Tom Lee was a real man…and Tom Lee left a legacy that his children can follow and one that will bring God glory.
On April 27th a tornado ripped through the Lee’s home in Alabama. The home had no basement and so the Lee children had little protection. In that moment of life and death danger, Tom Lee did what he could as he covered his oldest son and as many of his 13 children as possible with his own body…and forfeited his life for theirs. The story is touching and challenging.
(read more about Tom’s story here and read a touching tribute here.)
But Tom’s heroic sacrifice is only part of the reason I consider him a real man. Watching an interview with his eldest son, Jordan, I was greatly impacted by how Tom’s children responded in the midst of trial and suffering. When the tornado passed, their home had been reduced to a pile of rubble with most of the children still trapped inside. Jordan tells of how the children prayed to God, thought of each other, and sang about God’s amazing grace. Where did that come from? It came from their father. It’s a part of his legacy.
Just a day after his dad passed away, Jordan ended the interview with a prayer request;
“Pray that the Lord will use this for his glory, which I know He will, and that he would use this to draw our family closer together, and that we would, most importantly, honor the legacy of our father, and that we would live lives that are pleasing to our Heavenly Father and our earthly father that He blessed us with.”
Jordan Lee, eldest son of Tom Lee
This was not rehearsed or scripted. It was a grieving son speaking from his heart in a moment of great tragedy. Where does that kind of heart come from? Where did Jordon get the resolve to bring God glory, and where did he learn to be so brave in the midst of such incredible turmoil? This kind of godliness in a man young man doesn’t happen by accident! Jordan’s heart was nurtured by a dad who loved God and who taught his children to do the same. Tom Lee was a man’s man…a godly man.
And let’s be honest…Tom stands in stark contrast to the average American male today. The statistics are startling and simply sad. Darrin Patrick recently posted these stats and addressed a problem we are seeing in our society; the prolonged adolescence of men. Patrick points out that guys are walking the line between boyhood and manhood. That they are trying to be young without responsibility for longer than our fathers’ generation. He says there is a hybrid of man/boy that he calls “Bans.”
Ban is a frightening reality in the church, but he is the best thing that ever happened to the video game and porn industries.
* Half of American males between the ages of 18 to 34 play video games every day—for almost 3 hours.
* The average video game buyer is 35 years old.
* Every second, $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography, 28,258 Internet users view pornography, and 372 Internet users type adult search terms into search engines.
* To no one’s surprise, men make up nearly 75% of Internet pornography traffic.
Our society is overrun with males who aren’t men. Assuming the responsibilities of husband and father makes a boy into a man, but Ban doesn’t like responsibility so he extends his adolescence and sets his focus squarely and supremely on himself.
In a fantastic video, Darrin challenges the church to do something about this! He challenges the church to discipleship! Young men need examples of what a real man looks like! Older men in the church need to step up and teach younger men how to be men! And all of us can learn a lot from the legacy of men like Tom Lee.
Here are some lessons:
Real men Protect
Tom gave his life to save some of his children. But there is something more precious than the physical lives our children…we need to protect them spiritually! The world has an agenda for our children. There are messages they are being taught as they watch TV, play video games, and surf the internet. The “Me-centered” message will corrupt them. Men today need to be engaged and aware. We need to know God’s standards, then we need to help our children love HIM and live by those standards (Deut. 6:4-9). No more coasting…no more self-indulgence…we need to stand up and be men who protect.
Real Men are Selfless
Tom gave the ultimate sacrifice…his own life. His thoughts were not on himself, but for his family. He knew that the family would still need a leader, so he exchanged his life for eldest son’s.
Many men today have a hard time giving up their “Me-time” let alone their lives! Many men can’t pull themselves away from SportsCenter in order to engage in their children’s lives. By contrast, Jesus set the example of selfless living and God calls us to do the same (Phil. 2).
Real Men will Leave a Legacy
Jordan will carry on his dad’s example. It’s all he knows. When it’s time for him to be a dad, he will father the way he was fathered and Tom’s legacy of selflessness and sacrifice will live on to the next generation. Tom lived for God’s glory, so God will be glorified through his children’s lives, his grand-children’s lives, and so on. How many times will this story be told? How many years from now will the Lee children still be recounting the life and sacrifice of their earthly patriarch? And didn’t Jordan evidence in purest form the legacy of his father in his desire to see God glorified? THAT’S the legacy I want to leave my children!
What are the men of today leaving? How will our sons remember us? For the highest score on Mario Kart? I want to leave my boys more than that. I want them to see me love my wife well. I want them to see me serve others without complaint. I want them to see in me a love for God and a passion for His Word. And when it’s all over for me, I want my boys to know that pleasing their heavenly Father is the best way to please their earthly father. I want to be like Tom.
Let’s pray for the Lee family and let’s learn from Tom. Let’s keep his legacy alive as we live like he did…for God’s glory!