Steven Arms lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife, Emily, and is the proud father of two young children. In 'Milestone to Manhood', Steven shares his firsthand experience of his Rite of Passage weekend and reflects on how it shaped him into the man that he is today.
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Mission and purpose of the show is put guys together and get some good advice. With that, Steven, welcome to the show, man.
Josh. Thanks for having me.
Yeah. So, Steven, who are you?
Thanks. So, my name is Stephen Arms. I currently live just outside of Portland, Oregon. I am married to my beautiful wife Emily, and we have two children. Our daughter is three years old, and we have a one year old boy.
Okay, got it. Awesome. So what do you do professionally?
I work as an engineer. I work for a heating and air conditioning company, and we do commercial equipment sales. In addition, I'm also the author of a book titled Milestone to Manhood. It was just published this year, and I'm excited to talk about it.
Cool. All right, so what does an engineer at the HVAC Company selling industrial equipment go writing a book live. You're not supposed to do that. Engineers are not supposed to write books unless it's about one and two. How did that happen, man?
Yeah, you're totally right. In college, I wrote three papers in the course of four years. I definitely have a mind for numbers. This rite of landscape traction has been something that my family has celebrated for the last 19 years. My youngest cousin just had this rite of passage in 2020. We figured that this was the perfect time to share what this whole rite of passage idea is all about to the rest of the world.
Okay, so give us an idea. I've read some books, like Iron John, and there's a few others that talk about this idea of write a passage for a boy manhood journey. My buddy Kent Evans runs a group. This idea of this rite of passage, right, I was a boy, became a man, and was there ever a passage for me, or are people missing out? What the h*** is it?
A rite of passage is an event that a boy can look back on in his life and remember, this was the moment that I became a man. Other cultures from around the world have these rites of passage traditions. The most famous is probably the Jewish bar Mitzvah. Another example would be the Australian Aboriginal walkabout, where a boy is sent off into the wilderness for three to six months at a time, and when he comes back, he's no longer considered to be a boy, but he's considered to be a man, and he's eligible for marriage. Modern Western society doesn't really have an equivalent coming of age event, and I think that's one reason why we are failing to develop me who are truly masculine, because we don't have rites of passages. Boys feel the need to kind of prove it to themselves, prove their manhood to themselves.
That might look like the sexual conquest of woman. She made me a man. Pornography addictions, video game addictions. In a video game, you can literally slay a dragon that totally plays into that male ego, proving yourself as a man. Other examples would be like, joining a gang or violence or like crazy stunts, jumping off 50 foot cliffs. These are all things that boys do to try to prove it to themselves and prove it to their peers that they are a man. What I argue is that if a father simply uses his words and tells his son, hey, son, I want you to know in my eyes, I no longer consider you to be a boy, but I see you as a man. If a father does that, then the boy doesn't have to try to prove it to himself because his father has affirmed his masculine identity.
Oh, man, the first time I became a man, right, my dad live me, but he was a little tough. He came from a background of Vietnam vet, a couple of Purple Hearts, Bronze Stars, and he was a badass dude, and he taught me to be tough, right? But he never shut me down. It's like, hey, Josh, you're a man. It was I became a man when I turned. Fill in the blank on whatever age you're now, man, you have responsibilities. Or the first time I drank booze, or the first time I had sex, or the first time I drove or voted or had a career. There were milestones. To be honest, 41 years old now is I look back and I go a lot of myself becoming or trying to learn how to become a man was me proving to myself that I'm worthy, that I'm valuable, that I have some grit, or that I can be that.
You talked about from father to son. There's a lot of dudes listening in who maybe didn't have a dad who knew this formula or something. First of all, why is it important for a father to affirm that for this son.
It's important for the dad to affirm it to a boy because dad is the primary male role model in a boy's life. He is what the boy looks up to as an example of what it means to be a man. When someone like that, when a father affirms his masculine identity, the boy doesn't question it because the boy sees the father and he says, well, that's clearly a man. That man is telling the boy, you are also a man, and the boy doesn't question it. Actually one beautiful thing about the rite of passage weekend that we talk about in our book is that it is led by the father, but other men are involved in the weekend as well. It's not just the dad. He is the leader of the weekend, but he brings in other people like grandfathers, uncles, older cousins, older siblings, close family, friends.
