4 Essential Skills You Won’t Learn With Traditional Curriculums

What 4 Areas Must You Add to Your School Program?

Typical school curriculums focus on passing the tests. They prepare you to take the SAT or ACT tests, and as the Common Core evolves and becomes more standardized, you can expect this to permeate all school curriculum.  The question is, does this lead to a great future? The answer is NO! This is not what businesses – who are under pressure to make the numbers work – are after.

In a recent phone call with a father, who is raising seven children with the three oldest now in their teens, he asked me, “What should we be doing?”

This is the big question. What should you be doing? It’s hard to answer. If you’ve read my writings or attended our online Raising Entrepreneurs Mastery Group sessions, you know that the typical approach to education is not working, in my opinion. You also hear me talking about being more entrepreneurial – or building an entrepreneurial mindset. But how? Here are four things parents can easily build into their typical day at home without needing specialized training as an entrepreneur.

Sales & Marketing and Other Business Skills

On our call, this father mentioned that his sons were doing some wood turning and perhaps cutting some lawns or selling some baked goods at a local farmer’s market. While these things don’t necessarily lead to a great vocation, they do have merit. Learning to buy and sell is a skill that everyone who plans to earn money should learn.

Just having the ability to step out of your comfort zone and quote a price – or ask someone to buy something – is a skill that takes practice. It requires one getting over their self-esteem problems, and learning how to interact and meet strangers. Most sales people fail because they can’t do this simple thing.

Another great exercise is getting your sons and daughters involved with anyone who is selling to you. So if you are considering a new car, upgrading your home in some way, or hiring someone to fix something, get them involved with the sales people you deal with from day one. Let them see the good and the bad.

Marketing is a whole other skill set. Marketing is the key to business growth. Without marketing, sales people will have a hard time finding anyone to sell to. It’s not just advertising – it’s finding the right market, building the right message, and figuring out the most effective and efficient way to get that message out.

Take time to observe the marketing around you and comment on what is good or not so good. Pay particular attention to direct response marketing. That is ultimately what the entrepreneur will be using if they’re smart.

I recommend that students start reading great sales and marketing books throughout their high school years, and be working out what they are learning through any type of business that can be used to practice the things I’ve mentioned above.

Other skills might include money management, communications, public speaking, etc.

Work Ethic & Character

At age 15, your son or daughter may have some kind of job that earns money, but does not provide a good long term career. This might be the same as the things you sell or market, or it might be something else. If you cut lawns or babysit, you can use that as a platform to learn the basic work ethics and character required to be successful.

Work with your young people on punctuality, perseverance, and just plain working hard all day. It’s uncommon for a 15 year old to put in an 8 hour day. School doesn’t train people to work like that. In class, half the time people are day dreaming. In yard work, most teens put in an hour or two and then move on to some other activity. Learning to work hard, all day, with an eye towards excellence, is something people need to learn.

There are many other lessons on customer satisfaction, going the extra mile, and really learning to serve people, that can be developed here. Many of these lessons can be learned while doing work at home. They don’t require an outside job.

Specialized Skills & Intellectual Capital

Specialized skills and intellectual capital are generally things that have higher earning potential. For instance, in this call I was on, the father told me his oldest son, age 15, was studying computers. He’s not yet at the point where he can actually earn money doing this – so what should he do?

By breaking up the learning process I am describing here, this son can learn to sell using his wood turning and farmers market. He can also get a sense of how to manage money, buying and selling, gross margin, etc.

He can learn character at home doing his normal work around the house. This father would be wise to add to his son’s work, pressing him to put in full days of work and doing more school work during the evening or on the weekend. That might sound cruel and unusual, but that is how full-time employees manage their schedule.

Then, add time during the work day on certain days, that is dedicated to deep-dive learning. It’s amazing how much you can learn when there’s something to really focus on.  I have one of my sons working on fixing used bicycles for money, which falls into the first group – buying and selling. But then, on other days he is studying robotics and computer technology on the hardware and software side of things. It will be a while before he can make any money with this, but the future is promising for this type of knowledge and expertise.

