This month’s speaker is Garret Barbush, president and CEO of Men of Iron, a ministry that develops frameworks and resources for a number of different kinds of mentoring relationships. There are plenty of younger men out there looking for advice and mentoring from men with more life experience, Barbush says, and many older men who would jump at the chance to share what they’ve learned with a younger generation. “There’s just this stalemate that’s happening in God’s kingdom right now, and it’s that men just aren’t asking for it,” he explains. “If I see an older guy who says, ‘I see something in you that I really like and I’m willing to invest some time for you,’ I’m never gonna say no to that, ever. Likewise, if I go to an older man and say, ‘I really see something in you that inspires me, would you be willing to meet with me twice a month?’ I’ve never had somebody say no to that.”
Hi, I’m Paul Amos, welcome to The Redeemed Man Podcast. Our goal is to empower men to understand redemption in Christ and to live in freedom and wholeness. Let’s dig in on.
Paul: Good evening and welcome, I’m Paul Amos, founder of The Redeemed. The Redeemed is a ministry that helps men overcome life’s difficulties, and to celebrate the triumphs of overcoming those difficulties. We are a community of men that accepts people from all backgrounds. We’re here today to talk to you and give you an inspired message from Garret Barbush. Garret, thank you and welcome to the show. We appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to come and speak to us about your life and your ministry, Men of Iron.
Garret: Thanks for having me. Really grateful to be here. And looking forward to a good conversation here.
Paul: We’ll start the same way, we start with all of our guests and ask you a little bit about what redemption means to you.
Garret: That’s a loaded question, but I think just for time’s sake, today, when I think of that word redemption, I think of in simplicity, the cross. Just kind of coming off of a time of year that we think about those things and we think about the power of the cross. When I think of redemption, I think of getting something back. I think of the debt that’s paid for us. I think of kind of a fresh start. That’s really in my mind, redemptions about getting right back on the right path, not our path, but the path that God’s got for us. And we need to fully understand that that’s not possible without the cross.
Paul: Wonderful. Well, Garret we know you lead a powerful ministry and we’re very excited to hear about it, but could you tell us, if you don’t mind for a moment, a little bit about what brought you to Christ and your experience and your salvation?
Garrett: Yeah, I think we could probably take 30 minutes to get into all the details of that, but just I think the important piece is that I had a great family, had a great father, had a great mother, a praying mother, a prayer warrior of a mother that prayed for her kids. Not just day and night, but through the night. I owe a lot of credit to her, I think God really honored her prayers.
We were a family that was at church every Sunday. We were in church Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday. But like a lot of people, I didn’t really own my faith, and I kind of lived two lives there through my teenage years, young adult years. I would say I really started to own my faith toward the latter part of college, junior/senior year. I really started to have a man in my life, by the name of Dr. Shane Johnson, he was one of my professors and ended up being a pastor of mine while I was in college. He was really the first guy to kind of grit me up and really say, ‘Hey, this is how you live life as a man, this is what a man is this is what a man does.This is how a man treats a woman right. He just woke me up.
I didn’t get it all right, right away, but he was definitely the one that planted a lot of seeds in my life. Coming out of college, I really said, ‘Hey, I’ve got to figure this thing out and really start owning this for myself, and that really just kind of lead me right to the marketplace, which ended up leaving me in the ministry. Yeah, that’s kind of a 30000-foot view.
Paul: That’s wonderful that you had such a blessed experience and growing up in your childhood to have two loving parents who helped lead you toward God’s path. I appreciate you sharing about the fact that you felt like you had two different lives going on for so many members of our audience, that has been a big struggle for them. What was going on on the outside was very different than what was going on the inside. It’s a big part of my personal journey and my story.
I was living one life out on the exterior and living another life on the interior. Coming to a place where Christ helped me understand that I needed to live the same life and be cohesive on the outside and the inside was critical to my journey to finally find Christ and to develop into the man that He wanted me to be, hence the name, The Redeemed. Hence the name that we’re going out and we believe that God through Isaiah really talked to us about the fact that He wanted us to be redeemed and He wanted to mentor us.
