The Gathering encourages men to better their communities

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I recently had the privilege of being Shawnee’s commencement speaker. As a 1987 Shawnee graduate, I wanted my nine minutes to take root.

A point I tried to make is you can’t do everything, but you can do something. Author Andy Stanley knowing this, says, “Do for one what you wish you could do for all.”

That can be applicable to a person, organization, and cause. I’m greatly saddened with recent events in our country, but more so by our core DNA. But in going beyond reflection, what can I do. Listening, more than speaking or opining is huge, but isn’t there more. Isn’t there something?

Over a century ago, prolific English writer G.K. Chesterton, along with several prominent authors was invited by The Times to respond to, “What is wrong with the world?”

Chesterton replied simply and profoundly:

“Dear Sirs,

I am.

Sincerely yours,”

G. K. Chesterton

This is what is needed today. As I lead The Gathering of the Miami Valley to engage men to be fully alive, there are spiritual implications in that task and privilege. There are relational, emotional, sacrificial elements we want to embody.

I, like all of us, need to own me and take personal responsibility.

I lead men at the core of what I do. I believe every societal ill can be traced back to men, on some level. I point at myself.

Our world has gotten crazy and the fingers point everywhere but in the mirror. This must change. I have a problem. I need help, that is only divine in its fix. I need other people who will challenge me and bring out my best, at all costs. Regardless of the pain.

I need to humble myself. I need to grow in compassion, grace, and forgiveness. These are tenets, spoken of in Gathering outreach breakfasts, Lunch Series, Locker Rooms (small groups) and more.

Becoming a better man who gives himself for others is vital. Being an intentional leader at home, and modeling that is critical. Investing in men as excellent employers and employees, who are diligent workers who increase business capacity is needed. The list goes on.

My friend, and Gathering champion, Steve Leep, sheds light on this from his experience.

“The Gathering connects men to men and men to God. These men have strengthened me. In my Locker Room of 8 to 10 men, we dig deeper within ourselves and address the flaws in our foundation. Stress fractures exist in our personal, spiritual, and professional lives. We need to share about it, work at it, and have others hold us accountable. Men often don’t do this enough, or at all. I want to be a better follower of Christ, better husband, better father. The Gathering connects me to men who want the same for me. That’s why I’ve stayed involved,” said Leep, business developer at the Ohio Valley Surgical Hospital.

He points the finger in humility at the mirror and knows leading starts with self.

One of the most meaningful things I’ve done in our 8.5 year history is a program — Young Guns — that started in January. We meet monthly and have community leaders share life lessons, while reading books and talking about life, past, present and future. Leep is involved with 10 other men in their 20s and 30s.

We tackle topics like generosity, manhood, family, adventure, community, humility, and more. This time has been so impactful that two Young Guns are now mentoring two of my sons. My youngest son recently asked when I was going to find his mentor.

Generational mentoring now spans three to four generations, as I have two retired men mentoring our 11 Young Guns, as well. It truly takes a village, going the same direction.

If you are like Leep, searching or are looking for meaningful relationships and sharing life in community, we offer roughly 25 small groups (Locker Rooms) in the Miami Valley. This is a great connection point. Most groups meet biweekly at local coffee shops or restaurants.

If you or someone you know would like to take a next step and engage with the Gathering, our fall breakfast is Wednesday, Sept. 21, at 7:15 at the Hollenbeck Bayley Center. Our speaker, Mark Lanier of Houston, Texas, was honored as the 2015 Trial Lawyer of the Year by The National Trial Lawyers.

For more information, go to or reach me at or Bruce Willmann at

“I am grateful to have these men in my life. I live life with them because they are led by Him. I’m alive,” Leep concluded.

This work is crucial to you, the men in your lives, families, our community, and beyond. Help us do something.

Jeff Pinkleton is executive director of The Gathering of the Miami Valley.