Tony Evans - Kingdom Men Rising Special
Tony Evans: As we entered into the mid ‘60s, there was a lot of racial tension in our nation and in Baltimore, Maryland. I remember when Martin Luther King was assassinated. I was at a friend's house and saw it coming over the news, and saw the pain on the nation's face. And then, of course, major riots broke out here in Baltimore and the National Guard was up in front of our home, and all along our street and in the neighborhood, to keep order during a very tense time in our nation. But I also remember how my father's faith caused us not to become bitter. Hurt, disappointed, and even angry, but not bitter, because my father would always remind me that even though it was unjust and even evil, I was never to lose sight that God was in control. My father always was reminding me, in one form or another, that I was the son of a King, that I was a King's kid, and that I was to define myself not by how other people thought about me, and sometimes not even how I thought about me, but what God said about me and how God related to me. Because of the spiritual influence that I had, I was never allowed to limit myself to the reality that I saw. I couldn't deny it, it was all up in my face, but I couldn't limit myself to it, because God was so much bigger. That was instilled in me, and so that helped me rise above it, because he rose above it. God's process of building my life and this future and this purpose included some very strategic people. My father laid the foundation of faith and of spiritual development. As you look at the family as you look at the kids and you look at, you know, your life, of course my mom has gone on now, but as you look back at it, how does it make you feel?
Arthur Evans: I feel wonderful to know we've come safe this far. And if my parents, if my daddy could know, and my mother, and those people could know that this is the way we've come so far, they would rejoice, you see, because we've come a long way. I had no idea you would come this far, but God brought you this far, you see. He played a tremendous role, and the Lord's gonna bless him, too, you see.
Tony: Well, the biggest role, of course, and the foundation role was you.
Arthur: I did the best I could, you know. But I was under so much pressure as it was, like, could I pay for the house or not, you see, which was very small at that time, but I wasn't making too much money. I was driving a cab, I was working for the funerals, driving limousines, doing everything. You know, roof work and everything I could in order to try to keep the family going.
Tony: Now, discipline was a big thing growing up. You would discipline us. I remember when I got suspended from Garrison Junior High School.
Arthur: Yeah, you got suspended because you went up there talking about the teachers. You had nothing to do with them teachers up there.
Tony: Okay, but I wasn't trying to get into all that.
Arthur: I had to come up there. You had no right to tell anything on these teachers and whatnot. They're your teachers, you know? You been raising your hand, you didn't know what you was talking about and whatnot, you see. And you had me to come up there.
Tony: I had to, because they told me I had to bring you up there, you remember?
Arthur: You were up there, you with your own ideas, and I showed you that your ideas wasn't too hot. But you always wanted to be first in everything. You wanted to be the quarterback. You wanted to be this. And it's good to have the knowledge and I understand you've come this far, but I'm saying...
Tony: Did I get on your nerves? Did I get on your nerves?
Arthur: You had a lot of pressure laid on me.
Tony: I put pressure on you?
Arthur: Yeah, because you wanted to be first. You wanted to swim. You couldn't swim because you had asthma. The asthma wouldn't hold you back, and you're trying to swim, and you couldn't do it. You couldn't do it because of the asthma. You wanted to be with the... You wanted to do, you know, you can't do that. You see, you have to do what you can do, and that is minister the word.
Tony: Yeah, but we're talking about before this. I can do a lot of stuff. I played baseball, I swam, I played football. I remember times walking to Glad Tidings from our house, which is quite a walk. And then I'd get somebody from the church to bring me back home, because it would be dark. But I would walk. That's how much impact you had in the home and making us go on Sunday to worship. I know that that was a big deal to insist, whether you went or not, that we went to church. Why was that important?
Arthur: It was important because the Bible taught me that. That the family should stick together. That's what we were doing.
Tony: Well, one of the big lessons that I learned from you was the responsibility and commitment of a man to his family and to being the father of his children. Because when I look around a lot now, wherever I go, in Baltimore and outside, you got all these kids with no fathers at home.
Tony: And what you did was you modeled, regardless of how tough it got, that you were not going to abandon your responsibility as a father. Because I asked you whether it got to tired that you wanted to throw in the towel, but you said no. You never wanted to quit.
