051: Heart Strong – A Conversation with Chuck Bolton (Episode One) [podcast]

I’ve spent 15 months in federal prison, but I can say the loneliest, darkest prison I’ve ever been in was my addiction. It was because I was alone and because I was living in secrets.

-Chuck Bolton


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Heart strong and soul safe. That’s what I think of when I think of Chuck Bolton. I had the privilege of sharing over four hours in the studio with this mentor, friend, and hero. He’s been close to hell and back more times than you’d want to count. Our conversation spanned federal prison, private jets, big dollars, big deals, and devastating losses and glorious recovery.

If you want to become the kind of man who, in time, has a wife who can say confidently, “I not only love my husband, but I actually really enjoy him,” spend time considering the wisdom that flows from Chuck’s Kingdom ventures.

Let’s dive into the first in this series.

For the Kingdom,

Morgan

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050: Question Response Volume 1 [podcast]

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The questions came pouring in. From near and far. They have been rich and meaningful. What I thought would be one podcast celebrating the 50th episode of Become Good Soil is sure to turn into an extended volume of conversations over time.

For this first volume and to celebrate you—the tribe of like-hearted around the globe—we are diving into these questions:

  • Taking the lowest seat at the table: When is it time to take a higher seat and assume a role of greater leadership?
  • Initiating daughters: We’ve received treasures on initiating sons. I have daughters and girls in my world. Is it similar? Different?

Join me for this—and more—in the 50th episode.

For the Kingdom,

Morgan

I’d love to keep receiving questions for future volumes in this series. You can submit them HERE.

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049: Parenting and Styles of Relating

“Love and relationship are the bottom line of the Kingdom of God. And they must be ours if we are to establish a Kingdom culture in our homes.”

-Danny Silk,  Loving Our Kids on Purpose: Making a Heart-to-Heart Connection


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It was 21 years ago, but I remember the interaction like it was yesterday.  

I was in the home of a mentor, and he and I were talking in the kitchen while two of his boys played in the adjoining room.

A few minutes into our conversation, a conflict arose between the boys. And in the blink of an eye, as sometimes happens in the glorious fellowship of boys, the older son laid a couple of solid knocks on his younger brother. Immediately, I turned to their dad to see how he was going to respond. And the way he did blew my mind.

Having observed the whole thing out of the corner of his eye, their father caught my eye and signaled a pause in our conversation. Then, he went over to the son who had taken the swings at his younger brother.

Calmly kneeling before him, my friend looked directly in the eyes of his son and slowly said this:

“Son, God has made you strong for a reason. I love your strength. I see your strength. But do you think God made you strong to hurt or to help your brother?”

It was a sacred moment that continues to reverberate with instruction for me decades later.

Instead of only addressing his son’s behavior, my friend dropped below to the level of the heart. He validated his son’s strength and then appealed to his son’s own understanding of his strength, directing him to consider for himself God’s intentions for his strength. Rather than moving against his son and exacerbating the atmosphere of battle, my friend chose to calm himself first, then harness his own adult strength in order to move toward his son in love.

Much was at stake, in the boy’s heart and also in mine.

As we have explored in previous resources, understanding our styles of relating (first given visibility through Karen Horney) has been powerful to help me and many grow in awareness of our own impact as well as curiosity about how to move from reactivity toward integrated responsiveness in my relationships.

And as I engage this work, it is in the realm of parenting that I am feeling both the exposure of where I still operate with dysfunctional styles of relating and also the power of applying the material for truer connection with God, myself, and my children.

I was recently interviewed by Paul Edwards on the topic of the Styles of Relating applied in the realm of parenting. He has graciously made the audio of his podcast available for the Become Good Soil fellowship. I hope you enjoy.

For the Kingdom,

Morgan

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048: Initiating Five Sons with Paul Ryan [podcast]

Though it is rare, there are people who have built a strong inner character, who have achieved a certain depth. In these people, at the end of this struggle, the climb to success has surrendered to the struggle to deepen the soul.
-David Brooks, The Road to Character


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In The Road to Character David Brooks explains the crooked timber tradition, an ancient way of understanding human nature. The crooked timber tradition holds two facets of the human person in stable tension: humans have a genuine capacity for goodness and greatness (the timber); and, there are grains within each of us that are inherently “crooked” and must be addressed. If something beautiful, good, and true is to be constructed from a person’s life, the inner “bentness” must be corrected through an intentional process of pervasive inner transformation. In the mission and message of Become Good Soil, we have come to call this traveling the ancient road.  

Brooks intimately scrutinizes key historical figures whose lives exuded a particularly generative power, illustrating how each of these uniquely transformative men and women consciously devoted themselves to an ongoing process of personal reformation. Through his study,  Brooks distills this universal theme: “You have to give to receive. You have to surrender to something outside of yourself to gain strength within yourself. You have to conquer your desire to get what you crave. Success leads to the greatest failure, which is pride. Failure leads to the greatest success, which is humility and learning. In order to fulfill yourself, you have to forget yourself. In order to find yourself, you have to lose yourself.”

