Real Men Stand
What would it take to show the world the real you?
I still remember how it felt standing at the top of “the Big One.” Long before halfpipes and vert ramps, we simply had this steep, daunting hill. The journey down the Big One was the only way home from the neighborhood swimming pool, so for us there were only two ways down: walk or ride.
At the end of each day we’d stand gazing down the Mount Everest of blacktop, and then, one by one, the others would launch their boards until I was the only one left, standing alone with my board and a stomach full of fear. That’s when I would finally take off down the hill…sitting on my board. It took about fifteen seconds to actually make it down. But it only took five or six seconds for the insults to start flying.
“Stand up! Stand up, you sissy!” the other boarders would yell.
There was a protocol, the unwritten riding rule, and we all knew it. Stand, or be:
• a boarding baby
• a sissy skater
• a sitterAnyone
could sit down while surfing the Big One. That was easy. But it took a “man” to be willing to stand and conquer the holy hill, the supersurfing slope, the four-wheel ride of royalty, the… Okay, you get it.
Anyway, as a kid, I was not only afraid of heights, wasps, sleeping in the dark, and my older brother’s fist, I was also afraid of standing on a fifteen-by-five-inch orange plastic board on wheels as it traveled much faster than I dared, especially since, somewhere between the top and the bottom of the paved slope, I could experience real pain. So it didn’t take long for me to be labeled a “skating sissy.”
Brad, Eric, Steve, others whose names I can’t remember, and, of course, my older brother were just a few of our neighborhood boarding heroes who had mastered the Big One. Day after day they would sit poolside, bragging about their downhill dominance. I dreamed of having the courage to graduate from sitter to stander. Then I
would have bragging rights and, most important, the respect of my older brother.
I’m not sure what made me decide to finally attempt to stand, but it might’ve had something to do with the fact that the Schubert twins, Laura and Leslie, who lived in our neighborhood and whose home was directly at the bottom of the Big One, were looking particularly lovely that summer day. They were watching, and they knew what it meant to stand. They knew about the boarding heroes. And unfortunately for me, they also knew that I was a sitter. I had to do something about that.
Have you ever had one of those moments where you envisioned the finish line and everyone was there chanting your name as you were the first to cross? or that moment in the final seconds of the big game when the score is tied and the ball’s in your hands? or the Hail Mary spiral that’s thrown into the end zone as the final second ticks off the clock and your hands and the ball meet at just the right moment, and then you’re hoisted onto the shoulders of your teammates, and everyone is cheering for you, including that hot girl you’ve been checking out at school?
So I did it. I positioned my lead foot, I shifted my weight forward, and I pushed off. I guess it was somewhere around the seventh or eighth second that I realized I was moving much faster than I wanted to be moving. And just as quickly, I realized I no longer cared what Brad, Eric, Steve, my brother, or even the Schubert twins thought. Shortly after that moment of enlightenment, the pain began. I’m not exactly sure which body part met the pavement first, but eventually every inch of me got a closeup view.
Becoming one with the pavement is an experience unlike most I’ve encountered, one I hoped I’d never encounter again. But I did. Three days later. Same hill, same board, similar pain. I was determined to conquer that hill standing, with all my doubters watching. I never did. All I ended up with when summer was over were a few more bloody knees, skinned-up palms, and a scar on my arm that’s still there to this day.
think about it
If I’d said no that day atop the Big One and made my way down the hill sitting on my board, would that
have made me any less of a man? Or if I’d successfully surfed the hill standing rather than kissed the
pavement, would I be a better man today?
Hindsight tells me that attempting to master the hill wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done. But we do some really dumb things when we’re trying to earn other people’s approval. I wanted to become something more than I was. I wanted everyone to watch what I could do, to see how I could accomplish something awesome. And I thought conquering the Big One was the way to show them.
WAT C H T H I S
Take a minute to look really deep into your heart and then consider
• Do I want more from life than what I’ve got right now?
• Am I unfulfilled?
• Do I feel like something is missing from my life?
• Is there something inside of me that wants to be more, to not settle for just getting by?
• Can I be a better man than I am right now?
If you said yes to any one of those questions, then this book is for you. Watch This
is a guide to becoming more, to finding that “something missing,” to becoming a man of God. The desire that led me to sacrifice my body on the Big One all those times was one most of us share as men: We want to take risks, show off, and win.
We want to say “Watch this!” to the world and then accomplish something awesome.
What I didn’t realize was, my desire could be channeled into a better purpose–an eternal, God-given purpose. This book is meant to give you the tools first to find God’s purpose for you, and then to show the world what God can do through you. And as you work to follow him, God
will be watching. And you’ll get way more than earthly praise. Check it out:
His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21)
Whatever pride and prizes you could’ve gotten by winning on your own, none of them will be as rewarding as what the Creator of the universe can give you when you live for him. So, do you want to learn how to do that?
