I grew up like most little boys in rural Missouri. My family’s land gave way to plenty of space where I could run, climb trees, play Army, shoot guns … and get into my share of trouble. To say that I was not close to my father during my younger years was an understatement and it had a profound impact on my journey as a young boy trying to become a man. Although I spent my younger years raised in the church, I walked away from faith through high school and for seven years following. Through my years in church as a child I never connected with any of the men in the church in any meaningful ways. Subsequently as I got older, I responded to the lies of the flesh and the world regarding my life and what it mean to be a man. Having never let the truth of the Gospel sink in, I never realized the depths of understanding and the freedom that it contained for me.
Upon graduating high school I promptly became a three time college drop out. In fact for 7 years directly after high school my life was characterized by a lack of meaningful (nearly any) forward movement, selfishness, and in spite of my often good intentions, a lot of unnecessary pain for myself and others.
Through high school and those years following the only true passion I had in life was Martial Arts, pursuing one of the world’s definitions of “tough guy”, I heavily invested in it. All of the men that I looked up to all through childhood were merely characters on a screen, they had not been real, but they had been powerful. Looking back on that time I may have been “legally” considered a man, but I was far from actually being one.
When my first son, Ethan, was born, I quickly realized my bankruptcy as a man. I knew nothing about manhood and certainly nothing about fatherhood. I had pursued martial arts in an effort to earn the fear and respect of others. My worldly pursuits hadn’t offered me the insight or the direction I’d hoped for as I transitioned into fatherhood. During those years, in spite of all of my intentions and efforts to the contrary, all of the things (as a man and father) that I said that I wouldn’t do, all of the things that I said I wouldn’t be, I was. I was well on my way to failing my son and although I didn’t have a clue how I would stop it, I knew that was unacceptable.
At the same time he was born, I had entered the police academy. As a police officer I began to encounter real-life suffering and brokenness on a level I’d never imagined occurred in Southwest Missouri… or my home. Policing fed my false ideas of manhood through the working the street and the tactical world. As I extended my grasp for manhood into those areas, I began to see that in spite of the fulfillment of so many of my childish ideals of manhood (fear and respect of others through fighting or shooting ability etc) that these men that I continually found myself around often lacked the substance to be anything more than I was. We may have achieved some sort of hollow respect based on mutual pursuits our ego’s, but many, many of them were failing their wives, their children, their families, at the same phenomenal rates I had been accomplishing. The process of my sons birth and his early years was also an extremely messy and hurtful process of divorce to his mother. My life was broken and crazy. As I struggled to become a good father and find security, peace and direction, I did not know where to turn. I felt betrayed by the inadequacy of my “faith” to answer the questions I was struggling with…..
Although my upbringing had given me a foundational understanding of Christianity (I knew the stories and basic theology Sunday school and listening to preaching), I found that my elementary understanding of the Christian faith did not explain the deep questions in my soul or quench my thirst for answers. Debating if I would believe Christianity at all and done feeling occasionally guilty about not actually going to church, I was guided to a book on Christian apologetics. The book intrigued me, I had never realized what I had been exposed to as a child had such strong intellectual roots. I decided to pursue my “faith” rationally, and if it did not hold up I would no longer even bother with the “label” of it and my obligatory occasional Sunday attendance. If anything, I was overly skeptical of the rationality and reality of faith in Christ. I had a deep emotional rift with my “faith”, I felt betrayed by it and the time I had given it in my youth. I was ready to just be done, but I was intrigued enough that I decided I would “give it a fair shake” in comparison to other faiths, including atheism, which was the top contender and my current actual functional faith at the time.
As I sought answers, analyzed and compared the Christian faith, I was amazed at what I found. My mind led me but my heart followed. God revealed Himself to me and grew my faith. During the next several years I was fathered by God, he began to mold and shape me with the first roots of understanding of what it meant to be a man, a father, and a leader for Christ.
As my relationship with Christ grew, my life began to stabilize. I began to experience the wisdom of the Word of Christ playing out in my life and relationships. As I grew and matured, the Lord began using me to minister to others. A calling to disciple men in Biblical truth soon became clear. I returned to the church but often struggled with what I found for men. I felt like we were repeating a lot of the same mistakes I had seen and experience when it came to reaching young boys (and old boys) for Christ. I often looked around while standing in church services looking at men who were barely present and though “this is not how you fight. Do we really believe we have these enemies (flesh/world/devil)? We’re not even fighting anything, let alone fighting effectively. The best fighters are good at fighting because they like to fight, because they lean in, because they enjoy that fire burning in their belly“. God began burning a vision in me to build up men who, in turn, build ministries and significantly answer the needs of the world. The vision for Background Leadership Academy began to form.
In the meantime, I took another stab at pursuing college — and now with a deeply rooted faith, guidance and direction, I obtained a bachelors degree in Religion at Liberty University. Through the growth that the Father sustained in me over the years he has seen fit to deliver me into the role of husband to an amazing wife, a total of four children that I am amazingly connected to, a bi-vocational pastor and spiritual father to many. He has even led me to personal reconciliation with my own father. He has restored every aspect of fatherhood to me that my enemies tried to rob me of. He has broken the chains that I was handed in my life and all that He has asked of me is to ensure that I teach other men how to do the same. He took a boy in his 20’s and transformed me into manhood and fatherhood, not only to my own children but to many, many people that I never would have even met without His radical transformation in my life.
Now I continuously study theology, apologetics and Christian fundamentals in my “free time.” I still mentor young men, and also am diligently working to build and equip elder men who can produce world changing disciples. Evil is a violation of purpose (Ravi Zaccharias,) but through this ministry, we are restoring purpose to men everywhere. They in turn are restoring order, fulfilling their Biblical mandate to cultivate and to keep, to preserve and protect, to create, and when appropriate, to destroy.
Today I am married to my wife Laura,and am father to four beautiful children- Ethan (my strong one), Shiloh (my little glory), Beckett (my wildman), and Aliza (my little joy). My family and I reside in Pleasant Hope, Missouri.