Pathway of the Mankind Project (MKP) Elder – 2019
The Many Roles of an MKP Elder
This is an update to the original document published on the public MKP USA Elder website in 2014. Our hope is, through our collective wisdom, this will continue to be enhanced to represent what it means to be an MKP Elder today and into the future. MKP USA Council of Elders.
Pathway of the MKP Elder
With the addition of Community Elder, MKP now recognizes four distinct categories of an MKP Elder. These are:
- Declared Elder
- Community Elder
- Ritual Elder
1. The Elder
Being an Elder is a mixed blessing, especially for aging men who wonder what being an Elder really means. On one hand it signifies the passing of years…simply getting older. More importantly, it signifies a level of maturity, a greater sense of compassion, and the presence of accumulated wisdom. In this context, being recognized as an Elder within MKP is an honor.
Here’s what the dictionary says about maturity, compassion, and wisdom:
Maturity: An advanced stage of mental or emotional development characteristic of an adult.
Compassion: Sorrow for the sufferings or trouble of another or others, often accompanied by an urge to help.
Wisdom: Knowledge of what is true or right coupled with wise judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.
Elder-hood starts when a man begins to sense and accept his Elder energy…when connecting, giving back, and honoring others begin to resonate. This is where his Elder journey begins. He begins to learn how this energy fits into his life. He discovers what it is and how he may grow while being an Elder with his family, friends, community, and the world. It is a calling that subtly begins to show up and he is now beginning to answer the call.
We all begin accumulating wisdom at a very early age. No one, at any age, is without a certain level of maturity and wisdom. As we age we become more wise and make fewer unwise decisions and have a much greater sense of right and wrong supporting us in making better or wise decisions.
At the same time, we continue to learn. Denis Waitley* notes: “At the end of the day, if you’re not making mistakes, it probably means that you aren’t trying something new. If you’re not willing to try something new, then you’re not growing — and that’s the greatest mistake you can make in this life.”
As MKP Elders, every one of us carries that accumulation of experiences, mistakes, learning, and growth that result in maturity and wisdom. One is not wise because of declaring it. To varying degrees, we are all wise because of our years, and simply because most of us are predisposed to try to make wise (good) decisions. However, that does not preclude anyone from making mistakes. In essence, wisdom is the ability to draw upon experience, life’s lessons, and accumulated maturity to formulate the best possible decision to any given situation or action.
While without exception, every man carries maturity and wisdom. Because no two men have the same life experiences, or the same level of maturity and wisdom we are all still learning through our continued life experiences. Our experiences with MKP Elders, and interactions with others in our various communities, Elders or not, MKP or not. And, of course, we are all at different points on the experience/maturity/wisdom spectrum.
As a general guideline within MKP, the minimum age to be an Elder, a Declared Elder, or a Community Elder is 50. The minimum age for a Ritual Elder is 55. There is no magic in either age. Fifty simply signifies the time for most men to have experienced a good share of the ups and downs of life and to have gained a level of maturity and discernment. The added five years for a Ritual Elder provides the time to hone Elder skills and participate in and become fully grounded in MKPs flagship initiation process, the New Warrior Training Adventure [NWTA].
2. The Declared Elder – Process
MKP encourages men to declare their Elder status as a way of further taking responsibility and owning one’s gold. It’s putting a stake in the ground to own and grow into behaving with greater consciousness and discernment.
The Declared Elder: The Elder Declaration process is for a man to officially acknowledge and own his role as an MKP Elder. He is formally acknowledging his accumulated maturity and wisdom and also accepting the responsibility associated with owning the title of Declared Elder. It is a special blessing to formally declare one’s self to be an Elder while standing in a group of peers.
This declaration signifies a man’s personal acceptance of his Eldership. It also carries a responsibility to fully stand as an Elder, owning his gold and modeling as much maturity, compassion, and wisdom as he can muster.
A man’s declaration is acknowledged with a ritual ceremony which honors and blesses him on his journey as a Declared Elder.
2. The Declared Elder – Role & Responsibility
The role of a Declared Elder is to live with compassion and forgiveness…for ourselves as well as for others. It carries a commitment to show up fully as an Elder. It is a responsibility not to be taken lightly.
Within the MKP community, the mature and grounded Elder is an advocate for truth and compassion, while supporting other men on their journeys through the joys and challenges of life. He is there to listen. He is there to question. He is there to bless and encourage. He is there to see the gold. He is there to help men see the light, and, he is there to hold the light!
As a Declared Elder, the intention is you will own your own brilliance… your maturity and wisdom in ways that will build by “holding the light” and not dwelling on mistakes or tearing others down. Life is too short.
Declared Elders model key positive behaviors, including:
- Personal integrity, accountability, emotional maturity and intelligence, inclusivity, compassion, humility, gratitude, forgiveness, generosity, and love.
