Some say that we are the sum total of our experiences & the people that we know & do life with.
In light of that sentiment the first Monday of the month we are going to take a look at the men that have made us the men, for better or worse, that we are today.
Some of these men we know personally, while some of these men inspire us from afar through their public lives. Some are “God fearing men”, while some are “far from God”. Some are alive, while some are long gone. Some are extraordinary men of influence, while some some hold the greatest of wealth in their “common” & “ordinary” day to day life impact on our lives.
Through this monthly post we should each be encouraged to take a moment to recognize these men in our lives. Men that have not simply inspired us to be the men we are today, but through their examples charge us to be ever becoming greater men of influence & service.
Until I realized that I should write this post I don’t believe I honestly took the time to recognized how important of an influence this man had been on my life. A man who after careful consideration stood head and shoulders above all of the rest. A man who’s relationship with me has stood the flawed, torn, weathered, and storied test of time. He holds my deepest darkest secrets, knows my greatest failures, every perverse joke I have thought, has heard the strongest longings of my heart, and has zero tolerance for any of my crap. On September 15th 1972 I met the man who would be come my life long partner in crime, closest confidant, arch nemesis, and closest friend. I was 3-years-old and that man was my new born baby brother Mark.
Before services like Spotify and Pandora started introducing us to a world of music, people’s musical tastes tended to be fairly narrow. Not my brothers. While I limited myself to the likes of the Stones or David Lee Roth-fronted Van Halen, my brother, who at that time would have been at least 10-years-old, had the most diverse record collection of music that I knew of. While he certainly enjoyed some sweet Eddie Van Halen guitar solos, he was also immersed in the likes of Duran Duran, Bruce Springsteen, Thomas Dolby, Kenny Rogers, and The Police, just to name a few. To this day I have no idea what I am going to get to hear when I am on a car ride with him. It could be anything from some blues great, to southern fried rock, to the latest hip hop or even the Walk Hard Soundtrack. My brother showed me that I didn’t have to be so narrow in my musical interests and that there is a wide world of creativity out there to inspired me.
Around seventh grade my brother used to hang out at the Guitar Center near his grade school. His intention was to work there so he could buy a drum set. Being only a kid, they couldn’t hire him, but he worked all the same. If there was anything that needed to be done when he was there he would jump at the chance to work. At first, they just let him hang out as “payment” for his hard work. But, then they started giving him used drum kit pieces and he eventually built his own junk drum kit. Those were some of the early formations of Mark’s work ethic and determination. When you work with Mark you can’t help but be inspired by his determination. Through his example I am continually encouraged to actively pursue what I feel I am called to do, regardless of financial compensation.
My brother loves a great meal. My brother loves to share a great meal. My brother can make a great meal. My brother is a generous man with the gift of hospitality and a certain flair in the culinary arts. Whether you get a chance to be invited to his home, he takes you to his favorite new place, or you find him at the Anchor whenever he is in Minneapolis, you are bound to have him share some aspect of the meal that he enjoys with you. And, should you ever have the chance to be asked in to his home, you will count yourself a lucky man as there is always plenty of Spotted Cow and there is a good chance he will whip up a batch of his soon to be famous “Monster Mark Cookies.” Seeing Mark in these elements continually inspires me to be at the table with others sharing with them good food, drink, and community.
So now it’s your turn. Who is that guy in your life that is like my brother is to me?
Who removes your artistic narrowness, opens you up to your creative nature, that part of our DNA that screams we are “co-creators” with God?
Who is it that inspires you to work hard and passionately pursue a goal?
Who is that inspires you to be more generous and giving of the things that you love?
Who do you need to write to today and say “because you are in my life I am a better man than I could be without you”?
– Roger Messner