This tribe of men, this group of four to five or six men, take the boy away on a weekend and have this rite of passage for the boy, which ultimately culminates in the men telling him you are a man of his family.
Now, man, as you're sharing this, I couldn't help but think live. I'm 41 years old and I wish I had that. I was a firefighter medic and I worked investment groups and I built a lot of stuff and lost it and all this stuff, but I always felt like I was proving myself. Looking back, I was like, man, I wonder what it would be like if I was 40 years old when my dad said he was proud of me. I was just like, I wonder what that could have done differently. I'm trying to do that differently as a father. This rite of passage, what happens if guys don't get that?
Like I was saying earlier, I think if a guy doesn't get a rite of passage, if a father doesn't affirm his son's masculine identity, then he does what you did, Josh. He tries to prove it to himself. Another example of that would be like you were saying, trying to earn your manhood through your finances, trying to make a ton of money, start a successful business. A lot of guys try to prove their manhood through success in that way. It's not just by rebelling and violence and pornography. It's not just those things. There are other ways that men try to prove their manhood as well.
Yeah. For a 41 year old guy who might not have gotten that I spent my whole life trying to earn my manhood. I've worked with coaches and counselors and I've been doing this show for a while, so I get a lot of free therapy for a guy. In our forty s, you see a lot of guys going midlife crisis or they're working around the clock to try to boost up their success and such like that. When you get an older guy, are you able to see, like, hey, maybe that guy didn't get the right of passage. Maybe the guy missed out on affirmations from a father figure or from their father and they've missed this becoming a manhood. What are some signs? Signs and symptoms maybe that a grown a** man like myself might have missed a step in the manhood process.
I would say the biggest symptom is probably living life for yourself instead of living life for other people. I think it's a man who lays down his life for his wife and for his kids and for his community, for his country. It's a boy who is living for himself selfishly. I would say that's probably the biggest indicator. Now, that being said, we're all experts at hiding our wounds and our vulnerabilities. It's not like I walk down the street and say, that man's, how to write a passage that man hasn't. I would say that it's the selfishness or the unselfishness that is the biggest indicator.
Yeah, super interesting. I started this journey a couple of years ago really learning about manhood, because I thought being a man is just about making money, providing family, protecting your family. I'll tell you live, we've gone through some major financial struggles in this idea of the man the provider is like, if I built my masculine manhood on a provision and then went bankrupt, that was such a hit to my ego and my masculine figure. And I was embarrassed. I was ashamed. I didn't want to be around other dudes because what do you do? I'm like, I just went bankrupt and I'm back on a moving truck or whatever the case may be. And that was tough, man. It comes to identity and masculine identity and masculinity as a whole, how do you do that properly?
So, Josh, I think you're on to something. I think men, we are called to be providers. We are called to be protectors. We're called to be strong. I don't mean to minimize that part of it, not at all. We're also meant to be emotional providers. We're meant to be spiritual protectors of our family. I think that's where a lot of guys kind of go wrong. They think, as long as I am paying the bills, putting food on the table and a roof over my kids heads and they're safe, then I've done my job. I would argue that's just half the job. The other half is being an emotional and spiritual provider for your family as well. Those are kind of the softer skills. I think that us men were not always good at using our words and saying things like, I love you or I'm proud of you.
It took your dad until you were 40 years old to tell you that he was proud of you. I can only imagine how good that felt the first time he said it, ? I would also imagine you really wish that he had done it when you were eight years old instead of waiting until you were 40.
Yeah. With that, let's dig into this because it was 39 or 40 is when he said that. When I was growing up live, I was good at sports or whatever, and there was like attaboy and maybe I'm proud of you or something like that, but it was always attached to my I did something great. And then there was an added boy. The first time he said it, where I felt like it resonated is I actually screwed up. I actually messed up in my late thirty s. And it was something so simple. We got in an argument, but he came back and he's like, I'm proud of the man you are. I'm proud of the accomplishment that you did. Good job. You got a home run, you pinned another guy in the wrestling mat, you became a firefighter, whatever. It was an accomplishment, but it was the first time of live.