It’s not as impossible as you might think. All you’ve got to do is trust the Man who made you. Because he:
• wants to transform you into something better than what the world says you should be
• has created you for a specific reason
• wants to develop in you the qualities necessary to do great things for him
• is at work in your life to give you a future beyond anything you can imagine
All the aspects of your life–dilemmas, temptations, celebrations, struggles, and choices–are coming together to uniquely make you into the man God wants to use, if you choose to let him.
T H E WO R L D ’ S S TA N D A R D S O R G O D ’ S ?
I may not have realized it at the time, but failing to conquer that hill taught me a valuable lesson. I learned that pleasing other people is not what makes me a man. Being a man isn’t about always winning, always being strong, always impressing the girls. Being a real man has nothing to do with this world’s rules and everything to do with God’s rules. I learned that being a man is not about standing when others demand it, expect it, or suggest it. Being a man is about standing for what you know is right. And, more importantly, standing for what God says is right.
The problem is that what other people think of us feels really important. It did to me. It still does sometimes. It seems like people are always watching, judging, and criticizing, and you just want to prove to them that you’re good enough. But as long as you’re judging yourself by the world’s standards, you’re always going to fall short. The world’s rules are harsh and unforgiving, and they’re always the same:
• You lose? Game over.
• You don’t have the game? Sit on the bench.
• You can’t make the grades? You don’t pass.
• You aren’t who everyone else wants you to be? You’re not accepted.
• You don’t meet their standards? You’re out.
• You don’t look the way they do? You’re not invited.
• You can’t stand? You’re just a sitter.
I remember meeting fifteen-year-old Michael while speaking at a conference. He approached me one night, and we talked for a long time about his home life, his friends, and the fact that he felt extremely lonely. Michael had friends. But only because “I started partying and drinking with them.” He said, “I really wasn’t popular until I started living like they all lived… And now I’m not even sure who I am anymore.”
I totally understand what he’s saying. My attempts to conquer the Big One and Michael’s desire to find genuine friendships are similar because we were both in search of the same thing: fulfillment. You can probably relate to that. We all want to feel accepted, appreciated, respected, and loved. And like Michael, even with the best of intentions, it can be easy to replace God’s standards with the world’s.
You’re a teenager, just starting to become a man, and this means you’re going to have to make some tough decisions. Satan is working overtime to convince you that, unless you find acceptance and popularity in the world and measure up to the world’s standards, you’ll never find true fulfillment. You were created to find purpose in God, but Satan wants to convince you that God isn’t as cool as what the world has to offer. He’ll probably slip these ideas in without you even noticing. He’s great at getting us to see lies as truth, the world’s way as the right way.
When you accept Christ as your Savior, you become God’s ambassador to the world. People will be watching. And what will they see? A boy performing for the world, or a man performing God’s will in his life? Lasting fulfillment will never be found in anything this world offers. If you’re not careful, you can quickly and unintentionally buy into the world’s definition of manhood. But if you live by the world’s rules, you’re always going to feel like you’re not quite good enough. You’ll always be looking for more. Fortunately, God operates by a different standard.
A D U LT OR M A N ?
Right now you’re going through all the cliché teenager things–your body is changing, your voice is deepening, and older people are always exclaiming about how much you’ve grown. But becoming a man is not just about growing older. (I’m sure you can think of a few people older than you who don’t act like “men” at all.) You don’t choose whether or not you get older–you just do. But becoming a man is a choice.
think about it
How do you choose to become a man?
• By being more responsible for the choices you make–even the ones no one knows about but you.
• By carefully considering what kind of music you download into your head.
• By stopping to process possible consequences of an important choice before making it.
• By choosing friends wisely and then being a good friend to them.
• By respecting the wishes of your parents, even when you disagree with them.
• By taking ownership of your relationship with God by committing to spend more time talking with him.
• By living so that those who are watching will see God in you.
Everything that’s happened in your life until this exact moment has been orchestrated by God. He has allowed every moment of glory, defeat, celebration, tragedy, happiness, and disappointment. Nothing that’s happened in your life has been a surprise to him. And there’s no part of your life he doesn’t know about. He knows:
• your greatest struggles
• your disappointments
• your home life
• your fears
• what you’re thinking at this very moment
• the choices you regret
• what you do in your private world
• what you hope for
• what you dream of
• absolutely everything about you
Even before you drew your first breath, God knew you. And ever since, he has had his hand on every aspect of your life. He knows you better than you know yourself, and he even knows things you don’t know about yourself. The Bible says, “Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30).