Ministry Mindset

Finally, there is the need to develop a mindset for using work for God’s purposes. All Christians should have a foundation in this. Understanding the purpose of work and how to view it from the stand point of the gospel is an important part of any Christian education.

You might think you have to be telling someone about Christ to be doing something Christian in your work, but that’s not the case. Consider some quotes from Tim Keller on this topic:

“God is the creator of the world, and out work mirrors his creative work when we create culture that conforms to his will and vision for human beings – when it matches up with the biblical story.”

“Christian labor has it’s orientation toward God himself, and we must ask how it can be done distinctively and for his glory.”

“Much work that Christians do is not done, at least not in its visible form, any different from the way non-Christians do it…Of course, all Christians (should) work with radically different inner motives that those who don’t believe, and this can certainly make a difference in the quality, spirit, and honesty with which a believer labors.”

© 2014, David Stelzl


Raising Entrepreneurs North Carolina!

Join us this Summer, for a Raising Entrepreneurs  Conference in North Carolina!

What does it take to start and manage a successful business? How can the whole family get involved in business and ministry? How can we equip our sons and daughters to be successful entrepreneurs? …
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 Our Mission:

Uniting and equipping families to successfully transition from homeschool into ministry and career, through:
  • A sense of purpose, and a vision for connecting our work with God’s work
  • A clear understanding of Biblical principles for family life and business
  • Discipleship
  • Avoiding worldly entanglements 
  • Entrepreneurial exploits that preserve our freedom and ability to carry out God’s calling

Dates: July 18th (Friday) from 8:30 AM – 8:30 PM ET, and July 19th (Saturday) from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM ET.

Location: Christ Covenant Church | 800 Fullwood Ln, Matthews, NC 28105

For more information, click here!

We’re also doing a Raising Entrepreneurs Conference in Vermont this June!

Click here to register for Vermont!


We hope you will join us this Summer for an exciting entrepreneurial conference!
- The Stelzl Family
Dave, Tina, Hannah, Sarah, David, Bethany, Jonathan, Josiah, and Timothy


Work: Curse or Blessing?

IMG_1136The Curse of Work

How many parents get up in the morning dreading another day of work?  How many of you students are sitting there reading a biology chapter or working out an algebra problem, asking yourself, “Why do I have to know this?”  Work can be a curse. Adam experienced a major life change when sin entered into the world.  He and his wife made some bad choices that brought on God’s wrath…

“Cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,” Genesis 3:18-19

But is Work really a curse?

God’s Work

God is always working.  We see Him at work creating the world in six days.  On the seventh day He is resting.  Did God get tired?  I don’t think so – but He does model for us a week’s worth of work, and then goes on to rest.  He looks over His work and is pleased.  It is good. God seems to enjoy the work He has finished.

In the New Testament we see Christ at work.  In fact, He is “Caught” working on the Sabbath – healing a man.  When questioned by the religious leaders, he points back to the Father. The Father is at work – the Son is at work. Christ is doing the work of the Father.  That is all He can do.

“ But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working… greater works than these will He show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life  to whom he will.”  John 6:17-21

Man’s Work

And then there is man’s work.  Is it the curse so many are trying to free themselves of?  Have you heard people excited to see Friday, the end of the work week?  Are they talking about early retirement or grumbling about getting through another day?  Are students doing the same thing, just enduring through until graduation – and hoping the American corporate dream is better than school?  I hear these comments all the time.

Did you know that work existed before the fall? In fact, God was working at the very start of creation – and you might argue that He was at work before creation ever started.  Then, as man was formed, God planted His garden, and put Adam in it to continue the process.  This all happened before the fall.

“So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all His work that he had done in creation…The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Genesis 2:3,15

Work was part of Adam’s original design.

Three Pillars of Success

This month I have been taking the Raising Entrepreneurs Mastery Group through the various steps of starting a successful business.  On March 26th, 2014 (4 PM) I will be kicking off the first of 5 detailed sessions – walking through the steps an entrepreneur should take to build a successful business.  But before we get there, it’s important to understand Biblical work. When man has the wrong view – work becomes burdensome.  In fact, for many of us – it has become an idol.  The very thing that we look to for fulfillment and security.

