The Covenant Eyes Podcast

Engaging with Tim Strickland: Fostering Growth for Christian Men

November 21, 2023 Covenant Eyes, Tim Strickland, Karen Potter Season 2 Episode 62
The Covenant Eyes Podcast
Engaging with Tim Strickland: Fostering Growth for Christian Men
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode, we're engaging with Tim Strickland, the visionary behind Christ in the Smokies, an organization that's shaking up the world of spiritual guidance for men and their sons. Imagine a journey that takes you from personal sorrow to a place of powerful transformation; that's exactly what Tim has experienced and what he's now sharing with others. His organization is all about fostering personal growth, developing deeper relationships, and instilling a sense of authentic masculinity through challenging adventures and memorable experiences. The Passage to Manhood Camp, central to their work, provides a space where fathers and sons can bond and learn together. 

But that's not all. Tim also shares some profound advice for fathers grappling with addictions, especially pornography. With nearly two decades of experience in a men's group, he understands the importance of acknowledging the issue, seeking help, and inviting God into the healing process. He stands by the power of community and transformation, highlighting the importance of surrounding oneself with supportive people for accountability. This episode is an insightful look into the influence of a father's spiritual life on his family and the significance of passing down faith to the next generation. Join us for this enlightening conversation and see how you can benefit from it.

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Bran:

So, as we mentioned, we are excited to have Tim Strickland on with us, talking about something, karen, that is just so close to my heart not just men's ministry, but fatherhood. I am a father of two wonderful children. One of those is a seven month old boy named Nathaniel, and I'm just so excited to journey with him and just live life with him, and I know you've had experience with this organization as well in your own family.

Karen:

Absolutely. Yeah, my son and my husband both went to this camp Christ in the Smokies and we're going to learn all about this camp and just some ways that it's really transformed men and their sons and even sometimes grandparents and their sons, but just, it's an amazing organization and with that, Tim, if you wouldn't mind just giving our listeners a little preview of what your organization is all about and how you got started.

Tim:

Well, great, well, thanks for having me. I appreciate the opportunity. And, yeah, you know God's been preparing me my whole life for what he wanted me to do. And you know I've been involved in youth and men's ministry for quite a while. I am serving the middle school ministry at my church for the last 18 years and was a coach and a ball player and athlete been around locker rooms my whole life, all that kind of stuff and I just, I just love being around men and helping lift them up and help. I don't I don't want to say call them out of a, call them into authentic masculinity, what God intended us to be. And it's been a passion of mine for many, many years. And my son and I got to attend a camp many years ago called Christ in the Rockies and through that we just had a wonderful experience. And then, through some unfortunate tragedy, we lost our son in a car accident about two years later and after we attended that camp, taylor was 23. And God just put it on my heart to say you know, this is the time, bring this to the Southeast. And that's how Christ in the smoke he was born out of, out of tragedy. But God doesn't let it stay there. God takes lemons and makes lemonade out of it, and we have seen so many families men, women, families benefit from what goes on there. That you know. It's just that I would say it's. It's a joy and a blessing to be able to be part of that and other journey just about what he's doing in today's world and to be useful. That's how I would like to say that. You know, the answer is yes, god. What's the question?

Karen:

That's awesome, you know, and it's interesting because Covenant Eyes was actually born out of tragedy as well. The founder of Covenant Eyes lost his family in a tragic accident and he received a settlement from that, and he took that money and invested it into the creation of Covenant Eyes because he saw the need to save and help families, and so it's. It's so interesting to just hear how God uses that, that deepest pain in our lives, and turns it into something that is touching so many other lives and changing destiny. So I just I'm grateful for you sharing that story with us. What exactly for the listeners that don't know what is? What is Christ in the Smokies? What is that Like? Is it a, is it a camp, you know? And how do people engage with it?

