Manday Movie Review(on Tuesday): Fury


My beautiful wife indulged me in an early Movie Date before High School Football last Friday. We saw Fury.

Wow.  Best WWII flick since Saving Private Ryan. Brutal action. Well acted.  Brad Pitt hit another home run.

Let me warn you.  This is a Manday Monday Movie Review on a Tuesday.  (For those of you new to – I do this thing called Manday Mondays and focus on Manhood Topics. Every once in a while, I beat my chest and post cool things that would interest and challenge men and their brave spouses.  Today is one of those days.)

If you liked Saving Private Ryan (SPR), you will like this movie.  If you liked Band of Brothers you might like this film.  I say that because Fury is graphic. The movie is spectacular and gritty. It’s SPR in a tank.  And that may be the only similarity when it comes to the blunt force trauma violence.  Saving Private Ryan  had a “decency” to its graphic nature. Fury contains almost a Tarantino-like gratuitousness. What is more troubling is the considerable amount of vicious cruelty between the protagonists. The ensemble of characters have little redeeming qualities. In other words, the good guys are not easy to pick out.  This movie is really heavy as a war movie and deserves the R rating.  I was reminded of Platoon and 300.  It’s a good flick.

My recommendation – Go see the film.  There are many leadership nuances in the film.  Enjoy the movie in the theatre. Take it in first. Let it rest on your soul.

With that said, the movie will exceed your expectations if you are looking for a film to fill that Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, and The Pacific void. After speaking with several friends I am told it vividly portrays what the Greatest Generation experienced by witnessing “the cruelty men can bestow upon other men.”

“Ideals are peaceful. History is violent.” -Wardaddy.

I will see you again when Mrs. Pitts’ Unbroken and Mr. Eastwood’s American Sniper is released.


Failure is a Reality



“There’s nothing funnier than someone else getting hurt,” I heard a comedian say.  “As long as you know they are not hurt permanently,” he continued.  “And as long as you know it hurts a lot.”  He concluded by adding: “Like when someone cracks their shin on the coffee table.”

In some ways that’s true.  On YouTube an entire channel entitled FAILARMY is devoted to showing clips of individuals failing in some task, stunt, or activity.  Usually, it comes at the expense of the individual and the cost is usually broken bones, face plants, and lots of dental work.  I can waste many hours just mindlessly watching, laughing, and grimacing at the many unfortunate souls in the videos.  I’m mostly laughing.

In society, we shun failure.  We heard it said-“Failure is not an option.”  It is usually said in some action movie or when your boss failed to plan and you are assigned the clean-up and the fire drill is on you.  I argue that failure is reality.  Failure is needed in life to set the standard for success.   Or we can just mindlessly accept participation awards and live vicariously unchallenged lives.  Failure is needed.  Failure allows us to enjoy the successes in life.

Failure is a great teaching tool.  Learning from one’s mistakes is the best pathway to future success.  As leaders, we must find ways to teach others how to succeed after failure.

I know a father whose child became so distraught because he received a 98 instead of a perfect 100 for making a capitalization error on a worksheet.  Okay.  The child failed.  The child is in second grade.  The father was alerted of this major setback through a text from his wife begging him to be easy on their child.    It was a humorous text but the underlying inexcusable error was devastating to the child.  The text served another simple but ominous request to the father to be sensitive. (NOTE-the Father complied.  He’s a good father.)

I argued that it was a teachable moment to the Father.  I explained the grade was a small failure that can easily be brushed off.  Because the error the error was made not out of ignorance or on purpose.  I advised the parent that this was a way for his child to not put so much emphasis on what others thought and understand that mistakes are very real and are a part of everyday life.

Instead, the father argued with me that he and his family strive for excellence in all that they do.  Harvard and West Point only seek the best and most excellent.  I argued that maybe the standard has shifted in recent years and that a grade of 98 if his son did everything he could to get a perfect grade was more than sufficient and adequate in the second grade and that should be celebrated.  Instead of trying to talk the boy off the ledge every time he makes a grammatical error.

With my boys-I’m okay with good grades as long as you can say to yourself you did everything you could possibly do to get that grade and that is the best you could do.  Every time my boys realize they could have done more to earn a great grade instead of settling for a good one.  Their grades are inevitably better the next time around.  (Aside-Harvard is begging for my High School Senior to visit.)

