Have you ever tried to gain perspective on something? What process did you employ, and what did it look like when you got there? The term perspective was coined in 1380; it originally meant “the science of optics.” So perspective has to do with your sight or vision. In a nutshell, perspective is the faculty of gathering and assessing all the relevant data in a meaningful relationship, then drawing the best conclusion possible to gain clarity, open up options, and make the critical choice to advance your agenda. So it seems, optics/sight has a lot to with acquiring data from a visual standpoint. To gain the right perspective you will need to accurately gather information, analyze and interpret the information clearly. Perspective helps you see where you stand at the moment, and what’s emerging before you so you can see the “big picture.”
I propose a three-point process to help you gather and glean better perspective:
1. Hindsight – The past reveals critical facts and information
The past is an excellent source of information for attaining perspective but it’s only one of the many methods you will need to get there. The grasp of the facts and their proper application to your present circumstances is powerful. Looking into the past is essential to gather bits of information needed for your journey. Therefore, one must learn to accumulate valuable data, and assess its value before making critical decisions. For example, you can look into your own personal history to gain vital data, even surf the Internet data bases, websites, and e-libraries, which will provide you with insights from other people’s experiences. Looking back to gain understanding for the present moment is vital for acquiring perspective but this is only one facet, you will also need foresight as well.
T. Irene Sanders, a sought after “change” expert, strategist and author, notes the key to foresight is learning to recognize your system’s initial conditions as they are emerging, so that you can see change coming, respond early, or influence it to your advantage. Take for instance the running back who is fully engaged in a play. He is visually responding at rapid speeds to the opposing team’s attempt to impede his progress. Within nanoseconds he must assimilate the oncoming stimuli through his visual senses (foresight) to adjust his speed, craft turns and spins to gain a personal and team advantage before he is tackled. Foresight gives you the same advantage when you are making critical decisions about your life, business, etc. The key to foresight is you must be visually alert to emerging stimuli to see what’s in it, interpret it correctly, and determine what it means to you.
3. Insight – Tapping into knowledge to gain understanding, then allowing wisdom to have its say.
Insight is also a word dealing with sight. Insight means, “sight with the eyes of the mind” or what Sanders calls “visual thinking”, which is the ability to create and interact with images in one’s mind. For example, insight is a useful skill when discerning and understanding times of transition. For example, in the Old Testament, the sons of Issachar (1 Chronicles 12:32) were very insightful people. During the transition of two clashing kingdoms (King Saul’s and David), the tribe of Issachar had to make a critical choice of loyalty. They had to answer these questions: What is happening at the moment and what changes are coming? They tapped into the current facts (knowledge) of their situation by gaining understanding, then allowed corporate wisdom to have its say. Today, they are renowned for their skills to “see” patterns emerging before them during a crucial moment of a power transition. It’s interesting to note that the other 10 or so tribes failed the test to see this transition happening before their very eyes.
Where these points useful? What else can you add to this equation?
The abandoned boy’s eyes darted to and fro in a frantic search for his father. “Dad!” he called out. No answer. “Have you seen my dad?” he asked the man standing next to him who could only shake his head no. The panic-stricken boy looked into the sea of faces in front of him…not there. He scanned the parking lot behind him…no sign of dad. “Where is he? What am I going to do? Who will stand by me?” he thought to himself. Then, out of nowhere… “I’m here for you,” he heard the stranger say. “If your dad doesn’t show up, you can count on me.”
Joel Garcia remembers it like it was yesterday. The same feelings that race through the heart of a little boy lost in a shopping center raged through the 17-year-old football player’s heart and mind—panic, confusion, fear. For years he had looked forward to this night on the football field at Yuba City High School in Northern California. Every fall the senior players would take to the turf at halftime with their proud dads for the father/son recognition ceremony. Joel, a hopeful teen who desperately wanted his father’s approval, considered it a rite of passage. His dad was a hard-working man who provided for his family, making sure that their physical needs were met. But, when it came to offering emotional and spiritual support and guidance, Joel’s dad was a “no-show.” The teen ached for his father’s affection and was certain that finally, in this moment, he would win it. This would be the night when his dad would publicly proclaim his love and support for his son. Sadly, and unbeknownst to Joel, his father made other plans and went out drinking with his buddies instead. Joel was left to fend for himself on the field.
