Saturday, January 1, 2011
Flight Plan: Your Mission to Become a Man
Teenage boys are faced with navigating the turbulent journey to manhood, often without an inkling of what that really means or any direction of how to get there. Flight Plan: Your Mission to Become a Man offers a vision of godly manhood and a complete and honest guide into the adventures ahead. Written by Lee Burns and Braxton Brady, Flight Plan is a natural evolution of their original program, Building Boys, Making Men, a curriculum created by the authors for the 630 boys who attend Presbyterian Day School (PDS) in Memphis, Tennessee.
Q&A with Braxton Brady Co-Author of Flight Plan
Q: What is Flight Plan, the book?
A: Flight Plan offers boys and young men a definition and vision of manhood that can help them to make wise choices during their teenage years and beyond. It frankly and authentically discusses a number of issues they will face and teaches boys a definition of manhood (“A real man glorifies God by seeking an adventuresome life of purpose and passion as he protects and serves others.”) and seven virtues of manhood. It focuses on the question of what it means to be a man and includes in depth teaching on many of the changes, challenges, and temptations they will be facing as teenagers.
Q: Flight Plan is co-written by you and your colleague, Lee Burns. What inspired you both to write this book?
A: Lee is the headmaster at Presbyterian Day School, an independent school for boys in Memphis, Tennessee. I am the chaplain. Together, we work with more than 600 boys at the school, and I personally teach about 250 of them. Candidly, we felt that dads were dropping the ball, whether because their other demands didn’t afford them meaningful time with their children, or they just didn’t know how. So we created Building Boys, Making Men, a year long curriculum and class for boys at PDS. And the response has been great. Over the years, we’ve had requests from parents, churches, and youth pastors to expand the program beyond PDS. Flight Plan was our response to these requests and our way of sharing what PDS has learned about boys and men over the years.
Q: For whom was Flight Plan written?
A: The Building Boys, Making Men program at PDS was created by me and Lee for sixth grade boys. Drawing on a collective 60 years of research and experience with teaching boys, we felt that was the critical age when they start to be faced with many of the decisions that will go on to define the kind of men they become. At the time we were writing this, my son was twelve. As I was writing I kept him in mind, conscious of what he would relate to, how he would like to be communicated to, and what would resonate with him and also keep him engaged.
Q: Do you think pre-teen and teenage boys are facing different challenges than perhaps their parents faced?
A: Boys have many outside influences that we didn’t have growing up. Today, everything is a click away. They have easy access to everything. Parents think that they can protect their children and create a bubble around them. But when boys get to a certain age, that becomes impossible.
Q: Do parents face greater challenges today in bringing up boys than perhaps your parents faced?
A: One of the greatest challenges I think parents face today is that boys and girls don’t know how to have face-to-face conversations. They live in a virtual reality world. I read a statistic that teenagers send 100 text messages a day! It’s so critical to have a relationship with your children, for fathers to have relationships with their sons, to communicate, and to create quality face-to-face, in-person time together without the distraction of phone calls or texting.
Q: In your experience with teaching boys, what are some of the strongest influences that define who they become?
A: Certainly boys today are bombarded by messages from television, movies, video games, and music. But one of the strongest influences boys face is from their friends and peer pressure. Who they choose as their friends then becomes critical in defining the framework for the life they will create. How to choose good friends, how to identify positive influences is one of the key issues we address in Flight Plan. We also speak candidly and openly about the messages in media. For example, we deal honestly with sex and tell them that most everything they learn about sex from television and movies is not the way it really is.
Q: In Flight Plan you focus candidly on eight areas that boys will face. What are those areas where you think they will be challenged?
A: We deal openly with key areas or issues of decision making boys will face as they become teenagers and even in the pre-teen years: friendship and peer pressure, drugs, drinking, girls and sex, and relationships with school and family. We discuss these issues frankly so that they can anticipate what is coming, then make wise choices in their teenage years and even beyond.
Q: The book talks also about what is not a man, taking readers through six myths about what a man is not before laying out a vision for what true manhood is. What are some of those myths?
A: Yes, in chapter two we first tackle one-by-one some of the common myths largely learned through our culture about what manhood is. First, that men don’t show emotion and then that men should define themselves by their outward achievements and successes. Others include that men should only pursue certain cool hobbies and interests, men must give up great adventures, boys and girls/men and women are really no different from one another, and lastly that you have to do certain things to become a man.
Q: How do you go about casting a vision or plan for what manhood should be?
A: Flight Plan teaches the definition of manhood, that a real man glorifies God by seeking an adventuresome life of purpose and passion as he protects and serves others. This definition of manhood, along with seven biblically-based virtues, serve as the foundation for a vision of godly manhood. We take readers through each virtue: the true friend, the humble hero, the servant leader, the moral motivator, the bold adventurer, the noble knight, and finally, the heart patient.
Q: What do you hope will be the takeaway for boys who read Flight Plan?
A: We know that these boys are about to take the journey of a lifetime. There will be forks in the road and they will have to make choices. Often there will be many others going down one path, though it may not be the right path. Lee and I created Flight Plan to shine a light on what will lie ahead in the journey so that, when faced with those choices, boys will know which way to go. Flight Plan is a map, and much like a map, if you keep in mind where you are headed, you are far more likely to get there. Our prayer for each reader of Flight Plan is that in knowing what it means to be a man, they will be far more likely to get there and arrive safely in a way that is rewarding. And really the issues, the virtues laid out in Flight Plan, are for men well into adulthood too. If these boys can stay on the right path in their teenage years, it will carry them long into their lives as adults.
Braxton Brady and Lee Burns are available for speaking engagements. For more information, contact Ellen Lewis of The Barnabas Agency (firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-927-0517 x110).
Flight Plan: Your Mission to Become a Man by Lee Burns and Braxton Brady
PDS Publishing/November 2010/194 pages/ISBN 978-0-615-38061-2/$14.99
www.theflightplanbook.com ~ Watch an interview with Braxton Brady at www.vimeo.com/15998729.
My review: This is a book I wish had been available when my boys were younger. It takes them through scenerios that all boys/teenagers/young men will encounter at one time or another and teaches them godly and manly ways of handling them. Some topics included are drugs, dating, family and friends, idols, studying, and much more. If you have a preteen or a boy in their early teen years, then pick up a copy of FLIGHT PLAN.