Real Man’s Toolbox – Learning to Lead Without an Example


By Leo Hellyer

Our nation is at a critical juncture on a number of fronts: politics, economics, internal security, military readiness, faith, and health to name a few. There is another area that has an extreme effect on the leadership in the family, as well as leadership in our society. We are talking about the absence of strong, moral, dynamic male role models for young men to emulate as they venture into adulthood.

For quite some time, our nation has been experiencing an epidemic, which has for a large part been ignored. This is the epidemic of fatherhood abandonment. I came across a book that addresses this epidemic very skillfully. This book, “Man Enough to Forgive” by John J. Smithbaker, delves into this critical area seeking to provide tools to eradicate this epidemic.

The author states in the prelude of the book, “’Man Enough to Forgive’ needed to be written to specifically address the No. 1 societal issue of our time – the fatherlessness caused by divorce or the abandonment, absenteeism, neglect, or indifference of a boy’s God-ordained pastor, provider and protector – his father.”

This is warfare, spiritual warfare, which needs warriors to go into battle. In Psalm 11:3 we read, “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The answer is that we can go to battle. We can shore up the foundations of our society. The family is the foundation of any society. The father has been ordained by God as the leader of the family. To have strong families we must have strong, moral, present fathers.

It is important to realize there are many reasons why some fathers are not present in the lives of their children. The father may have died, divorced, been incarcerated, is drunk or drugged out, deployed in the military, or many other situations. Whatever the circumstance, life without a father can be lonely, depressing, challenging, and confusing. We all need the input, love, support, and guidance that a present and involved father provides.

None of us can change what has happened to us; we have no control over that. We do not have to be victims of our upbringing, however. We can be in control of what our lives will be like from today forward. A key factor in our ability to move on in life is whether we can put the loss, hurt, pain, regrets, and victimization behind us. Are we going to control it, or is it going to control us?

To be able to be successful in moving on in our lives we must be ‘Man Enough to Forgive’. We must be able to forgive the men in our lives who simply did not provide us with the foundations in life that we needed. We also must be able to forgive ourselves for not overcoming our lack of a present, mentoring father. Are we going to live our lives out as victims, or as survivors, victors, leaders and mentors? Not only can we change the trajectory of our lives, but we can speak into the lives of other men and boys that God brings along our paths.

As men, quite often we tend to attempt to stuff things away that are difficult in our lives. We have the false belief that they will eventually go away if we ignore them. For us to move on in life, we must learn how to deal with the emotional hurt we have experienced. The first step in overcoming these hurts successfully is to realize that we cannot accomplish this in our own strength. We must become the men that God created us to be, regardless of our life situations. We must seek and accept the unconditional love from our Heavenly Father that we may not have received from our earthly father for whatever reason. We must approach all our challenges in life with God’s power, courage, and perseverance.

Whether we were blessed with an earthly father who was present, loving, and God-honoring or not should not determine how successfully we face the obstacle course of our life experiences. In the end, it is up to each of us to determine how we will finish the challenges of life.

In addition to writing this book, Smithbaker founded a ministry organization called Fathers in the Field to put feet to the truths presented in the book.

Men, each one of us has a responsibility to be involved in the lives of other men. We need to help men heal the father wounds that are present in their lives. We can speak into the lives of other men one-on-one, in small groups, as a part of a church’s men’s ministry, and for sure as a prayer warrior for other men. If you are suffering from some type of father abandonment, own that, and reach out to men who are currently in your life. Seek wise counsel, guidance, support, accountability, and compassion from the men that God has placed in your circle.

Above all, remember that you have a loving Heavenly Father who is ever-present in your life. Reach out to Him. Let Him speak into your life. Respond to His direction, challenge, and divine appointments. Be available to your Heavenly Father to help heal wounds in other men’s lives. We can be a catalyst in bringing men into the lives of their sons and daughters. We can be instrumental in shoring up the foundation of our society: the family. Men of God, rise up, be heard, be seen, and be present.


Leo Hellyer is a non-staff pastor with a local church and has been married to his wife Norma for 50 years. The couple volunteered with the Boise FamilyLife Ministry Team for 20 years. Leo has also been serving with Boise Rescue Mission Ministries for more than 20 years and is currently serving at the River of Life Rescue Mission. He is president and chief firearms instructor with Helping Hands Firearms Training LLC. If you have questions about Real Man’s Toolbox, or need other assistance, he may be reached at [email protected] or (208) 340-5544.

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