Tony: My father's commitment not to give up when there were so many negatives facing him, financially, personally, and culturally, astounds me. And even in the face of racial segregation and even oppression, his faith overrode that. And that showed me the power of faith, even over racism, Jim Crow, segregation, Jesus Christ is so big and so powerful, even that will not have the last word. Discipleship can be formal, but it can also be very informal, and it can take place in some of the most unlikely places, like my barbershop.
Kirk Franklin: So, you know that I have to ask this question, and then I will pass it on to the biologicals. If you are telling me as a young man that I am to see everything in light of Scripture, why isn't everyone else that calls themselves a Scripture required to do the same?
Tony: Well, there are a number of reasons for that. Everyone should be required to do the same. That's the definition of discipleship. That's what Jesus called. So, what we have missing is discipleship, and we've settled for church membership. We've settled for people coming to church or coming to events, not people ordering their lives, comprehensively, under the rule of God. Which means there's a failure in the church, there's a failure in the pulpit, there's a failure in the culture. So, because God's kingdom has not been set up in our hearts and minds to be the overlay for all of life, we pick and choose the parts of God we want and are comfortable with. So, we're allowed to stay racist, you know, and still praise God on Sunday, okay? Because there's not this comprehensive rule of God over every area of life. Or we accept men not fulfilling their obligation to the siring children that they're not willing to raise.
Kirk: When I was a young man, I paid for an abortion when I was a teenager. And I was in my late teens, and I got a young lady pregnant that I was not in a deep relationship with. And so this happened in the late ‘80s, and so I'm a teenager, late teenager, but maybe 25, what is this, 25 years later, 25 years later, I'm in the mall now with my 10-year-old son. And we're going to a late movie, and it's the middle of the week. And a young lady comes out of the movie theaters, and I remember, it had been so many years, I thought I knew her, but when I got up closer, she noticed me, and I saw her, and my heart just dropped, because it was that young lady now. And I said, "Hello," I hadn't seen her in almost 25 years. And I spoke to her, she spoke back, and I said, "This is my son, Caziah," and I remember asking Caziah to give me a minute, and I pulled the lady to the side, I said, "I want to ask you and beg of you to please forgive me for the man that I was, for the young man that I was. I hate who I was, and I hate what I contributed to, and I hate what I did to your life. And I'm begging you and asking you to please forgive me for what happened to you over 20 years ago. I'm so sorry for who that young man was". And she started crying, and said, "You have no idea how long I've needed to hear that". That was almost 25 years ago. And that was a snapshot of the horrible life that I was living as a young man, as a young promiscuous man, as a man that was trying to find his identity in sex, who was trying to find love in sex, who was trying to find the love that he never had from his mother. The embracing and the hug and the loving touch that I was supposed to be taught, I didn't get that, and so I acted it out in a sexual lifestyle that was very embarrassing and challenging. And I think for a lot of men, and I can speak of the men in my community, a lot of the young African-American men that I was around, it is all we did. It is all we knew, even within the church culture. It was something that we were very, very alive in, but while at the same time, very dead in.
Tony: Tony Dungy represents a man who demonstrates that there need not be a dichotomy from being a great coach and a great man of God. That you can do both. You don't have to cuss like a sailor. You don't have to demean, and you can still be a winner and still be public with your faith.
Tony Dungy: My rookie year in the NFL, I'd come from the University of Minnesota, I'm 21 years old, and I'm now a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I know nothing about the National Football League. Coach Noll says follow this guy, Donnie Shell, do what he does, you'll be okay. And I'm watching everything he does, and he's helping me learn my craft as a player, but I'm watching his life and how he relates. He was married, I wasn't. He'd been in the league and how he related to the fans, how he related to his family, and said, "Gosh, everything that I want, you know, he has". So, I'm watching, doing everything that he does, and he's, you know, the first night we're in the room, he said, "What are you reading"? I said, "I'm reading my playbook," and he said, "No, I mean in the Bible". I said, "Well, I'm not reading my Bible right now, I'm trying to learn these plays". He said, "That's not the important thing. What are you reading in the Bible? How are you growing spiritually? Hey, you've gotta come to chapel. You gotta come to Bible study". I'm expecting the big, bad Steeler, steel curtain, and he's telling me, "Hey, the first thing you gotta do is get to Bible study". And that was the kind of training that I got from those guys, and it was just tremendous. I think we have a cultural picture of a man of being the toughest guy in the room, of being the John Wayne type of man. And I don't think Christ was like that, but Christ was not a wimp, Christ was not a pushover, Christ was the toughest guy in the room, he just showed it in a different way. And sometimes being tough means going against the grain. It means not conforming to everyone else.
