Man Time

Posted on by Heidi Brunsting

By Gareth Unruh, Assistant Director, Juvenile Justice Ministry, Denver Area YFC

Below you’ll see a picture of my sons, we spend time talking around a fire – actually there is a lot more giggling than serious talking. I try to be intentional about spending time with these guys together and separately. We were talking tonight around the dinner table about their favorite times with me and all of them talked about time away in the backcountry away from technology and the society we live in. But, I digress … the youth I work with in youth facilities don’t have these memories with their dad or any father figure – because they don’t have a dad or a father figure. Let’s face it, dads out there are in short supply. My oldest son has started asking more questions about what I do and how I spend my time when I’m away from them. He asks, “Why do those guys make the choices they make to get in trouble?” So I asked back, “How much time do you think these guys spend with an adult who cares about them and models how to live this life we are in?”

These young adults do not have anyone that has invested in them or modeled how to live this life! They don’t know how to have an argument and still treat the person they have the argument with, with respect and dignity. They don’t know how to because they’ve never seen it modeled. How do we expect them to respect authority, manage money, use their gifts to help others – instead of just using them to get their own needs met?! Many of the young adults I work with are in survival mode, and when you operate in that mindset you don’t have the tools to problem solve or live above the norm this world teaches. When a bully treats them with a lack of respect, they raise their fists to prove themselves – while I teach my sons how to interact and have the other person’s perspective and where that bully is coming from.

If we could have a caring, competent, consistent, loving adult in these young people’s lives – they wouldn’t be locked up with a bunch of other youth who haven’t learned that skill yet [that’s another topic for another blog post]. Men, it’s time to step up and model to your children what a “true” man does in those circumstances and how to handle what life throws at them. So, if men like this are in short supply I ask, what is our response?

  1. Be a role model and and example to the children around you, with your own children but also to the youth that are in your neighborhood or community. Be firm, consistent, set boundaries, teach right and wrong.
  2. The local church has to step up and visit those in prison – I’m pretty sure I’ve heard that somewhere else! We can no longer stand on the side lines, it’s time to engage.
  3. Know yourself. I’ve been learning that the more I know myself and how I was made the more I can accept the love of a Heavenly Father that has been chasing after me my whole life, and help others to learn how to rest in that unconditional love as well. Think about it, if I lived loved would it matter if someone disrespects me or puts me down … why would it when I know what HE thinks about me and what HE says about me!

So, what say you! Will you step up? Will you be an example for others? That’s all discipleship is about, loving God and loving others. I had a conversation with a group trying to do this in Alaska and they are coming against opposition of others who want to hinder their efforts. Why? Because there are so many people knocking down the door to work with this high-risk population? Absurd! We need to aggressively push to be involved in the lives of these hurting, broken, homeless, marginalized, abused youth! If you are involved in this you know that it is thankless at times, but so worth it. Thank you for fighting against time constraints, life responsibilites and your  schedule to give back. If you have been hesitant to do this because of whatever “fear” captivates you, press in more with the Father and ask what he thinks. Talk to someone who is doing this and ask them why they do it.

I long for the day where we don’t turn a blind eye to the societal issues of this world we are a part of. We once took care of the people in our community. I say we can get back to that, if we step up. More Man Time! More modeling! More perspective…

This article originally appeared on and is being republished by permission.

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