Finding Purpose and Redemption from Trauma – Jeremy Stalnecker

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Today’s guest is Jeremy Stalnecker

We go deep today talking about:

  • How to think about and deal with trauma without becoming a victim
  • Finding purpose and redemption beyond your pain
  • The 4 basic steps Jeremy has his program attendees stick to for continued growth
  • Why it all starts with taking ownership for your behaviour
  • Why successfully preparing your kids to leave your home and become amazing adults starts years earlier
  • How to lead your family well without complicating it

Jeremy Stalnecker is a husband, father, Co-Founder of Mighty Oaks Foundation, U.S. Marine Corps Combat Veteran, Author, and Ultra Marathoner.

Jeremy seeks to help others answer one of the toughest questions we all face, “How do I move forward when my world is falling apart?” Jeremy is the Co-Founder of the Mighty Oaks Foundation, dedicated to helping America’s military warriors and their families who are suffering from the unseen wounds of combat such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In addition to his current role, Jeremy has served as a Marine Corps Infantry Officer, and as Senior Pastor. He is an accomplished author, inspirational speaker and a frequent guest on some of the Americas most prominent news networks.

Find Jeremy online at:
Instagram: @jeremystalnecker
Organization: Mighty Oaks Foundation

Speaker 1 0:00

If you are the foundation of your family, you are the firm footing. They build their lives on. You carry a glorious burden and you never dream of laying it down. You carry it with joy and gratitude. You show up, even when you don't feel like it. You lead, serve, love and protect. You are a father. This is the dead word podcast where men are forged into elite husbands and fathers by learning what it takes to become harder to kill, easier to love, and be equipped to lead. Get ready to start building the only legacy that truly matters, your family.

Curt Storring 1:20

Dads, welcome back to another episode of the Dad.Work podcast I am here with Jeremy Stalnecker. And man I am excited to have you on because there's so much intersection and cross questioning that I want to ask you with all of your experience. And I wonder if you just give us a quick guys will have heard the intro already. But could you give us like a 32nd, where you're mostly spending your time now, and maybe a little bit about why that is so important to you. And then we'll get into a few questions about that. Yeah, so

Jeremy Stalnecker 1:46

I work for an organization called the Mighty Oaks Foundation, which I'm sure has already been mentioned. And we run programs and then do speaking on spiritual resiliency. But we run programs for veterans, service members and first responders. Now, I've been a part of that for many, many years. Now, my primary role is in communicating, writing, speaking, podcasting, and representing the organization. So I spent a lot of time on that. It's been an interesting journey, a few of us started, we had to beg people to attend our programs. And now we're all over the country and doing a lot of good work. So this is a new, new kind of era for me personally, but it's a lot of fun.

Curt Storring 2:24

And so what is the personal desire around this? Because I know, you know, based on the bio, you've been a pastor, you've been in the Marine Corps, you've done a whole lot of stuff. And this is probably near and dear to your heart in regards to the Marine Corps stuff. Is that correct? Is that where a lot of this comes from? Or what are you seeing that is sort of needing this to exist in the world.

Jeremy Stalnecker 2:43

So when I came out of the Marine Corps, I came back from Iraq in 2003. We were part of the initial push the initial invasion, but it was 2003. So things like post traumatic stress and combat trauma, these issues that are very common today to discuss books have been written talks had been given that wasn't something we were talking about back then. And so it really wasn't known or understood. So if you asked me as a Christian in 2003, do you believe in posttraumatic stress or posttraumatic stress disorder, I would have said no, in fact, I did often. No, it's not a thing. It's, you know, I wouldn't have said it's weak people that can't deal with what they've been through. But that's certainly what I would have alluded to. And my world basically came crashing down around me shortly after I left the Marine Corps, my marriage, if it weren't for my wife, a gracious God fearing God loving wife, we would not have stayed married. We've been married for almost 25 years. But at that moment, she should have walked away from me, I would have walked away. If I was on the other side of it, my friends, everyone in my world should have walked away and didn't. But I didn't attribute that to anything that I had been through or experienced, or whatever. So I kind of shelved all of that, working through that having people speak into my life, I shelf, my military experience and what I had been through for about 10 years, and reconnected, it's a long story, but reconnected with a lot of the Marines that I had served with, and started to hear about suicide, some of those guys that I've served with broken families, broken relationships, people that just couldn't get back into work and society and the rest of it, and realize that as someone who had served and had devoted my life to taking care of those Marines, and as a Christian, I still had a responsibility to serve them. And so it's the craziest thing. I served in the Marine Corps. That's all I ever wanted to do my entire life. I did it. I did not want to go into ministry, I grew up in ministry didn't want to go into ministry, God brought me into the ministry. I was pastoring, a church in the San Francisco Bay area where, you know, not a big surprise, not a lot of veterans in the San Francisco area. So my two worlds were completely separate. And God brought those back to a point of convergence where I took my ministry life and really what I dedicated my life to communicating the gospel to others, and my experience and my own life in the military and brought those together. So it's pretty crazy. I like to tell people that I'm excited for anyone to accept Christ. I just have the A unique background and platform that allows me to speak to veterans and those who are serving in the military. So I'm passionate, hopefully about the gospel. But God has given me an open door with people who have served.

Curt Storring 5:13

Right. Okay. Yeah, that's brilliant. And, and that's what I am seeing along my new walk, as well as God just puts people who can relate to a certain group of people in the path. And so much like, I talked about this with my guys all the time, like, when you get through the dark part, you're gonna be able to talk to those guys who are where you were, and they will listen to me, they might not listen to you, but they'll listen to this guy who's got that shared experience is that what you've seen, as well as the guy that like when you get it,

Jeremy Stalnecker 5:40

it's 100%. So our entire program is based on, I know where you are, because I've been there. I don't have it all figured out. But I'm a few steps further down the road than you and I want to help you get there. Every one of our instructors, everyone who participates with our program first came as a student, and then we brought them through a process of training to get them to the place where they can help others. So it's very much a peer to peer situation. What's crazy is, well, the whole thing's crazy. It's ridiculous to me, personally, and almost insulting a little bit, that I have to have a shared background with you, for you to listen to me as I communicate the truth, right? So the Bible is the truth. My job is to communicate that to you. And you won't listen to me, if we don't have a shared background. I don't have to go to a doctor who has cancer to trust a doctor to help me through a sickness like that, or whatever, a lot of analogies, right. But in the veteran, the first responder space in the trauma space, and we'll talk more about what that means to me. But in that space, that shared experience is very, very important. You can get people past it. But in order to have those first conversations, you have to say I know where you are, because I've actually experienced that myself, let me share with you what I've learned,

