As I was mulling over what to write on this week, I remembered back to a list that my coach in college printed off for each guy on our Cross Country team. I remembered how much it impacted me, and how much it informed my path throughout my college experience. I’m not pretending like I referenced it before making every major decision, but it certainly influenced me during an extremely formative period of my life.

I remember he printed it out on normal copy paper, nothing special, and handed it out to the team one day at practice. He told us to read it over and identify ways that we can improve, and ways we can strengthen the areas we are currently strong in today. I remember reading it over and over again. I went home that day, removed a picture from the nicest frame that I had, and replaced it with this quote. It hung directly across from my bed, and I read it innumerable times in the following years. Something about it struck me…moved me. The quote was an excerpt from Charles Swindoll’s book, “Living Above the Level of Mediocrity”. The title of the list that the quote outlines is “The World Needs Men”. It details the kinds of men that the world is desperately crying out for. I read those words carefully, over and over again, and asked myself what in my life needed to change in order to be the kind of man explained in Charles Swindoll’s words.

I by no means intend to put forth that this list covers everything about what it means to be a good man. In fact there are many ways I can quickly see where it lacks. But nevertheless, there are many things to be learned from it. A gentlemen seeks to better himself in whatever opportunities he is afforded. Do not miss this opportunity.

I hope it impacts, inspires, and challenges you as it did me. It moved me to tears when I dug into my memory box this week and broke it back out to read through it again. Nostalgia wrapped in gratitude wrapped in conviction. But all in all I’m left feeling thankful for my coach and that he was bold enough to call young men into more than they had been told they could become. Thank you for your courage, coach.

The World Needs Men

1. Who cannot be bought;

2. Whose word is their bond;

3. Who put character above wealth;

4. Who possess opinions and a will;

5. Who are larger than their vocations;

6. Who do not hesitate to take chances;

7. Who will not lose their individuality in a crowd;

8. Who will be as honest in small things as in great things;

9. Who will make no compromise with wrong;

10. Whose ambitions are not confined to their own selfish desires;

11. Who will not say they do it” because everybody else does it”;

12. Who are true to their friends through good report and evil report, in adversity as well as in prosperity;

13. Who do not believe that shrewdness, cunning, and hardheadedness are the best qualities for winning success;

14. Who are not ashamed or afraid to stand for the truth when it is unpopular;

15. Who can say “no” with emphasis, although all the rest of the world says “yes.”

Charles Swindoll, Living Above the Level of Mediocrity, pp. 107-8

Brandon Reed

Founding Member at The Distinguished Society of Fine Gentlemen
"Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy." - Norman Schwarzkopf

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