Sep 18, 2020
Creating a Crisis in Your Life to Avoid One
An Average Joe, or Is It Jay?
Several times a year we strategically invite the “Average Joe” on the Men in the Arena Podcast. They have never written a book. They do not travel the country public speaking. They do not have a huge social media following.
But they are heroes. They are what every man should aspire to when we read about the qualifications of leadership in the Pastoral Epistles that Gene Getz so brilliantly wrote about in his classic, The Measure of a Man. They have stepped out of the anonymous bleachers and into the Arena.
Because they get it—everyone wins
My friend Jay Penton is one of those men. Jay, 53, was part of the Panama Invasion, served in the Gulf War, is a State Trooper in Alabama, and is an ordained Deacon and the Pastor of Men’s Ministry in his church. In his free time, he monitors our Facebook Forum as an Arena Coach.
He has a heart of gold and. I’m proud to call him my friend although our relationship has only been through Zoom!
But Jay hasn’t always been that way.
1999, Something is Wrong
God is a God of paradox. When we die, it is then we live. When we give, it is then we receive. When we are weak, it is then we are strong. When we are born again, it is then that we die to self. When we lose our life, it is then that we find it. When we surrender, it is then that we find victory.
The end of the millennium was a paradoxical year for Jay, in that it was the worst and best year of his life. It was a year he experienced two great crises that ultimately changed his life for the better.
It was the year his precious daughter Delaney was born. Jay remembers, “When Delaney was born something was wrong, but we didn’t know what. When we took her to the Children’s Hospital, the diagnosis was Prader-Willi Syndrome. On top of it all, when Delaney was one month old, Jay’s wife got into a freak car accident, broke her pelvis in three places, and was told she wouldn’t walk for at least six months!
Jay recalls, “New dad, new job, new baby, broken baby, broken wife, broken life.”
When he was at his lowest, God sent her a surgeon and in three months his wife was walking again. But the man Jay was, was in a battle with Jay’s best version.
The Great Chinese “Crisis”
For years I was wrongly taught by well-meaning preachers that the two Chinese symbols for crisis were “danger” and “opportunity”, which is simply not true.
According to Wikipedia: “Sinologist Victor H. Mair of the University of Pennsylvania states the popular interpretation of weiji as ‘danger’ plus ‘opportunity’ is a ‘widespread public misperception’ in the English-speaking world. The first character wēi (危) does indeed mean ‘dangerous’, but the second, highly polysemous, character jī (机; 機) does not mean ‘opportunity’, but something more like ‘change point’. The confusion likely arises from the fact that the character for jī is a component of the Chinese word for "opportunity", jīhuì (機會; 机会).”
When Jay experienced his 1999 crisis, it wasn’t an opportunity to hide behind a corner but a radical change of life. That year propelled Jay to become the man he is today. The problem with men today is that we avoid a crisis at all costs, in pursuit of our hedonistic ideals. But a crisis is exactly what we need to break free of our convenient comfort cages.
Boots on the Ground— “Create a Crisis”
My friend Rick constantly reminds me to “create a crisis” with our bodies, families, marriages, and careers. In other words, make decisions against yourself. Put yourself purposely in over your head. Dream God-sized dreams that sound ridiculous to the Godless.
When I climbed Oregon’s South Sister with its 5,000 feet of vertical gain in only six miles (one way) I created a crisis that forced me to train. When we launched Men in the Arena in 2012 (then called The Great Hunt for God) we created a crisis of faith.
Create a Crisis.
September is coming. I want you to do something that will create a toughness or resolve in your life. You only become your best version with you throw yourself into the refiner’s fire.
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.
As the heavens for height and the earth for depth,
So the heart of kings is unsearchable.
Take away the dross from the silver,
And there comes out a vessel for the smith;
Take away the wicked before the king,
And his throne will be established in righteousness.
Create a Crisis.