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

Second Chances

Featured Story: Eric Stoudt

 

“Men of Iron gave me the courage to be a leader. Going through the Strong27™ mentorship guide and being challenged by my mentor made me a better person. I started living out the things I knew in my heart I should be doing.”

From recovery houses to broken relationships, Eric’s story radiates redemption. He tells a story of a God who never gave up on him and whose plan was greater than he ever imagined. Today, Eric is a man after God’s own heart.

When Eric first met his wife Rachel, they were both coming out of broken relationships. Both were searching for something more, something greater. They knew this time around the foundation of their relationship had to be God. He had to be the center. It was this desire that led them to GT Church in West Lawn, PA.

As their faith in God grew, so did their relationship. They desired to do church the right way. They got involved, they met with leadership, and they invested in people and relationships. It was then that real life change started to happen.

In the fall of 2015, at the recommendation of friends who had been through the ministry, Eric signed up to be a protégé in Men of Iron’s Strong27™ mentorship ministry. For a man who was already growing, it was the momentum he needed. Strong27™ gave Eric a hunger for more, a hunger for God’s word, and a strong desire to lead.

“The biggest thing is accountability. It allowed me to be more intentional with my wife. I learned a great deal from setting goals and accomplishing them, and even from the goals I didn’t accomplish. Strong27™ gave me somebody, walking with me, who could help me be intentional.”

Intentionality and accountability gave Eric the strength to be a better husband, to be a better father, and to be a better leader in his church. It also gave him the opportunity to be a Strong27™ mentor the following year. Besides being a mentor Eric and his wife Rachel serve the church in other areas. Their willingness and heart to do church the right way has allowed them to serve in high capacity leadership roles within GT Church.

Men of Iron gave Eric the confidence to lead well. He is now more intentional in his relationship with his wife and with his kids. He is now a leader of other men at GT Church, helping to change a culture one man at a time.

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.

Start S.M.A.R.T. in 2017

“Do you see a man diligent in his business?  He shall stand before kings.” Proverbs 22:29

 

For many, a new year means new goals, new dreams and new desires. A new year gives opportunity to a fresh start. It gives opportunity to get back on the right track and to make things right. Personally, I love the new year. I love the idea of planning, goal setting and evaluating the previous year.

Success rates for new year resolutions are consistently low, with a high percentage of people sliding back into old habits by the time February hits. For the culture we live in, failure is the norm. As humans, we prefer the path to least resistance. Being stretched, doing difficult things, being disciplined and living diligent lives is not what we prefer. Rather, we prefer instant gratification. Thus, mediocrity and failure is a standard most settle for.

Recently, I started reading The Richest Man Who Ever Lived – King Solomon’s Secrets to Success, Wealth and Happiness. Within the first, several pages, I found myself challenged, convicted and motivated. Steven K. Scott makes the argument that less one in a thousand people fully utilize the skill of diligence. He defines diligence as the following:

DILIGENCE is a learnable skill that combines: creative persistence, a smart-working effort rightly planned and rightly performed in a timely, efficient and effective manner to attain a result that is pure and of the highest quality of excellence. – Steven K. Scott

After reading the book, I decided ‘DILIGENCE’ would be my ‘ONE WORD’ for 2017. In the past, I have always made goals for the new year. While my goals were good, they often were focused on me — my career, my health, my finances, my hobbies. If I’m honest, the process of determining my goals was often self-centered and rarely involved other people in my life. In other words, there was very little accountability. There was no one to share my journey with, no one to celebrate with when a goal was accomplished and no one to encourage me to be creatively persistent when I got off track. I rarely ‘attained a result that was pure and of the highest quality of excellence.’ Therefore, I rarely lived a diligent life.

I made the decision for 2017 to be different. I am striving for diligence. I want to forget about the path to least resistance. I want to go down a path that will stretch me and make my soul come alive. I’m ready for adventure. Will you join me?  

Below is a simple model to think about and apply to your own life as we start 2017 with a bang!

1. Use the 5 F Model to determine your personal goals. I find it beneficial to keep my career goals separate from my personal life.

  • Faith
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Fitness
  • Finances

2. Get away. Don’t sit down and write out goals just for the sake of setting goals. Find space. Fight for quite and solitude. Pray. Sit in God’s creation. Turn your phone off. LISTEN! Seek God and invite Him into the process.

3. Keep it simple. Strive to have no more than 2 goals in each category. In some cases it’s okay to have 3. The point is to set yourself up for success, not failure. 

4. Think of others. Your life isn’t about you. It should be about others. Be abundant in your thought process.

5. Be S.M.A.R.T. “I want to lose weight” or “I want to read more” are great ideas but terrible goals. “I want to lose 30 pounds by September 1st by working out Monday, Wednesday, & Friday at 6:00 am” or “I want to read 1 book per month by reading for 30 minutes each morning before work” are S.M.A.R.T. 

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-Bound

6. Frame and hang your goals. Hang them where you will get a reminder each morning. 

7. Get accountable. Share your plan with your wife, mentor, brother or close friend. Schedule regular meetings with these people in order to review your progress. Give them permission to be tough on you.

8. Execute. Anyone can sit down and write down goals. Planning is easy. Executing is difficult. Execution is the difference between diligence and mediocrity.

I’ve included my 5F goals for 2017 as a sample to follow. I trust it will help get you started in the right direction (*Note – I have 4 goals listed under ‘Family’).

Garret’s 2017 Plan for Diligence

1. Faith

  • I will find 1 day of solitude per month by having the last Monday of the month blocked off
  • I will memorize and recite 24 Bible verses by 12/31/2017 (2 per month)

2. Family

  • I will pray with my family every morning before I go to the office
  • I will date Eden (my wife) 1x per month and will plan 2 marriage weekend get-a-ways
  • I will date Kendall (my daughter) 1x per month
  • I will put my phone away every night at 8:00 pm

3. Friends

  • I will write a letter of gratitude to men who have positively impacted my life by 4/1/2017
  • I will plan and host a friend celebration with Eden by 6/1/2017

4. Fitness

  • I will go to bed every night by 10:30 pm
  • I will wake up at 4:45 am on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to work out

5. Finances

  • I will revisit and plan a new monthly and annual family budget by 1/31/2017
  • I will establish and follow a monthly cash budget for my family

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