I know that mentorship and sonship is a big part of what has led you to this ministry. So maybe you could talk for a few minutes about what Men of Iron is and about the concepts of mentorship.
Garret: Yeah, so I think practically speaking, we’re an organization. We’ve got a vision that God gave us 15 years ago to change a culture one man a time, is our vision. We believe there’s an issue in culture, and the issue isn’t necessarily men. We believe men are the solution, and so we really feel as though the issue is how culture itself is defining success for men.
We don’t have to sit here and talk about that. We know how culture is trying to define success as men and strip away masculinity for men and everything else, and so we just really feel called to say, Hey, we’re here to change that culture and God’s going to do that. And we’re just going to be His vessels to do the work he’s calling us to do.
We do have a mission, and that mission is to equipment to men to really kind of do three thing:
Our whole mission is to equipment men to do those three things (embrace leadership, seek accountability, and pursue mentorship) by providing the tools and training for growth in what we call our Five F framework.
5F Framework: Faith, Family, Friends, Fitness, and Finances
Men love simplicity, and so our simplicity is the 5F framework. And those three things of embracing leadership, seeking accountability and ultimately pursuing mentorship.
Paul: Well, that’s a great model. And all three of those things are critical to the development and the ability to go along life’s journey. Tell us a little bit more about 5Fs and tell us about the framework of what you’re trying to develop in men.
Garret: Yeah, so I think one of the things that we have found is that you can’t put mentorship in a box, and even though that we’ve done that to a certain degree, we have a product that you can buy, that is our mentorship package that you can buy to mentor another man or you use it if you’re being mentored even. And we put that in the box, but we’ve never designed it to be content-driven, Mentorship is not content. And so I think it’s one of those things that we’re really at this place where we believe that mentorship is this experience. So we said, Okay, how do we simplify this? Because we found early on that it’s not that men weren’t willing to mentor or be mentored, it was really like, I don’t know what to do.
And so several years in, we had a board member that brought this 5F framework to the table. It wasn’t ours and we didn’t define it, it was out there for years and years and years. In fact, I think you found it like in an FCA article back in the 70s or 80s or something like that, and he had just kind of used this framework for his life and we said, Man, this is great, this is great for mentorship. Because two men can meet and you lay out Faith, Family, Friends, Fitness and Finances, and for most of us men, that’s our life, right?
That is what defines us as men and right there! Faith, Family, friends, Fitness and finances. We can put action steps, we can put goals, we can clearly define what a plan for our life in those five areas, and we have to be intentional in those areas. I think… Well, I don’t think I know, one of the things that we found over the last 15 years is that most of us men are walking around and we’re probably doing a pretty good job in one, maybe two, maybe three of those areas. But the danger is that it’s not that we’re even trying to be malicious in these other areas that we’re not doing well in, but all it takes is for one of those areas, right, one of those Fs to be out of balance and it can sink your ship.
So, my faith can be strong and I can have a great family, but if I’m not taking care of myself physically, how am I going to be around and take care of my family? How am I going to be around to share my faith? And vice versa, I can have all the money in the world and I can have great faith, but if my family is a mess, how is that going to work out? So we’re just really big on the balance, and there’s five areas.
Paul: That’s wonderful. Obviously, this is a one-on-one mentorship. It feels like today, in many of the churches that are out there, small groups have become the path that people talk about in terms of development of themselves and development of their relationship with Christ, but talk a little bit about the critical nature of just being a one-on one, mentorship.
Garret: Yeah, that’s a great question, and I think it’s often the biggest hurdle that we have to face when it comes to church partnerships, because so many churches are small group-driven, that’s the angle, that’s what works, it’s what scales, it’s what’s efficient. But what we have found for men, and again, this is through research and development that we’ve done, this is going out and meeting men face-to-face and find out what they’re hungry for. M are going to get, again, I want to be careful how I say this, because we love the local church, but men are often going to get dragged to a small group, but they’re going to willingly go to a one-to-one mentorship meeting. I think that’s where there’s the greatest opportunity for accountability in that one-to-one setting. There’s the greatest opportunity to discuss the balance in his life in that one-to-one setting, and there’s the greatest opportunity for spiritual growth. The reason for that is because you’ve got one mentor and one protege. You’ve got two guys who are focused on each other, right, and they put God at the center of that, man, some powerful stuff can happen.
