I have worked with many men through my years as chaplain for the Denver Nuggets of the NBA and the Colorado Rockies of the MLB and in my involvement with other men’s groups. Through the years, Gari and I have identified habits that can lead men to absolute destruction. Some of the destruction I’ve experienced included going to federal prison. We share these four common mistakes men make in hope that you will avoid them.
Mistake #1 – Choosing your career over your children
I had a great dad, but I didn’t have a great daddy. When my siblings and I were small, my dad was playing baseball for the Cleveland Indians. When he was home, he didn’t get involved in our lives. Luckily, I learned from his mistakes. “Daddy” years are when children make secure attachments, and no one has a greater influence than daddy. If you don’t make those connections in the physically demanding daddy years, it’s hard to have influence when your kids grow into the “dad” years.
You need to play with your kids, read to them, take them to fun places, build terrific memories. Pray for them, discipline them when they need it, be creative in how to make these important connections. Be a daddy. Don’t miss this time! It goes fast, and you never get another chance.
Mistake #2 – Choosing friends who can lead you astray
I went to prison partially because of the men I did business with. I see men in their late 20s and 30s not understanding how careful they need to be with the people they hang around or do business with. The Bible says to choose your friends wisely, because whoever you spend time with, you will become like them.
Mistake #3 – Not listening to your wife – advice from Gari
One of the best parts of marriage is having someone love you deeply – listening to your dreams, hopes, and struggles; and giving you wise counsel and support. When a man has the habit of turning to some woman other than his wife for this significant support, it can lead to disaster. This woman could be his mother, resulting in undermining the importance of his wife. It could be a female coworker, a woman friend at church, or someone else, resulting in emotional or physical affairs.
Mistake #4 – Rejecting or neglecting a relationship with Jesus Christ
Nothing is more important than your relationship with God. Without his son, Jesus Christ, you will never have the power to live the life you can be proud of. God loves you and wants a personal relationship with you! He is standing at the door of your life. When you accept him as your Savior and Lord, he brings love, forgiveness, purpose for your life, and the power to live the very best life you can imagine. Your best days are ahead of you, even if you feel doomed in life today.
In my darkest moments in prison, I began to understand prison was the perfect place for me to be. God had my full attention, and he could finally free me from the chains of living my life at a reckless pace and get my temper under his control. One of the greatest things he did was help me learn to forgive myself, and give me the power to forgive others so I didn’t live the rest of my life in anger and bitterness. Knowing Christ and forgiving others has given me great freedom.
About the Authors
Bo Mitchell is chaplain and senior advisor for the Colorado Rockies. The former minor league baseball player has a master’s degree in Christian leadership and has cofounded several nonprofits. Gari Mitchell directs consulting services for Crosswalk Fellowship of Denver. Married for more than 45 years, Bo and Gari have two children and four grandchildren. Together they share their story in the book Grace Behind Bars, available now from Focus on the Family.