Freedom From Addiction

Featured Story: Paul Leininger

 

“I always thought I didn’t need help. That I could do this on my own. I couldn’t do it on my own.”

As men, we think we are strong enough to handle our issues. The truth remains, no matter how strong a man, there lies an Enemy in the shadows determined to see us fall. But Paul’s story boasts of a God who is stronger than it all. A God who never intended for us to do this on our own.

During his senior year in high school, Paul found God on a golf course. Growing up in a non-Christian family, it was his girlfriend’s dad that walked him through what it meant to know Jesus. It was all he needed to hear. Paul was now a self-proclaimed “Bible-banger.”

After high school, Paul’s relationship with Jesus struggled. He quickly found himself headed down a dark path, addicted to pornography and involved in an ungodly relationship.

Paul’s addiction to pornography became a catalyst for selfishness and anger. As the sin and secret grew, so did the anger. This deep-rooted anger would eventually follow him into marriage.

Paul met his wife Connie in 1995. Marriage and kids would soon follow. From the outside looking in it seemed as if Paul and Connie had it all together. But Paul’s secret remained in the dark.

“Whenever there’s a secret, it’s the enemies biggest weapon. When you get that secret out you disarm the enemy.”

In 2008 Paul and his family started attending Petra Church, in New Holland, PA, where Paul got involved in a men’s ministry called Men’s Fraternity. In his Men’s Fraternity group, a man named Dean shook Paul’s world with one sentence, “I have a porn problem.”

It was this one sentence, this one moment of admission and freedom for Dean that would ultimately break the chains of pornography for Paul. Paul began feeling his life change, and slowly God was taking away his anger.

Paul not only found a best friend in his men’s group, he found accountability. He found a group of men he could be transparent with.

Because of Petra’s experience with Men’s Fraternity, Men of Iron seemed like a natural fit for their church and a great next step for their men. Paul was part of the initial team that got Men of Iron – Strong27™ off the ground at Petra. Today Strong27™ is an integral part of the men’s ministry at Petra Church.

“Through Strong27™ we have seen the effects of accountability. We are seeing marriages change, we are seeing single men change. Men are more intentional about being godly husbands, fathers, friends, and workers. They are more intentional about taking responsibility for their actions and their sins.”

A 2003 Focus on the Family study showed that 70% of men in the church view pornography. A survey done by the Barna Group in 2016 found that only 7% of churches in the United States have programs equipped to deal with someone who comes to them for help with a porn problem.

Pornography is a serious issue that men in the church are struggling with in silence. At Men of Iron we believe that accountability and one-on-one mentoring can change the narrative. Strong27™ provides men with a chance to be open and transparent. To sit across the table from another man and share in each other’s struggles and victories. To challenge each other to grow as a Christ-follower, husband, father, and leader.

Thanks to Dean’s vulnerability and a desire to have another man hold him accountable, it gave Paul the freedom to do the same. It gave Paul the courage to tell his wife and sons. Today Paul and Connie are not afraid to tell their story and to help other couples walk through similar issues. Paul has experienced a substantial change in his own life through mentoring and he sees the impact Strong27™ is having on the men at Petra Church.

“Guys are admitting things, they are saying I have issues and I need a guy walking beside me. They needed something intentional and something strategic. We are seeing guys sow the fruit of it, they are hearing from other men and saying I need that. The change has been so traumatic that it is changing the men in our church. I want to see this grow exponentially.”

Steve Glick

Lead With Excellence – Put God First

“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

I desire to love my wife well, to look at my wife as the most beautiful woman on the planet, and to see my wife as God sees her, a daughter of the Most High. These are desires that every husband should esteem for. But does it happen naturally? Does it happen 100% of the time? Certainly not. Let’s face it, we are men, we screw up. Just open up your Bible and look at the men of God who time and time again royally screwed up. From Moses, to Peter, to King David. But what’s the common theme among these men, including us today, that plagues them? Failure to trust in God. Allowing bravado, selfishness, doubt, and things of the world to overshadow God’s wisdom and guidance. Loving your wife well starts with putting God first!

David assures us in Psalm 37 that when we delight in the Lord, when we trust in God, he will give us the desires of our heart. I think the same is true when we don’t trust in God. When we desire things apart from God, he gives us those as well. But ultimately, God wants us to willingly delight in Him!

His desire for you as a husband is fulfilled when you put your trust in Him.

