Tag Archives: discipleship

Fatherly Leadership: Serve In the Trenches

2013 MBC Men’s Conference Fatherly Leadership Handout

Below is the handout from my breakout session at the 2013 McLean Bible Church Men’s Conference on Discipleship called: “Discipleship In The Home”.  This will be included in my upcoming book and study guide to be used as a discipleship program on the virtues.  Please read the footnotes!!! I use footnotes to TRAIN YOU!  My goal for this handout, and my upcoming book is to train you as the man of influence in the life of your son or younger man that you are training.  I want to equip you my brother and you can go as deep as you want to go as you will see in the footnotes. Enjoy and feel free to provide me feedback and feel free to share via Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail.


Fatherly Leadership: Serve In the Trenches

“It is easier to build strong children than repair broken men” – Frederick Douglas


There are a few things that you will find in common on each challenge coin.  On the front you will find the Latin phrase Semper Paratus which means “always ready”.  This phrase is to remind us that we are to always be ready for battle because being a man of virtue is a battle that is continuous, meaning daily and even every hour.  1Peter 5:8 calls us to “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary the devil prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”[1]  Our duty is to not be the “someone” whom gets devoured, and the only way that happens is when we choose to fight along side other men and never alone.

Our military unit symbol is found on the back of each challenge coin and is the ancient Trinity knot. This unit symbol was chosen because we belong to the one true triune God who has His seal of ownership on us.[2] Christianity is unique in this claim of the one God whom exists not alone but in eternal relationship with each person of the Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In fact the very first time that aloneness ever existed was when God created Adam.

As God ended each day of creation he announced that “it was good” but after the creation of the very first man God announced that, “it was very good”.[3] As man begins to explore his domain that his Creator gave him, he quickly comes to the conclusion that he is different from the other living things that God created and God announces, “that it is not good for man to be alone”[emphasis added]. Only another person also made in the image of God could cure this aloneness. Isn’t it interesting that “going green”, eating organic, and giving animals names only revealed this difference to Adam existentially[4]. But what are we doing today in our post-Christian western civilization?  When people give up on human relationships today they try this failed formula and try to cure the experience of aloneness by giving their pets human names.[5] God created us for more and we need other people in our lives, but not just any human being in this post-Fall world.[6]

There is a band of brothers both locally and around the world whom all have this unit seal of ownership engraved on their hearts.  This is encouraging because we are not alone in this battle and we are called to lead. In his book The Leadership Engine: Building Leaders at Every Level Noel Tichy recalls a story about a Navy Seal who knows leadership because he shows leadership!

Recently in Cornodo, California, Rear Admiral Ray Smith, a Navy Seal since the Vietnam War, visited a class of SEALs graduating from Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL Training. Only 20% of the cadidates who enter this elite six-month program survive its great physical and mental demands to graduate. Throughout the day, Smith, in his fifties, participated in the same physical training as the SEAL candidates who were all in their twenties. At the end of the day, he met alone with the graduates. Speaking as a successful leader who had been exactly where they were, he laid out for them his teachable point of view on the leadership duties of becoming a SEAL, the conduct, honor and teamwork required, and the need for them to develop other leaders.[7]

Do you think these men listened to this leader at the end of the day? What an example this 50 year old Navy seal was to the young future leaders in their 20’s! We have to look at every single man that we invest in as a future leader. There are two important leadership qualities that this Navy Seal taught us:

(1) Good Leaders Serve in The Trenches:

John 13:3-4 – Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.

A servant-leader knows that he learns the most by never being afraid to get into the trenches with his unit.  The leader learns this lesson when he ponders the question “am I really humble enough to get my hands dirty and serve?”  When answered correctly the leader goes and gains a sense of appreciation and empathy for what his team goes through on a day-to-day basis.  In short, the leader is in touch with his team’s reality and everyone that he serves knows it.  One of my favorite leadership proverbs is “he who thinks he is leading and has no one following is merely taking a walk”. It is much easier to lead when your hands and feet have the same stains as the men in your unit.

As a follower of Christ, we do all have the same stain—sin.  That can either negatively influence our leadership or positively influence our leadership; it all depends on your fuel.  Are you being fueled by the Spirit or the flesh?  When someone shares in your unit, do you stand above the trench and look and wonder how he got there?  Or, do you go down into the trench with the cry of “me too!” for I am as stained as you are, so let’s get out of this together.  As you can see the first response is fueled by the ‘flesh’ while the second response is fueled by the ‘Spirit’.