I challenged the Father to let his child fail and brush it off based on the severity of the failure.  Let the boy understand to accept short comings and not be devastated when things don’t go his way. But then I realized I failed at one major point-Never tell others how to raise their children.

I failed.  Epic Fail.


What in the World?



Who do you trust?  Who do you believe anymore?

Ebola has come to the United States of America. Our President, the leader of the free world said it would not. He was wrong. Maybe the open border policy is not a good one.

The Center for Disease Control says we should not panic and this is an isolated case. This new plague can be easily contained and there is no issue. Nothing to see here.  Purchase your Starbucks and watch your Netflix.  Just remember to wash your hands.  Maybe this disease is weapon-ized and we should be wondering what religion Patient Zero subscribes.

Okay, let’s calm down for a moment. 

My point — A track record of double speak, political correctness, and failed leadership breeds distrust and hostility towards authority.

As a leader of a small team, project or a free republic, our words have consequences. Our credibility can shape the morale and effectiveness of our team or the direction of a nation.

It started with- “You like your healthcare…you can keep it.” To “Read my lips…No new taxes.” Don’t forget — “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”

What we are witnessing today in our country and communities is failed leadership.  From the top down in every aspect of execution…this crosses political and ideological lines.

I will never be on television managing a crisis but as a leader in my home, my church, my job, and my marriage I can subscribe to the following:

Be slow to speak and quick to listen.

Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’.

Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Be truthful.

Just my two cents.  Excuse me.  I’m going to wash my hands.

The NFL: Major Leadership Fail


I was on Facebook the other day and I saw this post-“Wanted: an obedience school that trains puppies AND sweet little 2 year old girls.” Of course, I couldn’t resist and I threw my comment into the fray: ” I hear the NFL may have some Subject Matter Experts. They can even help with Spousal issues as well.”

Let’s face it the NFL is having a bad public relations year. They are a very easy target to bash. I believe this was a long time coming. Now…I’m not going to argue that old tired argument about men getting paid millions and millions of dollars to play a child’s game. You have never turned down a paycheck. Get over it. That’s capitalism. And if someone is willing to pay what you think you are worth. Amen. If you don’t think Sports is profitable-Johnny Manziel built the new Kyle Field. But I digress.

I believe the NFL failed when it stopped doing what it does best. Football.

Howard Cosell was fired for describing the amazing elusiveness of a black player similar to a little monkey getting loose. It started. The NFL began worrying about social issues and racial sensitivities. Now everyone was on edge. Ironically, the black player played on the Washington REDSKINS. (In reality, ABC fired Cosell not the NFL.)

The NFL eliminated celebrations after touchdowns. Unfortunately, one of my football heroes lead the crusade-Tom Landry. In other words, the NFL began punishing success. We didn’t want to rub it in. We don’t want to offend the players, coaches, and fans who we just scored on. Thus was born participation medals.

Vince Lombardi stated-“When you get to the end zone, act like you’ve been there before.” That’s why I loved Barry Sanders. He would score, lay the ball down, and sprint out of the end zone. The NFL took away the players’ discretion on how to celebrate a score. Remember running back Ickey Woods celebrating on the sidelines after a touchdown because he was banned from the end zone? At the end of the day, it didn’t matter. Now players can’t dunk a football over the goal post. It might offend basketball players.

Hablas Espanol? Then the NFL tried to reach our friends who love Futbol by patronizing them with Spanish translations painted on the football field. Suddenly, the National Football League became ambassadors to assist with our illegal immigration issue. Nu’ff said. I’m just shaking my head.

Breast Cancer Awareness. The Pink on the field is enough. I have cancer survivors in my family. I am not being callous. There may be a Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Purple will dominate the football field. (Isn’t purple made up of black and blue?)  Ridiculous isn’t it.  Where does it stop? All this takes the focus off of what NFL does best-Football.

Now, a lot of good may have come from all this. But to me it is a perfect example of failed leadership and losing sight of what you do best.

What will save the NFL? Fantasy Football. Men and women tired of the politics of the teams, commercialism, and stupid rules have now turned to building their own teams and just reading Stat sheets on Sunday evening instead of actually watching the game.

Sadly, I can remember wanting to watch every down of every game.