- Speaking one’s truth…i.e., speaking from the heart.
- Honoring one another’s views and perspectives.
- Not judging another for ethnicity, life-choices, religious beliefs, political affiliations.
- Recognizing and honoring the individual life challenges and joys we’ve all lived through.
Declared Elders listen behind the spoken or written word…asking questions for clarification. Consider the following when interacting with others, MKP or not…Be:
- a thought-provoker, asking questions, a catalyst for insight.
- a guide who sees others as healthy and whole.
- an advocate for potential, who encourages and empower others.
- a guide to understand values and priorities so men can choose balance in their lives.
- an objective mirror, giving feedback and observations for consideration
- a truth teller, respectfully addressing (questioning) for what may be missing.
- an occasional “devil’s advocate”, questioning for other perspectives for consideration.
- a visionary helping men see their potential and holding them accountable.
- an advocate for achieving full potential while staying focused on self-care.
Be mature. Be wise. Be kind. Be loving. Be humble. Be compassionate. Be generous. Be forgiving. And, be grateful. Be the Elder that holds the bar high. Own and demonstrate your maturity. Own and Demonstrate your wisdom, and importantly, continue to be in the game, learning and growing. Learn from collective wisdom.
The collective “we” will most often center on the wisest choice or path.
As Declared Elders, we generally live and interact with one another within the bounds of several key behaviors.
Most men by the age of fifty (MKP or not) understand that playing “in-bounds” is wise and appropriate. Those who choose to play “out of bounds” often make harmful decisions, which can lead to struggle, strife, and perhaps even civil condemnation.
A vast majority of Declared Elders who actually carry a similar depth of maturity, never choose to become Ritual Elders. Instead They choose to serve MKP or their local communities in other meaningful ways, including leadership or membership on Elder Councils, Courts, committees, and MKP community building.
Here are many of the ways you, as a Declared Elder, may serve within MKP…
- Staffing and joining the NWTA Elder Team
- Attending MKP events within your home community, i.e., Welcome Home Ceremonies
- Attending Elder Retreats or joining the Event Planning Team
- Checking in with your local Elder Council Chair to determine where you could best serve.
- Joining one of the 16 Teams being formed by the 2019 MKP USA Elder Court. Team Link?
- Volunteering to sit on an Elder Council or an Elder Council committee
- Supporting your I-group with presence and blessings
- Joining a PIT delivery team
- Volunteering at Circle of Men enrollment events
- Volunteering at Welcome Home ceremonies
- Delivering blessings in your I-group and other venues/groups
- Volunteering with MKP-related programs such as Boys to Men
- Stepping onto the path to become, and serve as a Ritual Elder
- Aside from direct MKP involvement, being actively involved in your local community and sharing your Elder gifts as a Community Elder, including hosting an open Elder circle.
3. The Community Elder
Over the years, MKP has become more aware of the importance of initiated men contributing, beyond MKP, to their local communities.
The Community Elder: Today, MKP encourages men to actively share their MKP Elder gifts and model MKP behavior and leadership within their local communities. It is the ripple effect result of the NWTA, which flows out beyond direct MKP involvement into local communities and the world.
It should be noted that when working with a group of people outside our MKP community, who lack a common way of interacting with one another, it is important to encourage them to develop and agree upon a set of principles to guide their discussions. Here are several principles created in local community groups which have proven to help members function more effectively.
(When introducing these principles, encourage group members to add others they consider important, or adjust these, and when the list is complete, make sure that all members agree to honor the principles during their deliberations):
- Honor all voices and the gifts they bring
- Listen with the intention to understand
- Ask questions for clarification
- Take personal responsibility for input. Use “I” statements (when appropriate). Speak for yourself.
- Embrace humanity with humor and grace
- When stuck, readdress the group’s primary purpose or reason for being
- There are no mistakes, just opportunities for learning
- Encourage a team approach to all
- Create partnership and honor all contributions
- When responding, use “yes, and” rather than “yes, but”
- Ensure Clarity and Agreement (alignment), before considering Action
- Have fun
- Trust the process
An MKP Community Elder is also an advocate for integrity, accountability, and emotional maturity. There are always opportunities to serve in local community activities, especially in the not-for- profit community:
- Participating in service organizations, religious activities, and/or political groups
- Attending non-MKP men’s circles to contribute, bless and, on occasion, share about MKP
- Simply modeling MKP behaviors within your sphere of contacts
- Sharing the respect and reverence given to MKP Elders
- Taking action to be available for younger men in your community, both initiated and non-initiated
Today, there are literally hundreds of MKP Elders across the Country who are already actively involved within their local communities. The Community Elder designation acknowledges their role, and provides the opportunity to more effectively encourage their involvement and their local contributions.