I'm proud of who you are. And that made me break down crying. There's a difference between what I was doing and the man that I was becoming, and it crushed me. Dude, it was good. You're saying that this could be done systematically, live. There's an actual process to do this. Maybe you guys listening out and you're like me, who maybe struggled as a son in learning to be a man yourself. You've got kids, you're like, oh, man, I wish I had a formula. All right, talk to us about this formula. Maybe there's a way that our sons don't have to be as screwed up as were. Sure.
The formula is this right of past this weekend. There's a few reasons why 13 is kind of the magic number. First of all, 13 is a milestone birthday. The boy is leaving his boyhood behind and he's becoming a teenager. Secondly, he's starting to kind of rebel. There's that tension between father and son and mom because he is starting to spread his wings and he wants more independence. We also think that it's important to initiate a boy into manhood too early rather than too label. Admittedly, 13 is kind of young to tell a boy he's a man, but by the time he is 18 or 21 or 30, by that time he's probably made some live decisions, some significant life decisions, without the support from the other male mentors in his life. That's why we argue that 13 is kind of the magical age for this rite of passage to begin.
What the weekend looks like is, as I alluded to earlier, it's a group of four or five men, including the boy's father and other close male role models who the boy has a relationship with, and they take him away to a place he's never been to, ideally. For me, on my rite of passage weekend, my dad took me to Lake Shasta, which is in Northern California. It's pretty remote. It was about 3 hours away. On the drive up, we stopped at a breakfast diner and he surprised me with my grandfather and my uncle's being there. They were literally sitting in the booth next to us. I look over and I'm like, what the heck are you guys doing here? That was the moment where the cat was kind of out of the bag and they said, you're not going on a camping trip with your weekend with your dad this weekend.
This is your right of passage to become a man and his family. That's kind of how the weekend gets started. Once the weekend is kicked off, there's essentially seven rituals that we engage in.
Before you go into those rituals, some people might be watching it most people listening on the show, but some people watching. When you were describing that, man, I started to tear up. I think that it's my job as podcast host is to share the emotions that I'm feeling, which I'm not good at doing always. I almost started tearing up the idea of not just your dad, but grandfather and uncles and cousins and older men, other influencers coming together and walking you into manhood together. I almost cried. I was like, man, that is the only way I've seen that was in the wrestling match or something where you have a bunch of guys like, go kill them, or becoming firefighter or whatever the case may be, but live, man, I got emotional when you were talking about that, man. I could see the power of that.
I just want to say that I don't think that there was a question there, but thanks for sharing that, man. That was cool. I want to do that for my son.
Well, thank you. I would say props to my dad. This is not something that I came up with. This was something that he came up with the help of my grandfather. My dad didn't have a father figure in the house. His parents split up when he was five years old and his dad moved to Mexico. My dad, after the age of five, my dad only saw his father three times in his whole life. He really didn't have a male role model in his life. That's why when he got married, he was like, I want to be the dad that I never had. My brothers and I turned 13, he was like, I want to do something really special for them on their 13th birthdays. Like I was saying, I give all the credit to my dad for pulling this off.
What you're doing now is sharing this on a podcast show and writing a book about it live. Your father's impact on you can now be leveraged and shared with many. Right. Super cool what you guys are doing. So you talk about the seven stages. I don't know if we could go through all of them because I'm sure that a lot of questions will come out. Maybe highlight what they are first and then I'll have some questions that we can kind of dig into one or two of them. Okay, for sure.
The first ritual is an entrance ceremony. Just like a high school graduation has an entrance ceremony, wedding has an entrance procession. This route of passage has an entrance ceremony as well. Part of the entrance ceremony is the lighting of a fire in the cabin.
I love fires.
Yeah, I think most men do. Including myself as a twelve year old boy, I was stoked that I was going to be lighting a fire. The fire represents God's presence during the weekend. It also represents his presence in our lives, in our relationship with him. Once we lit the fire during the weekend, it was the boy's responsibility to make sure that it didn't go out. That is representative of our faith lives. Sometimes our relationship with God is hotter, sometimes it's colder. What's most important is for that flame to never be extinguished. That was one element of the weekend, was this fire that was always going off in the corner. Another really cool ritual. We call it the ribbon ceremony. The ribbon ceremony, every man collects a stick about two or 3ft long from outside, and he ties six ribbons onto the stick. On the ribbons are a positive or a negative character trait that he sees in himself.
