‘They truly have unbreakable spirits’
The little girl in the car seat had a big…
Right around the halfway point of our world-wide extended Spring Break, I turned 40 years old.
In our culture this is still considered a milestone, but not in the same way it was for my parents’ generation. Our house wasn’t decorated in black. No “Over the Hill” cake and not one buzzard made an appearance to remind me of my impending demise.
As a society, we are more than happy to embrace youth and to ignore the truth that every single one of us, every day, is getting older. Everyone fortunate enough to stay healthy and wake up each morning is on a progressive march toward the future.
How we grow up and who we choose to become as we age are worthy questions and within our power to pursue.
Brad Montague is here to help. In his latest book, “Becoming Better Grownups: Rediscovering What Matters and Remembering How to Fly,” he shares a field guide to help adults reorient their hearts toward making the most of their time, talents and relationships.
The genesis of the book comes out of a season in Montague’s life that many of us can fully relate to. After completing a highly successful web series with his young brother-in-law, Kid President, and in the midst of receiving applause and even greater opportunities, Montague hit an emotional wall.
In this little book, the graduate of Freed-Hardeman University in Tennessee describes how the burden of adulthood had snuffed out some of his passion, joy, creativity and drive. He became convinced that the way he was living as well as the current state of adulthood in our culture keeps people from growing up well.
So Montague embarked on a listening tour to discover what it means and how to become a “real-life, wide-awake grown-up person,” he writes.
He visited elementary classrooms in every state — both in person and virtually — to ask kids their thoughts on what it means to be a grownup, what they want to be when they grow up and how grownups can do better. He picked the right age group because, as those of us who have kids know, ask a kid a question, and you’ll get an honest answer!
“Becoming Better Grownups” distills the answers Montague heard from these children and offers suggestions for how adults can make the most of growing up. The book offers lessons and insight into being present, listening, using your creativity to benefit others and how to ask better questions.
Montague is a natural and gifted storyteller. Not only does he display humility and vulnerability in sharing his own stories of frustration and failure, but he also handles the stories of others with grace and dignity.
Each chapter is filled with great stories and beautiful illustrations reminiscent of the doodles we used to make in the margins of our school notebooks. As you read the responses from children and learn the stories of men and women who have embraced the principles Montague shares, you are caught up in a sense that it really is possible to embrace a new perspective on growth and maturity.
And couldn’t we all use a new perspective right now? Not only do we have the normal adult stresses and distractions, but we also invite disruptions with every screen, device and notification. We’ve lost touch with ourselves because we are so focused on the social lives of hundreds of others.
How can we find joy when all anyone wants to do is commiserate? How can we pause to meditate when everything is breaking news? How can we celebrate with others when too preoccupied with complaints?
This book is filled with stories of men, women and children who are discovering ways to show up and be present in their lives, which enables them to bring joy and meaning into the lives of others. Essentially, that’s what it means to become a better grownup: Show up and be present, and make intentional effort in our busy lives.
“Becoming Better Grownups” is intent on moving the needle toward growth and maturity for everyone. It is a feel-good book, but it is not your typical self-help book. It is more accurate to describe it as a help-others book because once you decide that you are going to become a better adult — that’s the moment that you decide to give yourself away.
MICHEAL FELKER is lead minister for the Lakeside Church of Christ in Mansfield, Texas. He attended Harding University and recently received his Master in Theological Studies at Austin Graduate School of Theology. He is married to Sandy and has two kids.
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