Curt Storring 6:55

right? Man, there's so much here that I want to dive into eventually, and maybe we'll break it down later. Because I want to get into some other things. But there's like, there's a very real leadership aspect for guys who are listening, in terms of your story right now, wherever you're at, because a lot of guys listening to this are in that space where they're not sure if they're gonna get divorced, they're don't feel like they're a great husband and father, they're just they're either living an average life when they longed for excellence. And I think a lot of them missed availability of purpose to them, that when they get out of this, they'll be able to reach all these people. And I think for me, as a man, I love that drives me so much that I can then reach back and go, guys, I get it. And I've had guys in the podcast before in the various military, parts of the military, who have said, man, there's nothing like serving with the brothers. Like there's nothing like it in civilian life, it's literally impossible. And so what you said about you needing to have that experience makes even more sense in regards to like the armed forces here. But I do want to touch on that piece of trauma. Because guys who have listened to this podcast for almost two years now will know that I have undergone a drastic shift. I started this podcast talking about, you know, healing your trauma, and getting over shame and, and just doing everything yourself, worshiping yourself, finding the inner child, all this kind of stuff that eventually in the path that I was going down, only leads to hell, it was just self worship. It was just it looked like light and love, but it wasn't. And so that's why I think it was so dangerous and praise God that he pulled me out of that. But here I am now, with a little bit of a different mindset going like, Well, God can do anything. You know, there's a lot more to it that I see now about just doing the thing. But I also seem to agree that men our past, certainly can define us. And it can create roadblocks, if not identities. So maybe let me just give you the floor in regards to trauma because I don't know how well this is being discussed in Christian circles. And I think there's not a huge Venn Diagram of overlap in that. So could you explain what that looks like? Is it only huge military people dying? Or is it like, Man, I had a bad childhood, and I'm also traumatized. So what would you say about that?

Jeremy Stalnecker 9:00

Man, that's a really big bag that you just handed me right like I can. I can. The next hour and a half talking about this. Let's go. So I'll say a few things. One, no trauma. And I say this all the time we say this in our programs. Trauma is not reserved for veterans, if you have been born, you've experienced trauma to one degree or another. We're told that just clinically looking at the clinical diagnosis of trauma 70% of Americans will experience a clinically diagnoseable traumatic event at some point in their life. 70% of Americans, I would argue and again, I make this argument that what a child who is sexually abused has to deal with a child who grows up into an adult that was raised in an abusive home. These relationship issues that we hear about so many other life situations that people experience are far worse than anything one would experience in combat. So we have to keep that in perspective, right when we're talking about trauma. We're not talking about military service and it's entry First thing in our culture, we've kind of conflated that, that the word trauma has become synonymous with serving in the military. First of all, not everyone who served in the military has experienced that degree of trauma, because of their service, they may have it somewhere else in their life, not because of their service. And trauma is far more prevalent in our society, I would imagine that it is, even in the context of the military community, or it's at least reflect it right. It's not greater in the military community. But what we have is a combat experience, or many do from the previous 20 years of war. And that has its own set of problems. In leading into this, I'll say that we've tried to figure out exactly what the number is six or seven out of 10 of our students, men and women who have served in the military or are serving in the military, six or seven out of 10. So 60 70%, it's not an exact number, but more than half who come to our program saying I've experienced some degree of trauma because of combat. So that's, that's what they're saying, right? Trauma, because of combat, when you break it down, you get right down to the baseline, their trauma goes back to being sexually assaulted as children sexually abused. Okay, so a lot of the trauma that we see on the other side of military service was brought into military service. And then these other issues happen, these other events happened. And then you start to unpack things like identity and purpose. There's guilt, there's all of these other issues that we could put on the table and talk about. So that's a really long answer to no trauma is not reserved for those who've served in the military, it can be more acute because of the type of events that they've experienced, but not reserved for them, trauma to me. And again, there's two ways to look at this. There's the clinical definition of trauma, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM five, I think it's been actually amended the DSM five dash something gives a clinical definition of trauma. And all trauma, as it defines it would relate to sexual assault, near death experience, having been a part of something violent, that's traumatic. And the problem with that, in my mind is a lot of what you're talking about that then you have to put yourself on an island of I've either experienced trauma or I've not that applies to me or doesn't, I can get help for what I'm dealing with, or I can't because I haven't really experienced that. I love to use the definition, and anyone listening can dismiss it. But this is my working definition of trauma. And a lot of it's stolen from other sources, but put together the trauma as I see it as an event, or series of events, that has pushed one beyond their ability to code, an event or series of events that have pushed one beyond their ability to cope. Now, I believe that there are physiological biological things that happen to us. When we deal with trauma, a lot of research is being done a lot of studies, but get it right down to where all of us live. We can relate to those events or series of events that come into our lives, that push us beyond our ability to cope, maybe we can go to work. And maybe we can have function in a relationship. But we're not thriving, we're not moving forward with purpose or direction. This event or the series of events, these things that have happened in our lives are preventing us if I can use kind of a Christian term, preventing us from fully being what God has created us to be. So if you look at it that way, God has created us with purpose. God has created us with design, God has given us the tools that we need and the opportunities that we need to fully be what he wants us to be. And there's something back here holding on to us preventing that, use whatever word you'd like. I'll use the word trauma, that trauma needs to be addressed. Where I struggle, just as I think you struggle is with kind of the modern idea that you can pull yourself up from your bootstraps if you just work hard enough. And if you just care more, if you're more dedicated, you could get through this. Well, what I believe again, as a Christian is that when we accept Christ as our Savior, we are made the Bible says into a new creation. This idea that becoming a Christian means God puts us back together or that's that's not the right that's not even what the Bible says He makes us a new, new creation, new creature. We're completely new, right? That's important. When Christians talk about how they're so broken, and I'm broken, I have really struggled with because if you're a Christian, you're a new creation in Christ. Now, you're a new creation in an old body in a sinful body. You have to deal with that natural man, and that's still there. But the victory, the wholeness the complete witness the newness that's already been taken care of. So when we talk about addressing trauma, from a biblical or Christian perspective, it's about acknowledging that bad things happen, very difficult things happen. Horrible, horrible things happen to people. And they certainly do that. There's no denying that you don't forget it, you don't get over it. It's something in many cases, you'll have to deal with every day for the rest of your life. But it's understanding that if I've been purchased by the blood of Christ, I've been made a new creation, God has a plan for my life, that if I will move toward that plan, I'll move into what God has created me to be and to do by the power of the Holy Spirit than that stuff that's back here. It still exists, but it doesn't have me bound anymore. It's a breaking free again, that's a term that I know is fraught with some theological issues. But it's a breaking free, it doesn't have a hold on me anymore. I'm not tied to the past anymore. And in fact, God can redeem that, give value to that in a way that I can then use what's happened to me in the past for the benefit of others. So that was kind of a wandering way to get to what you're asking, but there's a lot to that, right? It's, it's understanding your identity is in Christ, not in the old nature. And, you know, Paul talks about this, the difference between Romans seven and Romans eight is There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, it's a freedom that comes from being a child of God. And every day coming back to that, coming back to that, coming back to that the memory is still there, a lot of the poll is still there. There may be some physiological, psychological, emotional issues tied to that. But it's coming back to a place of victory every day, it's putting your faith again, in Christ is Paul saying I die? Daily? Why do you have to do that? Well, because it's a daily struggle,

