Spotlight Series: Garret Barbush

Hello everybody!

A few months ago I began feeling a real desire to begin interviewing other artists, creatives, business owners, etc, and feature some of their stories. My ultimate hope is to get away from comparison and unhealthy competition and help foster conversation. In high school I really took a liking to journalism and I have always wanted to interview people. I never would have imagined it would be happening as a self-employed business owner. I really want people to glean as much as they can from my business in hopes that they will be encouraged to pursue the things The Lord has called them to.

The second part of this series features Garret Barbush. I first met Garret at Victory Church a number of years ago. His wedding was actually the third I filmed, really before my business could be considered a business. It has been a joy watching him follow The Lord through the years. This interview covers a lot of ground; his passion for growing men, some of the trials he has gone through, and ultimately His relationship with Jesus through it all. I hope you enjoy.

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I can remember it’s always been a part of who I am.. And I don’t say this in a boasting way because it’s just funny to me looking back, being in first and second grade and being the leader on the playground. Being that kid that’s picking the teams, and I was kind of bossy, but I looked at that and saw that was being a form of a leader at that age and just not knowing how to do it the right way.

I think the playground led to how I led in my athletics as a kid, and I think that gave me a passion to step up into leadership positions like student council.. I can remember auditioning to speak at my high school graduation. Things like that, they were building blocks for me in leadership.

I think it’s probably part of the environment that I grew up in, being the youngest sibling.. Always looking up to my older siblings, my sister and two older brothers.. I was always 7 years old going on 15. I was always trying to do the things that they were doing.

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Yeah, so this is something that not a lot of people know about.. I was molested at a young age by a family friend basically. I was about 7 or 8 years old and it happened for about a year or two.. He was probably 15 or 16 years old.. I never told anyone about that until I was 21 years old.

You do the math and that’s 14 years of growing up, holding that in, and not telling anybody.. I was really stripped and robbed of my childhood. Every bit of innocence that I had as a 7 or 8 year old was completely just taken from me. When you’re that age you don’t know how to process that. You don’t know what just happened. I can remember the details of what was done to me, and I can remember the feeling of guilt and shame, like immediately, even though it wasn’t my fault. There was a door that was always closed, and there was always whispering that was taking place. You just felt this secrecy. I remember feeling, “I can’t tell anyone about this because then they’ll think I’m a bad person.” There would be multiple times a month for 14 years where I would think about this.

I don’t remember a lot of my childhood. I was trying to constantly move forward as a child, you didn’t want to think about the day before; it was jacked up. I never really understood how people could block things out, but now I get it.

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A lot of guilt and shame. I felt like it was me, I was the dirty person.. A lot of people might not understand “Why did you feel that way, it wasn’t your fault?” You never want to experience it but you have to be in that experience to understand, like I should have known better.

The molestation was with a male. So a lot of people thought that would jack up my relationships with other males but that wasn’t necessarily the case. Where it did have an effect was my experience in relationships with females.. Middle school, high school, I had to have a girlfriend. But when I was in those relationships it became an excessive thing. When I was coming of age into a relationship where it could have really worked out, it just never worked out.. I really think the molestation gave me a warped view on healthy relationships.

Part of the molestation was that I was shown pornography at 7 or 8 years old. I didn’t know what to do with any of this stuff, man. That was a struggle for most of my life and if I don’t have the parameters in place that could very well sneak in now.

There were two Garret Barbush’s- the happy, go-lucky, outgoing.. and there was definitely Garret who felt guilt and shame. It becomes part of your identity. I can remember even as a kid praying for forgiveness every day. I felt like I was this terrible person and I never had a great view with myself.

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God has protected me even though a lot of this stuff took place. Every day I thank God. My mom told me this when I was older but she’s always prayed more specifically for me that God would give me favor and that He would bless me abundantly. Even though that terrible situation took place, I look back over that time frame and see how God’s hand was on my life. It’s a really cool picture to me.

One of the areas where I feel God has always blessed me in is the area of male relationships. One of the first people that comes to mind is my dad. My dad is.. [starts to choke up].. He’s just a blue collar, hard working guy. When I think of him, when I think of his life, I look at a guy where the only word I can say is “sacrifice..” Through the years my dad has been the guy to teach me how to be a man and provide for your family. We were never rich, we never had the greatest things in the world, but he just did enough to provide for the family.