In Psalm 37 King David is speaking from years of experience, decades of falling down and getting back up again. He has learned what it feels like to delight in the Lord, and learned what it feels like to delight in the world. But throughout the psalm he says, “Do not fret.” David has seen the results of putting God first and knows there is great reward for all who do the same.

Men, do not fret, delight in the Lord, He is faithful. Put God first in ALL that you do and guaranteed he will make you a better husband, a better father, a better leader.

During our dating years my wife and I experienced a lot of heartache, a lot of ups and downs. And if I’m being honest I attribute most of that to myself and my actions. I was a terrible boyfriend. I had spent a majority of my twenties apart from God, living only for myself. I didn’t know what it meant to live for God, let alone how to trust in Him and how to treat a woman. It was always me first, my feelings, my selfish desires. When her actions didn’t line up with my needs I ran the other way. Building a gulf in between us. For years I skated by as a sub-par boyfriend. I didn’t love her well, I didn’t look at her as the most beautiful woman on the planet, and certainly not as God saw her and still sees her.

It wasn’t until I surrendered my selfishness that I began to see significant change. I put it all on the table before God. I prayed that I could and would love her well, that I would see her as beautiful. I put God first. 

Ashley and I have been married for 1 year and 5 months. Marriage is hard, and takes a lot of work. But to be honest this has been the greatest 17 months of my life. I’m sure you marriage vets are getting a good chuckle out of my 17 months of experience. But in over 7 years of being with this woman I have never been more in love with her than I am today. My affection for her grows by the minute. Everyday her beauty shines through in a greater and more unique way than I ever thought was possible.

Men, God WILL give you the desires of your heart. He WILL give you a love for your wife that you never thought possible. Do not fret. Trust in the Lord. Put God first. 

 

Steve Glick

Start S.M.A.R.T. With Your Wife In 2017

“In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” – Proverbs 14:23

The saying goes, “Marriage may be the closest thing to heaven or hell any of us will know on this earth.” I don’t know about you, but my desire is to have a TRUE relationship with my wife — one that is full of love, joy, peace, happiness, etc. I desire to laugh together, cry together and communicate honestly with each other. I don’t want to “just exist” in marriage together. I want to be best friends with my wife. Best friends are committed to one another, regardless of circumstances. Best friends go out of their way for each other, willingly and consistently serving the other person. Best friends are at peace with one another.  

Marriage is hard. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. It takes a lot of work, which is why the lifelong commitment should not be taken lightly. But like anything else that is hard, the reward is so great. The ‘ROI’ on the relationship with your wife is directly correlated to the amount of investment you put into the relationship. The greater the investment, the greater the return. The more labor you put into your marriage, the greater the profit.

King Solomon reiterates this promise in Proverbs 14:23 where he says, “In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” Author Steven K. Scott says, “Apply that labor to your marriage, and your profit will be measured by the amount of fulfillment you and your wife gain. Mere talk, on the other hand, Solomon warns, is cheap and easy, and leads only to poverty.” (1)

He goes on to say, “Diligent labor is demanding. It requires vision, creativity, commitment and effective partnering. Essentially, Solomon is telling us that if you are not profitable in your career, or if your marriage isn’t as fulfilling as you wish, you are probably not working diligently enough.” (2)

I read that sentence several weeks ago, and I realized the diligent labor I was putting forth in my marriage was nonexistent. My wife and I had been irritable with each other. There was very little joy and happiness oozing from our relationship, and I decided to take responsibility and make some changes.

In my previous blog, I shared a model to help you ‘Start S.M.A.R.T. in 2017’ . Below is a step-by-step model to Start S.M.A.R.T. With Your Wife in 2017.

After realizing I needed to put forth more diligent labor in my marriage, I sat down, wrote out a plan and executed it. I’ve noticed a big change in my marriage since, and I want to encourage all of us to start your marriage out with a bang in 2017. Here’s the plan…

1. Schedule a day to personally get away – Use this day to establish your personal 2017 goals. Keep it simple by using the 5F Model (Faith, Family, Friends, Fitness, Finances). IMPORTANT — this day is for you. Don’t invite anyone else. Turn your phone off, limit distractions, etc.

2. Schedule a day to get away with your wife – Don’t let her know about it until you’ve handled all the details — lunch and dinner plans, babysitting, a fun activity, etc.