It is a challenge for us right now. It’s been a challenge for 15 years, because the church does seem to be going more small group kind of model, but the churches that we are partnered with that go outside the lane a little bit and say, Hey, we’re going to make a platform for men to get in one-to-one, mentorship is an amazing things happen.
Paul: Well, that’s wonderful. You talk about embracing leadership and pursuing mentorship, those are two things that I think are at the heart of what people are looking for. On the flip side, seeking accountability isn’t always something that I feel like men are looking for. Talk for a minute about the critical nature of accountability in this, and what do men need to be prepared for as they enter a mentoring relationship about accountability.
Garret: Yeah, I think there’s three things that determine what a man is going to get involved in.
Number one is how much time do I need to commit to this, right?
Number two is going to be, what’s my financial commitment?
And that third one is, Okay, who am I going to be with here, who all my accountable to?
And I think there’s varying degrees. And so what we’ve done at Men of Iron is we’ve created what we feel like God’s giving us this mountain for men. So at base camp, it’s a low degree of all three of those things, not a whole lot of time commitment, non a whole lot of financial commitment, and really you’re not accountable to anything. These are our free resources, guys can grab off our websites and they can get involved and go through things at their own pace, but the downside, there’s not much accountability, Paul. So as you knew about the mountain, each of those things kind of get bigger and bigger, and mentorship is at the summit, that’s really the ultimate experience that we really want to see men experience. And accountability is at the top there, and I think very few of us men, not just in the United States, but across the world, very few people in this world are truly accountable. Meaning they are fully transparent, they’ve got somebody that’s there encouraging them, challenging them, maybe kicking them in the rear when they need to be kicked in the rear.
I think the view or their perception of accountability is wrong. I think a lot of people have this perception of accountability with shame, like, Oh, I don’t want to be honest, because then I feel shameful. That’s why we have accountability so that we don’t have to experience shame. I think it’s just a mindset shift for a lot of people, but in reality, we see accountability play out all throughout scripture. I look at some of these prophets were accountable to God. You have somebody like a Moses who had Aaron in his corner, right? You look at the disciples and how accountable they were to Jesus and how Jesus really challenged them and encourage them and call them out when they need to be calling out. These are the things I feel like are slowly fading from our culture that we’re trying to say Hey, we feel like God’s giving us a burden to get these things back here in the present.
Paul: You know, we talk a lot about sharing your story here at The Redeemed, and we know that if people will go out and actually share their story one-on-one, that it actually inspires men to not only be accountable, but to open up, to truly become transparent about what’s happening in their lives. How do you encourage mentors to open up and tell their story to their mentees, and is that a critical component of the mentor-mentee relationship?
Garret: Yeah, and I think sometimes there’s no perfect formula for doing this. Every guy is different. And that’s what we’ve found is that every man is bringing a different story, you’ve got different personalities, you’ve got different levels of trust, you’ve got different experiences that can cause trust to be strong and you’ve got different experiences. That’s why guys are coming into a mentorship, jaded and hurt and broken already is because they’ve had another man fail them in the past. Our encouragement is Yeah, Hey guys, we want you to get down to business here. But you also need to understand, and sometimes we can make this way too complicated. Sometimes simplicity in building relationships and build mentorships is the best thing that we can do.
At the end of the day, mentorship and transparency, it’s all about relational trust. It’s about building relationships and just letting somebody know and showing somebody that you truly do care and that you can be trusted and vice versa. And so a lot of times what we’re finding is just saying, Guys, you don’t need to come into this like 100%, well, I got to check every box and do everything so we can get this mentorship started.