The problem with idols, as we see throughout the book of Judges is, that rather than actually providing fulfillment and security, they make their subjects into slaves.  The workaholic is a perfect example. How many marriages have broken up over a spouse pouring their life into work?

Later this month I will be going through practical steps of creating and building a business – with Biblical work principles at the foundation.  But in order to do that – we will first have to set the stage for how to view that business, and how to avoid becoming a slave to it. This is the trap most entrepreneurs fall into…it’s common.

Note: You Can Join Our Online Sessions By Signing Up for a 30 Day Free Membership – Click to Learn More.

Freedom – And Where to Find It!

Work was part of God’s world before we were ever created.  As I review Genesis, it seems clear that being created in His image includes being involved in His work.  That’s what Christ is saying in the John passage I quoted above.  He is going about doing God’s work.  But in Genesis, we see that part of God’s work was creating an earth and planting a garden.  And then setting up Adam to tend it.  That too was God’s work, or His assignment to Adam.

As Tim Keller points out in his book, Every Good Endeavor, man is set free when he is doing what he was designed to do.  Like a fish – set free from water, man is not truly free when he is operating outside of his God-given design – this fish is free, but dying.  But like the fish in water, when man is free from idols, operating in the world he was placed in – in harmony with God’s design, and carrying out the things God has designed him to carry out,  he is indeed free.

It is this perspective that sets all of us free from the drudgery of work, and sets us free to accomplish great things.  It was Martin Luther who pointed out that the Church had somehow made full time ministry into something greater than a “regular job”.  He argues that, our work, when done as called by God, brings order to this world (dominion) and demonstrates love to those around us.  Our jobs, in this context, become part of the fulfillment of the second greatest command – to love our neighbor.

Find Out How to Join Our Next Raising Entrepreneurs Mastery Group Session and Prepare for The Future.

© 2014, David Stelzl

The Corporate Rat Race

IMGP0008_3I just returned from lunch with a good friend – an entrepreneurial thinker, and one who has provided much inspiration to me as a young man starting out in business years ago.  At the time he was not a Christian – but definitely a doer.  As I was building my career at a large bank, he was off setting up all kinds of business opportunities.

Since that time, he has given his life and business over to the Lord.  But he’s also involved as one of the top sales people for a global software company.

Corporate Life

As we headed off to lunch he was sharing with me the absurd life of working for a large company.  Over the past 2 years he’s had 7 different managers.  One manager was his boss for about 4 hours, before the next one came in.  He now has a new boss working out of NY (He’s in the Carolinas), who he has never met, and who is only a temporary manager – until they find someone to manage him here locally.

Last year he doubled his quota.  For those not in sales, that means he sold twice as much as he was asked to sell (many millions in product sales.) And for those of you who have worked at some point on a commission plan, you know that means he did well last year financially.

But this year, his new boss, after hiring in some new sales people, is taking away his largest accounts and handing them to someone else! That represents more than half of his income-producing clients. Yikes!  Why does this kind of thing happen to people who are successfully producing?

Free Special Report

This month I have prepared a special report on why these things happen, and why it is so important for young people to start a business. On the way home, he and I were discussing the importance of doing this while young – “Before you become too smart to do it,” is how my friend put it.  He went on to say, “When we get too old to do something crazy like, start a business, we’ll be sorry we didn’t do it while we had the chance.”  I highly recommend anyone in high school or college, read this report.  Also parents with students.  Regardless of how old your children are – this is a good time to start thinking about the future, the economy, where business and careers are going, and how to avoid some of the rat race I’ve described above.

Here’s the link to get the report: http://startabusiness.gr8.com/

© 2014, David Stelzl


Productive vs. Busy

Considerations for the 2014 School Year

Hopefully you’ve finished whatever planning you need to get started this school year.  My wife and I generally sit down at the end of each month to prepare for next month’s school – but for many, school has already started.  The question I was prompted with this morning was simply this – is it really productive or is it time-consuming busy work?  What does your child (or if you are a student – what do you) need to learn this year?  Some considerations:

1. Everyone needs to learn the basics skills of math, English, writing, and communicating…most of this can be taught to the average person by the time they are in their early teens.  Where are you on this process?

