I have a hero in my life. His name is Kyle. He’s 14 years old stands 5’ 7” and weighs 115 pounds. Oh, by the way, he’s also my son.
Three weeks ago, Kyle was supposed to go on a mission’s trip to Copper Hills, Tennessee, through Keystone Community Church with the youth group and youth pastor. In a period of three months, Kyle raised over $300 in donations to cover his cost of his trip.
It was awesome to have Kyle find it in his heart to want to be part of a mission of higher purpose than I ever participated in when I was 14 years old. The opportunity to learn an incredible life lesson presented itself before the trip even began and is the inspiration for this blog. My profound respect for Kyle really comes from what happened the night before he left and how Kyle stood up to his greatest fear and how he learned a very valuable lesson that I’m sure he will carry rest of his life.
I was out of town and leadership convention in Columbus, Ohio. My wife Tonya was with me but, due to an unforeseen circumstance, needed to leave early and was home Saturday night. I’m thankful that she was home because without her presence I don’t know how things might have turned out.
I called home at a break and talked with Kyle to see how he was doing. Tonya told me Kyle was really upset. He no longer felt excited about the trip. On the contrary, he was unsure of himself, trepid and anxious of the coming week.
I asked Kyle what was on his mind and out poured the unfiltered, emotion-filled dissonance:
“I’m quiet. I’m shy. No one talks to me. I have no friends. Please let me stay home. Please don’t make me go on this trip.”
Think back to time when you were 14 years old. That’s the onset of ninth-grade and, for all of us who survived those trying times of high school, you can probably empathize with how my son felt at this moment in time.
When feeling stressed, my natural reaction is one that was modeled to me from my father when I was an adolescent. Strict, straightforward, and blunt. There wasn’t much negotiation in the house in which I grew up. Maybe some of the readers can relate to the “Because I said so” upbringing. This was my instant reaction:
“Kyle! You have been raising money for the last three months. We have been preparing for this very trip that entire time! The entire youth team and church leaders are expecting you to be there tomorrow morning. You need to suck it up, get a grip, and stop this doubt because you are going tomorrow. Make no mistake about it.”
Well, that went over as well as you can probably imagine. Kyle shouted back in the phone, “You don’t understand and you don’t care! I’m hanging up!”
And then he really did hang up.
The Turn Around
I immediately called back and Tonya answered the phone. My words were exactly this, “I think that went really well…”
To which Tonya replied, “What conversation are you a part of?”
I realized how insensitive and uncaring I was at that moment in time and asked to speak to Kyle again. While she was getting Kyle back on the phone, I meditated briefly and asked for wisdom & intercession, so that I would be able to share some of the leadership principles (that I have been studying for so many years) with my son to give him a different perspective and help him in his troubled time.
I started talking to Kyle and just offering perspective on what was truly happening here. I don’t know where you, the reader, may be spiritually, but here are some of our core family beliefs:
- There is a God.
- That very God created and calls each of us by name.
- That we are meant for greatness.
- That there are forces in this world that actively and constantly attack us and tear us down in order to stop us from achieving our true life mission and purpose.
- Those very forces come out in full fury in the moments that we are about to accomplish some of our greatest achievements.
I shared the following conversation with Kyle to enlighten him on what was exactly was happening in his life:
“Kyle, you’re 14 years old and you are about to do something great. You are specifically going out to help a family in Copper Hills who, for whatever reasons, are living a life of poverty in this great nation. They need your help and it’s been on your heart for a long time to be part of this mission trip. What’s happening at this very instant is truly spiritual warfare. And you need to recognize it for exactly what it is: nothing more than a bunch of lies masquerading as doubt, fear, and worry.
“You see Kyle, you are about to accomplish something great. Something that you will look back on the rest of your life with pride and a sense of accomplishment, and the feeling and satisfaction of knowing that by your actions you made a difference in someone’s life.
“And what’s happening to you, right now, is you are under attack! These negative forces want to stop you dead in your tracks because they know that if you falter at this moment in time they will have secured a foothold from which to attack you and remind you of your ‘failure’ for the rest of your high school career and for the rest of your life. They want to prevent you from moving forward in a positive direction tomorrow and in the other opportunities you’re going to have in your future to make a difference.
“At this very moment in time, you are facing your personal Goliath. And he looks big, and scary, and mean, and he is launching his insults and doubts at you. Your Goliath is shouting his lies at you and he wants to stop you right now. And here’s the real problem: You are listening. You are listening to the voices in your head that are calling you out, that are labeling you as someone less than you really are; that are creating a distorted reality which appears intimidating and it’s creating fear. You’re listening to the voice inside your head and that voice isn’t you. That voice is tripping you up before you get your foot out the door to do something great.
“And I promise you this: You can beat him. You can go to battle you can face your Goliath. And you will win. I know because I had to do this many times in my life. And every person who walks the earth needs to do this on a regular basis if they plan on accomplishing greatness with the time they’ve been given.”
I paused to let what I was saying sink in. I asked Kyle if he wanted to learn how to turn this around. Through a quiet voice, Kyle told me he did.
“This is how you go to battle: You need to stop listening to yourself and start talking to yourself. Action conquers fear. This Goliath is accusing you of being shy, of being quiet, of having no friends. He looks as if he is a giant and he’s intimidating. But I promise you this: Goliath is nothing more than a sheet of paper standing there with nothing behind his picture.
