Jade Molina, former strength and conditioning coach to pro and elite athletes, and now co-founder of Men of Growth has a passion for testing his own performance limits and pushing other men to do the same.
At the age of 25, and recently out of the Navy, Jade found himself lost. He had no idea what he wanted to do with his life, he was drinking every day, and his wife was about ready to leave him. Jade's story is one of redemption and comeback.
1. When you can understand what a man has been through (when you can learn his story), then you can better appreciate and trust what that man says.
2. Jade realized when a man hits rock bottom there are 4 things he has to figure out: He needs to figure out how to be a husband, how to be a daddy, how to grow spiritually, and how to get back into shape.
3. We model our lives after the men we surround ourselves with, and thus take on their values, whether good or bad.
[03:18] I was an average kid in an average home in Bakersfield, CA: I was the oldest of four, and my dad was a three-time All-American wrestler. I looked up to him, wanting to be tough and fit like him. In school, my fitness allowed me to thrive, but I wasn’t at all interested in academics. My family was not a church going family, though I believed in God. However, I didn’t know who Jesus was, and in fact, I was a little confused, because two families in my neighborhood practiced their faith differently. One family was very legalistic and one was filled with grace. One thing my parents didn’t teach me was how to handle money well.
[7:04] Jade, who did you want to be when you grew up? After doing wrestling, football, and baseball for most of my life, I decided I wanted to be a pro baseball player. My girlfriend at the time, helped to keep me focused and out of trouble. However, I didn’t really have the grades coming out of high school to play college baseball, so I went to a junior college to play baseball, which made a big shift in my life.
[8:27] What was the big shift in your life when playing baseball at a JC? Kings River Community College was the first time I had a mentor coach, Jack Hacker. He was super influential in my life. I was on my own, but had worked my way into the starting lineup at second base. Then, for the first baseball game in the spring, I set my alarm wrong for a 9am game, and arrived late to the game. The coach cornered me when I arrived, prepared to cut me from the team on the spot, asking me why I was late. I owned up to my mistake and didn’t lie, and though I was cut from the starting lineup, I later found out that I was kept on the team because of my honesty. However, shortly after that I started drinking and running with the wrong crowd, and that’s when the bad big shift took place. At that point I didn’t know how to process the grace that my coach had shown me in that moment.
[13:01] So your dad modeled an extremely strong work ethic for you, how did you respond to that? When I heard other men talk about my dad, I knew that I wanted to be like him and that would take a strong work ethic. I modeled my life after my dad’s life, and in that way I “caught” what he modeled, even if he didn’t necessarily teach it to me.
[16:48] Were there times your dad intentionally taught you things? I don’t think my dad had many people who talked intentionally with him about raising his kid. It’s important that we are able to look at and be intentional with how we are influencing the young men around us.
[18:50] So you had several different influential men in your life? Yes, my dad has a legacy in my life, but so did Jack Hacker. Even though my coach was influencing me, I still had this other world I was living in. I was partying a lot; I liked that drinking brought out a humor and boldness in me, but it was also an escape for me. That alcoholic boldness brought out a lot more violent tendencies that started a lot more fights. It also brought about a meanness in me, especially towards females.
[22:37] Did you meet your wife in college? No, she’s that girl, the one I started dating in high school. During the time that I was in JC, me and my now wife, had several breakups.
[23:27] Did drinking give you confidence? Drinking & partying with the football guys who were ripped and taller than me, made me feel included. Alcohol, drugs, overeating these are all things that help us escape, and that we think define who we are. As we get older and wiser, we realize that we don’t need those things to find who we are.
[26:38] After my second year of JC, I hit a low point. The Rodney King riots were happening around me, and I just gave up. I told my coach, who in a fatherly way tried to convince me to stay, but I had made up my mind. I went home, started partying, was on and off with my girlfriend (now-wife). After about a year of this, I decided I wanted to go into the Navy to give my life some purpose (my uncle, and a colleague at the medical facility I worked at the time both spoke highly of the Navy). After taking one more class at a local JC to get two ranks higher in the Navy, I started bootcamp.
[28:48] How long were you in the service? I was there for four years. I got Second in Charge of my company, two letters of commendation, and another award out of bootcamp. I went to school to become a radioman and I got to my ship and got sent to Hawaii. But as soon as I got on the ship, I started cussing and drinking, just like a sailer. At that point two shifts started to occur. I got married to my girlfriend Stephanie three years in, while I was in the Navy. Then I made the all-Navy baseball team, traveling and playing baseball. When I got out of Navy, I was a heavy drinker and not kind to my wife. We moved back to Bakersfield and found out we’re having a baby, so I decided to go back to school for exercise science and to start selling insurance.
[31:14] So, you just woke up one morning and decided to ask Stephanie to marry you? At this point I had been dating Stephanie off and on for seven years. I realized that I didn’t deserve her and wanted to find a way to keep her. I proposed to her on Valentine’s Day and then we got married in September. But I didn’t always treat her nice with my words.