My two brothers, my brother-in-law growing up as well.. What I’ve learned from them is the significance of setting goals and working hard to accomplish them. I can remember seeing my brothers work hard and succeed at wrestling and that drove me as a young kid. Even encouragement from my sister Heather, she was always like a second mother to me, the way that she served me even as a kid.

As far as other male role models you have Pastor Curt who was a huge, huge piece of me growing up. He was my youth pastor and then mentor through Men of Iron.

Another significant one was a professor in college, and pastor out at Malone, Doc Johnson. He was one of the first guys who was super intentional about saying “You need to take care of a woman, you need to provide, this is how you become a man, and this is what you need to do that.” Just brutal honesty and it really inspired me. Even though I wasn’t living my life the way it should have been there was something about him that really attracted him to me as a mentor, it was probably the Holy Spirit.

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One of the things that my brother Troy just recently shared with me is that they were always concerned that I would feel like I had to live up to what my brothers accomplished. I watched my brother Justin as a State Place Finisher in high school in wrestling and then he went on to be a two-time All-American in college.. I watched my brother Troy win a State Championship, and then he went on to college to be a four time All-American, and I watched him win a National Championship as well. This was all when I was just learning how to wrestle.

It drove me to work hard, and I think that was good because I wanted to work hard, and be a State Champion, and do all these things, so I set goals and did everything that I could to accomplish that.. and there’s nothing wrong with that, but the unhealthy part for me was that that became my identity. I HAD to win a State Championship, I HAVE to be a State Place Finisher, or I HAVE to go be an All-American.. My family never put those expectations on me. They would have loved me whether I was wrestling or an artist.

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I can remember that I never accomplished the goals that I wanted to in wrestling. I got to the State Tournament twice but I never did what I wanted to do. So when time came for college and I had to make this decision.. Am I going to wrestle or play golf, golf was something that was mine that my brothers never did. So I remember making that decision based on “I’m going to go pave my own way.” That was very hard.. It soon turned very unhealthy. I got there and was like “Okay, I’m going to go do something my family’s never done, I’m going to be an All-American golfer, I’m going to show that I’m right there with them.” So for four years I worked and worked and worked at trying to be the best golfer I could be, and I failed miserably at that in college and I never accomplished my goals that I had set out to do. I played a pretty successful program in college but there was a HUGE piece of me, and I say this very honestly and vulnerably, but there was a huge piece of me that left college and was really empty when I graduated. I felt like I didn’t live up to what I thought I could do.

That was rough on me for the first year or two. I was hanging on to unmet goals. The point I’m trying to make is that my goals, and the things that were driving me to be successful, that became the reward. So when I didn’t get that, that goal, that medal, that recognition, it was immediate failure that I felt. And again, there comes that guilt, and that shame, and that not living up to “this.” It was a vicious cycle.

I even struggle with that today with starting at Men of Iron. I knew there was a calling on my life and that God had a calling on my life but there was a very similar experience with wrestling and golf; I came over and was like.. I just left a very successful career and so I’m going to prove to them that this is going to work, that I have what it takes to lead this organization, that I have what it takes to build this ministry.. So unhealthy, because really it’s God’s thing to do with as He pleases and I’m just the instrument.. but that is something that I still struggle with; a drive to build an organization, and build leaders, and helping churches.. I put it all on my shoulders, and it shouldn’t be a part of my identity, it really shouldn’t be.

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I was pretty settled in at that point. I was working in agricultural lending. I had a great company I was working for, had a really good relationship with my boss.. It was just a perfect situation for being in your mid-twenties.

I’m in there and.. at the time I was reading through a book called “In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day,” I had just gotten married, and I felt like God was doing something through me. That book is about seeing opportunities that God puts in our lives.. I can remember being on my honeymoon, on the beach reading this book, and crying.. becoming emotional, because it felt like God was saying “Prepare yourself, I’m going to put a lion in front of you and I want you to chase it.” And I can remember saying “Okay, God, if you want to pull me away from this career that I’ve got then that’s fine but you have to put that lion right in front of me, and it’s got to be a BIG lion..”

