View from the Edge

Posted on: 10/16/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Some of you might have caught the exclusive excerpt of my new book I posted on our parents site last week. The following is ANOTHER excerpt from the first chapter of my brand new book, The Bullying Breakthrough, releasing this month…  the first book where I finally tell my story…

Chapter 1: View from the Edge

“Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

We’ve all heard it. We all had teachers who reiterated it. “…word will never hurt me.”

Complete foolishness.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I probably don’t even need to give you thirteen reasons why.

Anyone who has been mocked or victimized will tell you nothing is more crushing or more demoralizing. Speaking completely candidly, I’d rather get beaten senseless than become the victim of public humiliation—and sadly, I’ve been there.

That’s the intriguing thing about bullying. I’ve read countless articles and studies, heard theories from known psychologists. I’ve attended assemblies and conferences about bullying. . . almost always by someone who hasn’t been bullied.

They don’t know.

They really don’t.

I grew up five minutes from the American River Parkway, a beautiful recreation area where the American River glides 120 miles from the Sierra Nevada Mountains down to the Sacramento River. One of the trails we took as kids would bring us to the edge of a cliff 120 feet high overlooking the north side of the river. Sacramento residents call it “The Bluffs.” A romantic lookout for many, but for me, a location where I would contemplate taking my own life.

When I was sixteen years old I stood at the edge of that cliff staring down at the rocks below.

I can’t tell you what was unique about this particular day. I honestly had experienced hundreds of days like this, especially years prior in middle school, being mocked, pushed around, and demoralized while my classmates looked on with laughter or passive approval.

I don’t blame them. You had only three choices: laugh, ignore, or say something. Those who spoke up would only be next. . .so everyone chose either laughter or silence. Literally everyone.

No one every spoke up.

I probably couldn’t have put words to what I was feeling standing on that ledge: loneliness, hurt. . .a longing for someone who understood? Most of the people in my life didn’t even know what went on at my school every day. It’s not their fault; I never really shared the experiences. If I did, I most likely wouldn’t have even used the word bullying, because in my mind bullying was a big kid cornering a little kid and stealing his lunch money. My aggressors weren’t big kids. They weren’t even all male. My aggressors came in all shapes and sizes. But what I was experiencing was actually textbook bullying.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines bullying as“any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated.”

“Perceived power imbalance”—a good word choice. Kids don’t have a positive concept of “self,” so they try to make themselves feel better by hurling verbal onslaughts at others. That’s an accurate description of what my peers did to me each day. I was an easy target, so I became a stepping-stone others used to raise themselves up so they could feel more powerful.

“Repeated multiple times”—also accurate. For me it was daily in middle school, at least weekly in high school. Certain environments seemed to foster it more than others, none more so than PE class.

That particular day began with gym class, physical education, or PE as our school called it. PE is a cruel requirement for nonathletes, something the physically fit will never understand. PE is where the weak get intimidated by the strong. PE is where small boys get hung by their underwear or slapped in the back of the legs while bystanders laugh hysterically.

That morning in PE a popular kid had said something cruel. I don’t remember the exact exchange, but knowing me, I probably retaliated with a quick verbal jab. I had developed a quick wit over the years. I had plenty of experience defending myself.

But this kid wasn’t going to tolerate any banter. He hit me hard in the jaw. I can still hear the cackles from the crowd and feel the stares of those who quickly circled around. Funny, I don’t recall the physical pain of the hit.

More words were exchanged. I had two choices: fight or back down. I chose back down.

Social suicide.

Names were called—cruel names that are difficult even to put into print.

“Pu**y!”

“Fag!”

I was neither, but it didn’t matter.

Threats were made. “You’d better watch your back!”

He meant it. And he was right. This altercation had triggered a social seismic shift, and there were aftershocks. You see, once someone is publicly humiliated, the victim bears an invisible Kick Me sign on his back.For the rest of the day I endured shoves, jeers, and cruel whispers from kids I had never even met. Other kids with low self-esteem jumped on the opportunity to step up a notch on the social ladder by lowering someone else a rung.