The three positive ones might be hardworking, loyal, and honest. The three negative might be lustful, greedy, and lazy, just as an example. Each man in a circle shares why he wrote down what he wrote down. The boy also has a stick, but his stick doesn't have any ribbons on it. At the end of the sharing exercise, the boy goes around the room and he unties the character traits that he wants to emulate from the other men off of their sticks, and he ties them onto his own stick. Obviously this represents how as men, we have the ability to emulate certain character traits from other men that are close to us. My grandfather, for example, was really good at words of affirmation. He was really good at building up other men and just giving compliments for free. That's something that I've tried to emulate from him in my life.
It's like, wow, I really respect him for that. He really builds people up I want to be that type of man, too. Then, ideally, the boy is left with a stick full of positive character traits, and then the men are left with sticks with their negative character traits, and they take those ribbons, and they actually place them in the fire, which represents, one, their desire to burn away their character trait, their negative character traits. Right? None of us are perfect. We all have negative character traits, and we should all be aiming to improve those negative character traits, but B, our reliance on God to help us do so. Right? That flame represents God and the Holy Spirit. By placing those negative character traits in the fire, they're saying, I'm not going to be able to do this by my own will. I need to rely on God if I'm ever going to become a better version of myself.
Those are kind of two of the rituals.
Yeah. As I'm learning to be more reflective on myself, my own strengths, my own weaknesses, interviewing a ton of coaches, even stepping into some stuff that I'm like, this is a little woo, right? My 13 year old self, live, how would I respond to them? I'm like, the first thing that came to mind was, this is cheesy, right?
Me now is going, no, I see the symbolism. I see the importance of this. Right? Live. Even when the knight bends his knee and he gets knighted, right? Like, there's symbolism in everything. I go, no, there's power in this. My 13 year old self will be like, that is bullshit. Right? Live, I see the power of this as I'm seeing live the power of the ceremony, the power of the process, the power of the ritual. This is pretty cool. I love the fact that you have other men being a part of this. It takes a village to grow a man, right? I live this aspect of this. When you were 13, what was going through your mind when you're walking around grabbing ribbons and such like that? Are you prepped for this? Were you like, what the h*** are we doing here?
So I was not prepped for it. The weekend was actually a total surprise to me. My older brother had a rite of passage two years before me, but.
Of the tradition is that it's always kept as a surprise for the next boy down the live. Every boy in our family got one of these weekends, but were always able to keep it a secret so that he didn't have any preconceived notions. As you go through the weekend, there were times personally where I felt like, yeah, this is a little uncomfortable. What are we doing here? To be honest, seeing basically all the men in my life who I respected taking this seriously my dad, my grandfather, my two uncles, like you were saying as a 40 year old you get it makes sense. As a 13 year old, if I was an outsider looking in, I probably would have thought, yeah, this is really weird and cheesy. The fact that all the other men were taking it seriously, that made me realize I need to take this seriously too.
I think that's one of the beauties of this weekend is that it really helps the boy to kind of mature very quickly because he sees it. The other men who are taking the time out of their busy lives to help him in this transition from boyhood to manhood.
Yeah, maybe because I work with a lot of dudes, I just see live so many guys out there, myself included, where we have gaps. We have gaps in our life. I'll tell you, probably the majority of it stem from a lack of a father figure or a lack of this idea of masculinity or whatever. It's now proving ourselves right, live proving ourselves, fighting for it. I love the fact that there's this fire. I mean, I literally have a candle burning in my office right now for those listening in, or I'm holding up a candle. My daughter bought it for me this past weekend. This idea of the fire ceremony and then the ribbon ceremony, let's just list them all and then I'll pick a few to dig into .
Number three so number one is the entrance ceremony. Number two is actually a discussion of what it means to be a man. Number three is a scripture sharing exercise. Number four is the gifting of a family heirloom. Five is the gifting of letters. Six is the ribbon ceremony. Seven is the bestowing of the title of man.
Okay, so this is awesome. So this is in your book. Where can I find the book? Because we'll dig into this . I wrote them down, but let's give guys who are like, okay, I'm driving. I don't have time to write it down or something. I just want to buy the book so I can have it when I go there. I could have a roadmap to this. Where can people find your book? What's it called?
The book is called Milestone to Manhood. You can buy it on Amazon or you can buy it on our website, which is Milestone to Manhood.com.