2. Character – this is often one of those things you assume is just going to happen along the way.  The problem is, this is not realistic thinking.  Diligence, thoroughness, responsibility,…(and at least 46 more) are some of the traits that come to mind when someone brings up character.  Chances are your school curriculum doesn’t have specific course work on these, but it seems evident that we all need a stronger focus here.

3. Wisdom.  Wisdom is creating a worldview that sees things for what they really are – it’s God’s viewpoint.  Without wisdom, our decisions will always be wrong.  This seems to be paramount, but completely absent from most school plans.

4. Skills needed for the future.  Skills that translate into future employment, succesful marriages, parenting, etc…this one is also completely left out of most school curriculums.  Most will ignore this until they finish college.  Don’t wait.  Build this right into your high school program.  For example, consider the major areas of business and actually start one – manufacture something or resell something made by someone else – rebrand or white label if you can (meaning, have someone else build it with your brand name on it).  Learn the marketing, sales, operational, and financial aspects of running this business, and build some of your other learning into the process – such as communication skills, and character traits.

If you take the average school program – perhaps 20% of it is important, the rest is filler.  We’ve been programed to think the day should be filled with textbooks and homework assignments.  We should be sitting in the school room all day, reading, writing, watching something educational, or listening to a lecture.  The world around us rewards busy people – but gives little credit to the person who produces amazing results in a few minutes.  This year, try measuring results vs. activity. Consider stripping out anything that is busy work, stop thinking about learning as an 8 hour process done in a school room, and consider the best ways to really learn the things needed for a successful life.  Then, knock out whatever course work your state requires during the pockets of time that happen in between the meaningful experiences.  You might find that your school room time can be measured in minutes rather than hours.

© 2013, David Stelzl


Speaking to Homeschooling Fathers In Singapore

IMG_2267I’ve just arrived back from my trip to Singapore – Wednesday night I was privileged to share with some of the fathers homeschooling in Singapore, hosted by Pastor Eddie Yeo and ATI Director for Singapore, Thomas Teh. 

Why Do You Homeschool?

Of all the things Christians don’t agree on, 90% of them do agree to send their children to public school – yet there is a growing population of homeschooling families that are catching the vision.  In Singapore it’s not as easy as it is in the states – there are more restrictions, more tests, and more government intevention.  We started our meeting by asking the questions, “Why do you homeschool?” and “Do your children know why you homeschool?”  It is important to know why you do something when it’s not the natural and easy choice.

Key Topics

Through the evening I shared on a number of topics including:

  • Vision: The importance of parents having a vision for where each child is headed – do you know what it is your are working to accomplish in each one of your children?  Each child is different, has different strengths and weaknesses, and is preparing to do something unique.  Our job is to equip them – not just for a job, but for life.
  • Wisdom: We talked a lot about wisdom and how to help children gain an understanding of wisdom, make wise choices, and become a wise person.  This is likely the most important thing a parent can be doing in a homeschool program.  Read Proverbs and you’ll see why. Then start working on this with your family.
  • Fathers: Fathers are critical to the process.  In so many families, the mother is carrying out this responsibility alone while the father is at work.  We’ve made it a priority in our family to work together on school.  I spent a great deal of time explaining how fathers can get involved and why they need to.  Especially as we are training up young men, it is important that they have a role model – that comes through the father.  Fathers, are you really engaged with your children?
  • Time: Finally I shared some of my secrets for fitting it all it all in.  It’s not secret that I travel for a living…speaking, teaching, and coaching.  If I am not traveling, chances are I am not making a living.  So how do I balance my time?  Well for one thing, I’ve cut out anything that is not really important, but there’s much more to it.  As we go along here, I will be posting more and more about time management and how to get the most out or your 24 hour day.

Thanks Thomas and Eddie, for hosting this important meeting!

