Men on a Mission: Cap Gun Cowboy

By Jeff Wittmer

by Danielle Dolin

One of my favorite holiday movies, The Christmas Story, contains a line that reminds me of my mother and the cowboy years of my childhood. John Eldredge identified that the adolescent years in a boy’s life is when his core question must be answered: “Do I have what it takes?” Unless a man receives that answer deep in his soul, he’ll go through life feeling like a poser when he’s tested.

All young Ralphie wanted for Christmas was a Red Ryder BB gun so he could prove his courage. His mother, of course, rejected his desire with the warning, “No Ralphie, You’ll shoot your eye out!” Ironically, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, he did indeed shoot himself in the eye.

By the time I came along as the fourth-born son, the grace for children’s training had long since expired for my parents. Between my mother’s cautionary tales of self-inflicted wounding’s and my father’s exasperation expressed in his persistent reminder of “You’ll never amount to anything,” I had severe doubts that I had what it took; I was left unfinished in my cowboy years.

Most of us men realize we’re not authentic “cowboys.” We’re more like Wade Bowen’s “cap gun cowboy kid hot on the trail when the sun came up. Chasin’ those crazy dreams in my head” . That familiar feeling surfaced recently as my mind wandered while on the running trail: I felt like a cap gun cowboy, all nose and little effect. I lacked confidence staring while staring down a looming challenge.

Let me ask you, men, have you ever felt like no one had faith in you? Ever felt like others looked down on you or thought your goals were pipe dreams? What if you can flip your disadvantages into advantages and use them to prove everyone wrong, not be left behind, and squeeze all the juice life offers?

A man needs to believe in himself. According to Eldredge, that belief is forged in his boyhood years when he learns he’s the apple of his father’s eye and genuinely valued.  When I feel like a cap gun cowboy triggered by insecurity, I’ve learned to look to my heavenly Father to give me what my earthly dad could no longer provide: resounding affirmation.

The aging spiritual father, the Apostle Paul, knew there must be a profound inner witness that we are true sons. The Holy Spirit makes God’s fatherhood real to us as he whispers into our innermost being “You are God’s beloved child!”  Romans 8:16 TPT

I pray you hear that whisper for yourself. “You are my beloved son; you have what it takes!”

Jeff Wittmer is a Certified Life Coach, entrepreneur, and trainer of coaches and leaders. He founded Burning Bush Life Coaching and California Coaching Collaborative, which offers Certification Credentials for Life Coaches. In addition to coaching, Jeff has been a lead pastor, church planter, motivational speaker, and most recently, an instructor at Bethel School of Ministry in Redding, California, where he lives with his lovely wife, Sheri, and the rest of his crew. Jeff’s goal as a communicator is to awaken people to their God-given brilliance, raising their spiritual intelligence and empowering them to live a more abundant and vibrant life.

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