Alright, so in this process you went through these seven steps and then one day how old are you?
New York 30 something years old or whatever. You're like, I should write this down as a book. Before that, was it written down or was it just kind of tradition?
It was kind of tradition. We had the whole thing in emails bouncing back and forth through the family because a dad would organize it and get the uncles involved, get the older cousins involved, get grandpa involved. We had a lot of this in email format and we just kind of collected those emails, clean it up a bit so it actually made sense. We actually kind of wrote our family story in there too. Like how this tradition got started, how it's affected our lives. It's half story and it's half how to guide for other fathers to organize a weekend for their own sons.
You were 13 years old, you went through that. What was different between heading out there to go to your ritual and then afterwards, 13 years old, did you have this awakening or this enlightenment where you're like, oh, something is different? Or was it you just have these memories? What was that like?
As a 13 year old, I remember it felt really good. I was really excited about this idea of becoming a man, becoming a teenager. That was really cool for me. Now I'll be the first to say I was no angel child as a teenager. This Rite of passage weekend is not a cure all by any means. I was still meeting the limits and pushed my parents. I think primarily the weekend had, I would say, long term benefits for me. For one, as a teenager, I never questioned my masculine identity. What I mean by that, I'll tell a quick story. I was in high school, I went to all boys high school. The teachers a lot of times would be goofing off. The class would be goofing off and the teachers would say something like, boys, settle down. Immediately, anytime another adult, like a teacher called me a boy, even in reference to a classroom setting, the first thought in my mind was, I'm not a boy.
I'm a man. My dad told me that. I'm a man. And this person just doesn't know you. It's not their fault. They just don't know that in my family, I'm actually a man. I never really questioned my masculine identity as a teenager. I was really confident, like, I am a man. There was no doubt in my mind because my dad had told me, I had this special weekend. I would say long term benefits of the weekend is I went to college and like a lot of people in college, I really started to question my beliefs. The way I was raised started spending time with people who had very different beliefs than me. It made me think live, hold on here. You know, what do I believe? I know how I was raised, but what do I believe? One of the things that was told to me during the rite of passage weekend was you as a man of this family, have access to us, other men at any time.
If you ever feel like you have questions or you're going through kind of a rough patch in life, please come to us to help you through. That because we have your best interest at heart. We love you unconditionally, and we will never judge you. We will only love you. I was really nervous to go to my parents in college and tell them, Mom, Dad, I'm not sure that I believe in God anymore. I'm not sure that I want to practice my faith anymore. I'm having questions. I didn't want to disappoint them, but ultimately, I remembered back to what my dad and what my grandfather had told me. You can talk to us at any time. You can trust us. I remembered what they told me during that Rite of Passage weekend, and eight years later, when I was 21, that was the first time where I really took them up on their advice and said, I'm having questions.
Why do you believe in God? They were able to share more about their own faith journeys. Hindsight is 2020. I would say, personally, without this weekend, this Rite of Passes weekend, I'm not sure that I would be a practicing Christian today if it wasn't for this weekend.
Super powerful. You said that sitting there in the classroom. This is so powerful, and I definitely want to live unravel this, because this is so good. You're sitting there in a classroom, and the teachers are like, all right, boys, boys, listen up. Listen up. Something was not off or not clicking because you're like, Nope. My dad said that I was a man, right? How many other examples do we have? This in our inner life where the bully will call you bad words or something like that, or someone will tell you a failure or screw up, or someone will tell you that you were able to go, Nope, I'm sorry. My identity. My dad said that I'm a man. My dad said that. So you all are wrong, right? You have this internal dialogue that happened that's freaking powerful. If we gain nothing else from that, the identity that we have helps determine our actions and our belief system.
That is so cool. Good on you guys for kind of live taking this and turn it in. This is what engineers do, right? Take something and turn it into a process, the process of manhood, but live really cool stuff. Steven, you said you weren't angel. Like, you went through this, and it was in your 20s that you actually went back to the group and you started asking for advice. What was the switch? What was the pain you were going through that made you tuck tail and go ask some men for some advice?