3. Text your wife the details – “Hey hun, I planned a day away for just me and you. Please block out the entire day next Thursday. I’ve already made babysitting arrangements and have lunch and dinner reservations. Be ready to leave the house at 9 am.

4. Start your day out light – Do something fun together. Take her shopping, grab coffee, etc.

5. Share the why and take responsibility – When the moment is right, share with her why you planned this day. For me, I had to be honest.  I said, “I planned this day because I felt like we are going through the motions in our marriage. It’s not what it could be, and I take full responsibility for this. I want to use this day to get things back on track and to share my goals and plans with you.”

6. Recap the year with vulnerability – Share a summary of your year. Tell her about your personal successes, failures, disappointments, etc. Take it one step further by sharing your feelings on the marriage. Let her know how you appreciate her, what you love about her, etc. Go even further by sharing where you have failed her and what your desires are.

7. Share your personal 5F goals – Give her permission to hold you accountable. Encourage her to check in with you (Recommendation – make sure one of your family goals is focused on diligently loving her more effectively).

8. Encourage her – Ask her to consider establishing a 5F plan for 2017. Set a time the following week to sit down together after the kids are in bed to review them.

9. Schedule monthly check-ups – Schedule a consistent day, time and location to check-in with each other. Review your goals, talk about your marriage and be diligent!

Garret Barbush, Executive Director

Resources

1 – Steven K. Scott, The Richest Man Who Ever Lived – King Solomon’s Secrets to Success, Wealth & Happiness, page 17.
2 – Steven K. Scott, The Richest Man Who Ever Lived – King Solomon’s Secrets to Success, Wealth & Happiness, page 17.

How to be a Successful Protege – Part 3 – Be Humble & Vulnerable

When I read through the New Testament I always gain a new appreciation for the apostle Paul. He’s one of my favorite men in the Bible to study. While I’m fascinated with Paul for several reasons, I’m most encouraged by his transparency, honesty, and openness. He is the complete package of humility and vulnerability.

He proves this in Romans 7:21-25 where he writes,

“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”

Paul is sharing the struggles in his life with sin. Put yourself in the shoes of the original people reading this letter. Paul is the man these people are looking up to as their spiritual leader, and yet he is opening himself up to these people by saying, “Listen, I’m human. I’ve got struggles. I admit to you that I am a sinful man.” Paul even admits his sin is overwhelming to him. Talk about GUTS! I love this about Paul!

As men, we must be willing to have courage like Paul.

A few years ago, a Strong27™ protege experienced success because of his willingness to mimic Paul’s humility and vulnerability.

“I hold nothing back from my mentor. I’m open, honest, and transparent about everything in my life—my struggles, my concerns, my worries, my goals, my dreams…everything.”

Humility and vulnerability are more than talking about “stuff.” They are more than admitting “stuff.” True humility and vulnerability shine through in a man’s life when he is both willing to accept things that are hard to accept and willing to DEAL with these things. Humility and vulnerability lead to taking off the mask to reveal who you really are. It’s about getting to the core of your heart and moving past the surface.

If we are men trying to grow toward a Godly standard of leadership and strength, then we must be willing to take off our masks. Living out humility and vulnerability allows God to break down the walls in front of us. Our mentors cannot be effective in speaking into our lives without it. They can’t encourage, support, or challenge us until we are willing invite them into our messiness.

Take off your mask, men.  The apostle Paul did.  Will you?

Garret Barbush, Executive Director

How to be a Successful Protege – Part 2 – Be Consistent

One of the greatest opportunities I was able to experience was playing competitive golf in college. The experience is something I’ll treasure forever.

The biggest blessing I pulled away from being part of Malone University’s golf program was the friendships. I come from an extremely close family, and I always tell people that my teammates were the closest thing I had to family. One of those teammates—Scotty Jones—is a friend that I’ll be forever grateful for. If I had to summarize Scotty’s golf game in one word, it would be CONSISTENCY.

Scotty’s biggest accomplishment was that he never missed a single tournament. While our team typically had an average of 12-14 members, only 5 men made the line-up. Our fall and spring seasons were constantly spent playing in qualifiers to see who would be traveling on the weekends. The team would rarely ever be the same from weekend to weekend. There were always one, two, or three new guys rotating in, which meant someone was losing their spot. However, Scotty never lost his spot…in four years!!  His golf game was the definition of CONSISTENCY, and it’s what caused him to have so much success.