Tim:

Well, it's an organization and we we basically are here to help men. We feel that men are under attack in society today and if the evil one can take men out, then the rest of the house falls. And Christ in the Smokies is just part of what we call CITX Christ in the Rockies, christ in the Smokies, christ in the Ozarks an organization that basically helps along the masculine journey. It starts with passage to manhood, which is the camp that your family came to, and then we have a camp for an. I'll call them experiential learning camps. Okay, it's a time to get away, to be, to dive deep into relational equity and to really spend time with other men that are journey along the same thing and then, with great learning, great adventure and fun and camaraderie, and realize that we're not all doing this alone. So it's it's. The passage to manhood is the first camp, and that's for fathers and sons. The sons are typically between age 17. I think our oldest son was 40 when he came. So we had a dad who was in his sixties who brought his son because he felt like he needed to go back and redo things that he had not done or felt like he needed to do again beforehand. So we have sons that are up and down the spectrum. I would say 90% or 80% of them are between the ages of 17 to the 28. That's typical, and I can't remember how old Jacob was, but 20s 23. Yep yeah yeah, yeah, great age, because they've had a little life happen right.

Karen:

Yeah.

Tim:

And then not everything always goes perfect and when you, you know, when you have a little blood, sweat and tears, you kind of like sit back and say, oh okay, it wasn't always promised to be great all the time. You know, as a matter of fact, it was promised it was going to be difficult, with occasional wonderful, and we just kind of get that inverted sometimes in our thought process. But the then we have. So that's the passage to manhood camp, and I will say here's how I describe it to people A father and son come to camp and then two sons of the father walk along, walk, walk away, and it's beautiful to watch and it's beautiful to see them acknowledging and seeing each other as brothers in Christ. There always be father and son. You know dad and son, but really they see each other differently, but they're both along the journey and they're walking alongside each other. One's just a little further along than the other. Then then the we have one called going inward to move onward. A skies are really good at stuffing stuff right, you know, and ignore it and acting like it. It's not going to affect us. And then we have bad behaviors that manifest themselves in our lives Later on. We wonder where did that come from? Well, we stuffed all this stuff down in the basement and we don't know how to unpack it. And so this camp is about going inward, going down in that basement, and then there's a process that you go through, with the assistance of our Heavenly Father and Jesus, to just to deal with that so that we can move onward. So that's going inward to move onward, and that's campus for 35 and older. Just men doesn't have to be father, son, it could be any man, 35 or older. And that's really important to us because we get tripped up on a lot of stuff, okay, and we ignore it, we ignore it, we ignore it, we stuff it, and then we have some bad behaviors, whether it's, you know, drinking drugs, you know, abuse of some sort or pornography or any of the problems that are just a jump that takes the evil one uses to take us off our game, that we then feel like we don't have what it takes and we can't be useful to God. And that's just the opposite. God can use anybody. You know there'll be a lot of people who say, well, if he can use a knucklehead like Tim Strickland, he can use anybody. So those who've known me for a lot of time. We'll understand that, but you just have to be willing to be useful, right? So I think that's a. And then then we have a 50 and older camp, and that 50 and older camp is about. We call it the way of wisdom, and that's really about why am I here? What is my purpose? Why does you know what, what, what is going on and how do I become the man that God intended me to be? So that's, that's what those three are about. There's lots of great literature and content that we use or that we leverage from other providers to help men along that journey, but we also focus on we are not meant to walk this alone. We are meant to walk it with other believers and other men who are carrying the same burdens and the same things. So, hopefully, that's a quick overview. I know it was a little bit wordy, but that's my best description.

Bran:

Now that's really great, Tim. I'd love to get your take on just the importance of men's spirituality, specifically in the terms of a father handing down the faith to his son to continue the church and building of the church into the next generation.