“At the last minute, this guy who I had never really met said he would stand in for my dad,” remembers Joel. “The announcer called my name and my dad’s name and this stranger put his arm around me and walked me out onto the field. When my father abandoned me, that man stood in the gap. I will never forget it.” It was a defining moment for the teen when abandonment and rescue intersected in the deepest channels of his heart.
He would find himself in the middle of that intersection time and again in the coming years. The first was in college when he realized that he was lost in the world without God, and he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. The abandonment wound deep within Joel’s heart began to heal as he learned that he had a Father in Heaven who loved him and would never leave or forsake him.
The second time came years later when, watching his own son take to the football field, the pain caused by his own father surged through his heart again. “God forgave me and freed me from my sin; yet I was still bound by my hatred for my father,” recalls Joel. He wrote to his dad, asking for forgiveness and offering his own. Once again, deep within that wound of abandonment, Joel experienced healing. “I’m not angry at my dad anymore. And, now I have a burden to reach fathers and sons,” says Joel who is passionate about encouraging dads to be more than providers in their families. “My story shows that you can be there and not be there as a dad. Kids can have a father in the home and still suffer from abandonment. They need to know that dad will not only put food on the table for them, but will love them and be there for them emotionally and spiritually.”
Joel recently shared that advice with his daughter and son-in-law who are expecting their first child—Joel’s first grandchild—later this year. His eyes fill with tears as he considers the wounds of the past and looks forward to the future. “I’m hoping the next generation can look back and say ‘We had a grandfather who changed the pattern of our family’s life. We are a healthy family because my grandfather and grandmother invested in us.’”
Today, Joel is passionately serving the Latino community of Las Vegas, coming alongside teenagers—many of whom have been left behind by society, the educational system, and their families—to help them build a more hopeful future. Joel and his wife of 25 years, Robyn, have three grown children and are looking forward to helping raise the next generation of their family. They are also strong supporters of Fathers in the Field. “I deeply felt the impact of a man standing in the gap for my absent father and it made all the difference to me,” said Joel. “I know that when a Mentor Father does that for a fatherless boy, eternity opens up for him.”
A Healing Journey by Fathers in the Field; 3.31.10. Link: http://www.fathersinthefield.com/news-events.php?id=42, Accessed 1.10.11.
What is fatherlessness anyway? Fatherlessness is simply the absence of a father’s influence in the lives of their children. Fatherlessness ranges from mere absenteeism, neglect or ineptness to parent effectively. For example, it has been discovered that when a father leads the way spiritually that 93% of family members are likely to follow him, as opposed to only 17% of family members when a mother attempts to take the same spiritual role. This is a significant finding and confirms the role, authority and influence a father possesses over his family. Fathers in the Field, an organization dedicated to mentoring fatherless boys claims:
Some 24 million boys are growing up fatherless in America – Nearly a third of all American children are born to unmarried parents; the numbers are even higher among poor, minority populations – 40% among Hispanics, and 70% among African-Americans.”
As you can see fatherlessness is rapidly rising among Hispanics, and consuming the African-American community. Unless we get serious about this cultural epidemic, fatherlessness will continue to disrupt the family and devastate communities, perhaps even bring our culture to its demise. Dr. Leonard Sax, author of Boys Adrift notes:
Enduring cultures have strong bonds across the generations. In contemporary American culture, we’re seeing those bonds dissolve rapidly, in the span of a single lifetime.”
Dr. Sax is referring to the generational bonds between grandfathers, fathers and sons. This trend of generational disconnect in our society is showing significant signs of cultural decline. The following statistics from Fathers in the Field website should alarm you:
1. Fatherless children commit 72% of adolescent murders.
2. 70% of juveniles in reform institutions are fatherless.