Curt Storring 16:55

right? Man, okay, there's, it's almost like you need an organization to have all this stuff. Because there's so much to this that, right, but I want to touch on two things, specifically that come of that. And these are almost like, push backs that I struggle with, which is number one, how do you stop this from sliding into victimhood? And then number two, which I think you just said, which is like, Man, my struggles, my deepest pain have allowed me to become the man I am today. And my goodness, does that impact I hope a lot of people because I'm willing to share that. So can we talk about how, where's the boundary here between like, oh, man, I had a bad childhood, and you're like, okay, but also like, you know, you can actually not be so weak, but not then Poopoo. Everyone's real experienced. What? How do we navigate victim culture here?

Jeremy Stalnecker 17:42

Yeah, man, that's a huge issue. And I'll say that's a huge issue in the veteran culture is this idea of victimhood. And it is an issue that we do our best to address head on, the fact that something has happened to you, does not mean that you are now subject to that thing that has happened to you. So there's two parts of this. And the more cynical part of me, the more cynical nature that I have. deals with one part of it is, if there is a financial or relationship benefit to you being a victim, you have to rise above that God has created you for more than just benefiting somehow because of something bad that's happened in your past. Now, I say that carefully. Because there are a lot of people who need help because of what's happened in their past. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about you could get better, you could move forward, you could hold down a job, you could have a good relationship, you could serve your wife, but somehow emotionally or financially or relationally in some other way, you benefit from being the hurt broken victim of something that's happened in your past. Now, understanding the difference, you can parse that I'm not against being held for what you've been through, but I am against wearing your brokenness as a badge of honor. I can't spend time with my kids, I can't go out and do that. I can't hold down a job. I can't do these things because of what I've been through. So that's one thing as Christians, we have to push back against that God has created us for so much more than that. That's the one thing. The other thing though, is just this mindset of victimhood. It's even the language that we use. I don't even like for people to refer to themselves as survivors. You'll hear about survivor networks. And you know, I'm a survivor. And some people have built their entire platform on this happened to me and I'm a survivor. Well, if you're a survivor, that's how you identify yourself, then you are allowing yourself to be entirely identified by some event that happened in your past. Instead, it's better to say I survived that. I lived through that I came through that God has gotten me to the other side of that we have got to work to prevent our loss. Ives from being defined by what's happened in our past, defined by, as in that past gets to call the shots, the past gets to decide how I think the past gets to tell me how I relate to others, the past gets to make these decisions. For me, I was just talking to someone today about trying to navigate that idea of, you know, parents that weren't good parents and how we deal with some of that. And we're very much the product of how we were raised. And, you know, I'm 46, I still kind of work through things based on what I was taught as a kid, I get that. But we have to be mature enough spiritually to say, I'm going to do what's right, not what my past dictates. Another phrase I like to use is that there is never an excuse for bad behavior. There are reasons, there are a lot of reasons people that are diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress, there are some real issues that come along with that. But those issues, those symptoms of that trauma, those aren't an excuse to behave badly. And I think that's where we, that's going to be the dividing line, right. My call as a believer is always holiness. My call is always God, my call is always fully being what he has created me to be stewarding over the gifts, the opportunities, the talents, the abilities, the relationships that he's set in front of me. And if I do that, then I'm not a victim, because I'm not allowing what's happened behind me to dictate how I behave. To the last point is the redemption of the past. I love this, that word redeem, it means to loosely means to put value, where once there was none, to give value to something that was worthless. I love the fact that when we live for other people, as Christ did, and demonstrated for us, when we live for other people, not to serve ourselves, that's victimhood, but to serve others, that stewardship, when we live for other people, then God is able to redeem the brokenness of our past to put value on that. So that we can use our own story, our own experience, to be more compassionate, to be more caring, to be more passionate about helping others, all of that it's a tool that God can use in our lives, it will allow him to, to help other people. Don't ever run away from your story. Don't ever run away from your past. Just don't let it tell you how to live and allow God to use that for the benefit of others. There's a lot more I could say there. But I think it's very important to draw the distinction between victimhood and stewardship of what God has given to me. I don't like it when people say, my life was a mess, I was abused, I would never change a thing. I don't agree with that either. Because you probably would. But I think we need to, we need to settle somewhere. That by faith, I trust that God knew what I needed in my life to bring me to where I am right now. And that's where my faith is. My faith is in God, not my past.