God knows so much about you because he cares so much about you. He did create you, after all. He has an incredible plan for your life–and he wants you to know about it. It may not take something as big as a hill, a skateboard, and pain to get your attention–but it did for me. And God will do whatever’s necessary to get you to focus on him, because he wants you to fully experience the life he’s created for you.the real deal
God knows your potential. He gave it to you. He
understands your weaknesses. He sees past your
inabilities. He has complete confidence in the man
you can be. Only God can help you reach your potential.
Only he can give you strength beyond your weaknesses.
Only he can give you lasting fulfillment. But
your attention has to be on him, not on measuring up
to others. And if you’re focusing on the wrong things,
he may use extreme measures to get your attention.
Carrying out the game plan God has drawn up for you will make you feel more fulfilled than anything in this world. But before you can experience that, you have to trust him. Proverbs 3:5—6 reads, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
In other words, God is saying: Give me a chance. Let me prove to you that I have it all under
Let me show you that I am capable of doing something amazing with your life.
Let me make you into the man I created you to be.
Let me make you into the man who will stand for me.
Let me use you to show the world who I am.
W H AT Y O U N E E D T O K N OW A S Y O U R E A D
This book is meant to help you grow into the man God created you to be–the one who trusts him and stands for him, the one who helps a watching, waiting world to see him. But before you start reading, there are four Foundational Truths you need to know. These four things will help you get the most out of what I’m sharing with you–and I hope they will help you get the most out of your life too.1. Don’t just take my word for it.
When I was younger and I read certain books that used a lot of scripture, I would skip over the scripture. If you do that with this book, you’ll miss the good stuff. Each verse has been chosen for a very specific reason. So as you read, don’t just take my word on a particular issue. Read the included scriptures. Think about them. Go deeper. Ask questions. Don’t just be challenged by me, be challenged by God in his Word.2. If he says it, he means it.
Since I just established in Truth #1 that I’ll share a ton of scriptures with you throughout this book, you need to know this: if God says it, he means it. There are some who teach that God’s Word is no longer relevant to your life or that you don’t have to do everything the Bible says. Don’t buy it. The Bible is truth. It’s from God. And it’s God’s gift to you to guide you on your journey. Without it, you would be just as lost as Tony Hawk without
his board. The point is–you can take God at his Word. 3. No wimps allowed.
This book is not for wimps. You don’t have to do everything that’s written in the following pages. But you’ll have a hard time becoming the man God says you can be if you don’t. This book is not a walk-in-the-park, feel-good read. Becoming a man of God is serious business. Representing God in this world means lots of people will be watching you–and that’s a big responsibility. So as you read, you’ll need discipline, consistency, determination, and trust. And if you choose to apply these truths to your life, it’s a choice that’ll help transform you into his likeness and shape you into the man you were made to be.4. You can do this.
I’m going to be honest with you and really challenge you in these next chapters. I’ll ask things of you that are more difficult than anything you’ve done before. But don’t worry–though you can’t become the man God wants you to be by just cramming for the test the night before, the extra work will be worth it. There may be times as you’re reading when you’ll feel like throwing in the towel. But don’t do it. Your walk with God isn’t like getting a shot of a spiritual steroid. It’s a one-day-at-a-time thing. So don’t give up. You can do this.
W H Y Y O U N E E D T O K E E P R E A D I N G
First, God wants to guide you as you become a man, but you might need some help hearing his voice and understanding his Word. My hope is that this book will help you follow him where he wants you to go and do what he wants you to do. As you start really working at this and begin to see yourself as he sees you, all those problems that weigh you down every day will feel a little lighter because you don’t have to deal with them alone.
Second, this book will also be a resource for you. Use it as one. You’ll face problems that seem insurmountable. And Satan will work overtime to mess up God’s plan for your life. That’s why I’ve devoted an entire chapter to each of these critical areas:
• pornography and masturbation (yep, we’re gonna talk
You probably have a lot of questions about the stuff in that list. Maybe you’re too embarrassed to ask anyone else, or maybe you don’t know who to ask. Hopefully this book will be a place you can come to for answers. Inside all these chapters, I’ll try to use my experience working with teenagers to answer some of your toughest questions. I won’t pretend that I know everything– because I definitely don’t–but I’ll share what I’ve learned in my own walk with God and in helping other people with theirs.
This is your moment of decision. Right now you’re standing at the top of the Big One, and the question is, what’ll you do? Will you shrink back when the challenge comes and not even try to stand? Or will you accept the challenge and let the world watch what God can do in your life?
If you choose option two, you’ll stand for God in a world that desperately needs to see him and know him. And you will see God go to work in your life in amazing ways…You just watch.
Excerpted from Watch This by Jeffrey Dean. Copyright © 2007 by Jeffrey Dean. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.