Sometimes you just need to go to a baseball game. Sometimes you just need to go out of the golf course, sometimes you just need to go shoot some guns and just truly build a relationship. That is another thing that’s kind of dwindle from our cultures literally spending time face-to-face with nobody looking at their watch. Nobody thinking about work and nobody thinking about family obligations, I literally just spending time together.
If a mentorship is not getting to a place where guys are truly being transparently, at some point, one of the mentor or the protege, like somebody’s got to make that decision to say, Hey, I’m going to break down this wall here. We really encourage the mentors to share their story first, and to say, Hey, you are that role of the mentor, this guy is probably not intentionally, but just kind of automatically in putting you up on this pedestal because you’re a mentor and you need to bring yourself off that pedestal and get on his level because the mentor grows in this process just as much as a protege, sometimes more.
Paul: It would seem to me that proteges would be hungry for mentorship. Tell me a little bit about how you draw them in to Men of Iron, and about how you also inspire mentors and the difficulty you may have in either of these categories getting people to step forward and participate.
Garret: So there’s a couple of things. Number one, I think, time. So that’s a big thing that we’re just trying to like everybody’s busy, right? But we all make time for things that are important to us. So that’s one of the things that we say, Hey, this time excuse like let’s throw that out the window because you might be really busy running a business, you might be really busy with a family but you’re still going and playing golf on the weekends, and you’re still watching Sunday Night Football and you’re still doing these other things, why? Because they’re important to you. We are trying to frame that up as time can’t being excuse.
I think the biggest hurdle that we’re facing is we can have a spreadsheet full of guys that are hungry for mentorship. I think the challenge in that is they don’t always know, they’re expecting some man to come into their life and save them. And we’re saying, No, no, no. That’s not how mentorship works here. Mentorship is a protege-driven process. Meaning I’m the protege, I have to be the one to say I’m taking responsibility for my own growth, I’m going to lay down my life, I’m going to follow Christ, and I’m going to be the one that contacts my mentor. I’m going to be the one that does the work that I need to do between meetings, I’m going to be the one that follows up with my mentor, initiates contact with him and initiates communication with him. Those are all things that define mentorship.
I think that’s what makes our model and our approach to mentorship, a little bit more unique. I think the church has done this even, is that these mentors, these guys in the faith are supposed to be the ones going out and bringing people in. Listen, there’s a component of that that we are supposed to do as believers, but at the end of the day, Jesus said, Follow me, right? And the disciples had to make a decision, like Jesus wasn’t making them do it, they had free will in this whole thing. But once they made the decision to follow Him, then a dynamic thing took place that changed the history of the world. But it was really on the protege to take that and they had to leave their families, to leave their job, they had to take ownership of everything, and I think that’s really the narrative that we’re trying to take part in, and maybe change a little bit when it comes to growing in the faith. Saying, Hey, it’s not a pastor’s job to do that, it’s not a Church’s job to save you, sign on our man’s job to save you.
You have to willingly step up and do the things that it’s required to do. And guess what, you’ve got to give your time, you’ve got to invest some finances, you’ve got to be willing to be held accountable. So that’s a big piece with proteges is that’s a hurdle to get over. I think just on the mentor side, it’s really a matter of, I’m serving here, I’m serving there, I’m already doing this, I’m on the elder team of the church, and I’m running a business. And again, we’re saying, Okay, but are you spending one-to-one time, intentional time with a mentorship framework where you’re literally praying about who to mentor.
And that’s the thing that we’re really trying to get men. Just take 48 hours to pray. God’s going to put somebody in your heart, don’t say you don’t know who to mentor. You’ve got neighbors, you got community members, you got employees, you got friends, you got family members. Let’s just actively and intentionally take some time to pray about who in my life can God use me to change their life? God’s going to do all that. He’s going to give you the word you need, He’s going to give you the wisdom you need, but I think it’s just a matter of trying to frame up mentorship as a priority in people’s lives.