Manday: Two Men in the Lion’s Pit-Part Two


The pursuit of Biblical Manhood can be very elusive.  It can be like trying to excel at all the gifts of the Spirit.  Pile on top of that leadership imploring that you need accountability and mentoring just to survive until next Sunday.  Every proclivity is treated as an addiction and a week of spiritual rehab and repentance is needed, again, just to survive until next Sunday.  As being a Heralder of Men’s Accountability, I have had to take a deep breathe and try to simplify this whole process.

The Bible paints an amazing picture of accountability with the example of two men on a roof.  Recall King David alone on a roof when he should have been leading troops to war.  Instead, he lusted after a woman, slept with her, murdered her husband, and then tried to cover it up.  Another man lying on a mat, paralyzed, is carried onto a roof by four friends and lowered through the same roof to be healed by Jesus.  Amazing opposites.  Imagine how King David’s tale would have been different if he had four men advising him to be at war instead alone drooling over bathing women.  An amazing portrait of accountability.

I scoured the Bible to locate a portrayal similar to the two men on a roof that portrayed an example of Biblical manhood.  Over the years, I have noticed two camps in the church-a ‘gentle’ man and a ‘rough’ man.  I’ve heard the Jacob and Esau example used and it did not sit well with me because God loathed Esau.  Still I believe there are two kinds of men. Those that run toward danger and those that stay back and fortify the front. Both are needed and both fill our pews of our churches today. One is not better than the other.  God’s Word gives two examples of two different men that God chose to write about.  Both warriors entered a lion’s pit and lived to tell about it.

Many have heard about Daniel in the Lion’s Den.  Daniel was a slave so favored by King Darius he was chosen to govern the government. Details mattered to him. He was submissive to the authority he was under but he obeyed God’s law.  Daniel never lifted a spear or took a human life. But…Daniel was a prayer warrior on his knees.  He abided in God’s laws, not eating the Babylonian food, and choosing to pray despite a law forbidding him.  Daniel was thrown in to lion’s den as punishment for breaking that law but God protected him.  God shut the lions mouth shut and Daniel survived a night in a lion’s pit.

The other example is Benaiah.  In scripture, we read of a valiant warrior turning the tables and chasing a lion into a pit, and, then killing the large feline.  This man is different from Daniel but needed.  This man runs towards gunfire.  He is a warrior in a different manner.  He is a man of action with his physical nature.  He is a man that seizes opportunity. His hands are calloused and a hard days work for him is the soreness in his muscles.  This man is needed as a warrior.  And our pews are filled with this type of man.  He is a risk taker.  Ironically, he was King David’s head of Security.  Do you not think he knew David was on a roof by himself.  Hmmmm.

So which man are you?  Are you Benaiah or Daniel?

I think all of us have a traits of each.  As I posted last week-I am no gentleman.  You will tolerate a man like me because you sleep better at night knowing I hunt the lions you believe don’t exist.  My life resonates with Benaiah’s.  I hunt those lions.  But when I find myself surrounded or thrown into a lion pit will I have lived my life like Daniel to be spared the tearing of my spirit?

Simplified?  Maybe.  I just prefer these two men as examples of Biblical Manhood instead of Jacob and Esau.



Manday: The Lions That Don’t Exist Part One


On February 23, 2013, I posted an article about two men on a roof as part of my accountability series on Manday. To this day, I have been looking for ways to follow that up and continue my series on Manhood.  It has been a long journey since then.  It is no secret that at Leadership Voices there are different kinds of men that post to this website.  We come from different walks of life.  Some subscribe to the gentleman theory and some subscribe to the “kick in the door first-ask questions later” theory.  We stubbornly subscribe to these theories to a fault.  But ironically, we are great friends. And we are an encouragement to each other.

I am no gentleman.  You will tolerate a man like me because you sleep better at night knowing I hunt the lions you believe don’t exist.

I spent the past month in a class being taught how to investigate crimes against children.  The mental images that are imprinted in my memory still haunt me.  The Bible says Satan prowls like a “lion seeking who he may devour”. There are lions out there seeking to devour you, your wife, your finances, your job, and your health.  And if the lion claws, roar, and teeth can’t phase you and penetrate your comfort zone…it will hunt, seek, and destroy your children.

Lions don’t lick their prey to death.  Lions tear the flesh, break bones, then suck the marrow and life out of their prey.  Then they lick the sinews and blood off their fur.  They are happy like a child with ice cream all over their face.  But it’s not ice cream.  And it’s not a child.  It is a vicious animal who tears at its prey until it can be devoured.  Are you getting the picture?