In Part 1 of “How to be a Successful Protege – Have a Plan,” I wrote about the protégé who took initiative with creating an agenda for each meeting with his mentor. This same protégé experienced a huge amount of success because of CONSISTENCY.

“Not only do I create an agenda, but my mentor and I know when and where we’re meeting for the rest of the year.  We meet at the same place, on the same day, and at the same time.  There’s no guessing.  We just know.”  

I sat on the other end of the phone in amazement. The protégé went on to explain how he and his mentor met at his office every other Friday morning at 5 AM.  

“We both have families and full-time jobs, but we’re not busy at 5 AM.  It’s a time and place that works for both of us, and it’s on the calendar for the rest of the year.”

Creating an agenda helped this protégé understand what he wanted, and it put a plan in place for him to accomplish his objectives. However, having CONSISTENCY proved what price he was willing to pay to get to where he wanted to be. This man and his mentor rolled out of bed at 4:00 AM with a purpose. They both had 5:00 AM penciled in on their calendars every other Friday. There was agenda with a purpose and plan for each of those meetings. Men, this is the definition of CONSISTENCY.

Whether we are on the golf course or are part of a mentorship—we need to be striving for CONSISTENCY in our lives.

My challenge to each of you is to evaluate your own relationship with your mentor or protégé. Is the characteristic of CONSISTENCY evident in your journey together?

Garret Barbush, Executive Director

How to be a Successful Protege – Part 1 – Have a Plan

Proverbs 16:3 – “Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.”

A few years ago, I received a phone call from a pastor in Michigan. He kindly introduced himself, informed me of his church’s interest in Strong27™, and asked a lot of questions. The conversation sparked excitement inside of me when I learned his father-in-law was a protégé at Victory Church (Lancaster, PA).

“I don’t know what happened to my father-in-law, but he’s a changed man. The man I once knew is gone. What the heck is going on down there?”

I assured him neither Men of Iron or Strong27™ were the sole reasons for this radical change. God gets all the glory for using a mentor to change this man’s life. Was this protégé in a great church? Absolutely! Was he involved with and committed to Men of Iron & Strong27™? Absolutely! However, the church and the ministry are just the platforms. God used those platforms to portray this protégé’s transformation to the rest of the world.

I hung up the phone and thought to myself, “Why did this protégé have such an incredible breakthrough?” I was curious to know more about this protégé’s journey. I believe God honors individuals who take initiative in their lives. That’s what I wanted to know—was this protégé taking initiative, or were all of these blessings just “happening?” I wanted to hear from him personally, so I decided to look him up and give him a ring.

The protégé shared with me several key aspects of his journey. I believe the cause of his success lies in the things he is initiating in his journey.

“The first thing I do is create an agenda and send it to my mentor a few days before our scheduled meeting.”

Strong27™ is unique because it was designed to be a protege-driven ministry. The protégé is expected to lead the charge. He must be willing and committed to growth. This is why we stress the importance of protégés creating agendas for each scheduled meeting.

I love what Howard Hendricks states in his book As Iron Sharpens Iron.  

“If you are trying to get somewhere, you’ve got to know where you are going and how you are going to get there. If you are trying to grow, or to help someone else grow, you have got to know what the learning objective is, and how you are going to accomplish it. That’s what an agenda is. A statement of purpose, and a plan for achieving it.”

The concept is very simple, men. God allowed this protégé to make huge strides because he took initiative with creating an agenda every other week.

If you are a protégé, I encourage you to follow the lead of this protégé. Tell your mentor what you want. Tell him what your hopes are. Tell him about your fears, uncertainties, and doubts. Tell him what he can do for you. Approach him with questions. Supply him with consistent updates.

It takes intentionality, men. Have courage. Be bold. Rise up to a Godly standard of leadership and strength.

Sample Agenda

Below is a sample agenda I received from my Strong27™ protege a few weeks ago.  He created this agenda on his own and texted it to me.  He took ownership of his growth and led the meeting in conversation.  

Meeting 1 Agenda

  • Time & Location – 7:30 pm @ Your House
  • Review & Discuss the Iron Covenant (20 Minutes)
  • Review & Discuss the Personal Survey (30 Minutes)
  • Biblical Standards of Manhood Assessment (15 Minutes)
  • Establish areas of weakness – set out a plan for building my foundation (15 Minutes)
  • Prayer, Schedule Future Meetings (10 Minutes)
  • Total Meeting Time – 90 Minutes

Garret Barbush, Executive Director