Paul: As I think about the things that have challenged the mentor-protege relationship, nothing has been a bigger push against relationship than COVID. It separated us from the Church, it separated us from individuals, we locked ourselves away. Maybe you can talk for a minute about how COVID impacted the business that you’re involved in, the foundation of charity that you’re involved in, and a little bit about how Man of Iron overcame COVID.
Garret: Yeah, I think for the first, man, several years of what we were doing here, so we’ve been around a ministry for 15, we’ve been active as an actual organization for 10. It was a ministry for the last 15 years, for the first five years, we ran out of a local church that our founder and Chairman Brian Zeamer ran it on his own time and on the side out of victory Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Then once we decided to become an organization, and God was leading us that direction to help other churches do this. That was really our model for a lot of years, was a para-church ministry, we would go in and partner with churches and help them get these mentorships off the ground and running with our framework and our resources and our tools and training. Then we were had a lot of momentum grew all over the country, and we were in every different kind of church, different denominations, and God was moving. It was really a good thing. It was a really cool thing.
And there was a lot of things that we learned in that time period, but then COVID hit and a majority of churches across the country just shut their doors. I’ll tell you, it made us look in the mirror for a while, because we had been talking for quite a while about the challenges of our church partnership model. A lot of times that process to get up and running was very long, you had different approval processes with different churches and budget concerns and just all these different things that we just kept having to jump over these hurdles. So we kept saying, Well, what about guys that want to be involved in mentorship, but that aren’t at a church partnership? There’s way more of that out there, and we know that.
And so when COVID hit that really allowed us to look in the mirror and say, Hey, how do we go for more of this business to business model to more of a business-to-consumer model. How do we actually meet men right where they are. And God really provided all that clarity to us in that time frame, and so it’s not that we’re moving away from our church partnership model, we still love the local church and want to help churches reach their men and build a strategy for mentorship for their men. We do that a little bit differently now, but I think the exciting piece is now what we’re doing is saying, Hey, we’re here for a man to come to our website or to come into our organization, we’re going to help him find a mentor, we’re going to help him find a protégé.
One of the ways we’re doing that is we’re getting ready to release a software that is essentially like a mentorship finder, where you can come in and fill out a profile as a mentor, as a protege, and that process is vetted out. We make sure that just not anybody can get through there, but we make sure that you have all your information and basically, it’s going to be able to spit out to you potential mentors and potential protégé.
It’s not a very masculine thing. But it sounds like a match.com almost, but for men wanting to be involved in mentorships. This is a big deal, it’s a big technology push for us, and we feel like it’s the way of the future to help the next generation of men engage with the next generation. A generation that’s older than them, or to help the older generation engage with the younger generation. I think that’s really the true pandemic that’s taking place in our world right now, is the lack of inter-generational mentorships. Guys in their 50s and 60s, spending intentional time with guys in their 20s and 30s.
That’s really kind of the shift that we’re doing, and we’ve done that by providing kind of a mountain for men, and our call to action right now is really just to say, ‘Get on the mountain’. There’s different parts of the mountain, and there’s different forms of mentorship that guys can get involved in. Everything from devotionals that you can do through your own, to video series that you can do through your own at base camp and moving up that mountain. We’ve got small group resources for churches that are small group-based, but the whole thing, everything that we do pushes up the mountain and is encouraging mentorship, it’s encouraging the 5F model, and we ultimately want to see guys land at the top.
But you don’t just stop there either. I think that’s the big piece that I want to get across today is once you experience mentorship, now you got to come back down off that mountain, right. And find that guy that might be at base camp or it might not even be on the mountain yet, and you got to really encourage you to go on the mountain with you.
Paul: So mentorship can last for a lifetime and truly having people that are in your life and that you seek them out. But how long does your core program last? If you talk about climbing that mountain. What should a person, if they enter as a protege, think about in terms of the time commitment to become someone perhaps down the road that is a mentor.