Curt Storring 23:05

Man is so much different from this new perspective to look back on all of that, and just realize that his hand is part of this and it Yeah, and I couldn't explain it before like I, I went through mental gymnastics. And I was like, Well, if this happened, it was for this length. There's no reason behind it. And so you guys are listening, you can just go back like the last 4050 episodes, you'll hear this whole story. There's a couple of points on this. I had a pastor Parker green on Two episodes ago, and he said, of all the people who could have been called a victim. You got Jesus. Yeah, truly perfect. And then he was taken out, did he played a card? Not remotely, we have zero standing as Christians as believers on which to stand if we want to call ourselves victims. I thought that was very impactful for me. I'm curious, like, specifically with men. I least I think culturally, we are way too interested in identifying as something else, whether that's your trauma, whether that's something that you're just not, I don't want to get too deep into like, the whole identity thing right now. But why do you think this is so prevalent right now? Why are people hanging on to this identity of victimhood, rather than like, oh, that happened, I'm gonna get through it. It's like, something's missing.

Jeremy Stalnecker 24:12

Well, it's the craziest thing. It's really backwards. It's upside down. But there is a sense of comfort that comes from hanging on to even hurt. We don't like to change, we don't like to grow. I've used the analogy before of that, that television show hoarders, you watch that show, and it's the craziest thing, right? You've got these people who are living in absolute filth, to the point that they're going to die if they stay there. a loved one comes into their life, cleans everything out, makes everything new. And on every episode, at least the two that I've watched the person who just had the intervention done, who's now in a beautiful home, everything's clean. They're in a place where they can be healthy. They start to cry because everything they held on to where they found their identity was too taken away from them. And if you trade out your identity, even for something that's real, that's a very hard process, first of all, but then it causes you to step back and go, well, then who am I? And for guys, right? This is why every guy who I've ever met was going to be a professional athlete. This is why we, we talk about the amazing things we did back there. This is why we hang on so much to those moments in time where at least in our minds, we were great, or things were good, or we were somehow distinct from everyone else. We love to hang on to that instead of growing and moving forward, because it's it's uncomfortable. It's, it's uncertain. And it's going to require a lot of work. And then not to mention, right, this is another conversation, but the cultural influences and voices that want to push us into a very specific box.

Curt Storring 25:49

Yeah, exactly. And I think that leads me at least to the question of with men specifically, and I know, I'm not asking you to give me the whole, you know, foundational, here's what you do, but I'm sure it's there now, like some guys listen to this. I know for a fact, there's always guys who email me they're like, Just hearing that one sentence did something now I want to take action. Yeah. What are some of the things that guys maybe outside of this program? Or maybe they need to go through the program? What are some of the things that guys can do to get beyond this trauma? Because I did a lot of things and it was like flinging stuff at the wall. But I'm curious if there's like a pattern that has been proven, more or less with what you've seen with men?

Jeremy Stalnecker 26:28

Very, basically. And I'll just outline it very, basically, it's a question of how do I get back to my created purpose or my creative design? I had a great conversation a couple of months ago with with someone who came out of a homosexual lifestyle became a Christian, his life has radically changed and, and I was asking him, like, how do you? How do you view all of that he said, what I've come to understand is that everything in life is about holiness. Everything in life is about exalting God and living according to his Word, everything. And so this is him talking to me, I don't worry any more about identifying this sexual tendency, or that thing or this other thing over there, or working through all of these issues that everyone's talking about, it all comes back to holiness, it all comes back to pursuing God. And that was, I've been doing this for a long time. That was kind of a lightbulb moment for me when I went, you know what? That's exactly right. As a parent, as a husband, as an organizational leader, as someone who leads in my church and all of these areas. The thing that keeps me straight, the thing that keeps me moving forward, the thing that answers all of the other questions, right, answer the one question, so you don't have to answer the 1000. Other questions is, is this reflective of the holiness of God? And when we start to pursue that, that then impacts or influences every other area of our life? silly example. For a man. This isn't related Trump specifically, but for a man, why should you take care of your body? Why should you exercise? Well, there are a lot of reasons to exercise but But why, like, fundamentally, when you don't care how you look anymore, you're not trying to win racing. Why? Because God has given me this body. And I need to take care of it. for whatever purpose he wants to use it for. So it is with raising my kids. I don't always feel like spending time with my kids. But what am I going to invest in my kids? Well, I'm going to do the hard work and keep them away from things that other people would let them be a part of, why am I going to do that? Because that's what God has called me to. And when we start to look at every area of our life, evaluate every area of our life, this big rocks, right? My relationship with God, okay? Then my relationship with my wife, my relationship with my kids, my other relationships, my close relationships. When I look at my physical health, when I look at these areas, the question is not how do I do them best? It's how do I best glorify God as I'm doing them? Now that's fairly high level, we have four things we tell people what to do, we tell people to do when they leave our program, they spent a week with us. We talked about a whole bunch of stuff for a lot of hours. When we leave, we say you need to do four things we call the four beasts. You need to be in the word. That's God talking to you. That's how you know what God wants you to do. You need to be in prayer that you're talking to God. And more to the point of you allowing God to align your will to his see you're hearing from him, you're speaking to him. You need to be in fellowship with other believers that's in a Bible preaching Bible teaching church, where you can have the Bible preached to you and talk to you, but more you can be around other people who share that biblical worldview. And then finally, you need to be connected to others we would say, in touch with your corner man. This is the idea of brotherhood, having mentors having outside people who have the beginning permission to speak into your life. You do those four things. If you're in the word, you're in prayer, aligning your life, your heart, your will to God, you're hearing from him. You're in a good healthy church community, and you've got the right kind of people speaking into your life, you're not going to be perfect, but you're gonna have all the tools you need to fulfill God's purpose in every one of those areas of your life.

