Hero Highlight: Shane Ellison - Mentor, Donor
It is my privilege to introduce you to one of my heroes in the outdoor industry and the world of mentoring. You might recognize Shane Ellison from his television show “Livin’ the Hunt,” which airs on the Pursuit Channel (Direct TV 608, Dish Network 240). Through his Christian outdoor adventure program, Shane is recalibrating the way we think about hunting. He’s not in it for fame, fortune, and trophies but for something far more valuable—life change. In fact, he is so committed to maximizing hunting for God’s glory that he is walking away from a very successful career to launch “Livin’ the Hunt.” Shane, who is not only a dear friend and brother in Christ but also a staunch supporter of Fathers in the Field, believes that outdoor adventure is the perfect vehicle for mentoring boys into manhood. I couldn’t agree with him more. We recently caught up with Shane to talk about his passion for mentoring and outdoor adventure. Here’s what he had to say.
We know you from “Livin’ the Hunt,” but tell us about your life before it took this dramatic turn into mentoring.
Most people would dream and aspire to be where I was. I was a partner of a large accounting firm, making a lot of money. I have a beautiful wife and two great sons. We had everything we wanted and needed—a big house, nice cars, fun adventures, everything! By the world’s standards I was extremely successful. But God revealed to me several years ago that that’s not what’s important in life. That is not what living is all about. It’s all about relationships and the people that we meet and the people that we impact. Money has no relevance when it comes to that. You can’t put a price on any of that.
What happened that brought you to this new perspective on life?
I almost lost my marriage in 2006 because of hunting. It had become an addiction, an obsession. I put it before my wife, my children, and every other relationship, including the Lord. I was literally glorifying myself with hunting and it brought my marriage to a breaking point. Things had gotten so bad that my wife was at the point of visiting an attorney. That was my wake-up call from the Lord.
Amazingly, that passion for hunting that nearly destroyed my marriage has since been transformed by God into a passion that has strengthened my marriage and family and, above all else, glorifies him.
How did the idea for “Livin’ the Hunt” come about and what do you hope to accomplish with it?
Once I realized that I needed to be glorifying God and not myself with my hunting passion, He gave me the idea for “Livin’ the Hunt.” Basically, it is about relationships.
The best way I can describe it is by first asking a question. “What is your favorite memory from being in the woods hunting with a father, grandfather, uncle or someone else? Is it a kill, is it a score, or is it something else?” The world would tell you that that your most valued moment should be the time you bagged the biggest animal or scored a trophy deer. But, deep down, we all know that our most precious memories from the field can’t be mounted on a wall or displayed on a shelf. They are the relationships formed and experiences shared. Those are the trophy memories we treasure in our hearts.
Just like I had gotten off track in life by focusing on money, houses, cars, and stuff… I believe that the hunting industry has also gotten way out of sync with what is really important. There is too much focus on scores, big horns and success measured on the kill. “Livin’ the Hunt” is about re-calibrating our motives for and perspectives on hunting, putting people and relationships at the heart of it all. We’re not afraid to take viewers into deep, relational moments in the field. We’re also not shy about sharing our faith in Christ through the program. It’s about taking individuals and walking them along the journey, not just that they have a chance at a trophy but so they can find something deeper. We do it all with one goal in mind—to glorify God and not ourselves through our passions.
You and the “Livin’ the Hunt” team are important advocates for Fathers in the Field and our effort to mentor fatherless boys through outdoor adventure. Why do you feel so strongly about the ministry?
Everything that Fathers in the Field is about—the Lord, mentoring, and relationship-building through outdoor adventure—is at the heart of what we are about. Sadly, mentoring has gone by the wayside because we have gotten too busy in life pursuing what the world says we should pursue—self-indulgence. Mentoring runs against that because it is about giving to others.
To see a Mentor Father invest his time, energy, and resources in someone else—a child who has no one else to teach him about God and His Great Outdoors—that blesses and inspires us. The hunting world won’t offer a trophy for changing the life of one child. But we recognize the importance of it and want to do all we can to help Fathers in the Field reach as many abandoned boys as possible.
I’ve heard you say that “life is measured by what you have given, not what has been received.” What do you mean by that?
To me, the best way to answer that is to tell you about my youngest son, Trevor. I believe that two of the most important things that I could have given him as his dad were instruction in the Lord and a love for God’s Creation. Today, as a godly young man, he works as a youth camp counselor in Texas, with Christian Outdoor Alliance, teaching boys not only about hunting, but more importantly about the Lord and His Word. Here he is, 18 years old, being a role model to these boys. He’s taking what he has learned from me and is now extending it to the next generation. That’s exciting! That’s what mentoring is about! There is no trophy that can represent the reward in that.
Mentoring is important to God. He calls His people to pass their passion for Him and His Word to the next generation:
"And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” Deut. 6:5-7
Shane is an inspiration to all of us on how to follow this biblical mandate.
Thank you Shane!
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