This page is designed to tell some of the story behind the story and if it somehow connects with your story, join the Be Encouraged movement and spread the Grace around.
Roy Seth and I met in the later part of the 1980's. We found ourselves together at a lunch table in the cafeteria at Lake Louise ski resort in Alberta, Canada in May of 1989. I estimated Roy to be about 10 years my senior and connected with his rare and fresh honesty and spirit of adventure immediately. That began a 21-year journey of friendship that continues to impact me, as well as many others, still today.
Who knows when these things begin? Who can say where original blame lays? In the end, what does it matter? All I know is that a trauma in the spring of 2003 lead to a series of events and choices that apexed in the Spring of 2005 when my life went in the ditch. As it goes with these things, others were affected in the crash. Some profoundly. I will forever be sad about that and will not be sorry or able to say, “I am sorry” enough to mitigate the pain I caused regardless of my personal regrets or ability to empathize with their pain. I alone am responsible for my part in the crash. The others involved can take ownership for their parts as they gain the courage and grace.
Life events like these happen at tectonic levels of the heart and soul. Two primary ways folks, not directly affected, respond: Indifference or Indignation. There are those who attack, those who flee, those who silently distance themselves, those who exaggerate and dramatically declare some verbal and overly dramatic disgust and self-righteousness, those who shake their heads, and those who do a strategic separation. At best these folks are confused, hurt or potentially, simply curious. At worst they are the gossips and voyeurs who cannot stop themselves from adding to and perpetuating further damage.
Then there are others who do something fundamentally different. They enter, engage and encourage. Not to fix, council, advise, coach, to prove something or for personal gain. They enter the life of the wounded, engage in the truth of the story and encourage with a deep friendship that says "I'm here regardless of how weird it gets."
Out of the confusion and pain of this crash came Roy's unambiguous and strong voice of steady friendship and deep encouragement to not abandon hope. Unhappily, his life was severely truncated by cancer. At Roy's funeral I said this of him: “While nearly everyone ran for cover from me, Roy ran straight into the smoke me to cover me.” He contacted me, stayed with me, called, bought lunch and reminded me that I was his friend and he wasn't about to disappear. His words were strong and spoke to my core fears of abandonment and performance oriented loyalty. At one particularly acute point in my struggle to survive he said, “Mark you are too important to the faith for us to loose you.” Little did I know then how significant those words were going to end up being in my life.
For many years prior to this Roy had written notes to dozens of men and ended them with the words: “Be Encouraged”. It was something that he did not intend to coin but simply used as his constant and predictable ending to his note. He walked the talk. Roy wrote encouraging notes, left phone messages for no reason other than to encourage and consequently left a legacy of encouragement for many.
His grandson Brent developed the Be Encouraged logo, a symbol of one of Roy's favorite pastimes, fishing. We have partnered with Brent to continue the legacy of a real man, in a real world, living authentically and running toward the danger of the hurting and wounded. I am just one example.
At the Eaton Leadership Foundation we want to help honor Roy's legacy. With the blessings of his endearing wife Carol and grandson Brent, we are offering these shirts for a donation of $25 or more to the Eaton Leadership Foundation*.
Postscript 1: We tend to know what to do and how to respond to life's joys and victories. But, when one of our leaders has a crash we tend to struggle with how to deal with them and the damage they have done. Sadly, and often, our institutions end up creating a situation where the damage gets exponentially worse and continues long after it needs at greater levels of intensity than should have ever been. Instead of creating a redemptive season, we can create a season of shame and hiding. Our more performance-based institutions, who honestly believe they have good intentions, tend to leave the most blood on the walls at this point. Some groups who understand the big ideas of community, grace, courage, addictions, redemption, the role of failure and are mature enough to embrace some confusion and untidiness, tend to handle these things well. Others botch them and make them worse. My journey had both.
There were a few solid men who stood tall in tough times. The mention of their names here is a tip of my hat to the role they have played for me. No doubt they have been there for many others as well. The outstanding ones are Andy, Gubs, Dr. Harv, Dr. Keith, Lee, Lowell, Jon, Mike, Mole and my late Uncle Sam Eaton to name a few. Gentlemen, you have saved my life.
Postscript 2: In December of 2009, Susie McEntire said “yes” and we were married shortly afterward. My life with her gives me clarity, reason and motivation. For her faithful love I am without words in my gratitude. She lives “Be Encouraged”.
For a fuller version of Mark's and/or Susie's story, please contact them for speaking or consulting at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Developing Authentic and Effective Leaders