Curt Storring 30:19

Man. Yeah, that is so good. And I was, as I was asking this question, I'm like, there's not a lot of actual different things that you need to be doing. Basic, but yet, it's so important, and they're so real. And I love the out of that last bit, because that's where a lot of my own growth has comments, a lot of what we do inside of our programs is brotherhood and fellowship. And let me tell my story, to a group or a single man, who can just be like, Yeah, bro, I get it. Thanks for telling me and I hear you. And you're like, oh, it's not actually as big and scary as I thought it was. And you just get the support of the bros in your corner. Like, that's, actually let me let me ask you this, because it's an on my heart. Right now, it's a little bit not related. But so far as we're talking about brotherhood and fellowship, I've often had in my heart, like, oh, man, I really want to make a lot of local friends, I want to have community I want to have so many families with men who are leading who are, you know, maybe business owners, probably fathers, that we can just get together. And we can live out life with, you know, five to 10 really close friends. And then I've got a couple of mentors, I've got some people I'm serving, and that that three tier of mentored peer service, yep, that's my dream. And yet, I'm finding it extremely difficult to actually find those people. And then I'm reading the Bible. And Jesus arguably has maybe three close friends that he brings with him up to prayer. And he's got 12, you know, decent, well, good friends and 70 sort of friend service guys, and in the 1000s that he serves. And I mean, He's God. And so I know that he gets all of his relational glory from the relationship with the Father. And so for me, I'm just going like, is it even reasonable to ask for like five to 10? Close friends? Like, am I romanticizing this as a man who desires this friendship? While also I'm in a leadership position, myself and my groups, in a lot of places where people come for help on social media and email, that kind of stuff? What has your experience been, as a man as a leader in cultivating a, like a seriously close group of peers? And then maybe mentors?

Jeremy Stalnecker 32:21

Well, the first thing I'd say is, it's hard. As you mentioned, it's hard to find the right kind of people, you can find people, right, join a community Basketball League, if you just want to be around people. And there's nothing wrong with that, it's, in fact, I think it's a healthy thing to do. I've trained Jiu Jitsu, one of the reasons I like it is because I spend time with a lot of other people. And it's fun, I get to know them. And, and that's, that's helpful. For me, it's healthy for me as well. But when you start to allow people to speak into your life, they have to be the right kind of people. And I like your multi tiered approach. And as you were talking, that's how I think as well. So there are friends, right? I need people around me who are doing the right thing. Not perfect people, but but they're living the way I would like to live. And they encourage me, I have a small group that meets in our house, we host a small group from our church. And these are families that we've been doing a small group for a few years, and their kids come over, my kids are a little bit older, the little kids come over and we sit, we talk about whatever, that's a good relationship for me. And those are friendship relationships. So to that, I would say in order to find those, you have to be in a place where those exist, right. And this is why church can be helpful. Other community, Christian community service type organizations can be helpful. That's where you find people like that. The thing probably that's been more helpful to me, honestly, though, has been mentors. And you know, I define a mentor as someone who's a little further down the road than you, in whatever area, you're asking for mentorship. I don't think it has to be one person who can speak into every area of your life. But I have a few people in different areas of my life, they're further down the road. They've made good decisions. They care about me personally. So they don't have a personal agenda and what they're telling me to do, but they're not emotionally invested in my situation. My dad has been a huge mentor to me in my life. And I'm very thankful for him, but he's very emotionally invested in what I do. You need to have some people that can give you advice, and it's right, and they're passionate about it, but then they walk away. You could do what you want to do, right? They're gonna tell you the truth, because they, they really care about that outcome. So finding that group of friends requires being in the right place and working at it. A lot of people will say, I can't find friends and I do. You know, I just don't have those people in my life. But they're not doing anything to cultivate those relationships. They're wanting someone to cultivate those for them. Start going out to coffee with people start inviting people over to you know, do whatever your hobby is, or whatever. Just get to know people that way. And that's how that develops. early on. I left the Marine Corps. I had a lot of struggles and there were a couple guys in my life, who became very, very good friends. I'm still good friends with them, because we started surfing together and you know, three or four times was a week we paddle out, we got to know each other because of a hobby and event thing. And they became very close Christian friends to me. And so it's it's you going out of your way to cultivate these relationships don't fast track it, just build relationships. And then look for people in your network who you can ask him to mentor you in specific areas. And, and there's a lot to that as well. But yeah, I think five or 10 is probably a lot. But if you have a couple of people that you can be honest with, and they'll let you It's so crazy. This small group we have we meet in our kitchen, we got a really big table on our kitchen. And the number of meetings we have times we have where people just start crying and sharing whatever's going on. Right. Like, that's a special time. And it's taken a long time to get there. So he's cultivate that,

Curt Storring 35:49

man. Yeah, that's really encouraging. I think I would probably have felt much worse if you're like, dude, definitely. What's wrong with you? Yeah, so that's really encouraging. I think a lot of guys I talked to are struggling with the same thing. We actually talked about this in my group earlier today. But a couple of things that I'm taking action on on this as I just joined the mastermind today, couple in person events, couple of, you know, online things. And I'm also based on one of the guys in my, in our program. He's like, Man, I'm going to build a home gym and just start inviting guys in yo, yo bells and Bible study. And I'm sure, let's do that. So pricing a home gym, right now, I'm going to do the same thing and just you have people over to work out together, and you're like, Hey, man, let's just read a couple verses and like, pray together. That sounds like an awesome thing to do. So I'll report back to everyone listening how that goes. Yeah, appreciate that. That's, you know, I'm not too far off track. And like you said about finding the mentors. I was speaking of tears and mentors. Man, I was absolutely broken down yesterday on a call with my mentor, Scott, who's been on this podcast a few times. And there is nothing for me not having had that sort of like really close father or older brother in my life. And then just to have him speak the way he did. And then like you said, you don't have to do any of this. I don't care. But yeah, I love like, I love you. And I want you to do best. Like it touched my heart on such a way yesterday that there's a couple of tears chefs are so as listening, go find someone to serve and ask for his help. I want to switch gears a little bit. Maybe a good segue into family leadership, because a lot of things you're doing you know, you're you're writing books, you've got leadership by design sounds like leadership you've got I love the marcher die. I heard you talk about that on me with Eric Khan on the heartbeat yesterday. So I know a little bit about that. But I'm curious how all of this. You mentioned that, you know, you probably should have got divorced. You're coming back from all this crazy chaos. You're building stuff. You sound like very driven dude. How are you applying family leadership, to your own family and in marriage in parenting? And I'm talking mostly about the principles behind it. Did you have a grand vision? How did you do that? And then I'll probably have some extra questions about nitty gritty. marriage, parenting, all that kind of stuff. But did you have like a family leadership playbook?