How rare it is to sit with a man who has traveled this crooked timber way, a man who reckons honestly with our God-given capacity to participate with God’s life and offer genuine strength for the sake his Kingdom, and also continually confronts the bent places within. How much rarer it is to lean into a man who has not only been initiated himself, but has also invested much of his strength to initiate five sons over the course of more than two decades. (This video is an example, a glimpse into one of the many initiation stories of Paul’s son Aaron.) Simply put, we are initiated as we initiate others.

Paul Ryan is this kind of man.

As part of the living legend series, I had the privilege to host an initiation conversation with Paul, a Become Good Soil mentor who serves as Director for Ellel Ministries in Australia, and more importantly is husband of Joanne and father to five sons and a radiant daughter.

Join us as we dive deep, excavating another layer of masculine initiation.


Note: In our conversation we reference Healing the Masculine Soul by Gordon Dalbey.

 

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047: Intensive Series (Episode 8 of 8) [podcast]

It is not what a man does that is of final importance, but what he is in what he does. The atmosphere produced by a man, much more than his activities, has the lasting influence.

Oswald Chambers


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In the mid-20th century, The Times in London ran an essay contest, inviting highly respected thinkers and leaders to respond to the question, “What’s wrong with the world?” Chesterton offered this as his full response:

Dear Sirs,

I am.  

Sincerely yours,

G. K. Chesterton

Chesterton was in contact with the reality of the masculine soul. An an apprentice in the way of the Kingdom, he had taken personal responsibility for his part in what is wrong in the world. Chesterton consented to a process of masculine initiation, a putting to death of the false self, this ancient path epitomized in the life and death of Jesus and described concisely by Joseph Campbell: “Where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves.” (2) Through apprenticeship to Jesus, Chesterton had become the kind of king who could be entrusted with more and more of God’s Kingdom.

We are invited to join him at the side of our true elder Brother, so that one day the inverse of the question offered by The Times might be answered positively by us all:

What’s right with the world?

I am.

That is what comes to mind when I think of the men with whom I had the honor to share this conversation for the final episode of the 8-part Become Good Soil Intensive Series.

One man shared this phenomenal joybomb with me recently. He hosted a few alumni and their families for a meal and some laughter around the campfire. One of the wives, who has suffered much trauma from being mistreated by men who were entrusted with the care of her heart, shared these words as she later reflected on the evening:

“I feel safe and secure in a world where there are men like these men around the fire.”

Oh, friends, the good it does my heart to know that among some of the lasting effects of the transformation of God in the hearts of men through this message, is this sort of good and caring impact on the lives of women. Perhaps it is indeed the “atmosphere” a man does or does not produce that can tell us much about the heart of the man.

If you’re joining us for the first time in this series, I would encourage you to begin with part one.

If this series has strengthened your masculine soul in any way, I encourage you to ask God which men in your world would benefit from your passing it along.

The deadline for applications for the next U.S. Intensive is October 12th. Find out more.

For the Kingdom,

Morgan


(1) Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth 

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046: Intensive Series (Episode 7 of 8) [podcast]

For a human character to reveal truly exceptional qualities, one must have the good fortune to be able to observe its performance over many years. If this performance is devoid of all egoism, if its guiding motive is unparalleled generosity, if it is absolutely certain there is no thought of recompense and that, in addition, it has left its visible mark upon the earth, then there can be no mistake.

– Jean Giono, The Man Who Planted Trees


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Who can forget when Daniel, the Karate Kid, visited Mr. Miyagi in his understated workshop? Or when Luke Skywalker was led to the swamp and encountered Master Yoda? Both young men found themselves responding to an invitation to enter a process of becoming. The theme is universal: the human soul is formed and forged at the feet of a wise master.

Yet this vision of apprenticeship to a Master is often exchanged for a commitment to autonomy and self-realization, especially in a culture enamored with the freshness of youth and fiercely committed to convenience.  

Dallas named this resistance to discipleship as “vampire Christianity.” In his words, this resistance effectively says to Jesus, “Yes, I’d like a little of your blood, please. But I don’t care to be your student or have your character. In fact, won’t you just excuse me while I get on with my life, and I’ll see you in heaven.” (1)

The Spirit is faithfully reissuing the invitation to apprenticeship to this generation. And together, we can respond. We can say yes to Jesus’ offer of a front-row seat in his “Master Class for Kingdom-Living” and choose the narrow road of inner transformation.

Join me in episode 7 of the 8-part Become Good Soil Intensive Series as we do the sacred work of turning to elders in the Kingdom, the fathers of our faith, to allow their counsel to orient, refresh, and strengthen the kingly heart set within us.

The deadline for applications for the next U.S. Intensive is October 12th. Find out more.

For the Kingdom,

Morgan


(2) The Great Omission by Dallas Willard

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