A sticky note on a vanity mirror in Thomas Barnes’ house gives this charge: “Be a man.”

It’s a daily reminder to rise up and lead his family.

“It’s so important for fathers to be the man of the household, to take control and be a man,” said Barnes, 39. “(The note) was to remind myself that I am the leader of my household, to take care of my family and influence my wife and children.”

Barnes and his wife, Tiffany, have been married 10 years and attend Southeast Christian Church. They have a 7-year-old daughter, Spencer, and 5-year-old son, Tom.

Barnes said being the man of his family isn’t accidental or natural, but intentional.

“We can all go through the motions,” Barnes added. “We get up, go to the gym, go to work, come home, eat dinner and expect everything to go OK. You have to set up goals with your family.”

This personal charge wasn’t always the case.

“My story is not paved in gold,” Barnes said. “I made mistakes. I fell down holes and got into dark spots.”

Night life

Barnes’ parents have been Southeast members for more than 40 years.

As a kid, Barnes wore a suit and tie to church and was involved in student ministries.

“If I hadn’t had those Christian values as a young man from my father and mother, there’s no telling where I would be today, because along the journey from college until I was 30 years old, I made mistakes,” Barnes said.

When Barnes went off to college in Dallas, his faith faded into the background. He began drinking heavily and using drugs.

After graduating and getting married, Barneses continued partying.

“We would work hard, but we would also play hard, too,” Barnes said. “We loved the night life and going out on the weekends with friends. We are two very type-A, outgoing people. So we would miss church because we wanted to continue to have so much fun. Leading up to when Spencer was born, my wife couldn’t do that anymore. That brought on our first separation moment. I had been going down this road since college.”

At the time, Thomas and Tiffany would visit church about four times a year, but during Tiffany’s first pregnancy, one phone call changed everything.

New life

Out of the blue, Southeast member Chris Burke was on the other line. Growing up, the two had played competitive sports against each other.

“It was a unique situation where my father and Chris Burke were literally sitting next to each other on a flight,” Barnes said. “They started talking about me and my spiritual walk. So out of nowhere, Chris called me and asked, ‘Will you go to Man Challenge with me?’”

In 2012, Barnes began attending Man Challenge, volunteering at Love City, and he and Tiffany joined former Senior Pastor Dave Stone’s home Bible study group.

“We were still kind of taking baby steps and reserved all of our problems to just family,” Barnes said. “If we were spending or drinking too much or whatever we weren’t proud of, we would still hold that back. Once we started letting the reins go a little bit, I think we learned from others. We started opening up and being ourselves. We finally felt comfortable in our own skin.”

And their lives changed.

Be a man

As the wealth manager for Barnes Financial Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, Barnes has handled people’s assets for 17 years with his father, Tom.

“My father is my best friend,” Barnes said. “He is the light of my life. Someone I’ve always adored, looked up to and who is my hero. He’s a hard worker. I never really realized the significant impact of going through the motions in spending time with my father every single day.”

Barnes is a Man Challenge table leader on Thursday mornings at the Blankenbaker Campus. He is also a part of a Discipleship Development Group.

Barnes’ Man Challenge co-leader, Buddy Bockweg, said his personality draws people to Jesus.

“Thomas is probably the most social person I know,” Bockweg said. “Everyone he comes in contact with walks away feeling like a friend and saying, ‘I really like that guy.’ That genuine love is contagious. To watch him grow over the years, Thomas has shifted from the business side and networking to surrounding himself with those who will be instrumental to push along the mission of Jesus.”

This lengthy list doesn’t allow for much “me time,” and Barnes tends to see the tension in where he spends his time.

“The No. 1 struggle that I still deal with is time,” Barnes said. “I have time managing my business, time calling or keeping up with my clients, and I need to spend time getting new clients to support my family. My cup is full. My wife works as well, so time that we spend as a family is not easy. We’re trying to do all these things at once, and you have to slow down every morning and fill your cup up. That’s when I have my devotional and silent time because the days can get away from you.”