Several years ago I noticed a pattern in young men’s lives. As they began their careers, they all seemed to have the same plan for their lives: make a great deal of money, marry the woman of their dreams and have perfect children—the American Dream. But, if you fast forward 15 to 20 years, it hits them that life has not turned out the way they had planned—work, marriage and raising children in this culture are very difficult. The mid-life crisis most men go through, I believe, is in reality a spiritual crisis, and there is a great opportunity to reach men. That is how the vision to start the center came about.
I was inspired to write the book because of the financial crisis and the great fear that men were experiencing. Warren Buffett called it a paralyzing fear. Someone suggested I give a series of talks on why men were having such difficulty understanding their fears, struggles and even depression. I gave four talks that were very well received, and then it was suggested that I convert them into a book, which I did.
Q: How does this book differ from other self-help books for men? How will it connect with a man’s heart?
I think it is different because it goes below the surface and speaks into men’s lives. It helps them understand themselves and how their fear of failure, which is like a psychological death to most men, creates all kinds of dysfunction in their lives. But then also the book tells them very forthrightly how to be set free from this performance trap we get caught in. This part has probably impacted more men than any other part of the book.
Q: How is the American culture different than other cultures when it comes to a man’s value?
In our culture, men get their sense of worth and identity based almost solely on how well they perform and achieve in the workplace. In more traditional cultures, men get their sense of identity based on their relationships (father, son, husband, friend) and their character.
Q: You talk a great deal about men’s fears in the book. What are some of their greatest fears?
Man’s greatest fear (maybe other than death) is the fear of failure. It causes all types of problems that just cascade into his life. This leads men to have shallow relationships with other men and to the fear of taking risks and the need to impress others. It is why we compare ourselves with other men, and it results in jealousy and envy of other men who we consider to be successful.
Q: Is this only a book for men? How could a woman benefit from reading it?
We are finding women love the book. I had a 72-year-old woman tell me she has read it twice. I had another woman who has been married 18 years tell me she never really understood her husband until she read the book.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your ministry, the Center for Executive Leadership? What is it, and how is it changing the lives of men today?
I developed the center in 2000 when I realized how badly men were struggling with their identity. Its mission is to assist men with the development of their spiritual lives, to empower them through God’s Word by developing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, to enlighten men to God’s truth so they can live their lives to the fullest and to get them into the Word and the Word into the world. You can learn more about the Center for Executive Leadership by going to our website at www.thecenterbham.org.
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