Seven Lessons for the Manly

(Special Note: This week’s e-devotion will be a bit different, but inspiring and insightful.  It appeared this week on the blog of one of our staff members, D. Justin Henderson, written after he had spent a day with an older Christian brother and mentor.  Justin is the son of Daniel Henderson and an avid hunter.  We think you will enjoy his practical insights.)


At the core of every great hunt, and every great hunter, are connecting points: the connection between the hunter and the wild; between the animal and the earth; between hunters and companions; and sometimes, between the weapons and the hunted.

I believe every connection either gives life or takes it.  There is no neutral exchange.  There is also something deep in my soul that quietly confirms when this connection is not only life-giving, but life-changing.  A life-changing connection stays with you forever.

Early in Life.  Late in Life.

I’ve had such a connection with a man I am proud to call my friend.  He’s the kind of man that every man should know.  I also believe that God is the one who crossed our paths, early in my life, late in his.  But one of the greatest things about a connection like this is that it does not depend on anyone’s age because this life is just the beginning.

Doug Deats is a lot of things to a lot of people: world-class dog trainer, rancher, hunting guide, preacher, wing shooter, author, salesman, son, husband, father, student, colleague, and friend.  This is a man with a lot of connections.

Today, I had the privilege of quail hunting with my friend Doug and his three incredible dogs.  We shot plenty of birds.  It was a life-giving connection for me.  But during a difficult period in both our lives – Doug fighting a life-threatening illness, I fighting a lot of uncertainties – the day yielded a successful hunt in a much deeper way: a life-changing connection.

The more time I spend with Doug, the more manly I become.  And the more I realize that he is the kind of man I want to be.  Many popular theories today avow that “manliness” – while maybe difficult to fully define – consists of at least seven core qualities: strength, courage, industry, resolve, independence, hard work, and honor.  Today, in his own way, and without even knowing it, my friend Doug showed me how to be a better man, a life-changing connection that I will carry with me long after this hunt is over.

Seven Reasons

1.    Strength

Strength is defined as “the capacity for exertion or endurance.”  No matter how much a man loves to hunt, if he’s fighting a life-threatening illness and still has the capacity to guide hunts, run dogs, shoot birds, and climb mountains – he has an incredible capacity for exertion and endurance.  I’ve seen him do it.  He is a man of strength.

2.    Courage

“If you don’t go after what you want, you will never have it.”  Doug shares a funny story about his high school guidance counselor who told him he could never make a living doing what he loves (training dogs and hunting birds).  Disappointed with this advice, he returned home from school that day and asked his father, “Well, if she’s such an expert why doesn’t she have a better job?” That’s the positive but fearless attitude that has allowed this man to live his dreams for over 50 years – the courage to do what others say can’t be done, and to do it with a level of excellence that is rarely found.

3.    Industry

“Make yourself valuable.”  Doug is one of the most industrious and sensible thinkers I know.  He has shared many important principles with me on succeeding in business and in life.  One that I won’t ever forget is the principle of creating value.  When Doug first started in the dog training business, he was struggling.  After some pointed advice from a friend, who told him his prices were too cheap, he realized he needed to increase his prices in order to increase the value of his business.  He doubled his prices and, almost overnight, doubled the size of his business.  This lesson about value is just one example of the thinking of an industrious man.

4.    Resolve

“When life gets hard, keep hunting.”  If you ever have the privilege to hunt with Doug, you will learn – when the hunting conditions are not ideal, you keep hunting anyway.  That’s the kind of tenacity you learn from Doug when you hunt with him.  And you see that it transcends hunting.  The resolve to overcome whatever challenges life brings.  The resolve to never give up, and to believe that even when life feels bad, God is still good.  If you spend enough time around Doug, you will inevitably hear him say (when he’s having a great time): “This sure beats a sharp stick in the eye!” That’s the spirit of a man who lives life with resolve.

5.    Independence

“Cowboy up.”  It is obvious that at the core of Doug’s approach to life is the pioneering spirit of independence that makes this country so great.  He’s a living example that a man should be able to stand on his own two feet, build with his own two hands, carve out his own path, and live a life of ultimate freedom and independence.

6.    Hard Work

“Work hard, play hard.”  When it comes to this popular phrase, Doug Deats is truth in action.  When you look at his life and the many friends he surrounds himself with, you know he is a living example of what a man can accomplish when he embraces the importance of hard work.

7.    Honor

“There are no rules when you’re in the center of God’s will.”  Doug reminded me of that truth today.  Anyone who knows Doug knows that he is not about making everyone follow the rules or even following the rules himself.  He is, however, all about making sure that what he does is consistent with who he is, and more importantly, with who God is.  He cares about being in the center of God’s will.  He cares about people.  He prays before every hunt.  He talks about his faith with his clients.  And the man you see in the field shooting his 28-gauge is the same man you see in the pulpit preaching on Sunday mornings.  He is who he says he is.  He does what he says he’s going to do.  He is a man of honor.

Copyright © 2013 D. Justin Henderson. All rights reserved.