Jeremy Stalnecker 37:54

Yeah, no, I've gotten it really wrong a lot, too. Okay. Let's dive in. Yeah, so I, I tell this this kind of little, it's not story, I guess. But I make this statement. And it's kind of funny, but it's, it was also kind of hurtful. I came home from Iraq, it took me so I started working at a church, the abbreviated story that I started working at a church. It was a crazy, horrible transition. For me, that was no one's fault on my own. But I was angry at the whole world. My pastor, my co workers, my wife, anyone who would stop long enough to be hurt by me, and and over the next 11 months. So I've been working on the staff for about 11 months, my pastor finally called me into his office. He's like, look, I love you. I love your family. Again, posttraumatic stress that stuff, no one was talking about any of that. So hey, I'm glad you came home from the war alive. Now we need to get to work, right? That was kind of how that whole onboarding process went. And then, you know, I was just so angry, he called me to his office and said, I love you love your family, I just, this isn't working. So you either need to figure out what's going on. Or you need to let me help you find a job somewhere else. I mean, that was his his advice, right? He's still my pastor, which is crazy after all these years, and all that we've been through. But that was really the first person that directly confronted me with all of this, everyone else was just trying to deal with me. took a trip with my wife, and through a long set of circumstances came to the point where I took responsibility for my behavior. And that was the beginning of me moving forward. So that was about a year, right. So I've always told the story. It took me about a year to get my feet underneath me, I struggle. I came home and took me about a year and I've always had a year, my wife and I seven or eight months ago, we're speaking at a marriage conference together. And I said, that took me about a year and she stopped. So we're in an auditorium full of people, right. And she stopped and said, It took about 10 years. I didn't know what to say at that point. Right. So it's kind of a funny thing. Like okay, yeah, 10 years. So, she said that I was like, Well, I guess it was 10 years and we went on. We've talked about it a lot since then. And she she used to talked about the struggle she had personally. And while I was pastoring, so not on staff at a church, but later on when I thought I was kind of doing okay, and I'm pastoring, how angry she would get to sit there and listen to me tell other people how to do their thing, but she knew I wasn't doing it and how she wanted to take the kids and leave and all these things, right. So I say all of that to say you're gonna get it wrong a lot. But you've got to keep moving forward. And that sounds so silly, but you've got to keep moving forward, don't let your failures or your circumstance or whatever keep you from continuing to press forward. So that was a really long way to make one point, you've got to keep pressing forward. No, I didn't have a playbook. I have great parents. I don't get people around me. But then I met my wife in college, and I loved her. And it didn't take me long to fall for like I saw her the first time. And it was that was good for me took her a while to come around. But, but that was good for me. And then I got married, and then I was in the Marine Corps, and then you know, this, and this, and this and this. And then when things stopped, like everything just fell apart. And so I didn't really have a plan other than just kind of winging it. And that wasn't a good plan. What I have learned, and this is what I'll share, what I've learned is that as I take responsibility for myself, as I take responsibility for the way that I behave in the way that I speak to people and do all of those things, and work to align my life to the Bible to what God says. So I have an active, growing, going relationship with God, an active relationship. This isn't passive and active relationship with God, it's reading my Bible is praying as being church community, that's having those friends and those mentors we just talked about, as I'm active in that I have the capacity to be the husband, and the father, that God really intends for me to be. The playbook is the Bible. It turns out that a good Christian is also a good husband, that a good Christian is also a good father. Because the entire world tells you that life is all about you. And the Bible tells you that life is all about God. And when I understand that love your wife, the way Christ loved the church means serve your wife, the way Christ served us sacrificially to the point of death. When I understand that, again, I'll get it wrong a lot. I sin, but the framework is there. I can I know what I'm supposed to do. And then I move into that. And so it's been that man, for 25 years, we've been married. And it's been a lot of conversations trying to come back to that it's been us being on the same page, probably the most important thing I could say to anyone who's not yet married, is make sure to the best of your ability, the person you're marrying is aligned to you spiritually. Because that's we fought a lot. We've had a lot of issues, but I've never been afraid my wife was going to walk out on me I say that she should have and those things. I've never been afraid that she would because I know she loves Jesus more than me. That's that's what's kept us together. But that's what's also allowed us to work through this together with our kids. I have a 23 year old who just graduated from college, my 21 year old graduates from our local police academy here in a couple of days. I've got than a 15 year old and a 13 year old and so my wife and I've been reflecting a lot on parenting and you know, we're proud of our kids. How do we get here? It's been one like confusing day after another. It's been going to God and saying, what do we do next? It's been just struggling through it, but not struggling to get our kids to do what we wanted them to do. But to raise them in a way that they could live lives that God would be proud of and would want them to live. So yeah, it's tough man. I, I feel for new parents. I've had this conversation with a lot of parents. And so often the advice I give is just keep going, trusting God praying for him, leaning into God getting up, do it again, do the hard work, and God blesses that.

Curt Storring 43:54

Yeah, that's a man I along for days where I had some direction, because we've got 10, eight, three and newborn. And so the newborn is the only one who's gonna get us as believers. And you know, thank God, he was working through my life before this. And the last three have been, you know, we've been pretty good at this. But the first one, we had no idea. Absolutely no idea. And there is no, there's no like, here's what you should do. Right? Kind of like, just go for it. And we'll see. But I love what you said about just tying it all back in. And I think guys want to confuse it and make it way harder to like, well, it can't just can't just follow the Bible has nothing in there about parenting. It's like actually, literally everything follows you on that one commandment to give your life to Christ and to be alive in Christ and to die to self and if you do that across the way while also being the shepherd of those children. Yeah, I mean, I'm finding it to be much less complicated than I thought it was. So I don't know if you've experienced that as well. Yeah, it's just like stumbling forward like you said, you and don't be

Jeremy Stalnecker 44:55

afraid to stumble forward, right. Like you feel there's so many books on parenting and My wife is much better at reading those than I am. But, but you don't have to have all the answers. You have to love God with all your heart, you have to want for your kids to grow up to serve God, not to be your best friend, not to stick around the house, you are raising those kids, you're raising adults, you're getting them to the point where they can go out and serve. That's your job. And so every day, it's showing up for that job of raising those kids. And then back to the mentor conversation. This is one of the areas you've got to have some mentors in your life, a couple that raise some kids who are out of the house, and you can look to them. They're not going to have all the answers either. But sometimes they're all the encouragement you need, like, Hey, can we take you out to coffee, we'll go get dinner. Our kids are doing this crazy thing. What do we do? Like? Remember that? Yeah, just keep going. Just keep just stay in there. Well, sometimes that's what you need, right? And so get around those people. I think it's great to have peers, who are also raising their kids at the same time and all that I think it's very, very helpful. But they're dealing with the same stuff. They don't have the answers, either. You need some older people who can speak into your life and go Yeah, you know, we've been there, or we tried this, or we didn't do this because of that reason, or here's why we made those decisions. But yeah, having those people around you. Yeah.