Tony: You can get so used to being a failure. You can be so used to being defeated, that you think it is out of the realm of possibility that your life could ever be better. It's out of the realm of possibility that you could ever be the man you were birthed to be. Lameness can set in as an addiction. See, we got a lot of addiction out there, but you rarely hear of lameness, the addiction of lameness. And that is where you get used to not manning up, standing up, and becoming what God wants you to be.
Tony: I think the biggest problem and the biggest area where our culture has gone astray in really telling our young people about manhood is our family structure, and the divorce rate, and boys especially growing up not in a dual-parent home. I saw it over and over and over with my players and talking to them about growing up and their lives and what they missed out on. My parents were married over 45 years until my mom died, so I had this relationship with my dad, and I got to walk through things and walk through life with him and see how he handled things. It was just a tremendous blessing for me as a young person growing up, and now we have so many boys who don't get that, and they don't see the roles and how family is supposed to relate, and how you're supposed to treat the mom and your wife. And so, it's hard, they wanna do the right thing, but they've never seen it. And I think that is where Satan has really gotten into us. If I can split this relationship and take that dad away, I can break this so these boys will really never know what they're supposed to do. They might wanna do the right thing, but they won't know how.
Jon Kitna: In October of 1993, my girlfriend at the time walked into my apartment room and caught me in bed with another girl. And there was a little bit of chaos that ensued. The other girl left, and my girlfriend was there, and I was just like, "What am I doing? I'm messing up the best thing that's ever happened to me". It was just, like, a wake up moment, and I remember her and I were talking through it, and I just, I said, "You know, I don't know what this means for you and I, but I need to go back to church". Which was an interesting concept, since I'd never really been to church. I did know one guy had seen some changes in his life, and he was a good friend of mine, and kind of somebody I looked up to. And so I called him, I said, "You know, what happened in your life? You know, how did you make these changes? You know, what happened"? And he was actually playing for the New York Jets at the time, and he tells me, he started sharing his story, and at the time I didn't realize it, but now I do. He was sharing the gospel with me. I was using words, like, you know, crucified, and forgiven, and redemption and, you know, grace and mercy and all these things I'd never even heard before. And I knew that's exactly what I wanted. I wanted those changes in my life. I needed that. For the man out there that, you know, is maybe got kids at home, already been married a long time, and it's like, man, you know, I haven't had discipleship, I haven't been in discipleship, this hasn't been a part of my life. You know, I think the biggest thing is just, if that's a desire of yours, start praying about it. Those are godly things that God wants for every one of his followers, is to be in discipleship. So, we can be assured that if we pray for those things, God's gonna answer that prayer. He's gonna bring somebody along to start discipling you, start teaching you. I think men need to learn what it means to be a man, a biblical, godly man. It might just be biblical knowledge. It might be what it means to be a husband, a godly husband. It might be what it means to be a godly father. It might be, you know, what it means to be a godly leader of other men or other people in your workplace. And I think that God answers those prayers. And not being afraid to, you know, if you got grown kids or you got teenagers at home and this is new to you in saying I'm gonna pursue God more seriously as the leader of this home, and I hope that you guys can show me some grace and some mercy along the way.
Tony: You know, we hear that, "I'm the breadwinner". You're supposed to be the breadwinner, so we think that's the most important job we have as men. I've gotta work and take care of business, so that I bring home the bacon, and if I can feed my family, then I've been a good dad. And that is not the most important thing our kids need. I found that out from my son. I was actually getting an award, a fatherhood award, and so I had to give a speech, and I wanted to tell them, you know, what great, neat things I'd done for my kids, so I asked my son, Eric was, like, 12 at the time. I said, "Tell me the neatest thing that we've done together, the thing that you were most happy that we got to do". And he had been on the sideline with me, gone to Super Bowls, and all these different, neat things, and he said, "Well, you remember the time we were playing baseball with a roll of tape and a broom, because all the stuff was locked away, and we just played baseball? I beat you 22 to 2 in tape baseball". And I said, "Of all the things we've done, that's the thing you remember? Why is that"? He said, "Well, that was just special, me and you together". And I said, "Wow," you know, that made me think that it's not the great things, it's not what I've provided for, it's not being able to fly him to the Super Bowl, but it was playing a baseball game with a roll of tape, because it was just him and I.
