On Saturday morning, October 13, 2018 I delivered a chapel talk to the Southern Illinois University Football team and coaching staff. Its title was, Men are Needed. Our head coach wants the entire program to be built on the foundational idea of, “Be a Man.” I have been entrusted with the task of defining terms in this process. A large majority of our young men grew up in one parent families, without their fathers in the homes, thus making the idea of being a man more than a little difficult to grasp.
Friday night, as I was preparing, I sent a text message to many friends, colleagues, and my mentor asking for prayer. I could already feel the weight of this message for these young men. More than some sort of hype message, or a pregame rah rah talk, I intended to speak to their hearts about the value of their being the men they were made to be.
I began by asking the men to think about this question, “Who are the important men in your life?”
Secondly, I asked them to consider when they need those men. I offered suggestions like:
· When making big decisions.
· When in trouble.
· When confused.
· When in need of guidance.
· When achieving greatly.
· When failing.
· When feeling thankful.
· When needing affirmation.
I said, “Men are needed, by all of us in the room, and by all those around us.”
I asked one of our leaders, a junior running back, to pray.
I introduced and read the day’s scriptural text, Philippians 1:21-24.For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.
I explained that the apostle was ready to leave this life and to be with Christ in Heaven. He was very aware, however that his friends in Philippi needed him. He, therefore, was committed to stay where he was, for their sake.
I then stated the following ideas with strong conviction and a commanding tone of voice:
· Men are needed by their friends.
o When they need someone to trust.
o When they need someone to encourage them.
o When they need someone to believe in.
o Men are needed by their friends.
· Men are needed by their parents.
o For their lives to have a legacy.
o For security.
o For a sense of family pride. “That’s my son.”
o Men are needed by their parents.
· Men are needed by the women in their lives – mothers, sisters, girlfriends, wives.
o For security.
o For provision.
o For comfort.
o For stability.
o For courage.
o For direction.
o For confidence.
o Men are needed by the women in their lives.
· Men are needed by their children.
o Your children need you. Hear these statistics:
§ 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes.
§ 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.
§ 85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes.
§ 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes.
o My son is 41 years old. He still needs me and I need him.
o Men are needed by their children.
· Today, Men are needed by their teammates.
o To compete.
o To battle.
o To overcome.
· We are men. We need each other. Let’s compete like champions. Let’s be the men we were created to be.
· I prayed to wrap things up and to bless our pregame meal.
I was pleased with how things turned out, and I sent a thank you text message to those who had prayed for me. I pray that this message had its designed impact upon our coaches and players, and I pray it is some value to you and those you serve as well.