I see you. I see the way you speak words of encouragement and life into those around you. I see the way you lift others up when they are down. I see the way you struggle in a world that doesn’t understand what it means to be a good man. I see you because I know you.
I know my father. He always encouraged me and my siblings and still does. He (and my mother) drove us to academic competitions, art, band, camps, choir, sports, theatre, youth group, and whatever else we dreamed up. He practiced with us, listened to us, and pushed us to grow. He planned amazing educational vacations and shared his love of history. He told us we could go wherever we wanted to college as long as he and my mother paid public state tuition prices. Any limitations we had were our own. We were only restrained by our own work ethic and drive. We each walked our own path and are successful in our own right: businessman, clergywoman, and public servant. And he supports me today.
I know my grandfathers. One was a man of few words, but I knew he was proud of my accomplishments and sadly I lost him too soon. The other was a man of many jokes and he lived to know he was a great-grandfather. Our relationship was one of laughter, openness, and encouragement.
I know my brother. He was a tough act to follow and he encouraged me as I did. He celebrated when I did the same things he did and he celebrated when I succeeded at my own things. He was gracious and loving as I started a family first. He is a man of deep faith, passion, and emotion. His family is now blessed because of him.
I know my husband. He is the man he is by the grace of God and his own stubborn integrity. He is an overcomer and a man who grows each day. He is my biggest supporter, encouraging me when I doubt myself, pushing me when I want to give up, offering advice when I am lost, rejoicing when I succeed, and walking beside me through all my adventures.
I know many lay mentors and fellow Christ-lovers. They taught me, heard my deepest words, and encouraged me as I surpassed them in credentials. They have been a positive voice in my head when I struggle. They have given me a strong foundation to launch me into ministry. They are still there for me and still cheering me on.
I know many pastoral mentors and now fellow clergy. They saw gifts and graces in me when I couldn’t see them and opened my eyes. They have challenged my comfort level and disturbed me with their probing questions. They have walked with me through seminary, candidacy, and commissioning and continue to support me as I work toward ordination. They are shepherding their congregations on paths of biblical truth and grace and invite me to partner with them. We are co-workers in the field.
I see you. I see all of you.
As you have encouraged me, may I now encourage you? Continue in the way you are going. Continue to encourage those around you. Continue to speak words of life and truth. Continue to challenge people to be a better version of themselves. Continue to grow on your own journey. I need good men around me. You enrich my life. You enrich the lives of the next generation, like my sons, and they need your faithful example!