Tony: You know, one of the things that's missing today is the blessing. You know, in the Bible, you lived for the blessing. This is where the father spoke life into his sons. Because the sons were responsible for carrying on the covenant.
male: Even the second-born son?
Tony: Even the second, yeah.
male: You alright, he fine.
Kirk: You alright, you alright.
Tony: He says, "I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," so the blessing is to go to at least the third generation. So, he is to speak those blessings, and that cannot be delegated to the wife. So, if I was the enemy, I'm gonna either get the man out of the home, so that he doesn't get to speak the blessing, or I'm going to keep him unblessed, so he doesn't know how to speak the blessing. So, either way, the boys don't feel the mantle of manhood and kingdom manhood, divine manhood passed onto them.
Anthony Evans: In college, because I realized I went so far away from home, it was like this epiphany that God doesn't have grandkids. Like, I'm not grafted in because of my dad, because all I've known is this, where we're sitting right now. And my dad said, "Anthony, I want you to read Psalm 128," and he started reading that to me. "Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, his wife will be a fruitful vine, and his kids will be olive plants around his table". And he was saying that to me, but as he was talking, I started thinking about to Daddy, Grandpa, my other grandfather, the legacy that they started, because they feared the Lord.
Jonathan Evans: You know, my father was big on grace. And we experienced that a lot growing up. Truth in grace, you know, because he'll tell you the truth and you'll get in trouble for not following the truth. But he was also gracious in understanding that there is growth as it relates to becoming the true you that God wants you to be.
Priscilla Shirer: There is a tenacity that my father has. There is a consistency that he has, and a stability that he has that has affected me. All of those have affected me incredibly, because to watch someone who has lived, you know, a certain amount of years, we're not talking about a 20 year old here, but somebody who's been walking the path for quite a while, and they've remained consistent in what they believe about God, despite everything that they've seen, the ups and downs, the losses, the hurts, the betrayals, the difficulties. That has affected me incredibly, because I feel a sense that I can do it when stuff gets tough with me. And so, I'm looking at them and going, "Because you did it, because you said yes, and you stuck to it, and you have remained consistent, and you've had tenacity, that means I can do it too".
Chrystal Evans Hurst: When I hear about the story of his dad and what my dad learned from my grandfather, that's the story, it's understanding legacy and continuing to work to leave one.
Jonathan: Being a kingdom man doesn't mean you're a king, being a kingdom man really means that you're willing to submit yourself to the King that made you a man. And so when you understand that, when you understand submission, then you can follow the one who's the greatest leader of all time. He'll teach you how to be a leader the right way, which is sacrifice and submission, and then all the people behind you, those that God has put under the sphere of your influence, can actually follow justly and rightly. And so, you can actually make an impact. Instead of it just being about the individual trinity, me, myself, and I, you can actually be serving the real one.
Jon: You know, removing that excuse of, oh, well, I don't have a testimony, or I don't have a sphere of influence, you know, God's bigger than all those things. No Christian man has an excuse not to follow Jesus Christ to the fullest extent.
Tony: The main thing is that you have to decide God matters more than anything and anyone else. Because if he matters more, then pleasing him becomes the greatest goal. And God has given us something to help us when we fall short, it's called repentance, and he encourages repentance. That's the internal determination to turn from sin. And sometimes that's a process to get to fully applying it, but men have this thing to be determined. We get determined for what we want, we just don't want God bad enough. So, because we don't want him bad enough and we want something or someone else bad enough, then he gets kicked to the side. That's why he says in the Word, "You've left your first love". I'm not first, I'm just one among many, and I don't accept that position. So, because he doesn't accept that position, you don't experience the help that you're crying out to him for. Another thing is to have other men in your life to remind you of that. And that's what's missing in our culture. See, we got other men to remind us of wrong, we don't have enough other men to remind us of right.
Kirk: What's my camera? Where's my camera, right here? Where's my camera, right here? Did you hear what the man said?