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

Why Mentoring Needs a Long-Term Approach

Over the last several months, I have been working and communicating with a man who had a strong interest in his church partnering with Men of Iron to implement our Strong27™ mentoring ministry. This man was excited and loved the idea of providing a platform for men to mentor other men at his church.

 He, too, believes men are distinctly called to be leaders in their families, their churches and their communities. I witnessed his desire to see his church partner with us in order to provide a culture-changing men’s ministry.

As the time came for the church’s pastors to make a decision, I sensed this man’s excitement and passion was slowly dwindling away. I followed up to assure everything was still moving forward. He informed me that his pastors were skeptical of the 12-month commitment men have to make to the Strong27™ ministry. He went on to explain how their leadership felt 8 weeks was the average committal level for people.  Anything beyond that only led to slower attendance or just quitting all together.

This kind of response is not uncommon. What typically follows is something like, “Can we do a 6-month version of Men of Iron?” or “Can we speed it up a bit?” Our response has consistently been, “No,” and our philosophy will not change. Let me explain…

  • Mentoring takes time. Its affect doesn’t take place overnight. Jesus didn’t just show up on the scene and walk with his disciples for eight weeks. He walked with them, talked with them, loved them and challenged them for three years before he commissioned them.  Likewise, we have found it takes some mentorships 6 months before the protégé even opens up and trusts the mentor sitting across the table from him. Why is the church so quick to rush people through programs or to water down the standards for the mentoring and discipleship process?  This brings me to my next point…
  • Mentoring and discipleship needs a standard. And that standard should not be watered down. In Every Man a Warrior’s Book 1 – Walking With God, Lonnie Berger states the following in regards to the role of standards in the discipleship process, “The inclination was to set the bar low so that no one was excluded or felt left out. In some church activities that is exactly the way it should be.  Sunday school classes or small groups that are safe, compassionate, and minister those hurting and struggling among us are good examples of when inclusiveness is needed. But that mentality kills the building of men. If you are going to bring men to maturity, they have to be challenged. You don’t build character and leadership skills by watering down the requirements. You don’t send men into war without rigorous training and specific skills and expect them to win.” Our standard for the Strong27™ ministry at Men of Iron is 2 meetings per month for 12 months or 24 meetings. In some cases, 12 months isn’t enough. We understand mentoring and discipleship needs a standard, and we’re looking for potential church partners who are willing to agree with that standard.
  • Men are in a war, not a battle. We’re talking about lives…real men…with real souls…with real issues…with real potential. We need to quit treating men’s lives as battles that can be won in a day or two. Men in churches across the world are in the midst of a war with a real enemy.  1 Peter 5:8 says, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” History has proven that wars can go on for years. The men in your church don’t need an 8-week program. Their enemy is bigger than that and is focused more on the war than the battle. Are we focused on the war or the convenience of a battle?

I want to challenge and encourage all of us to have an open mind when it comes to time and commitment it takes to mentor men. Conduct an honest assessment of yourself and your church in regards to this topic. How well are you REALLY doing? Are the men who form the backbone of your church taking the time and intentionality to step into the lives of the next generation?

There are young men in your church who are getting married, starting careers and families, striving to find balance, etc. It’s often these same men who desire to lead well and grow deeper in their faith. Our philosophy is that being a man is a big deal and big things take time. It is for this reason why mentoring needs a long-term approach.

Garret Barbush, Executive Director