To be honest, it was a girl. It was a girl in my life that I met in college, and I really liked her. She really was raised with a different faith background than me. That was a big part of kind of our relationship, trying to work through differences in faith. That was really made me question a lot of things about how I was raised. That was I would say, even though my teenage years I was not a perfect kid, I would say my early 20s in that relationship with her is when I was really starting to question things. I don't want to make her sound like she was an evil person, because she wasn't. For me, it was I hit almost like a new low in my life. I almost kind of hit, like, this rock bottom of live. I have no idea what I believe anymore.
Like, total confusion. That's when I was like, now I really need help because I've hit this rock bottom, and I have no idea where to go. Maybe these guys from eight years ago who took me away on this weekend, maybe they can help me.
You reach out to first person, what was the one specific piece of advice you were asking? Or what were you asking? What kind of advice did you receive from these guys?
My question was, why should I believe in God, and what is God? Why should I believe in him? What is the evidence for God? Maybe that goes back to that engineering mind that I have. I remember sitting down in my grandparents'living room and talking to my grandfather about it. Live, why do you believe in God? He's like, well, those are really deep questions. These are good questions to have you're on the right path. Even just hearing that you're on the right path. I was like, what do you mean? I'm, like, at rock bottom. I'm questioning everything. He's like, no, this is a good thing to be asking deep questions like this. His answer to me was, God is love. Anywhere you see love, you are seeing a reflection of God. I think for me, that just kind of logically made sense. It's like if you define God as a man in the sky who's stroking his beard, then no God.
That God does not exist. I don't believe in that God. If you believe in God, that is love is the very definition of love, is love itself. It's like, well, yeah, I see love everywhere. If you define God as love, then that makes total sense for me. I would say, for me, that was kind of the first step on my journey to kind of taking back my faith. One way I put it is, like, I feel like I was raised with the faith of a child. That makes total sense because I was a kid at the time, and in college, I think, was kind of where I transformed into having the faith of a man, where I took it on for myself. It wasn't my parents driving me to church anymore. It was me driving myself to church. I was literally in the driver's seat making this decision for myself.
Yeah, this is so good, man. You had a place where you could go ask guys tough questions like, why should I believe in God? Because right now, people go, man, I got a question. Where should I go? YouTube or Google or whatever. Having live a trusted place where you could go and have a conversation, you could get YouTube video or something, and it could be a one sided thing, but you were able to sit with them and they go, man, that's a tough question. We're working through that as an old guy is what we believe. That's awesome. Back to the rites of passage, the rituals within this, as you're going through these different rituals, when you look back, what was the most impactful ritual for you and why?
They were all so impactful, just each in their own way. I remember what it means to be a man discussion and hearing these stories from my grandfather and uncles, hearing them talk about kind of some of their own struggles, talking about their own work life, how they got into the careers that they got into. I was also live these letters later. The letters are super valuable because I still have them in my drawer today. I can look back and read them anytime I want. Two of my grandparents, including that grandfather that I was talking about, have since passed away, since I had my right of passage weekend. Having those letters is super valuable because I can read them and feel like I'm almost having a conversation with them for that reason. It's super valuable to me.
Wow, Darren, it's so good. And you'll keep those forever. I have a letter written from my dad that I have in my safety deposit box. The power of that was like and he was just talking about live, hey, you got to take care of the family, I got to go away for kind of thing. And I was just live. I held onto that, man. It was powerful.
When you said, what does it mean to be a man? What kind of things did you hear?
The advice that was given to me were things like the importance of honesty, the importance of treating women with respect at all times, the importance of hard work, certainly the importance of faith was all talked about, but the guys would always try to kind of tie in a story or two into their advice. The thing about a 13 year old is that they really don't have any practical life experience. They haven't really been through much, generally speaking. Any live, concrete advice or stories that a man can give the boy, any wisdom that sinks in is super valuable for him because he really has nothing to begin with. One way that they did it was to try to tell it through stories. So, like, my grandfather would talk about how he was a police officer in San Francisco for almost 30 years and how that was a really tough job.
He, a lot of times, really did not like it. He would say that he found, generally speaking, his job was way easier if he had a good attitude about it, approached every situation with a smile and kind of was like the good cop character instead of the bad cop, live tough guy character. Because he found that if you could kind of soften the person up, even if you are giving them a traffic ticket and they're not happy, if you can kind of live soften them up and get them on your side, then they're way easier to deal with, whether that's just smiling at them or giving them a compliment. Way easier than if you try to bad mouth them and disrespect them. That was one thing, like, a concrete example of how important it is to have a good attitude at all times.