It was an evening in October, 2011 when the founder of Men of Iron called and made a visit to my house and said “I feel like God’s calling me to do something bigger with Men of Iron, to establish an organization and put it in more churches but we need the right guy to do that. I’ve talked with several people and they all think you’re a good candidate, I think you’re a good candidate.. I want you to leave your job, I want you to leave the comfort of what you’re doing, I think you’re called for this, Garret.”

He left and I looked at my wife and she just smiled.. “This is what we’ve been praying for, God put this right in front of you..” and I was like.. “What are you talking about?” I didn’t want to make that decision, but I knew right then and there that this is what I was supposed to go do.

There was that turmoil though in that transition time of “Am I making the right decision, I’m leaving a salary, I’m leaving benefits, I’m leaving a company car..” People are going to look at me like I’m crazy. But through that time period there was still this.. really unique peace.. There were only two times I’ve felt that peace; when I asked Eden to marry me, and when I knew that God was calling me to Men of Iron. It’s a peace that goes beyond all understanding- I believe it’s strictly from, I believe, the ultimate peace that we are going to feel when we are sitting at the feet of Jesus. Even though there was this turmoil there was just peace.

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Men of Iron is a mentoring ministry. It was developed in 2006 and ran out of one church for a couple of years. We are now a 501C3, we are 100% donor funded. We give our entire ministry model to churches for free, we provide accountability and consultation to the churches that we choose to partner with, we provide training for mentors and proteges, and then we provide all the resources for the curriculum.

We work with a church; they provide their own mentors and proteges, we train those guys, and then we work with the churches throughout the year in developing and maintaining the ministry.. It’s now taken a new turn where we are more regionally focused. Instead of going into one church and doing the training at one church, we find churches in one region. Tomorrow we are going to be in Lancaster with 6 different churches, 170 different men getting trained.

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Our vision, big broad picture, is to change a culture; one man, one family, one church at a time. That’s the reason we exist. We feel like there’s obviously issues in our culture.. whether you’re a Christian or not, I don’t think you can debate that. All you have to do is turn the news on.. There’s murder’s, there’s men failing.. We have professional athletes cheating, politicians sexting.. We feel like if men in the church can get it right then hopefully we can start to make an impact in the culture, but you’ve got to get it right in the church first.

There’s an issue with men in the church. Probably the biggest issue with men in the church is that there’s no intentionality in their lives with how they’re leading their marriages, with raising their kids, with building and developing yourself.. We’re trying to make an impact by putting two men together, a mentor and a protege, and we feel that personal growth happens best through a mentoring relationship.

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We are currently in 15 churches in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Florida, Kansas, Arizona, and Tennessee.. by the end of the year the goal is to be in 25 church partners. At the end of 2014 we had touched about 1,000 men since it’s inception at Victory Church in 2006. In 2015 the active men involved in the ministry should probably be about 600 men between both mentors and proteges.

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I’ve been through the ministry three times as a protege. The first time was with Glen Eberly. If you asked Glen what kind of impact he had on my life he would probably say “I’m not really quite sure,” because I wasn’t really all in. I was just out of college, but I told him about the molestation, and I can remember him looking at me across the table and saying “Garret, listen I can’t help you. I can not help you. You need to go get some counseling for this..” And he was saying “I’ll be there for you, and through this with you, but I can’t help you.” That was a huge piece at the foundation for me at chiseling away at my heart. That inspired me to go and get some counseling. I think I dragged my feet for a while.

When my mentor was Pastor Curt I can remember telling him.. that I was feeling called to ministry and didn’t really know what that looked like.. He just sat there, processing everything, and saying “Okay.. well how do you feel about preaching next month to the congregation?” I had no training, no background in sermon prep.. but I think it’s a pretty powerful picture of what a true mentor is. Pastor Curt saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself, and then he promoted me into leadership. He gave me full access to use that gift. He took a huge risk on me. But it was a really, really beautiful picture.

Right now I’m going through as a protege again with Troy Weaver and I think the biggest thing that Troy has taught me is to slow down. He’s really brought a very unique perspective on God’s Word that I’ve never really had before. We’ve started looking at the book of Genesis and seeing how the Messiah is clearly painted.. I’ve never really read Scripture that way before; and now that I am I’m seeing consistency in God’s character through all of Scripture, and I think it makes God a lot bigger, it makes God a lot stronger to me, it makes Him that much more awesome.