I don’t know why this particular day pushed me over the tipping point, since I had experienced many other days like it. Regardless, six hours after the original jab, I stood at the edge of the cliff looking down at the rocks.

Should I jump?

I wanted to jump. I really wanted to, honestly, for selfish reasons.

I’ll show them.

They’ll regret everything they ever said!


Author Josh McDowell calls The Bullying Breakthrough “Jonathan’s most vulnerable and insightful book yet! An eye-opening peek into the world of bullying today and what we can actually do to prevent it.”

Social researcher Shaunti Feldhahn claims this is “Jonathan’s most important book so far,” describing it as “an essential guide to preventing and stopping bullying behaviors.”

The Bullying Breakthrough is available for PRE-ORDER on Amazon right now and will be releasing this month! Order your copy now!

Would you like to screen my newest book to teen guys?

Posted on: 10/8/18 1:32 PM | by Jonathan McKee

In the next few weeks I’m wrapping up my first draft of my next book, The Guy’s Guide to Four Battles Every Young Man Must Fight.

Would you like to read/screen it next week? Whoever does will get a free copy of the book on its release next year.

I only ask one thing– that you read it within a week. Interested? Keep reading.

I’m writing this book because of such a positive response to the first Guy’s Guide book I wrote: The Guy’s Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. This book has been an Amazon best seller for two years now and seems to resonate with young men. I love reading the reviews because most of them are written by parents who are surprised that their kid actually enjoyed reading a book!  🙂

The new book will also address young men, but this time specifically about four areas guys struggle today: sex, substances, screens, and self image.

I’d love your feedback!

I’m finishing up most of it this week and could email it to you by this Friday. Then I simply ask that you send me your feedback by the next Friday.

If you’re interested, please hit reply to this post!

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Yeah… we’re just giving these away

Posted on: 10/1/18 4:40 PM | by Jonathan McKee

I’ve got a bunch of good stuff to give away this month—including this pair of Oakley’s (leftover from our running/biking fund raiser), and four signed copies of my upcoming book, The Bullying Breakthrough—so let’s have a little contest!

This contest is especially for youth workers. So if you serve with young people in any way, follow the three steps below and I’ll draw 5 winners out of a hat at the end of the month.

Most of you saw we launched our newly revamped TheSource4YM.com website last week. Well, we’re working out the kinks and we’d like your feedback. So we decided to offer the simplest contest in the world. It’s easy: just try out one of our resources, then send me a sentence or two of feedback. Your feedback automatically enters you to win.

Here’s the details—follow these three steps:

 1. Jump on TheSource4YM.com and click around the new site

2. Choose a page you’d like to try out. DON’T just tell me, “I love your games page. We use it all the time.” Actually take a few seconds and give it a test drive. Here’s some ways you can help us evaluate one of these:

For example, if you like the Games & Icebreakers page with over 1,000 free game ideas, then click the CUSTOM GAME SEARCH button and try a search for your unique setting. Maybe you choose a game for 1-20 kidswith no prep timewhere all playand it only takes one or two quick props(you don’t have to select every criteria—the less you select, the broader the search). Hit SEARCH. How did the search turn out? Which game is a perfect fit? Or, if the search didn’t seem to match your criteria… be specific… which game didn’t match up? (We have our game guys going through ALL 1,000 games right now tweaking this to perfection. So we value your feedback!)

Or maybe you like the Music Discussions page with literally hundreds of songs ready to discuss “ready made” for you with scripture and small group questions. Try a song. How was the transition statement and/or wrap up? How relevant were the small group questions? Which was one music discussion that really looked good to you? Did you encounter anything you didn’t like?

Or maybe you liked the Free Training Videos page, which has exactly what the name implies—completely free youth ministry training videos helping you with anything from game leading to skit leading, evangelism, connecting with kids, leading small groups, etc. Did the video provide you with good ideas? Which one did you especially like? Any training you didn’t see that you would like to see?

3.  Simply comment in this blog post OR hit me with a reply to this post and tell me three things: your name, your city, and your feedback.

Anyone who can follow those instructions is automatically entered into the contest. I’ll be drawing the names on the last day of October! So take your time this month and give these resources a try!

Thanks everyone!