Curt Storring 46:19

I'm curious if, if you ever actively thought about this march or di statement in parenting or family life, because I know, I heard you talking about it before where you're like, You got to take a bridge, and you got to just you just gotta, you know, all this kind of stuff. But is this something that I guess it's like action, right? It's just keep pressing forward? Is that something? Am I trying to put two and two together to make a good podcast? Or do you ever think about these ideas in parenting and relationship?

Jeremy Stalnecker 46:43

Well, I relationships, certainly I haven't thought about it specifically in parenting. But the basic premise is, as you're moving forward in life, there will be obstacles, issues that will pop up traumas, whatever it is, that would prevent you from moving forward. And you can stay where you are, you can say, well, that's just too big, I'm not going to do it anymore. And that could be parent, it could be in a marriage relationship could be anything. Or you can say that's big, but I'm gonna trust God by faith. And I'm gonna take the next step. And so I haven't thought of it specifically in the context of parenting. But the parenting literally is getting up every day and taking the next step, right, and just don't give up on those kids, man. It's amazing how much you grow as a person, as you're trying to raise those kids for the glory of God. And God really uses that.

Curt Storring 47:29

Yeah, that's man, the thing that I had said, for the longest time is that having kids was like the best self help thing I ever did. It was so confronting. Yeah, I was like, what Where did you learn that? Oh, no, that's

Jeremy Stalnecker 47:41

right. Yes. And there's so many

Curt Storring 47:43

things like that. But like, as your kids are progressing now into adulthood into their own lives? I mean, 2321, they're, they're ready to go. Yeah. What were you doing? Sort of either teenage years or all along? With that in mind? Because it's all good to be like, Well, I'm just gonna wake up and trust God. And that's, that's literally it, honestly, I guess. But I'm almost looking in terms of like, did you and your wife talk about, hey, we want them to be respectful, responsible, you know, God fearing all the rest of this. And therefore, we need to put XYZ in place. Yeah. Are you having these conversations? And if so, what were the things that you saw working such that they can now I can't remember the word launch? Out of the home? Yeah, that you know, you trust them to do that? Or there's there's certain things that really work for you guys.

Jeremy Stalnecker 48:28

Yeah, one. One thing was was being honest with our kids about our own lives and our own not only struggles, but the good things that we have experienced and done, and helping them to understand that hard work is necessary to accomplish. So being an example, first of all, you know, they see us every day, it's apologizing when you do something stupid, they see you do stupid stuff to reorder, when you shouldn't, you need to apologize. So it for us, it's always started. And that's where we've helped keep each other accountable, is it's us being a good example to our kids. So that's one. Two is having them in the right environment. That's been very, very important. We do our best to have a Christian home where the Bible is read, and we pray, and we talked about what God is doing. So you know, our home is that environment, and it should be absolutely, but then also putting our kids in other environments. For us, our church has been very important, making sure that our kids are at events, they don't want to go to you, I don't care, you're gonna be there. And I want you to be a part of what's happening, but not just telling them they have to do things. explain to them why it's important that you're there so that you can help so that you can serve, find a place to be a friend to someone else. And you know, working through all of that and church is a great environment to help them grow through that. We've always had them in preaching services. Again, these things have been important to me so that as they go on to their own lives as they move out of our house, hopefully we've developed these habits in them of church attendance and engagement in church and service in church. What do we need? To serve, and helping other people and bringing other people along these behaviors that I want to see as adults, and then we've done our best to encourage, as you know, particularly as teenagers, young teenagers, and then into early adulthood. So that's been a very big place of emphasis for us. And I'm very thankful personally for my wife, who, that's a very important thing for her as well. I grew up in that she didn't. And so she really can understand, I think, what it looks like when they're when it's there and when it's not. And so it's been great, but really putting them in that right environment. And it's something I talk about often is putting your kids around other people who are doing important things. I mentioned jujitsu. jujitsu is a big part of my family's life, my son, who is about to become a police officer has been training since he was 11, or 12. I've been training for a lot of years. But a big part of that for me with him, was getting him around other men. These are not necessarily Christian men or men who I would have him you know, hanging out with on the weekend. But adult men who are in an environment that's very difficult, or they have to work very hard. And it's a very much mentoring, helping other people type of environment. I've been been very focused on putting my kids in those types of environments, not just Jiu Jitsu, but in other places, those types of environments where they can be around other adults. So it's not just me and their mom telling them you need to work hard and do this thing. Other adults where they can see that modeled. And now for my young adult kids, it's kind of normal. That's, that's what you do. You get up, you work hard, you do the thing. And if you want something, you go out there and make it happen. We've been very intentional about keeping them in environments where that was what they saw, modeled, that's what's been around them, not just from us, and not even just in the church. But even outside of those environments being around good people. And I think that's been very powerful in their lives, because they've just stood up and done it. And I've been really proud of them. But I've been proud of them. Because when I'm not around, they're doing really hard stuff and making it happen. So yeah, it's been important. And then keeping them out of bad environments, school has been a big struggle. We were homeschooled for a lot of years. And then when the older two got into high school, they went to a charter school. So they were home three days a week, and they were there two days a week. And that gave us a lot of control over, you know, what they were learning and how they were learning those kinds of things. So we've been very, very intentional about their education. And then my daughter just graduated from a big private university here in Southern California. So, you know, the idea that they have to be in this huge public setting in order to survive or thrive is just, it's silly. It's just ridiculous. So we've we've tried to be very intentional about training them, preparing them to go on to the next thing, which is that thing without us?