As a man right now, husband, father, when you look back, what do you struggle with most as being a man?
I think what I struggled most with is and this is probably something that you can relate to based off of what you shared is, like, getting my identity in who I am versus what I do. I feel like I always write down a Todo list, and I judge my days based off of did I get everything done or did I not get everything done? It's hard for me to step back sometimes and say, it's not about what I do, it's about who I am. I would say that's one of my struggles personally.
You love to do list, don't you? Check.
Processes, procedures. SOPs live. That's your jam, right?
For you guys listening and he just had the biggest smile ever. Live. I'm speaking this love language. It's like five love language. The next one for engineers is like, checklist. So, Steven, as you're building this out, man, what's your goal for doing this, man? Why is this important to you?
My goal for doing this is essentially just to give this rite of passage tradition to the rest of the world, help fathers connect with their sons, establish healthy relationships with them. For sons, for 13 year old sons, build up their masculine identity so that they go through the world. They go through their teenage years in their twenties, not feeling the need to question themselves to the same degree. I think that if every man in this country told his son at the appropriate age, son, I just want you to know I no longer consider you to be a boy, but in my eyes, you are a man. Now, if every father told his son that this country, this world, would be a much better place, men would do better, women would do better, everyone would do better if father stepped up the plate and told their sons, I consider you to be a man.
You mentioned on the intake foreman with the PR group. One of the things was here's Jesus'example of rite of passage, of this. Did Jesus walk people through this? Because if you read through the scripture, joseph the father marrying Joseph, immaculate conception and all this miracles happen. There's a few times that Joseph was mentioned and then he kind of disappears. Right? How did Jesus emulate what you're sharing?
So Jesus had a rite of passage. It didn't look totally like the rite of passage that I experienced with seven specific rituals. General meeting a rite of passage has to have three elements. It has to have a withdrawal stage. The boy is separated from his normal support circles. It has to have a challenge. The third element is reincorporation back into the family. Jesus rite of passage is found in the Gospel of Luke. It's the story of the finding the boy Jesus in the temple. We know this because, for one, the gospel writer says that this occurred when Christ was twelve years old. That's right around that age of the bar mitzvah. Now the bar Mitzvah, that didn't happen until 1500 years later. The bar mitzvah tradition is only 500 years old. So Jesus didn't have a bar mitzvah. We know that. In the story of the finding of the boy Jesus in the temple, for one, he separated from the caravan, right?
Joseph and Mary lose him. So there's that withdrawal stage. The second stage is this challenge. When they do find him, they find him in the temple conversing with teachers and scholars of the law. Here's a twelve year old boy, granted he's God incarnate, so he knows the scripture better than they do. Yeah, but objectively speaking, here's a twelve year old boy discussing scriptures with grown ups, men, scholars, professionals, you wouldn't see that every day. That was Jesus's quote unquote challenge. The third element is the reincorporation back into the family. Joseph and Mary, they find Jesus in the temple. If you notice, if you look carefully at how Jesus addresses them, mary says something along the lines of, why have you done this to us? Didn't you know that we would be looking for you? Jesus doesn't go back to her live crying, saying, I'm sorry I did this, I missed you so much.
That's how a boy would react, right? His response is like, what do you mean? Didn't I would be in my Father's house? He kind of comes off as live, cold and coldhearted. That's the way that shows the transformational shift that he made. He made that transition from boyhood to manhood during that rite of passage, of the finding of the boy Jesus in the temple. So that was his rite of passage. It looks somewhat differently, somewhat different than the rite of passage that we outline in the book. Again, I think it's safe to say that he was a totally different person than you and me. It makes sense that his rite of passage would look a little different.
Yeah. This is interesting. There hope for a 41 year old dude who didn't go through these rites of passage, who's figuring this out later in his life? There any hope for a guy live us who maybe didn't have the tools or whatever? My dad didn't have the tools. He did much better than his father, and hopefully I do much better than my father. What hope is there for a guy who's listening, like me, who maybe.
