Brian Marshall was a great man. He passed away in 2004. Kevin and Brain had become friends through the workplace, and when we work closely with people we learn a lot about who they are and what they stand for. Kevin got to know Brian pretty well and was impressed with his character, integrity, intelligence, work ethic and values.
When it became clear that Brian’s life on this earth was coming to an end due to cancer, Kevin wrote him a letter. The letter had a few purposes, Kevin wanted Brian to know what he thought of him and of his impact, but even more importantly, Kevin wanted Brian’s boys to know what kind of man their father was. He knew due to their young ages they might not remember. Kevin wanted something in writing for those boys, something they could turn to at any time, a way for them to know what others thought of their dad.
When Brain passed away his wife shared the letter with their parents and then with their pastor. The letter was printed, in part, on the back of the funeral program. Here is that portion of the letter ~
I used to think I knew what it meant to be a man. A man is big, strong, tough, brave and independent. To some extent that’s true. I have discovered a REAL man is much more than that. A real man is intelligent, righteous, honest, selfless and courageous. It is hard to be a real man. It is lonely being a real man. It means putting your needs last, no matter how great your needs are. It means taking care of others, when you deserve to have others take care of you. It means being a leader when you aren’t sure you can find your way. It means being brave when those around you are frightened. It means taking the right path, not the easy path.
Seven years later Kevin found out just how much those words resonated with someone else. In recent leadership training at work the concept of the shadow of a leader was discussed. This is when those in positions of leadership, through their behavior and actions, tend to influence the behavior and actions of those around them, thus “casting a shadow”.
A co-worker, Steve, stopped by Kevin’s office this week and told him You don’t always know who you cast your shadow on and what kind kind of meaning it has. He wanted Kevin to know that the letter that was read at Brian’s funeral cast a shadow on him and that those words have been influencing him since. He has kept the funeral program near and has even used Kevin’s words to teach his boys what it means to be a real man. He then gave Kevin a box which held a plaque etched with the above words.
|Our Real Man
(in El Salvador)
I am grateful for many things today ~
- For men like Brian Marshall, who lived his life – literally to the last day like a Real Man.
- For Steve, who gave the plaque to Kevin. He surely has walked with intention in the ways of a Real Man, and I believe real men fortify our families and communities.
- For Kevin’s words to be put before me again. To recognize what a Real Man is, you must be one. Kevin is and we are blessed.
- Grateful that our sixteen and thirteen year old sons have the definition before them. Not only is this the definition their dad uses, but it is who he is recognized to be; may they grow up to be Real Men.
- Grateful that our thiretten and eighteen year old daughters have their dad as the standard. May Real Men enter their lives at the right time and may they recognize them easily due to the first Real Man in their lives.
- To be reminded that we influence others, even when we are unaware.