Steve Sabol has been married for 43 years, is a father, grandfather and great-grandfather, and is the pastor of River of Life Church in Lebanon.
For most of his life, he thought he had a good handle on things but couldn’t seem to shake a nagging feeling that something was incomplete.
When he enrolled in Men’s Fraternity, a Christian-based program that teaches how to become a better man, he learned something about himself.
“I learned I’m from a messed up background,” Sabol said. “What I thought I put behind me was with me every day.”
In 1962, his parents divorced when he was 12 years old.
“I was the only kid in my graduating class in high school who wasn’t living with both parents,” he said.
There was turmoil in
his life. His father, a World War II veteran, was absent and emotionally unavailable even before the divorce, and his mother was not particularly “nurturing.”"So, you either launch into a life from that starting point, doomed to repeat the cycle of dysfunction or overcompensate and say ‘I’ll never do that,’” Sabol said. “Well, I was the latter. I said, ‘I’m never going to be the dad my dad was.’ There’s emotional baggage that comes along with that stuff. If you don’t go back and take an honest look at it and find a way of resolving it, it affects your common day attitude and reaction to certain stimulus.”
Because the program changed his life, Sabol is now working with other team members to better the lives of other men through the
program, Knights of the 21st Century, which is entering its third year in Lebanon .”Resolving those issues and leaving them behind me has freed me up to be more comfortable in my skin and being present with people I am engaged with today,” Sabol said.
The Knights of the 21st Century will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11, above Legends Café, 9 S. Ninth St., Lebanon. Since the local chapter began three years ago, nearly 200 men have attended or graduated from the program.
The national, Christian-based program is a 24-week, men’s ministry and fellowship group aimed at self-reflection, relationship support and holding each other accountable. The program was born out of Men’s Fraternity, originally developed by Dr. Robert Lewis, which grew to become the Authentic Manhood movement.
“One thing at the very top of our list is to always protect the woman’s heart,” said Rob Koehler, a member of the Lebanon Knights lead team.
Sabol adds, “The wives of graduates are some of our most staunch advocates because they’re definitely seeing the potential results in their homes.”
Lead team member Darin Pickles adds that many men grew up in fatherless households or separated families in the past 20 years and lack a positive male role model.
“This program helps set up individuals to be mentors; to lead by example,” Pickles said.
The program, Sabol explained, tries to get men back on the right track after being derailed by three culturally significant events that fed into the “downward spiral the way America does manhood.”
The first, he says, is the industrial revolution. An average boy would spend time with his father on a farm or a family business. However, when factories opened and mass production was born, men would leave home for 10 to 12 hours a day.
“That was the physical separation from their sons,” Sabol said.
The second event was World War II, when a lot of veterans returned home with post-traumatic stress disorder that led to emotional detachment.
“When those guys became our fathers, they maintained that emotional distance from their environment,” Sabol said.
The third was the women’s liberation movement, but for different reasons, he said.
“It was a movement that absolutely needed to happen because there was so much inequality,” Sabol said. “They started out by saying that men and women are equal, and I say amen to that. But it continued to the point where they said men and women are the same, and they are not and they never will be.”
“That became the birth of the androgynous man,” Sabol said.
The men’s liberation movement was also born, claiming that men’s problems were awarded less attention than women’s, and inequalities in divorce issues and custody laws began to occur, according to the National Coalition for Men.
Couple these events with absentee fathers and media that exacerbate the issue, and it’s easy to see why there are troubled men, he said.
Lead team member Dave Dinunzio, whose son, Mike, is also a team member, said over time, society has “dumbed down men” and has glorified celebrities, movies, television shows and music that promote or represent a man negating responsibilities as a husband, father or good employee.
“People look at men that way and wonder why we see what we see in society,” Dave Dinunzio said.
email@example.com; 272-5611, ext. 139
Become a ‘Knight’
Knights of the 21st Century will launch its third year at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11, above Legends Café, 9 S. Ninth St., Lebanon.
Food and music will be available at 6 p.m. during a pre-launch party at the Lebanon parking lot at Ninth and Cumberland streets.
Registration fee for the 24-week program before Sept. 11 is $25. After Sept. 11, it’s $30. The cost includes the fee for the program book.
Register at the front desk of the YMCA, 201 N. Seventh St., Lebanon, or by phone at 273-2691.To find out more information, visit Lebanonknights.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.