3. 67% of state prison inmates come from fatherless homes.
4. 60% of rapists come from fatherless homes.
5. 30% more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.
6. Fatherless children are twice as likely to drop out of school.
7. And, 11 times more likely to exhibit violent behavior at school.
It is for these reasons and other unseen factors that we should pay more attention to the fatherlessness issue in our society, but just how do we begin to address this epidemic? Dr. Sax provides the following insight:
To become a man, a boy must see a man. But that man doesn’t have to be his father. In fact, ideally, it shouldn’t be only his father. Even if your son has a strong father or father figure in his life, he also needs a community of men who together can provide him with the varied models of what productive adult men do.”
So where do we find this “community of men”? Many high profile athletes who were considered “role models” have abdicated their leadership role in the area of providing the leadership to inspire a generation of young boys by scandals of infidelity, drug exposures and boyish antics on public television for all to see. These examples of fallen heroes and others from admired professions force us to turn somewhere else for answers.
What solutions can you offer to curb the “fatherlessness epidemic” in America today?
Updated article, previously published on Ezine Articles on 3.19.2010
“A mentor is a catalyst for change in a young person’s life.” -Joel Garcia
A person seeks out a mentor for many reasons. In my experience, the most common reason is a person desires change but can’t achieve it alone. The role of a mentor is to be a catalyst for change in a person’s life. They must first understand the struggles and obstacles in a mentee’s life, which are usually associated with what I call the Danger Signs of Compromise. Therefore, most mentees’ under your care will be going through some “trouble spots” in his or her life.
Once you have acquired a mentee, how do you go about discerning these trouble spots? The following “five danger signs” are examples of my mentoring experiences where I learned these danger signs. A mentor must understand the five “signs” of compromise if the mentoring process is to have some measure of success. A mentor is like a seer who perceives the danger ahead through:
1. Conversation – The first danger sign is evident by listening to a person’s conversation.
People will disclose vital information about their life if you just let them talk. A mentor must listen carefully by picking up on subtleties critical to a mentee’s journey. For example, if a person is disgruntled about their marriage, and speaks openly about it often, then a potential door opens to flirtation, followed by an emotional affair, and eventually consummating an adulterous relationship is highly possible. Adultery doesn’t happen over night; it’s a subtle process. An experienced mentor can perceive the possibility of this taking place.
2. Drifting Eyes – The second method in reading the danger signs is by watching your mentee’s eyes.
The eyes are the window to a person’s soul. A mentor should be look into the eyes of their mentee during every conversation. You can read a lot by watching someone’s eyes. Wandering eyes are a clue to what is steering them inside. A person with loose or wandering eyes has a lust problem and lacks self-control. Eventually, this problem can lead to poor relational boundaries or moral failure; it happened to a friend of mine.
3. Body Language – The third method of detecting a problem is by watching body language.
I learned this method by watching how teenage couples touch each other in public. The more intimate the touch in public the greater the likelihood of having consummated sexual intimacy in private. If they are showing physical demonstrative signs in public, like petting in the lower parts of the body, then how are they acting in private? I have seen this on two separate occasions but I was too late to warn them. A few months after observing these young couples I discovered, in both cases, the young female was pregnant (A lesson I learned the hard way. I won’t make this mistake anymore). Observation requires a degree of discernment to read the non-verbal language of others, and take appropriate action.
4. The Absence of Passion – The fourth sign to watch for is the loss of passion.
Watch for people who can’t find their passion or have lost it. When I teach at our weekly men’s Bible study I am looking around to see who is present and who is missing. This is my duty as a pastor to watch and discern what men are going through. When men lose their passion for righteousness they are not too far off from being consumed by other things.
5. Withdrawing – The fifth danger sign is withdrawing from others.
When you withdraw from others you tend to be vulnerable because you are less accountable and open to attack. God created us to be part of a community and not to live in isolation from others. Proverbs 18:1 (NKJV) reveals:
A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment.”