4. The Ritual Elder
The pathway to Ritual Eldership has a clearly articulated list of requirements (The RE Protocol). The first version of the RE Protocol was approved in Montreal in 1997. The Protocol is a map for the Declared Elder who is setting his sights on, and stating his intention to become a RE. Much like a Declared Elder, the man who chooses the path of becoming a Ritual Elder begins with his stated intention and desire. It is from his point of declaration of intention that his journey begins.
With the exception of the Hot Seat process, all RE Protocol requirements must be fulfilled prior to his being formally recognized as a Ritual Elder in Training (RET), and are viewed as a very natural growth progression to help a man gain the experience and expertise necessary to be certified as a Ritual Elder.
The Ritual Elder (RE): The base expectation of an RE is that he consistently exhibit maturity, compassion, and wisdom in a variety of venues and interactions. He is wise enough to acknowledge his own shadows and growth edge, and also wise enough to know learning is a lifelong process. Ultimately, a key role of the RE is giveaway — being of service.
The RE plays a multiplicity of key roles on an NWTA weekend. He works closely with the weekend leaders and the LKS leader to ensure that initiates receive the very best initiation experience. He is strong enough to address weekend leaders about their own shadows and to bring clarity and compassion to what is showing up. At the same time, he is heart-centered and compassionate enough to help the rookie staffer who is afraid of making a mistake. He holds a presence of grace and heart-centered space for leadership, staff members, and initiates. At the same time he delivers key weekend rituals with a sense of strong leadership while building a container of spirit-centeredness, connection, and purpose.
The role of RE is not for every Elder, and yet, it is available to every Declared Elder. By the time an Elder achieves Certified RE status, he has successfully grown to become and to be recognized as an Elder’s Elder. He is a model of Elder-hood whom younger men aspire to become. In addition, the RE can function with grace and leadership in all arenas. As a result, he is highly respected for his depth and many contributions.
The easiest part of becoming an RE is fulfilling the basic requirements stipulated in the RE Protocol. The hardest part is standing tall, consciously owning his maturity, compassion, and wisdom, while taking full responsibility for who he is in MKP and in the world. It is being conscious and aware of his own shadows and, as best he can, keeping them out front.
The Importance of a Mentor
One of the key considerations for men stepping onto the RE path is the selection of a mentor. A mentor is not a task master or a gatekeeper. The ideal mentor is focused on encouraging, nurturing, and developing the RET.
Back to the dictionary…
Encourage: to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence. to stimulate by assistance, approval, etc.; One of the chief duties of a teacher/mentor is to encourage. to promote, advance, or foster.
Nurture: to feed and protect. to support and encourage, as during the period of training or development; foster; to nurture promising candidates; to bring up; train; educate.
Develop: to bring out the capabilities or possibilities of; bring to a more advanced or effective state. to cause to grow or expand; to develop one’s capabilities.
Thus, the selection of a mentor is a critical step. The very first qualification of a mentor is that he be a Ritual Elder or a Ritual Elder Emeritus. Beyond that initial qualification, as a Ritual Elder In Training (RET), the candidate would usually select a mentor he resonates with and already considers a model of Eldership for him and within his community. Actually, each of us has had many unofficial mentors — men we have looked up to and most often have learned from — and of course that will continue.
Another consideration in the selection of a mentor is the potential RE mentor with “an edge.” Perhaps an edge that rankles the RET. This mentor relationship provides the opportunity to explore the edge…”What is it about me that is causing me to react?” It very well may result in un- expected growth, and is not to be discounted. While the RE Protocol calls for the selection of a mentor, many RETs have chosen the benefits of two mentors.
Each man choosing the path to become a RE must continue to learn and grow. As the RET gains greater confidence in his understanding of the NWTA and associated responsibilities, he will see ways to personalize his RE activities and roles. It is important that he begin to own and honor his status by standing tall and fulfilling the RE role the way it fits and works best for him, while honoring the week-end structure and the intention of the various rituals and processes. An RET should become highly familiar with the various weekend processes and the Ritual Elder Protocol. Both can be found on the MKP Connect website.
The final requirement is for the RET to sit for an RE Hot seat. Hot seat participants will assess the RET’s readiness and either acknowledge his RE readiness or give him a “not now” indicating the necessity for further work/development.
Final Words: MKP, and especially Declared Elders, are uniquely positioned to see the possibility of a greater good and contribute to a better world for future generations. There are many opportunities to serve:
- Modeling positive behaviors and values,
- Being a positive force in communications and involvement, (holding the light)
- Sponsoring men to attend the NWTA,
- Participating in MKP related activities,
- Contributing financially by maintaining MKP Membership status,
- Being active and serving in your local community.
Whichever Elder path you choose, know that there are many experienced, loving and caring Elders within MKP willing to support you along your journey.
MKP USA Council of Elders 2019
WWW.MKP.org of MKP USA – March 2019