© 2013, David Stelzl



Lesson’s From Joseph: Principles of Success

Joseph, Son of Jacob (called Israel)

There are many things we can learn from Joseph – the son of Jacob (Israel).  I was reading this morning as I was getting ready to head to a client’s office, and was again struck by how God worked in this man’s life.  A few business lessons we can all take from this man:

  • “The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man. (Genesis 39:2)”  These two comments go hand-in-hand.  God was with him, and so he was successful;  successful after having been thrown in a pit by his brothers and sold into slavery.  Sometimes God’s ways are confusing – He moves his people to where He wants them to be…but there Joseph is, in the Egyptian’s home, and God is causing him to prosper!
  • “His (Joseph’s) master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper…Verse 3).”  What a testimony!  This is evangelism at it’s best!  Joseph’s works and the blessing upon him are apparent to this Egyptian, and he gives God the credit.
  • In verse 5 we see the Lord blessing the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake, “And the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had in the house and in the field.”  Notice, both his house and field are blessed.

Our success comes from God

His mercy is everlasting, and His blessing is apparent on those who are committed to Him.  I have to imagine that Joseph accepted God’s will for where he should be – but then God blessed him in such a way that it was apparent even to a man who did not worship the same god as Joseph.  Suddenly Joseph’s testimony is not so hard to share – it speaks for itself as God’s blessing is poured out.  But then the Egyptian’s home is also blessed. The work that Joseph is doing in this man’s home is blessed – the Egyptians home and work are both blessed because of Joseph’s faithfulness to God as he serves his master.  This is a lesson every Christian business man/entrepreneur needs to learn.  It should be taught early on as part of the homeschool entrepreneurship curriculum.

As I read these words I was reminded to commit the works of my hands to the Lord. To ask Him to bless the work of my hands, and to bless those companies I am working with, for my sake, as He did for Joseph.  But also, that it would be apparent to those I work with, that it is God’s blessing on me and not my own greatness.  I was also reminded that this is one of those lessons everyone of my children must embrace before going off into some full-time venture.

Parallels From Proverbs 1

But wait!  If you have not read Proverbs 1 in a while, go back and read it.  This passage parallels Joseph’s experience.  God is giving him wisdom and success just like Proverbs says.  But there are two people Solomon cautions his son about.  Two people who will threaten to undo all that Joseph has worked for; the strange woman and the evil man.  The next few verses describe the Egyptian’s wife – the strange woman, who threatens to undo Joseph.  Joseph’s response lands him in prison, but regardless of where he is, God is still blessing him and all that is around him.  Joseph is not questioning where God is directing him, he’s just working unto the Lord and God is blessing him where ever he is at that time.  It would be wise to prepare ahead for this encounter…this is what Solomon is saying to his son as he instructs him in wisdom.

© 2013, David Stelzl

Going Global

AirplaneFour Cities in 24 Hours

Last night I taught a sales training class in Sydney Australia, this morning I am conducting a similar session in India, and later this afternoon I’ll be hosting a meeting in Chicago, but not before having breakfast in Charlotte, NC.  How is this all possible? – my company is a micro business, a one person entity.  Suddenly going global is possible…in fact, in the digital age we live in, the impossible is suddenly possible.  Only one of these  meetings will require travel…

The Global Software Company

In our most recent Raising Entrepreneurs Strategic Planning Workshop I met a young man pursuing mobile app development.  Ten years ago it would be have been nearly impossible for one person to own a software company – today, the “Company” isn’t really necessary.  One person can write, maintain, and support an application – in fact, many applications.  And it won’t take investors or millions of dollars in advertising to launch.

Jonathan’s Story

Jonathan started building apps in January 2012.  BlackBerry had a promotion to send free PlayBooks to anyone who could develop a “qualifying” app.  Jonathan was looking to come up with something unique – out of the box.  His research started with his own family – interviewing his siblings.  His older brother, a real-estate agent, recommended he create a way of calculating Canadian and American mortgages – a sort of mortgage calculator.  With the goal of qualifying for the free PlayBook, Jonathan took this idea, and expanded on it to also compare mortgages side-by-side.  The entire app took only a couple of weeks to develop and was published for free on the BlackBerry App World.  Jonathan was published, and received his free PlayBook.