[34:28] Where did you learn your behavior towards women? Was that modeled in your parents? No, I didn’t get that from my parents, though they argued sometimes. My friends around me didn’t have a high view of treating women right, so maybe I was validated in my actions by my environment.
[37:16] After 23 years, my parents got divorced. While on a deployment, I learned that my dad had left the house. There were a lot of factors that influenced that, including my parents starting off their marriage in a rocky place very young.
[39:00] So about the second year in the Navy, this new guy, Allen, comes onto the ship. After morning plan for the day, we break out our inappropriate magazines as usual and Alan is surprised. He tells me he doesn’t appreciate that view of women: “Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior and that is degrading to woman.” Immediately I didn’t like Alan. There was a part of me that hated him, and a part of me that greatly admired Alan for the way he loved me, despite how mean I was to him. One day, while shaving, I noticed that Alan was getting a rash because he was shaving up instead of down, so I told him. Alan teared up, saying that God answered his prayer about the rash through me. Another time, I asked Alan how he got his $40,000 reenlistment bonus, and he said the Lord blessed him with that when he told him to reenlist. These things blew my mind. I thought he was crazy. The very last thing Alan ever said to me before I went back home was that he would be praying for me.
[44:49] One night, my wife had given me warning signs, “If you don’t stop this, I’m done.” After dinner and a movie with my wife, while at a party, instead of having one beer like my wife told me to, I get hammered. My wife sees me, throws something at me and leaves. I’m like, “Yeah, whatever,” and eventually end up completely drunk, walking along this road, trying to get to a gas station up ahead. After a car passes and honks his horn, I climb over a divider to get to the other side of the road, only to find out that it was actually the end of an overpass over a river. I fell about 12-14 feet onto the embankment on the river that knocked me out for about four hours. When I wake up, I’m half in the river. I broke my tailbone, and two teeth are knocked out. I get up and start walking back, flag down a cop who wants to take me to the ER, but don’t have any insurance (even though I’m selling accident insurance at the time). The cop takes me home about 5am, and my wife sees me and tells me to get out, until she turns on the light and sees that I’m hurt. She starts crying, fixes me up and I fall asleep. The next morning, I can’t even recognize myself in the mirror I’m hurt so badly.
[49:49] Monday morning, I still have to fly out to South Korea to do two weeks in the reserves. So, I fly to Korea, still hurt, and check in for the reserves. They ask me what happened and I lie, saying I was in a downhill biking accident. Since I’m not healthy enough to drill, they put me in an army barrack for a week.
[50:55] While in the barrack, I realized that there are four things that need to happen in my life. 1) I need to figure out how to be a husband. 2) I needed to learn how to be a daddy 3) I need to go to church (even though I hated it, I knew that I needed some of God’s goodness from the people in my life that had pointed me to Him) 4) I needed to get into shape.
[53:32] We start going to church, and Stephanie forgave me and gave me a second chance. I was convinced Stephanie was in a conspiracy with the pastor, because it felt like the pastor was always speaking directly to me. That was the first time I started feeling the Spirit of God on me. I knew I needed to surrender to God but was too prideful. Eventually, I did decide to go forward with Stephanie and make the decision to follow Christ.
[56:08] Finally, I realized why Alan was so good to me. About 6 months later I was able to track down Alan, who by this point had been trained as a Navy chaplain and become a pastor in Barstow. I found out that Alan was still praying for me all these years later. I finally started getting it, and experiencing God in my life.
[57:36] I realized the power of God, but felt an extreme frustration with the church. I would ask questions about the miracles in the Bible, and how they could intellectually happen, but people would tell me to “just to have faith”. Finally, I met a guy who would challenged me with questions that sent me to read all the Holy books to figure out my questions and what gave these books their authority. It took me about five years to fully commit to Christianity. At that time, I met a nun in jury duty who was so committed to Christ that she wore a wedding ring. She said that it sounded like God wanted to know if I was committed and would go all the way. I made the decision, and my wife and I moved to Southern California, went to Shepherd Church, met Byron, and I grew in Christ. I was able to make a change and start treating people well, and I was finally able to appreciate all the Coach Hackers in the world.
[1:00:18] What kind of man do you want to be? I concluded that I needed to be a better husband (family), get back in shape (fitness), go to the Lord (faith), and the fact that I didn’t have a good background with money spurred that (finance) aspect as well.
[1:01:23] Byron: Out of Jade’s journey, he has recognized that these four key areas weren’t only issues he was dealing with, but these are things that all men struggle with. This is why Men of Growth exists and why the podcast Grow or Die is created.
[01:02:54] Scott: It’s important to know about our history, so that we can learn more and delve into each of us and where we are at now in our lives.
[01:03:39] Jade: I hope this is a value to your life and that it resonates with you. Hopefully, it will help you appreciate the men besides the Men of Growth movement and why we are doing what we are doing.
[1:04:00] Key passage for my journey of faith that I began to grow in is John 10:10 ESV, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
[1:04:53] I hope this podcast 1) provokes thought in a man’s life 2) engages discussion and 3) promotes action to become the man you are destined to be. We need more great men in the world.