“You need to stop listening to yourself & start talking to yourself.”
“Kyle, you need to confront your Goliath. You need to be a man walk up to him and knock him over. And you do that by talking to yourself. You need to start using your mouth and your voice to silence his lies.
“Remind yourself right now that, ‘I am outgoing. I am funny. I make people laugh. People like to have me around.’
“Remind yourself how much your family loves you and that your mom and dad wouldn’t knowingly send you in an area that we knew would harm you. As a matter fact, I know only good will come out of this!”
“Kyle, start repeating those things out loud. That you are a winner. That you are a champion. That you have what it takes to go to battle and win! Kyle, you are 14 years old, a young man. You’re not a boy. And you’re not an adult yet. But God has placed you in our care so that we can help you along this battlefield and help you cross it successfully.
“I promise you this Kyle, from the bottom of my heart: If you choose to go to battle, you will defeat this Goliath and for the rest of your life you will remember tonight as the night where you learned one of the most valuable life lessons that you possibly can learn: You can battle Goliath and, when you do, you will beat him. Once you learn that lesson, your entire up-and-coming high school existence is going to be so much easier because this is so powerful.
“You can battle Goliath and, when you do, you will beat him.”
“But, a word of warning: if you don’t go to battle, if you actually listen to him, if you actually allow Goliath to stop you from going to where you know you not only should go but you need to go, he is going to grow in strength and he is only going to become more relentless for the rest of your high school career and the rest of your life. If you think he’s bad now, I promise you this: he will only get bigger. He won’t get more powerful because he never changes: he’s only a sheet of paper and you can overcome him at any point of time. But right now is your opportunity. This is your moment in time. This is your opportunity to stand up to him and knock him square on his back so that you can prove to him, and more importantly to yourself, the man you truly are.
“There’s no shame how you were feeling earlier. That’s normal and totally expected. And I promise you this: there are probably many of your peers feeling the same way tonight because he’s trying to stop them too. Trust me and go to battle and knock him down!”
Spiritual Truth & Spiritual Warfare (and What was Really Happening):
Jesus Christ is the one and only Son of God and He died for my sins. He completed all the requirements of God’s law when he hung on a cross at Calvary some 2000 years ago. After laying down his life after taking the punishment for my sins, He rose from the grave on that glorious Easter Sunday. And He provides me with everlasting salvation which has been given to all human sinners through His Grace.
The devil, who is very real and exists in our everyday lives, cannot take away Christ’s victory. Those who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior have everlasting salvation. And there is nothing the devil can do to change that fact or take that away from us. But this is what he can do: he can steal the joy of our victory and he does it every day with those same tactics with which he attacked my son, specifically: doubt, fear, & worry.
Why would we listen to such an evil, self-defeating thought process? We’ve read it and heard it thousands of times: the fact that we are human beings is a miracle all by itself. The fact that we live in North America in the time in which we do is an absolute blessing. The fact that we were born or maybe we had the opportunity to immigrate to United States of America and live here is nothing short of incredible. And in spite of these facts, so many trade-in the greatness of what we can truly achieve at any moment in time for the lies that the devil sows in our heads which hold us back each day.
As a father, I felt incredibly blessed to have been able to share the leadership lessons that I’ve learned through the association of Life Leadership and its personal development material (specifically, lessons were taught through the following sources: Self Talk by Orrin Woodward & Chris Brady, Goliath is Calling by Orrin Woodward, A New Label by Bill Lewis, The Magic of Thinking Big by Dr. David Schwartz, the All Grace Outreach subscriptions, and countless live speeches and testimonials). Without the books I’ve read, the CD’s I listened to, and the association of the great friends & mentors (Marc Militello) I’ve gained through this incredible journey, I would have only been able to respond in my original authoritative “because I said so” style. And I would’ve forced my son to go on a trip without equipping him mentally on how to fix his thought process. He would’ve gone reluctantly, but he would’ve been overwhelmed with the doubt, fear and worry that was there to begin with. Ultimately, those forces (and my original mishandling of the situation) would’ve had a radically negative effect on his experience and our relationship.
Well this is how it turned out: Kyle went to battle with Goliath and knocked him flat on his back! Kyle started talking to himself during our conversation over the phone, repeating what I was coaching him on; repeating and believing the positive uplifting and encouraging message that we all should be repeating to ourselves each and every day. He got up that Sunday morning at 4:30, ate breakfast and went to church. By 6AM, the kids, including Kyle, were in the vans and trucks heading down to Tennessee. He spent a week away from his family, for the first time in his life, and he had an amazing experience! Kyle loved it and made a ton of friends. He (along with the entire volunteer army from Keystone) helped make a huge difference in a family’s life and grew tremendously as a young man for the entire experience. Kyle learned skills of construction, he grew closer to Christ, and most importantly he learned the truth about Goliath: that he falls down quick and he falls down hard when you show the courage to stand up to him. As the old saying goes, the bigger they are the harder they fall.
Kyle (In Red) with his friend Griffin, just before departure.
In closing, I ask you the following:
- What Goliaths are calling you and filling your life with self-depreciating thoughts?
- What affirmations can you begin saying out loud to combat this merciless, yet truly powerless, foe?
- What information can you tune into to prepare you for the battle?
- Who can you count on to stand in your corner as an encourager in your life?
- When will you begin?
Why not begin right now? Your brighter future is waiting. I’m cheering for you! Just like I did for Kyle. . .