Craig McConnell:
A Man Among Men

"Craig was many things in his life: a husband, a father, a father-in-law, a grandfather, a pastor, a friend, a teacher, a mentor to many, a leader, and quite the knucklehead."

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The news of this past Friday hit me unexpectedly...and, in truth, sent my heart a bit sideways.

Craig McConnell was in hospice care. After years of battling leukemia - and oh, so close to remission - a sudden turn put him close to the end of his epic and heroic battle and even closer to where I (an imperfect man following God) long to be.

This morning - on Tuesday - I awoke from mysterious dreams at 2:00am to find the single dot of flourescent light pulsating on my smart phone...incoming. The email - from John Eldredge and the Ransomed Heart team - shared the news that Craig had passed "...from glory to glory..." at 6:30am yesterday morning. He was now fully healed - and in the presence of the God he loved so much.

As the tears began to flow (even now, later in the morning and sitting at work, they still do), I am somehow not sure what to say or feel. Sadness...goodness, yes. But...joy?? It seems...well, scandalous. But, of course, it would be to those who didn't know (or still don't know) the Jesus that Craig helped introduce me to through his work and mission with Wild at Heart (www.wildatheart.org). Moving through the pre-dawn hours, I sat watching a video session that came from a Wild at Heart Advanced Boot Camp I attended in 2014 out in Colorado...I didn't know it then, but it was the last time I would see Craig. His teaching that night - focusing on the Poser that all men have and hide behind - was centered on relational styles and the freedom that God is after in our individual personalities. It was, in a word...holy

Craig was many things in his life: a husband, a father, a father-in-law, a grandfather, a pastor, a friend, a teacher, a mentor to many, a leader, and quite the knucklehead. In the past 7 years, I've been out to Colorado several times to attend the Boot Camp events. I only had the privilege of meeting and speaking to Craig once, back in 2009. I remember thanking him for his spirit of laughter and humor that he would bring to his teachings, the podcasts he often did with John Eldredge and others at Wild at Heart, and the live sessions at the Boot Camp. What I really wanted to tell him was, "Yeah, man, me too - I got that part of me that uses humor to deflect intimacy and I see it in you 'cause I got it in me." I came to learn that he knew - and God revealed to him as well - how that part of his relational style at times made it difficult for people to love him...not because he was unlovable but that it kept a distance between his heart and the hearts of others. And yet God used that beautiful heart and the humor in its wellsprings to draw me into Craig's story...and a deeply wounded part of my own.

So, I name it: Craig McConnell was a man among menAnd I wanted to share just a few of the thoughts he passed along to me - through his teaching and mentorship - over the past 7 years:

From Wild at Heart Boot Camp (2009):

The whole design of The Poser is to keep me from being exposed (Adam and the "fig leaf")...

A boy needs to be loved by his father and to have an answer for The Question ("Do I have what it takes?")...he needs the validation of the father...

My story has been shaped by how my father handled my heart (the story of my Wound)...

Behind every posing man is a wounded boy...

God is saying, "Where are you, John?" so He can come in to heal all my wounds...

From Wild at Heart Advanced Boot Camp (2010):

The Poser gets in the way of my integrity in Christ...

Repentance & Healing - both are needed to move away from The Poser; I don't have a choice...

Assumption: My sin is much deeper than my behavior. What's the motive? Do I settle for the "superficial" in me?...

Assumption: The life I most deeply desire is only found in Christ! Do I settle for the "counterfeit" in me?...

Assumption: There is a mystery that is part of the life I long to live with God and it requires engagement. Do I settle for the "giving up" in me?...

Assumption: Loving others is the true test of my spirituality! Do I settle for "liking" others in my life?...

The greatest task I have in life is to love God, myself, and others wholeheartedly...

My Poser contains my personality - it's a well-constructed approach to living that reflects my holiness AND sin...and I am not honest in looking at it...

What's my relational style? Do I move towards others? Move away from others? Move against others? Is my style of relating coming from The Poser or Christ?...

Repentance is knowing this isn't the life I want...repentance is present tense...

Do I have a picture of the life I want to live?

Question: God, why do I need to "sell" others on who I am instead of being filled with the love and acceptance You have of me?...

From Wild at Heart Advanced Boot Camp (2014):

The primary work of God walking with us is for us to love others...

A loving relational style is the only true indicator of how we love God...

All of my spiritual gifts, calling, etc. without love are nothing...

There are not outs with love...

Sin manifests itself most frequently and deeply within our personalities...

Have I consecrated my personality to God?...

Behind every man's personality and his relational style is his story...

God wants to change our relational style - that means He is after changing our personality!

As I think about the wisdom and the love of God that Craig shared with so many men across the world, I am both humbled and encouraged that our paths and stories intersected in the ways they did. You can find all of his blog posts and podcasts at Wild at Heart...I know I will be mining them for the riches they contain. 

And I look forward to seeing Craig around the campfires of the coming Kingdom...someday but not yet!!

In loving memory and fierce gratitude...

McConnell!!

McConnell!!

McConnell!!

Strength & Honor...

John Fontaine

August 2, 2016