Shia LaBeouf: A Story of Masculine Initiation

I am very new to this being a man thing, and I’m still not there, and I’m on a path. I grew up in a culture that told me going to war made you a man. Going to prison. Getting locked up. Coming back from that makes you a man. Making a million dollars makes you a man, and it doesn’t. And you don’t know it until you done all these things and realize,
“Damn, I’m still a little f*cking boy.” I don’t know nothing about being at war like some other guys, but I know a bunch of soldiers that come back and are still f*cking little boys. Can’t wait to get back out. I know so many dudes can’t wait to get back out. Guys that we know, warriors, but even warriors, that don’t make you a man.
– Shia LaBeouf

He came to the end of his rope. Or, in his own words, to the point where there was no more wiggle. No way to save his own reputation. No way out but to exit completely. He came to the moment when it was just him  and a pistol. And then a crack. The darkness was so dark that the light that finally came through, though ever so small, was blinding.

And so it begins.

You might know Shia LaBeouf from his role in Fury. He was, after all, the man who brought the prophet Isaiah’s exclamation (recorded in chapter six of his scroll) to life in a way that pierces our masculine souls:  

Then I heard the Lord asking, 

“Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”

I said, 

“Here I am. Send me.”

You may remember the scene: five American soldiers in a tank, whose hands held the future of the free world. 

Who knows how Shia’s role in that film became the seed that, in the aftermath of failure and agony, germinated one of the most inspiring stories of masculine initiation I have heard?

Brothers, in this particular hour, it’s the supreme, beautiful, demanding burden to find ourselves walking the ancient road that leads to Life. And so we must consent to Heaven’s initiation by practicing the essential way of surrender and dependence on the God of Heaven and Earth, God acting for us, in us, and through us. 

Every abandonment. 
Every failure. 
Every betrayal. 
Every crisis.

Our God appropriates all of our pain and confusion as perpetual doorways through which we can and must pass, again and again and again. Reliable doorways that the wise ones promise will bring our hearts back to God. God rescues us in our pain through our pain, inviting us to a regular practice of surrender.

A regular practice of dependency on God acting on our behalf. 

A regular practice of letting go. 

A regular practice of forgiveness. 

A regular practice of carrying our cross daily, following Jesus, and dying to all but God our Father. 

Shia’s life and story daringly entice us to embrace this path in our masculine initiation. 

  Let me start with a disclaimer: If dropping the F-bomb were an Olympic sport, our friend Shia would have more gold medals than Michael Phelps. If raw and uncensored language is a stumbling block for you, this blog post is not advisable. But if you’re willing and able to look through the language and approach this provocative interview between Jon Bernthal (also in the cast of Fury) and Shia LaBeouf, I’m confident it will be an onramp to essential pieces and processes in the recovery and initiation of your masculine soul.

This two-hour interview affected me so powerfully that I wanted to take the next step and invite other like-hearted men into the process. The Become Good Soil Alumni shared two online gatherings in which we dove into parts of the interview and allowed God to use Shia’s story to access unfinished places within ours.

For your own masculine soul or, even better, with a group of like-hearted allies, this is an invitation to immerse yourself deeply in this interview with Shia LaBeouf and Jon Bernthal. 

I put together a seven-page reflection exercise designed as a companion guide to the interview. 

Here’s the invitation: Set aside an extended block of time to listen to the two-hour interview in its entirety. Invite the Father to shepherd your soul through the reflection exercise, and notice what gold comes to the surface. 

Once you’ve experienced this personally, the next step is to invite others in. Maybe your band of brothers. Maybe as a follow-up way to gather online with men you led in a Becoming a King Retreat or a Wild at Heart BASIC. Maybe you take a risk and just put it out there as an invitation to men in your sphere of influence and see what thirsty ones respond.

I’ve taken the interview and curated a 22-minute version. This isn’t an invitation to a shortcut—it’s an appetizer, for you and the men you want to fight for. The 22-minute version is an excellent pass-along to see who’s thirsty and who’s ready to risk going all in. Send the Shia short interview to men in your care and then the ones who want to go deeper, you can point them to the reflection exercise and invite them into some raw and honest miles of masculine initiation few men choose to tread together. I dug deep into this content with many BGS alumni, and it continues to fuel our excavation and initiation.

Maybe C. S. Lewis and Shia LaBeouf have more in common than most would have believed. In the end, it seems that both came to the deep conviction that “the longest way around is the shortest way home.” 

For the Kingdom,

Here are the links you’ll need:

Shia LaBeouf and Jon Bernthal interview – 22-minute short

Shia LaBeouf interview BGS reflection exercise

Shia LaBeouf and Jon Bernthal interview – full length

Full transcript of the interview (Note: I found it immensely helpful to watch the full video interview and read the full transcript; they provide very different means to allow different dimensions of the content to penetrate my soul.)