work and/or business relationships, in our education and in every other facet of our lives that require some type of responsibility on our part. If we can endure the full season of “doing what I have to do”, the scripture states that in the end we will obtain PERFECT RESULTS.

Encouragement, Faith, Life Coaching, Relationships, Uncategorized

Three Questions That Overcome Identity Crisis

We often have so many things intersecting in our lives. We may be raising children, going to school, trying to maintain relationships, while at the same time probably wondering what our next career move is. Maybe we are even dealing with an ailing parent or the death of someone valuable to us. All of these things can be more than daunting and could lead to an identity crisis.

With these various transitions, we can have all of these labels floating around in our head trying to define us, not to mention any regrets we may have about our recent and past life. However, what if none of these labels really matter at the end of the day. What if those labels are merely attributes that flow out of who we really are. Some we didn’t ask for, some we wish never existed, but all of these attributes are present. What if rather than these things defining us, what if we were to define them.

Intelligent is not who we are, it is an attribute, parent is not who you are, it’s a role. Daughter is not who you are it’s a privilege. Introvert is not who we are it’s a personality trait. How we interact with those attributes, roles, privileges and traits determine whether our life will be a life of peace or a life of frustration.

Faith in Christ gives us the power to control how these things impact the whole of our lives. In Christ, we can now set the boundaries and parameters of what it means to be a woman, a man, a father, a mother, a son, a daughter, a friend, an entrepreneur, an employee, a sibling and be content with those boundaries regardless to how others FEEL about it. What matters is that we are okay with us, and that we know our identity in Christ.

This takes extensive self-evaluation. Not from the perspective of the world around us, but from the perspective of our heavenly Father through Christ Jesus. But if we are so busy giving ourselves away in order to be accepted by others, we don’t have anything left to evaluate, neither can we appreciate the work God has done in our lives through Christ. If this is how we function, when it’s all said and done, we end up becoming an empty and depleted mess.

The good news is that we serve a God who has proven to be skilled at taking depleted and empty messes and turning them into fruitful paradises. The earth was void and without form and God said, “Let there be light.” God can give us light in the midst of our dark situations to show us who we are and teach us just like He taught Adam, to control our environment by labeling and setting boundaries on the things around us instead of allowing them to label us.

That process starts with two questions

1. God who am I to you?

2. God why am I here in this earth?

These two questions are what turn the light on and helps us to begin our journey to a life of total peace. Not that it will be void of problems but a life that is victorious regardless to the problems we encounter.

There is a third question in this discovery process. However, this question is not from you to God. It is, instead, from God to you. And that question is,

3. What are you going to do with do with Jesus? Selah