Tim:

I had a mentor 20, 30 years ago that said as a, as parent, our job is to help our children be employable, meritable and serviceable to God those three things. If we're not, if it's anything other than those three things, then we're really spending a lot of effort on things that don't matter. And if you think about it, you know we spend a really whole lot of time on employable right, not too much time on meritable and even less time on serviceable to God, and so and I think those two are are more important than the employable piece. So does that make sense? Yeah, absolutely. I remember. I remember hearing that and thinking okay, I can get that. Give me three things to focus on. I can, I can handle that. You give me 10, I'm a mess, okay.

Karen:

I love the simplistic. You know nature of that, though. Three things people can really wrap their mind around, and I think our society and culture in general really focuses heavily on that employability piece. Then, you know, I don't think it spends nearly enough time on the other two. What recommendations do you have for you know fathers out there that are a lot of our listeners you know are coming to the table with you know, potentially a history of struggling with pornography or other addictions that have just really hurt their family or hurt their marriage. What advice do you have for them? As far as you know, maybe they're thinking, wow, I really need to do something about this. What can I do? What's my next step?

Tim:

Well, there's, there's quite a few steps I think that you can take. And again, one is you have to acknowledge it. You know that we we have that. And then, once we acknowledge it, then we have to seek help from others. We cannot do it on our own and certainly we need to include God in that piece, for sure. But know that we are sons of the most high and you know, with him we can accomplish whatever. There, you know, it will not stand against us and we have to be willing to say I've got to, I've got to identify, admit and move into that, so that and then I can't do it alone. I need to be able to have those people that I can communicate and be honest and open with, because once it's in the light, it's not in darkness anymore and it can't really. I mean, yeah, it still can be challenging, but once it's in the light it's a different animal, the evil. One can't use it the same way and I feel that, you know, in my life certainly I've had to be transparent and open. I'm part of a men's group that we've been meeting since 2006 or 2007. I can't remember, anyway, almost 20 years. These guys know me better than I probably know myself. They know, you know they helped help me raise Taylor. They were the guys who who held me up to the day he was gone. And it's not if trouble or the difficulties are coming, it's when. And if you're looking for it, when the trouble comes and you have an already established that you're going to have a real, it's going to be a completely different animal. These are the same men that serve at the Christ in the Smokies camp, that that your husband and son got to meet. We love each other like brothers. It's, you know I hope, I believe it is, and you can ask them this but that it's a parent, that we have a very strong love for each other and love for other people, and that the the light of the Lord shines in us, not because of us, because of him. And that's what we want, that's what we're called to do. So I would say don't walk it alone. Get in a group of like-minded men that can walk alongside you, who can help counsel you, who challenge you, lift you up, keep you grounded, all of those things when, when the troubles come, it's not it. Absolutely that makes sense. Yeah, for sure.

Karen:

I think a lot of that aligns really good, too, with what we do here at covenant eyes, because we are all about Accountability and relationships. Because you can't overcome sins in your life, you know, in the dark right we can't do that. Right we have to surround ourselves with a community of people that can help us and to be there and hold us accountable and have that Barnabas, paul, timothy type relationship. You know where we're called up to our greatness in Christ. So I love what you're saying here and I I'm so glad that our listeners, you know, now know that there's a place that they can actually go and go through this experience with other like-minded men, because I don't think there's enough of those kind of organizations out there, tim. I think we need more of that. I think our men are certainly under attack and I think that any opportunity that we can connect them with organizations that strengthen their walk with Christ, I think that's really, really important.

Tim:

Yeah, yeah, I, I think so too. And I and Guys we learn differently, right, you know we have to go be hands-on experiential learning. You know, I can read something a book but if I can go do it or I can go live it or I can see glimpses of how things go and how things work, that, just that lights me up in a different way. So, and I think guys were just wired that way we're action oriented, even though we one of our struggles is this passivity thing. Right, you know that, that, you know. I call it first Adam behavior. You know, and our whole Passage to manhood camp is about comparing and contrasting first Adam behavior and second, adam hope, which is, you know, adam default and Jesus as Adam too, and how he dealt with these big rock ideas and said, oh, that's, that's how I do it. So I have something to shoot for, because I don't know about. You know, your husband and your son, but I didn't. You know, I had a dad, he was a good dad and everything but it. I didn't. I didn't understand the compare, how does that? And maybe it was just faith as a child, but I thought that, you know, okay, the world says it, you know I'm I. I chase false idols and the key false For false idols that I chased, and I think most men get caught up in, or the what I call the ball field, the bedroom, the boardroom and the billfold. Those are the things we chase and that's what. That's what culture says. Chase that, okay, whether it's the ball field and the sports or or band or music or whatever. The bedroom obviously is a huge challenge for guys. You know, we're very visual and relational that way and you know, oh, if I'm attractive to a lady, that means I'm a man. I mean, no, it's not. That's not the truth, okay. And then the boardroom, or work, or work. And you know we all fall To the idea that I'm gonna get my validation in my work. You know Well, that's, that's a place where you get to be validated, but it's not where you get your validation from right. And then the billfold People rely on their money is, oh, I'm. You know security is important, but it's not. God didn't build us the security. God built us to to take risks, to do things, and oh, by the way, our security is in him, not in our stuff. And so I think men fall for those four things. I know I bought into all of them. Okay, and We'll sit here in front of you today and say they're all false idols, okay, none of them will sustain you or fulfill you you think you will. But I Remember going and reading a book, or being about four in my 40s and Haven't been defined by the world is pretty successful. And I remember feeling like wait a second, I just don't, this is it, this is this is success. And I really started struggling with that and, you know, started learning. Okay, given my life away for his purposes is where significance come from, and you might have heard of the Bob Buefer book a halftime, a great book for those of you who haven't read that but it talks about the transition from defined success to significance and being, you know, focused into what the world says versus what he says about us and who we are, not who we are.

Bran:

Yeah, I think it's about just reordering priorities, as you're talking about. Right, I think it's a natural and a healthy thing, and really even a God-given calling, to want to provide for our families as men, to be those leaders, and oftentimes the spiritual leadership was what seems to be lacking and lagging behind. But once that spiritual leadership is put forward, then everything else falls into line and is in proper order of the way it should be. So, tim, if you would leave a message today with those who are listening, especially to our men who are fathers, what do you think that would be?

Tim:

That would be men. We are called to be spiritual leaders in our family and we have to get off the sideline and on the playing field and we have to trust that God is our Heavenly Father and has our best interests at heart and we have to trust Him for leading us through that. Because I remember going to you guys are allowed a Promise Keepers event back in the 80s, maybe early 90s, that they said one of the key verses was as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord and declare it. I remember going home and declaring that with my wife and saying I don't know what that means to be the spiritual leader of my family, but I'm going to declare it and trust God's going to show me what that looks like and lead me and Father me along the way, and I'm going to trust in that and that verse you know as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. There's a unique I wrote a little newsletter on that couple of years back. Funny thing the last Christmas that Taylor was here. He and his girlfriend gave us a plaque and it had strickland and big letters and then underneath it was that Joshua verses for me and my house. Maybe it will serve the Lord. And he had no idea. He had no idea that that had been declared 25 years before. And I will just say guys, declare it, claim it to be so and trust God to help you with that and trust others to help you walk along that. Does that make sense?

Karen:

Absolutely. I think that's a fantastic way to bring today's podcast to a close and, tim, I just want to thank you personally, for you know the incredible experience that my son and my husband had at your camp, and I hope that others out there listening to this podcast will also take advantage of this amazing experience. I'm not going to go into all the details, but I'll tell you they came back changed and they came back on fire for the Lord, and I am just internally grateful for that experience that you and your organization provided Tim. So thank you so much. And, to our listeners, be sure to visit Tim. Is it ChristInTheSmokiesorg? Is that correct?

Tim:

That is correct. Christinthesmokiesorg Fantastic.

Karen:

So make sure you check that out. It'll be in the show notes and out there. Thank you again for tuning in to the Covenant Eyes podcast.

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