Earl Hipp had a nice life. He was happy, content and making a good living. Then an unexpected question from an unlikely source penetrated his heart and sent his life veering off into uncharted territory. Earl’s story was so compelling that I interviewed him and wrote it up.
Can you imagine your own life changing so quickly and so dramatically? Change is a demanding but well-intentioned teacher, for a life of comfort too often degenerates into stagnation and unfulfilled promise. In the deepest part of uncomfortable circumstances stands the gateway to self-awareness and personal power.
Here is Earl’s story.
With one request, a Sudanese refugee named Ojulu Agote changed the course of my life. As a volunteer for the sponsoring organization that brought Ojulu and his family to the U.S., I was meeting with him to help him settle in and get the things he needed to make it through a cold Minnesota February. Ojulu had experienced the horrors of tribal warfare and the abuses of a refugee life. He and his family were living in a cockroach infested one-bedroom apartment and were facing a mountain of practical needs. When I asked Ojulu how I might support him in his new world, he immediately responded, “I want you to teach my son how to be a man in your country.”
I was shocked by Ojulu’s request. He literally had nothing, yet at the top of his priority list was finding a male elder who could guide his six-year-old son toward manhood. He felt that if his son did not make a successful crossing into manhood, everything he had fought for in getting his family to this country could be lost. I don’t remember my exact reply, but I do remember feeling embarrassed, strangely inadequate and unsure about accepting the responsibility to mentor his son. I had no children myself and had never played an intentional mentoring role in any adolescent boy’s journey into manhood. Still, his words touched something deep within me.
For guidance on how to respond to Ojulu’s request, I began talking to my men friends and even started a research website to solicit stories and suggestions from men from around the world. I also began examining my own adolescence and unearthed old feelings of anger and sadness. I saw how desperately I had needed, wanted, and deserved the adult male involvement and support that was denied me. While I did well by societal standards as an author and conference presenter, I never felt I had acquired that mysterious collection of male skills, knowledge, clarity of life purpose, or the core confidence that makes up a realized, mature and upright man.
As I ripened to the idea of honoring Ojulu’s request, I realized that his question had started me on the path to becoming the man I wanted to be. That was twelve years ago. My journey of self-discovery has profoundly changed my life and touched many others. In 2004 I launched the Man-Making blog. In 2006 I published the book, Man-Making: Men Helping Boys on Their Journey to Manhood. I have repositioned my speaking, training and writing to be in the service of connecting good men with boys. Ultimately, Ojulu’s question, which emerged out of ancient tribal wisdom, marked the moment when I shifted my career goals from making money to making meaning.
ABOUT PHIL BOLSTA
If you feel more stressed than blessed . . . if you have more confusion than clarity about how to live your beliefs . . . if you long to live a richer, happier, more meaningful life . . . you will find a wealth of insight and guidance in Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World.
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Anyone who is on a spiritual path, or wants to be.
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SEE EVERY MOMENT AS A GIFT
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THROUGH GOD’S EYES PDF SAMPLER
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Phil’s eBook, The Logic of Living a Spiritual Life: Supporting a Life of Faith Through Logic and Reason, is now available for 99 cents.
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In this eBook, you’ll find answers to questions like:
• What is the cornerstone of a spiritual life, and why?
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Those who worship logic instead of God are only half right. Not only is it logical to believe in God and to live a faith-based life, the existence of a loving, benevolent God that governs all creation is perhaps the only systematic worldview that explains every aspect of life.
Phil is also the author of Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, a collection of 45 inspiring, life-changing stories from prominent authors and thought leaders he interviewed. The roster of storytellers includes Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Neale Donald Walsch, Caroline Myss, Larry Dossey, Rachel Naomi Remen, Bernie Siegel, Dean Ornish, and Christiane Northrup. Sixty Seconds has been translated into four languages: Italian, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. Reading this book is like spending a few minutes face to face with each of the contributors and listening to their personal stories.
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