With this success behind him, Jonathan attended the BlackBerry Jam in Montreal in July 2012. This gave him insight into the newly announced BlackBerry 10 OS (Smart phone operating system) – giving him the tools he needed to begin developing apps for BlackBerry’s latest innovation.  As part of the deal, Blackberry provided Jonathan with a free BB10 Alpha smart phone, and him promised a production-level device if he would complete an app for it.  By October the app was complete.  Today it sells for $0.99 on BlackBerry World, providing end-users with book keeping and related financial management functions.  $0.99 may not sound like much, but in the world of digital downloads and mobile apps, a developer with several applications that take off globally, could be a great shape.  Once an application is complete – the cost of goods sold (COGS) is zero…Jonathan’s apps are available on these links:


Digital Disruption

In James McQuivey’s book, Digital Disruption, he explains that, old mindsets and presuppositions about what a company needs to look like, and what investments and resources will be required, are the road blocks that will keep companies from succeeding.  He says, “Digital disruption is a mindset that ultimately leads to a way of behavior; a mindset that bypasses traditional analog barriers, eliminating the gaps and boundaries that prevent people and companies from giving customers what they want in the moment that they want it.”

“The digital disruptor’s mindset is one in which the default answer is yes,  This isn’t the result of sheer optimism.  It’s an optimism born out of facts.  And it’s based on exploiting three elements of today’s innovation infrastructure: cheap or free tools, digital platforms, and digital consumers.”  Suddenly the homeschooler has the home advantage – our kids have access to some of the most powerful development, marketing, and selling tools the world has to offer.  And much of it is nearly free as long as you have a computer and reasonable Internet access.

© 2013, David Stelzl

Graduating from Boyhood to Manhood

ADK Trip 2008 062In the movie Courageous, Adam Mitchell (Played by Alex Kendrick) asked a group of co-workers, “When did you first become a man?”  It’s a great question – and the answer among the group is unclear.  This leads to a ceremony where these men commit to raise their sons to be men of Character.

Five years ago my son David and I headed off to the Adirondack mountains for six days.  David was thirteen and my wife and I had agreed that this would be a great time for me to spend some extended time with my oldest son to get him thinking less like a boy and more like a man.  To create a point of transition much like the ceremony proposed in Courageous.  I’ve referred to this trip often in our Raising Entrepreneurs Seminars to encourage fathers to get more involved in the process of raising their sons.  So recently a father wrote asking me exactly what we talked about for six days…it’s a great question so I thought I would provide a summary here.

Getting the Idea – Raising Modern Day Knights

The idea originated after reading Raising a Modern-Day Knight: A Father’s Role in Guiding His Son to Authentic Manhood, by Robert Lewis.  In this book he encourages fathers to consider three aspects:

  • a vision
  • a code of conduct
  • a cause

This is basically what we did.

The Setting

I chose the Adirondacks because that is where I learned a lot about my relationship with God and observed men leading young men.  As a boy I would attend camp sessions at Northern Frontier Camp, and later I became a counselor over several summers, following in the footsteps of some of my mentors.  When I was 16 I participated in a 5 day backpacking trip through the high-peaks region, and later at age 18 attempted to climb the highest peak (Mt. Marcy) in January.  We came close but some of our team experienced frostbite and a case of hypothermia, forcing us to retreat back to our base camp.  The decision to turn back was a testimony to the maturity of the men leading this trip.

I wanted my son to share the experiences I had in the high-peaks.  It was a way to share a memory of something very special to me.  But it also took us a long way from anything we’ve experienced living in the south.  It took us away from people, distractions, friends, and even the safety of being in more familiar surroundings.  It pushed both of us to our limits, and required us to work together without any outside help – other than God himself.

Learning Experiences

This trip required more than a simple packing of our gear.  We trained together for two months, running, working out, and mountain biking together, with great anticipation.  We pulled out maps and books, researched the latest laws, purchased special equipment, and talked a lot about what to expect.  There’s no way to predict all of the challenges – so instead we committed our time to prayer, took what precautions we could, and trusted that God would watch over us.  We did take a satellite phone with us in case of emergency.  Our learning experiences included:

  • Our packs were heavy – 6 days is a long trip when you’re 13 years old.  Think of it this way, 13 year olds eat like men but are half the size.  We took little in the way of clothing, but made sure we had enough to eat.  You can see David’s pack in the picture above.  This is a man-sized pack.
  • The Adirondacks are rugged.  I’ve gotten soft living in the south.  We’ve hiked extensively in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, but there is just nothing here that seems to compare to the High-Peaks in the Adirondacks.  We learned to not complain, but rather to keep a pace good for both of us and to share the load.
  • We learned to serve each other – cooking together, doing the camp chores, and watching out for each other.
  • One night we sat up in a major storm – up on the side of a mountain in severe thunder storms and massive down-pour.  Some the tents around us washed out – praise God ours did not.  In the morning we had to make our way over Mount Marcy in what might turn into another thunder storm.  We brought this matter to the Lord, wondering what kind of sign he might provide – how would we know for sure?  We were fearful. An amazing thing happened, and we believed it was confirmation to go- we did and it worked out to be the right decision.  David saw God answering prayers.
  • At one point we could not find a place to camp due to flooding – it was late in the day and we were exhausted.  We had to push on two more miles, nearly at the end of our own strength (David was so exhausted he fell face first several times, fighting to keep going).  We cried out to God for help and he miraculously provided a site for us.  Again, we saw something that only God could have done.
  • There were other events – but working together through these situations with much prayer and discernment served as a powerful lesson in what it means to lead and take responsibility, and most importantly what it means to trust God when in need.

Taking Time to Talk

I came to this trip prepared to talk to my son.  The three areas above served as an outline, for which I prepared before going.  This was not a “Birds and Bees” discussion – it was about vision, conduct, and cause.  What does it mean to be a man – a man of God  and a man of character?

Vision – vision is a long range goal.  We often talk about this in business, but how often do fathers really work on the long range goal with their sons?  I think most fathers think their job is to get their children through high-school and into college.  And then its over.  We talked about what it means to be successful in God’s eyes and what disciplines and character must be built over the coming years to get there.  Success means walking in victory with Christ, having a successful marriage one day, successful family – children walking with the Lord, success in providing for every aspect of your family’s needs, and becoming a light to the World as we carry out the special callings God puts on our lives.

Conduct – the Bible is full of cause and effect.  Good choices and bad choices, and the results.  People try to dismiss this as Old Testament thinking, but the Bible doesn’t read like that.  We talked about the need for Godly character and making commitments.  We talked about what God demands His people to be like and how Christ empowers us to be like Himself.  We talked about freedom in Christ and the grace given to us as believers – and we talked about the need to remain pure – to confess our sins and steer clear of hidden sin.

Cause – we talked about life purpose and seeking out the calling God has prepared for us – our gifts and talents and how they are to be used by God.  We talked about having something worth living for and worth dying for.  Our cause is Christ and the more we understand about who God is, and who we are in Christ, the more victorious we will be when we hit a challenge.

We talked about moving away from all play and taking on the challenge of building for the future – Godliness, Godly Character, and equipping for the future – vocation, marriage, family, and service.

Taking on the Challenge

I wanted to challenge my son physically and spiritually. I wanted him to act like a man in the face of hardship and fear.  I wanted us to learn to work as a team and to be in prayer.  I wanted him to learn to carry his burden without complaining and to work hard.  He rose to the occasion.  There were times when I was hurting and he offered to carry more.  Often he would cook our meals after a long day of hiking.  I wanted him to prove to himself that he had more endurance than he thought…and he did.  I also wanted to express to him my gratefulness for him and all that he did for me on this trip…I wanted him to know that I really love him and am willing to lay down my life for him.

Reflecting Back

This is a memory…we often look back on the pictures and video we took. There are times when his peers are going off to some activity that we don’t feel is wise.  In most cases a young man would feel left out, and perhaps dwell on missing out on all the fun stuff. We’ve continued to take trips into the mountains, biking and backpacking – winter and summer.  These memories are a constant reminder that, while we may not participate in some of the local activities, we do participate in some amazing things that others will never get to do.  This trip was one of those amazing experiences, and David often refers to it as one of the most memorable experiences.

The Good News

This September, my second son Jonathan and I will be trekking through the Adirondacks!  Stay tuned for some great pictures this fall.

© 2013, David Stelzl