Didn'T get that for you, Josh? For any of your listeners out there who didn't get something like this, I would say right now, from one man to another, that you are a man. I see you. You are a leader helping other men through this podcast. You have a beautiful wife. You are a loving father. You are striving to be the best man that you can be. You are a man. That much is clear to me. You've been a man for a long time. That's the truth. It's your responsibility as a man to help the next generation behind you. Whether that's having a rite of passage for one of your sons or for a boy in your life, a nephew, the onus is on you now, right? As a man, you have to take up that responsibility and help the next generation. I would say there is hope for you 100%.
It's so good. I read this either I think it was Iron John or Becoming. It was one of these books. I can't wait to get your book. I'm going to buy one of your books. Do you have any hard copies?
I don't. It's only in paperback. Well.
You have paperback, right?
I like to order a signed copy from you. Okay. This is one of my favorite things to do is collect my friend's books, but I would love to get a signed copy from you. I'll send you some money and we could work through that. For what I'm finding in my research, what I'm finding from these interviews with people, manhood could only be passed down from one man to a boy to become a man, right? It cannot be passed through any other way except from man to man. Sure.
You said this, you're not my dad. We just met not too long ago. You're actually younger than me. Live all of the Internet dialogues of like, well, I can't tell that to another man. You're younger than me. We just me. You just made a statement, Josh. You're a mum, and I'll tell you when you were saying that it felt awkward to receive it, but there was something in me that was going, this feels good, I appreciate this. I'm being affirmed by another man. I don't think us guys, this is a freaking challenge to you. I want you to find a dude in your life that you love, that you're supporting, that you're encouraging or whatever, and I want you to do what Steven just did for me. Go back and listen if you have to, but just affirming another man that he's a man. It's not like, hey, you're the man live.
Hey, Bob, hold my beer and you're a man. But highlight the good things about them. Encourage them. That's so good. When you took the ribbon that said affirmations from your grandfather, you nailed it. Grandfather would be proud of you, bro. Good job.
A couple more questions and we got to bounce. Where can I go to get a book, connect with you and ask you some questions? Because I know this is going to create some questions for sure.
Yeah. You can connect with me through our website, which is milestonetomanhood.com. You can find our social links there or email address. Yeah, I'm happy to have a conversation with any of your listeners.
Yeah. And is David dad? Is that your dad?
David is my dad. We wrote the book together, so we co authored it. He got to tell his story, I got to tell my story, which is really cool because then you get the perspective of the father and you get the perspective of the son. It was super fun writing this book and marketing it with him.
Nice shout out to dad, right? Thank you, David, for starting this right live. You didn't have that, David. You didn't have this growing up, but you saw the importance of it, you passed it down and now it's in a book. Now it's on podcast. Now it's being leveraged. So, David, you're the spark that had this created. So kudos to you, good sir. Steven, in this interview, there's probably a question that I should have asked you that I screwed up and did not ask you. What question is that?
What does it mean to be a man?
Is that the question?
Yeah, sure. What does it mean to be a man?
I would say to be a man means someone who lays their life down for other people. Scripture tells us, husbands, love your wives. The way that Christ has loved the church and the way that Christ loved the church was by dying for it. That's what we are called to do as men, is to lay our lives down for other people. A man is unselfish and lays his life down for others. It's a boy who lives selfishly and live only for himself.
The difference between a boy and a man, the boys for himself. The man is for others. Super cool. I appreciate you coming on the show, Steven. Guys, as always, reach out to our guests and say thanks for being on the show. Connect with their book, connect with their programs, connect with what they're doing and let them know what they said was impactful for you or follow up with any questions. All of their contact information will be in the show notes below so you can finish your jog or finish your drive and then connect with them. If you have questions or if you'd like to come on the show and talk about your story, some of the things that you've learned, talk about the challenges that you have, head on over uncensored advice for flofr men.com, fill out a quick form and maybe even get you on the show next.
Till then, we'll talk to you all on the next episode. Love you guys.
Authors / Son and Father
David Arms is a Catholic Deacon in the Archdiocese of San Francisco and a co- author of the book, 'Milestone to Manhood'. David and his father-in-law invented the Rite of Passage weekend to create an opportunity for fathers to affirm their son’s masculine identity by bestowing the title of “man” upon him. David is a husband and father to four grown sons: Oran, Steven, Kevin and Michael.
Steven Arms lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife, Emily, and is the proud father of two young children. In 'Milestone to Manhood', Steven shares his firsthand experience of his Rite of Passage weekend and reflects on how it shaped him into the man that he is today.