Mike Berry is grateful for all the others who are helping him bring out the man inside his son.
Every now and then, when I least expect it, I receive a text, an email, a Tweet, or a Facebook comment that leaves me speechless. The other day that happened.
It was a normal, fairly productive day, for the most part. The summer sun was up and shining bright, we had crossed off errands from our list, and we even bought a new sofa for a much lower price than we expected. A win as far as we were concerned. Honestly, for the past few weeks we’ve been adjusting to our special summer schedule, where my wife works in the morning while I’m home with our kids, then we flip flop in the afternoon.
To begin my afternoon of work I consistently hit the gym first for a good workout. Before you get the idea that I do this to look good or bulk up, let me stop you. I do this to stay alive longer, plain and simple. There’s zero glamour or vanity involved. Take my word for it.
My afternoon of work had begun when it arrived. An email. My phone dinged and I almost ignored it. I was trying to stay focused on exercise. But, because I still lack boundaries with email, I tapped the bottom of my phone’s screen and opened up my inbox. The first email to appear was from one of my oldest son’s mentors. I should clarify that my son does not live with us currently. He lives at a boarding school in another state. It’s been a difficult road to walk for him and our family, but he’s growing and that’s the most important thing as far as we’re concerned. However, this email had to do with some recent choices he made and the subsequent consequence he’s now facing.
His mentors spoke truth to him. They were frank and to the point, much more than they have been in the past. As I read the email account, line by line, suddenly I paused. It was as if the words he typed jumped off my phone’s screen and into my heart.
“We told him we loved him, but we are speaking to the man inside of him.”
Those words still echo in my mind as if I were standing in a canyon listening to voices from afar. We are speaking to the man inside of him. Wow! My friends, this is just the type of voice I want speaking into my son’s life, along with mine.
Make wide the circle of influence
The reason is that I’m not the only voice of influence speaking to him. There will always be others. Coaches, mentors, small group leaders, teachers, family friends, uncles, grandfathers, the list goes on and on. He looks up to so many other men besides me and that’s a good thing. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I want the circle of influence in my son’s life, along with all his brothers and sisters, to be as wide as outer space. I want it to include as many other positive voices as possible. If I believe that my wife and I are the only voices of influence speaking to our children, leading them, and teaching them how to live in this world, we deceive ourselves. That’s a foolish way to parent.
I’m eternally grateful for the two men who love my son enough to challenge the man inside of him. To call that man out. To expect him and push him to be a better person every chance they get. I couldn’t type an email back to him fast enough. In it, I wrote, Wow! Simply wow. ‘We are speaking to the man inside of him.’ That is one of the most powerful statements I’ve read in quite some time. You just inspired a new blog post. We are grateful for your influence, for approaching him this way, and having that kind of focus. Thank you a million times over! ~ Mike
Leveraging other voices
Fact is, you want other voices of influence in your son’s life. Scratch that—you need other voices of influence in your son’s life. Why wouldn’t you? Having strong men of character and integrity speaking to, teaching, leading, and influencing your son helps you out as his dad. When you leverage their voices, you form a partnership that invests in your son now, and in the future.
The beauty of this is that you’ll see the dividends pay off down the road, when your son is a leader and influencer in another child’s life. Believe me, nothing is more rewarding than seeing this unfold. I’ve stood by grown men, crying like a baby, as they watched their son step out onto a stage to preach, or inspire a crowd. I’ve walked next to grandfathers who credit the character of a coach or a mentor for their grandson turning out to be the leader he is. I’ve even been the recipient of the gratitude of a father, thankful for the investment I made in his son’s life.
You have no idea how other voices will change your son for the better. You can be certain, however, that they will if you willingly invite them in and widen the circle of influence in your son’s life. It changes your son. It changes you. It even changes the future as we know it!