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Currently I’m being tested in my faith in regards to my wife leaving her full time job and being a full time mom. We know that God has made this very clear to us that this is what we are supposed to do.. but when you’re a stay-at-home-mom you lose your salary, you lose your benefits, you don’t have that anymore. But when God makes it very clear to us then you’re supposed to go do it..

Now that we’re in that phase where we’re not having that income and the bills are coming in still, the debt is still there.. I really have a hard time some days where I’m like, “God.. really? Really?” I don’t want to make it all about financial stuff but that’s just currently where I’m at and being tested in my faith. Having the peace and having the faith that everything’s going to be okay.

I even struggle with my faith sometimes when things aren’t going well with Men of Iron. I get frustrated and I allow it to effect my mood, my energy, and everything about me.. rather than being like “This is God’s! This is God’s ministry, this is God’s organization.. you just do everything you can to the best of your ability, Garret, and whether or not it all works out.. it’s all going to be good.”

And so when I wrestle with my faith like that I tend to get in my way. I tend to take control. Just recently I’ve made a decision to supplement some income by being an assistant wrestling coach next year.. I look at that, and if I’m really honest, I go “Did I really take time to pray about that?” I’m a man, I want to fix it rather than saying “God’s called us to do this so isn’t He going to take care of this? Won’t He take care of us?”

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The only way that I know how to rest in that call is discipline. What I mean is I’m not saying a checklist of items like “Don’t look at porn, be a good husband..”.. but what I’m saying is discipline in my quiet time. One of the things that I’m learning right now from a book is that the foundation to discipleship is your relationship with God, plain and simple.

A lot of us have all these issues that we want to fix, but you can’t fix it if your relationship with God isn’t there and isn’t healthy. The way that He describes a relationship with God is time in The Word, and time in prayer. Those are the two things right now that I’ve learned that when I’m resting in my call, more than likely those two things are pretty evident in my life every day.. Making time for my quiet time, to sit with no distractions, to read God’s word, and to take time to pray.. and understand that as a man life is a war. Satan is out like a lion trying to devour us.. Think about the word “devour.” He’s trying to rip our heads off.

.. If I want that time to be strong, if I want to hear from God, if I want Him to trust me with things then I’ve got to be spending time with Him! I’ve got to be willing to hear Him! Resting in that call is all about discipline and being with Him.

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Eden is just very steady.. I can tend to let my emotions control how I feel or how I react or how I view things. She just helps me keep things in perspective sometime..

This past year I was feeling super overwhelmed with Men of Iron and felt like we weren’t making headway as an organization.. You have this idea in your mind of where you want things to be, and it doesn’t turn out that way, and it’s very frustrating.. and so she took the time to create a timeline from the very beginning of my time with Men of Iron to that present time and she created all of the small blessings that God had provided through that time frame.. That was pretty powerful for me, because I realized that when you’re working at something, when you’re so focused on something, it’s a dangerous place to be because you miss the small blessings along the way. That’s one thing she really helps me with; taking me back to see all the things God has provided, and the way He’s providing.. she helps me be strengthened in my faith.

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For them to get the best of me.. sometimes I just stay at home some mornings and go into the office late. What I was doing is I was going int owork early, coming home late, Eden’s fried, the baby’s ready to go to bed.. no-one is getting the best of each other. So there are mornings where I choose to slow things down a little bit. Wednesday mornings right now are blocked out where we go out to breakfast together with the baby and slow things down a bit.

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Our instagram and twitter ID is @Men_Of_Iron

Our hashtag this year we are using is #Multiply2015 with multiplying our ministry, our partners, our resources, as well as multiplying our personnel within the staff.

Our Facebook page, our website, you can get a newsletter that goes out, and you can come hang out with us at the office.

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One thought on “Spotlight Series: Garret Barbush

  1. So very brave to talk about sexual abuse. We need more men and women like you who can talk about it and bring awareness and healing to so many hurt souls who have been victimized. I was a victim myself, and it’s so important to be able to talk about it and experience God’s healing from it. God bless you.

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