Curt Storring 52:52

Yeah, oh, that's, that's a really good way to put it. And I'm really encouraged by that. We've got our kids in ones in jujitsu once in kickboxing for this sort of reasoning, because when I'm in there, and the teachers are like, Guys, if you want to, if you want this not to be hard next time, you better show up to do the work. And I'm like, Yes, I love them all the time. But they're like, Hey, do you know, Coach said, and I'm like, Guys, I literally just told you that, but I can't wait to hear from other people. But yeah, we just moved into homeschooling this year as well. So that's a really exciting thing. It's almost unfortunate in a couple of ways that I got to school right next to me, and man, it is a scary place now, ya know, but I'm curious. Like, the last thing I want to get into now is that relationship with particularly your son, maybe maybe both of your adult children, but what do you think that looks like now? Like you've gone through and you've raised them and they don't have to listen to you anymore? If they don't want to what how were you putting yourself out in that relationship? And what are you hoping to foster in that adult relationship?

Jeremy Stalnecker 53:50

I'll tell you one of the things that I did, I think I did it because I saw it modeled my dad, I played baseball growing up and did a lot of stuff. My dad started a church and worked nights to pay bills and was very, very busy. But he was always a part of our lives. He was always very involved in our lives. He knew what we were doing, and he was a part of it. When my son started training jiu jitsu when he was, I think he was 11 years old, maybe 12 years old. He was in a great school, a lot of good things were happening. I had no desire to train jiu jitsu. But I realized that that's where he was four or five nights a week. And when he was old enough to go into the adult class, I started training so I could be with him. And that gave us a platform where we were doing the same thing. But we were also able to have conversations about things that he was interested in and things that were meaningful to him that allowed us then have other conversations. I think it also helped to build trust. It was a good place for me to not be his coach. Not be his dad, per se. I mean, it was his dad, but he's better than me. He killed me right now. I mean, he just sees so much more talented than I am. He's faster than I am is like younger than I So he's stronger than I am, right. But in that environment, it's okay. You know, I'm not trying to teach him, I go to his class, he teaches a class, I go to his class. But those years of just trying to be there with him and be there for him and care about what he cares about, I think that's gone a long, long way. And what I want to have going into this next phase of our lives is him understanding I genuinely care about him. And he can talk to me not just when he needs something from me, or needs input from me. And that was when he was like, 12 years old. He cared about video games and not much else. And I didn't care about any of the things he cared about. And so I tried to find that common ground, I desire to be a mentor to him, I desire to be someone that can speak into his life. But that has got to be built on a foundation of trust, he's got to know I love him, and that I care about him. And I care about his success. We have not pushed our kids into their career choices, we have said, You need to have one, you need to prepare for that we put a lot of things in place to motivate them that way. But we've tried to help them find what they believe God has equipped them to do. So I hope going into this next phase of life. So he graduated this week from a police academy. He's married next week. So a lot happening. I hope that in that transition, he'll continue to view us that way, as someone who care about him care about his success. And he can come back to and you know, get advice and direction from and, and share with. So that's my hope. I mean, we'll see. But I have done my very best to plant the field, so to speak, to pour into that, and to prepare our relationship for that. I want my son to be my friend, I'm not struggling through this, because I don't know what I want. It's just, they're just trying to think through it. I want my son to be my friend. And I hope we're more friends as he gets older. But right. My goal has not been that my goal has been to do everything I possibly could to equip him. So that whatever God wants to do with him later on, my daughter's the same, my other two, my younger, younger kids, same thing. I want to equip him to be able to fully be whatever God wants him to be. And when he you know, 1314 years old, said he wanted to be a police officer, we started to find places he could start to get the skills, I started to put him around those people, I started to help him with different types of training to get ready, all in an attempt to prepare him for whatever God has for him next, and that's what I want for him. I want him to be fully prepared when he leaves my home. And that's been my goal. I haven't always done it right. I caveat that because it's true. I haven't always done that, right. But that is the goal. I'm heartbroken for parents that don't understand this. They're frustrated, they're angry, they want their kids to be close to them or stay close to them. And then their kids leave and never come back. Because it was all about the parents always all about the parents always all about mom and dad getting what they want from the kids. You're not there to get what you want from your kid, you're there to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. That is to equip them to be what God wants them to be somewhere down the road. And if that's your focus, then I think you get all of it. We'll see. Man,

Curt Storring 58:29

spicy area to leave off on thank you for sharing all that I'm really encouraged again. Yeah, I think the word for me here is just like encouragement, honestly. Yeah. So thank you very personally on that. I want to make sure that we give guys a chance to find you. What are the best places what are the best links for guys to go to?

Jeremy Stalnecker 58:45

I'll give you two the easiest one honestly, it's just my name Jeremy stone That goes to a website that I have set up and as podcasts I'm a part of it has a blog that I write on. It has connections out to the organization that I'm a part of and social media and the rest of it. So Jeremy's That's the easiest one but if you want to go right to our organization mighty oaks, it's just mighty oaks programs dot o RG mighty oaks.

Curt Storring 59:09

amazing. Okay, well, I will put those in the show notes Dad.Work slash podcasts if that's easier for you guys remember they'll all be there. Jeremy. I'm extremely grateful. Thank you so much for taking the time today.

Jeremy Stalnecker 59:19

Oh, thank you. I really appreciate it. Great conversation.

Curt Storring 59:22

Thank you for listening to the dad work podcast. That's it for this episode. But if you would like to stay in touch between weekly episodes, why don't you go over to Instagram and follow me there because I drop a number of things throughout the week that are related to what we talked about on this podcast but usually go a little bit deeper provide some tips you can find me on Instagram at dad work dot Kurt that's da di W O RK dot c u r t. And please if you have been getting something out of this podcast if it has touched you if it has improved your marriage, your parenting or your life, would you please leave a quick review on Apple or Spotify. leave a rating if you have a few X have seconds leave a quick review. That's the best way that we can get this work in the hands of more fathers. And I truly believe that we change the world, one father at a time, because each father that parents better that loves better raises children who do the same. And in just a couple of generations, I feel like we could be living in a world much better than the one we live in today. Your review will help along that path. And I thank you so much for being here to listen until next week. We'll see you then.

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