Christians in Roman times were very familiar with this tragic portrait.  They were often thrown to the lions as halftime entertainment in the Coliseums between Gladiator battles.  So when Peter wrote that Satan is like a prowling lion; that imagery resonated with the early persecuted Christians.  Today, we don’t see the lions or we swat them away thinking they are an inconvenience and can be easily scheduled out of our lives.  Or we just change geography and the lions don’t exist anymore.

Lions don’t exist because we move to the suburbs.  We live in gated communities.  We can watch our property on our cell phones.  We have alarms on our houses and vehicle.  We can locate our children through GPS.  Even our motor vehicles will stop on a dime if we aren’t paying attention to the road in front of us.  If I live my life clean…I won’t see any hardship.  This clean Christian living is easy.

As leaders and men to your family, I caution you as Peter did to be alert and sober.  Always mindful, that you are a target for the enemy.  Be mindful of the lions outside your tent.  Be sober and alert.

(BTW-have you ever kicked in a door…it is an awesome feeling!)

Manday: Everyone Matters


As Kevin or any of my friends will tell you I have an insatiable appetite for reading.  I prefer biographies, mysteries, and inspirational books.  I also have a tendency to surround myself with successful go-getters.  I really have zero-tolerance for whiners and complainers, quitters, or those that work at not working.  Unfortunately, that has seen the demise of some ‘friendships’.

I do not surround myself with like-minded individuals but folks that are life-minded.  Believe me, I don’t agree with everything and not everyone agrees with me.  And the world is just fine because you don’t.

Recently, a very good friend tossed me a book entitled “Spartan Up!”  It’s a pull yourself up by the bootstraps type of book that states quit making excuses and get it done.  Blah blah blah.  Ironically, I’m captivated by it.  The author is the founder of the very popular Spartan Races.  Basically it states to choose the narrow road of doing things…the hard way and by accomplishing simple goals the hard way…obstacles become transparent and trivial.  Life will happen.  It always does.  I believe how we respond to lifes attacks defines who we are.

One story in the book struck me.  The author tells about a semester in college when he received a quiz that he breezed through until he read the final question.

“What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?”

The author left the last question blank when he turned in his paper.  Another student asked if the last question would count toward the quiz grade.  “Absolutely,” said the professor.  “In your careers, you will meet many people.  All are significant.  They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say ‘Hello.'”

The great Muhammad Ali tells a humbling story of a time he visited John F. Kennedy Jr at the offices of W magazine shortly before the untimely death of the prince of Camelot.  Ali was brought in the office and after a few moments of catching up, JFK Jr. sat up and stating, “Hey, I want you to meet some folks. Wait here.”    Ali sat in the office for a few minutes comfortable and casual about the impromptu meeting.  Who were these folks…VIPs for sure.  Say hello, make small chat..and never see them again.

JFK Jr. returned with the folks.  To Ali’s surprise, Jr. had returned with all the building staff and janitors to meet the great prized fighter.  A photo was taken with these hard working folks with Ali in the middle and JFK Jr off to the side.  What a priceless moment.  (I have seen the photo. I can’t find it on the web.)

This simple act of kindness is a reminder to us all that is costs us nothing to be nice to people.

The author of Spartan Up! stated that the unanswered quiz question was a lesson he would never forget. BTW…Her name was Susan.


Louis Zamperini


Louis Zamperini, Olympian, WWII Veteran, and POW passed away yesterday.

I was very saddened to hear the news.  He became an inspiration to me through his amazing tale of survival and redemption through Christ.  He is my hero.  

I had the amazing honor of spending an entire day with the hero when he came to Houston’s First Baptist to speak about his life.  I was afforded the amazing honor of being his driver and spending precious moments with this incredible man.

Thank you, Louis for being Unbroken.  Thank you Jesus for being Broken for us.

Louis…see ya soon.