(2) Good Leaders Step Down to Stay Up: 

John 1:1-2; 14 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning…14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us…

A reachable leader is easily accessible to those whom he leads. No leader can influence his unit by maintaining a long distance relationship, for this is no relationship at all.  God the Son gave this example as He left His heavenly throne and made Himself available to us in the flesh.  If God in His position of ultimate authority can leave His throne and make Himself available[8], then should we not leave our “throne” and make ourselves available?  This can be as simple as a father stepping down into the world of his son that has totally different interests than him so as to be an influence. For example, this is the father who is a complete sports nut and played certain sports his whole life that has a son God gave him that could care less about sports because God placed music and the arts in his heart.  This father must step down into the world of the arts in order to stay up in the heart of his son as a man of influence.  Or, you love music, the arts, and intellectual activity but God gives you a son who is a complete jock!  Now what? Well Dad time to step down into the world of sports in order to stay up as a man of influence.

This “stepping down” can feel awkward as men sometimes and it has absolutely nothing to do with not wanting to step down and serve.  Why is this especially difficult for men? It is because of the way we are wired as men who typically connect around a common interest or activity whereas women find any excuse to connect.  Can you imagine a household of men getting together to look at baskets? A common interest or activity usually serves as a natural bridge point to begin building a healthy relationship with another man, especially a son. Well men we have a duty to build a bridge where one does not exist in order to get from where we are to where he is.  It would be just like God to force a father to humble himself while at the same time call him to enter into another creative part of His being and His creation. God wants to show you more of Himself through a son that reflects another aspect of Himself.

Semper Paratus Exercise [work together]:

  1. Dad, you identify your interests below on the left and have your son or daughter identify his or her interests on the right. Write your name above your list:

Name: _____________________________ Name: ______________________________

_______________________________ ________________________________

_______________________________ ________________________________

_______________________________ ________________________________

_______________________________ ________________________________

_______________________________ ________________________________

_______________________________ ________________________________

_______________________________ ________________________________

2.  Draw a line and connect existing bridge points of similar interests that you notice above (if any).

For Example:

______________Art _____________ <———-> ______Art__________________


3. Where there exist no natural bridge points for connecting, each person write down the most important interest below under your name:

Name: _____________________________ Name: ______________________________

_______________________________ ________________________________

_______________________________ ________________________________

_______________________________ ________________________________

4. Read the verse below and reflect on what it means:

  Proverbs 15:22 – Without consultation plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed.

5. Unit Consultation: Time to apply the verse.

Dad, ask for help! Ask your son or daughter: “What advice do you have for me so that I can build a connection bridge to you in the area that is most important to you?   Who do you recommend that I talk to get more information? Is there a website or a book that I can purchase? Write down the advice below.








6: Ask for forgiveness and permission to hit the ‘reset button’. Now take action and start building that bridge!



If you would like more information on purchasing a set Man’s Ultimate Challenge Coins please see my web site:
Until He Returns,
Peter P. Lackey, Jr.

[1] The Greek word used in this verse for adversary is antifikos, which references an opponent in a lawsuit.  Satan will take the law of God, which is good in itself, and accuse you by constantly reminding you of your failures and shortcomings.  Never allow this to be a focus because your sin nature is why we needed a Savior!  Remember God’s grace when you feel accused and give thanks and praise to God for loving you, saving you, and most of all using you as a force for good in a world that rejects His gift.

[2] 2Corinthians 1:21-22 – Now He who established us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also set His seal of ownership in us and Gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge. [emphasis added]

Ephessians 1:13 – In Him, you also, after hearing the message of truth the gospel of your salvation-having also believed you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, [emphasis added]

Ephessians 4:30 – And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. [emphasis added]

[3] Genesis 1:2-31.

[4] This is a fancy way of saying that Adam learned this difference by experience in his existence along side these animals.

[5] Sadly, the father of the modern animal rights movement is Peter Singer a utilitarian bioethics professor at Princeton University. In fact, he even has a slanderous politically correct term “specism” that he uses for those of us that believe that the human species is significantly different and deserving of more rights than other animals.

[6] In Christian teaching the ‘fall’ refers to the time when we fell into disobedience and all humans since inherit a fallen sin nature. This is a critical part of Christian anthropology.  We as Christians believe that man is made in the image of God, has His moral Law written on his heart, but is rebellious to its authority in our lives and we are particularly rebellious toward our heavenly Father whom placed the law there. In fact, Socialism,  Marxism, and Communism speedily swept through the world and failed miserably for one main reason: a failed anthropology, or view of the nature of man.  Karl Marx built his entire system on two pillars that both crumbled: (1) God does not exist, and (2) Man is naturally good. Why did they crumble? Because both pillars are lies of the enemy!

[7] Noel Tichy with Eli Cohen, The Leadership Engine: Building Leaders at Every Level (Dallas, TX: Pritchett, 1998), 2.

[8] Philippians 2:4-7 – do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus 6who although He existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.


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