“He’s 6. He loves games. How do you describe a kid?” Shawn Cramer smiles and laughs softly, thinking about his son, Jace.
“He’s really sweet and tender. He’s kind – not as loud as I make him seem,” he beams. “He’s just a great, thoughtful boy.”
Jace Cramer – light blonde hair combed sideways like his dad’s and a huge smile full of baby teeth – has been Shawn’s inspiration for his “Man Trainings” project since its conception 4 years ago. The project consists primarily of photos with Shawn’s words of wisdom – most of which are somewhat chuckle-worthy – addressed to his 6-year-old son.
What started as a random Facebook post is now a project with more than 600 entries and 3,614 followers. The “trainings” range from sentimental (Man Training #586 displays the boy, short one tooth, along with the caption: “Son, according to hockey players, today you have become a man”) to hilarious (Man Training #609 has Jace “roaring” at a taxidermied bear, and says: “Son, with black bears, make yourself as big as possible ... Or is that with grizzly bears.... No, it's black bears.... Wait...... It's Urghurgrrrrugh.... – Indecision and passivity seek to kill many a man. Beware”). But all convey the clear message of Shawn’s delight in Jace.
Shawn is a missional team leader for Cru’s Denver college campuses. He credits his project’s popularity not to his creativity or wit, but to the fact that it addresses “perhaps the strongest desire of our hearts – to be known and loved. To just be us and with someone.”
“It does stem from our relationship with God,” Shawn says. “I always saw my relationship with God as Master/servant. But God used Jace to reprioritize my life.”
“Conceptually, I knew that no matter what I did, God’s love for me wouldn’t change,” he says. “But now … I don’t want Jace to wake up to perform for me. I just want to enjoy time with him.”
Shawn also wants audiences to look at “Man Trainings” and see that God, our Father, wants to spend time teaching, delighting in, and experiencing life with us.
Here are some of Shawn’s favorites from his over 600 “Man Trainings”:
Friend Shawn Cramer on Facebook to follow the project.
- Man Training #36: Son, the essence of manhood has nothing to do with hunting and football, but everything to do with using your power for the powerless, your voice for the voiceless, and your hope for the hopeless.
- Man Training #72: Son, I will always be there to catch you. But one day you will have to catch me, or at least put me in a nursing home that doesn't smell like old people.
- Man Training #84: Son, every man is king of his own castle.
- Man Training #142: Son, the "just because flower" is the most potent of all. Use it wisely.
- Man Training #163: Son, nothing like camping in the wilderness, hundreds of inches from any modern technology and conveniences.
- Man Training #191: Son, there is a line that precedes every injury for men, and it's this: “Hey, watch this!”
- Man Training #247: Son, it's impossible to overestimate the number of sacrifices your mom has made to ensure that you become the lil' man you were created to be.
- Man Training #225: Son, being a protector is a large portion of what it means to be a man. Protecting those close to you, those who can't protect themselves, and the ideals for which you stand.
- Man Training #89: Son, close doesn't always count.
- Man Training #308: Son, what goes up.... is harder to get up now that you've gained some serious man thickness in the past year.
- Man Training #143: Son, there three steps in taking a handoff: 1 – inside elbow up, 2 – clamp down on the ball to cover the tips, 3 – apply face of determination.
- Man Training #62: Son, show me a man “too manly” to help with the dishes and I'll show you someone that doesn't know that men were created to serve, not be served.
- Man Training #51: Son, we were made for adventure.
- Man Training #1: Son, you are a large reason why I am the luckiest man on the face of the earth.