Manday: Sometimes Good People Have Bad Days


faking smart parking

Conversation with a child in one of the many crime ridden apartment complexes I patrol.
Child: “You only arrest bad people right, Mr. Officer?”
Me: “Yes. I do.”
Child: “Do you like to arrest bad people?”
Me: “No. I don’t like arresting people. It’s not fun.”
Child: “Then why did my Momma get arrested last week?”
Me: “What’s your name, son?” (As I go to one knee to talk to the child on his level.)
Child: “Joowan.”
Me: “Joowan? Is your Momma a bad person?”
Joowan: “No. No she isn’t. She loves me.”
Me: “Well, Joowan. I believe you. But…sometimes good people have bad days.”
Joowan: “Yeah. She was having a bad day.”
Me: “I believe you, Joowan. I believe you.”

I posted that story on Facebook over two months ago.  Everyone thought I was Saint or a wise old Yoda.  In that moment, I felt compassion for the child and candidly it was self-preservation for the future cop that would meet this young Joowan when he hated the world and knew all the answers.  Have I always responded with this inspired wisdom and counsel?  No.  As I write this, my head is shaking at the numerous times I have thought-then-said the first thing that comes to mind.  I consider those moments missed opportunities.

I don’t know why good people have bad days.  I don’t know why decent men and women find themselves in the throes of divorce, or why hard workers lose their only source of income or why a young child has to undergo chemotherapy for a chance to live.  I have an idea.  As Leaders, I believe it is an opportunity to respond. How we respond as leaders and men can determine our metal.  It can provide followers peace and solace in troubled times.

Let me share one more story with you.

I was dispatched to an accident.  A woman with a suspended drivers license attempted to pull into a parking space in front of a store.  Somehow, she accelerated and crashed into a fully customized Ford Mustang.  The impact was so intense that the Mustang was pushed up onto the curb and into the building entering the store.  On its journey toward the storefront it destroyed another vehicle parked next to it.  Glass windows and merchandise were destroyed but only the front of the vehicle was in the store.  The Mustang was wrecked. No one was injured. Everyone in the store was safe.  (BTW-The Mustang had its parking brake set.)

The owner of the Mustang was having a bad day.  We quickly learned that the car was his hobby and he poured a lot of T.L.C. and money into it.  I watched him.  He was all business.  He took control of his environment and lead.  He was calm and concerned about everyone’s well being.  Somehow, his friends showed up and they expressed anger and sadness for his vehicle being damaged.  Then I saw disdain and hatred on their faces for the woman who caused the accident.  He wasn’t offended but they weren’t going to miss a chance to be offended, hurt, and angry for him.  The owner of the Mustang was oblivious to all this and his friends were attempting to get him fired up like a posse.  I saw an opportunity, I intervened.

Me: “It’s a good thing you were parked here sir.”
Mustang: “Hmmm. I can fix the car.”
Me: “Think about it. If this space had been empty, she may have driven into the store and hurt someone.”
Mustang: “Oh my god, you’re right.”
Me: “I can honestly say that you, your Mustang, and your choice of parking spaces saved lives today.  If she had not hit your car who knows what damage she would have caused in the store.  Your car stopped her from entering the store and hurting shoppers.”
Mustang: “Thank you, Officer. I feel so much better knowing that.  Did you hear that the Officer said if my car wasn’t parked here, someone could have been hurt or worse.”

The posse was dispersed and crisis averted.  Opportunity seized.   It may sound like I’m tooting my own horn but I want to share with you that leadership will emerge in times of chaos and crisis.

How you respond will determine if you are the Shepherd or the Sheep.  Think before you speak and take action.  Do not miss opportunities to lead.


The Blindness of Showing Up


Courtesy NBC Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Recently, I began watching a new Sitcom called Growing Up Fisher. The show is told from the view of a middle school boy whose father happens to be blind. You find yourself rooting for the Father as he struggles to manage a law firm, a recent divorce, two children, and a new seeing eye dog named Elvis. Sounds bleak but it isn’t for many reasons. The show is worth watching. It is rare to find a kind-hearted show on the tube these days.

The show reminded me of a father who attended every one of his son’s Little League baseball games. He never missed one game during that season. Not a big deal eh? What made it unique is that the Father is blind.

Yes. He couldn’t drive to the game or gripe about traffic or complain about parking too far from the field. He was blind! He couldn’t watch his son play. But he was present and in attendance supporting his son every game.

Walter would sit in the stands with his walking stick and watch his son play baseball. (How he got there…I haven’t a clue.) He may have been physically blind but he wasn’t blind to the needs of his child and the importance of showing up.

What blinds you to the needs of your family? What keeps you from showing up?