Garret: Yeah, so the way that God really gave us clarity around this was that men need a start date and an end date, and that’s just important. So Strong 27 is the mentorship experience that we’re discussing, and strong 27 is built on a 12-month commitment. And so you start and it ends 12 months later, one year. The requirement is to meet with your mentor protege two times a month. You meet on your own schedule, you can kind of go through the experience at your own pace.
We’re really big on 90 days. Men lose focus after 90 days, that’s what we found, and so there’s kind of a good hard restart every 90 days of that mentorship. Men are men, we like to fix the problems in our lives, and so what we were finding in the early days is that guys were coming in maybe with that marriage problem or that finance problem or whatever it might be in their life that’s going on, and the mentor and protege alike were like we want to fix things. So they were attacking the problem, and then a lot of times, a lot of great things that were happening. But through just some research and development guys were not necessarily diving into the Word together, they weren’t building spiritual disciplines together. That was when the red flag went up for us and we said, Hey, we’re going to design this, we’re going to manipulate this a little bit and re-adapt here, and what we’re going to do is we’re going to come out of this mentorship gate.
So they get trained up, and then what we do now is in that first 90 days, we tell the guys that we really want you focused on your faith. What is God want from you in your faith over the next 90 days? Specifically focus the mentorship on that. And so that really builds the foundation, right, and then once that initial 90 days is up, we continue with the faith component, but we give guys that permission to say, Now bring another F in or bring two of them in, or bring three of them in, but keep it simple. And so that’s how it lays out over 12 months is every 90 day, there’s kind of a new focus.
Paul: So you laid out how people can go and your new software that you’re going to be building or you have built, it’s going to help mentors and proteges come together, and you’ve talked a little bit about some of the reasons for this. For men that are out there sending on the fence who are apprehensive about this and the commitment to this, what advice would you give them about the critical nature of this for their lives?
Garret: Yeah, I think number one, I’d like to speak just to potential perspective, proteges. Guys that are saying, Hey, maybe I’m just got married, just starting a career, just starting a family, in a new season of life. I think sometimes we in our heads think that those guys are in their 20s and 30s. And a lot of the times they are, right, but I also have seen proteges that are just entering a season of life, empty nesters, guys that their kids are going away and they’re looking across the table at this woman they’ve been married to for 25 years, and they’re in a new season of life, like, Holy cow, what an opportunity to be your protege, go find somebody to mentor you that’s been there and done that before, and be in that season. I think it’s just a matter of trying to find the pain points in your life right now, and that’s the only state pain points, it doesn’t need to be trauma, it doesn’t need to be bad things, it can be great opportunities that are ahead of you, that just require the wisdom of another godly man.
I think the bottom line is every man should be in a mentorship, we should all have somebody ahead of us, and we should all have somebody behind us. I think it’s just a matter of saying, Well, yeah, I want to invest in myself. This is an investment into yourself, first and foremost, it’s an investment in your relationship with God. There’s plenty of time for that, you should be making time for that regardless of how busy you are.
So that would be my challenge, is understanding that mentorship for everybody, and then I would say to guys that are maybe on the fence as far as being mentors, man, if you’re leading your five Fs well and you’re not being used by the Holy Spirit to really bring another man along, you have an awesome opportunity. That’s really my call to action for all of those guys to say You have so much to offer and yes, I know you’re busy. We know you’re busy, we know you’ve got things going on, but we often think and really challenge ourselves with what good is it for a man to profit the whole role, but to forfeit his soul? We can really have the opportunity through mentorship to make sure, that that doesn’t happen for men. Not just in your city, or town or community, or our state, and across the country and across the world. And so that’s really our challenge is to help guys understand you’ve got something to offer because you got a story, and everybody’s story is important, and it can help somebody else in this world.
Paul: Well, Garret, thank you to Men of Iron. Thank you. We appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to come on and show today, and to tell us a little bit about how being a mentor and protege can truly transform who you are and your path in life.
To everyone who’s been out of our audience tonight, we thank you so much for coming on and listening, we hope that we continue to bring you amazing content. We ask you to continue to follow us on social media and look forward to our podcast next month.
God bless and have a wonderful evening.
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