photos and stories from a men’s retreat at Smith Mountain Lake

Since my youth, God, you have taught me,
    and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
Even when I am old and gray,
    do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
    your mighty acts to all who are to come. – Psalm 71:17-18

1-IMG_E1194I’m starting this week already tired. But in a good way. Or maybe a better word is “spent.” I just returned from a Friday-through-Sunday men’s retreat at Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia. I had the privilege of speaking and facilitating and it was a good experience all around.

It was especially beneficial to disconnect from the day-to-day news cycle featuring political gamesmanship, lies, half-truths, manipulation, power-plays, and unsavory rancor. I didn’t see it, I didn’t hear it, I didn’t read it, and we didn’t talk about it. Instead, we all encouraged each other in our ongoing journey as men committed to being leaders and change agents in a culture where Christian manhood is misunderstood, misrepresented, and – in my view – seldom practiced in a way that shares much of the light of Christ with a world hungry for a good word from his followers.

Change Agents:


We were clear from the beginning that the weekend at Smith Mountain Lake was not intended to be a retreat where all we did was get closer to God, sing kumbaya, and feel good about ourselves as spiritual beings. Obviously, our personal faith walk is always important, but this time the focus was on recognizing that a huge part of being a disciple is the exercise of leadership. Simply put, we are called to lead other men to live into a better story.

the focus was on recognizing that a huge part of being a disciple is the exercise of leadership. Simply put, we are called to lead other men to live into a better story.

For me, the weekend was a guided conversation designed to remind each man there that the beautiful privilege of living in the light comes also with the responsibility to follow Jesus in such a way that other men are invited into the story.

1-IMG_E1186There is not a man among us who does not know at least a handful of people who are standing on the edge of the crowd wondering about this Jesus, or who are maybe already walking away, or who have long since lost interest.

Wherever you find yourself in this journey along the road less often traveled by, there is always someone who would benefit from your encouragement, your care, or your invitation to walk with them along The Way. I’ve written this before, but it bears repeating: “Christianity at its best is a team sport”. We were created for community. It’s a challenging enough journey without insisting on doing it alone.

Out in the middle of Creation:

In addition to the men present, the setting itself was inspirational. Smith Mountain Lake provides a rich backdrop of beauty and serenity, and I found myself drawn to the lakeside on several occasions.

I have a story about that, but I’ll save it for tomorrow’s post. In the meanwhile, enjoy these images and think about your journey along The Way of Jesus – DEREK






  1. It was great to be with you again at a retreat for men. Too often we attempt to do it all on our own instead of gathering with another fellow Christian to share our story or burdens. I appreciate the sharing of the other men who were at the retreat for it was educational and inspiring.


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