Category Archives: Blog

Be Offensive | Letters To My Son

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Be Offensive

15 Ways To Be On Your Best Offense As A Man Of God

We live in a world where people are being trained to be offended. It appears we live in a time when it's nearly heroic for people to point out the offenses of another. Maybe this is because we've more recently supported social approaches that promote sensitivity, which appears to have escalated into hypersensitivity. Men need to learn the virtue of being sensitive.

However, I wonder if this has led to a culture of men who are over-sensitive in fear of being attacked?

I know some men who feel they are on the verge of being attacked for being born male. Which raises the question: have we become so fearful of offenses and offending others that we have lost our offense?

Let me be clear; there's nothing masculine or Godly about being offensive in what we say or how we say it. Sexual innuendos, lude joking, perverse gestures, or even a “hint” of an immoral action is not appropriate or honoring for a man of God. However, this does not mean we need to forgo some offense. By offense, I mean “taking assertive and positive action.” Offensive action is when we develop an organized and forceful campaign to achieve something. In this culture of growing oversensitivity, too many men give way to fear that perpetuates more fear. It’s a fear of taking action due to concern about hypersensitive responses. This concern can result in living life overly cautious, hesitant, and indifferent because of undercurrents and trends that have endorsed and reward a culture of fear and passivity. Resultantly, we end up training ourselves to respond defensively or not at all. This defensive strategy leads to tragic results in a man’s life when it continues for too long or when we fail to act offensively. In addition, when emotions like guilt and shame reinforce our inaction, we remain enslaved to non-action. In the Bible, we see tragic examples of this repeatedly; men who were defensively inactive when they should have been on the actively offensive.

Son, never miss an opportunity for greatness by being overly cautious or supporting any system that does. Sometimes you need some offensive—in word and deed. But do not fail to be sensitive, as every situation does not dictate offensive responses.

My quick list below is a compilation of two things with each point. First, there are activities that you should stop doing that prevent offensive action. Second, you must assume a corresponding movement that is appropriately offensive. I have made mistakes in these areas along the way, and in some other areas, I still make mistakes. Think of this list as being similar to offensive strikes in a sport. They are strategies for bringing the ball forward that move us from being defensive to being optimistically offensive.

My goal is for you to be a greater man than I. If you take action, even with a handful of these suggestions, you should experience tremendous results in your life.

ONE | Reconciliation
Stop giving excuses for the times that you have harmed others with your words or actions; be offensive, and seek forgiveness from others. On numerous occasions, I have failed to reconcile relational issues. Explaining, blaming, and deflecting are defensive strategies. They are not offensive. However, reconciliation is an offensive move.

TWO | Sin
Stop hiding sin. Be offensive by taking action that diminishes the power of sin. Confession, repentance, and accountability work against our desire to protect wrongdoing; rather, they bring it into the open. There are sins that I embraced for too long because I chose to conceal them.

THREE | Leadership
Stop waiting for your leadership moment; it may not come. Choose to be on the offensive and seize the leadership moments before you. There is always a leadership void waiting to be filled. I have made the mistake of thinking that I needed to be invited to a leadership table to be a leader, and this faulty thinking. Influence is leadership, and you have opportunities for influence right in front of you, right now—lead into them.

FOUR | Speaking Up
Stop being quiet when you see injustice. Be offensive and discover the power of speaking the truth in love. I have made the mistake of turning a blind eye to injustices happening right before me. While their action was wrong, my inaction was worse.

FIVE | Transparency
Stop repressing your feelings, passion, and ideas; this can turn into aggression or depression. Be offensive by being appropriately transparent. Keeping your feelings to yourself will stunt your emotional growth and delay your relational maturity.

SIX | Opportunity
Stop complaining about not getting opportunities. Be offensive and create an opportunity where there is none. I have made this mistake, and it causes us to embrace a victim mentality.

SEVEN | Saying Yes
Stop saying “no”; be offensive and say “yes” to more new opportunities. I have missed a few fun opportunities because of this.

EIGHT | Saying No
Stop saying “yes” to everything, be offensive and say “no” to the right things. Make a good decision against yourself. I have said yes to way too many things and found out I could not keep all of the commitments.

NINE | Persistence
Stop wussing out, when something is hard, be offensive by being persistent than others. I have found much of life is learning to be committed longer than others.

TEN | Asking For Help
Stop aimlessness. When you don’t know something, be offensive, and ask for help. Men make the mistake of living in hidden ignorance because they arrogantly refuse to invite help.

ELEVEN | Women
Stop waiting for the right girl to approach you, be offensive, and approach her. Women like offensively minded men. That’s how your mom and I met. She made a snarky remark to men, and I thought it was attractive, so I turned on the offensive.

TWELVE | Spiritual Habits
Stop believing spiritual maturity happens by accident, be offensive, and build discipline now. Regular prayer, bible reading, worship, and journaling are good habits that will pay off for you down the road. I wish I would have built healthier spiritual habits earlier in my life.

THIRTEEN | Character Flaws
Stop letting that one character problem hold you back; be offensive, and manage your character issues. It takes a while to learn how to handle them effectively. If you start now, it’ll benefit your relationships with respect to play, school, work, dating, marriage, and family. I have made the mistake of maintaining the same character flaw because I never learned how to manage it effectively. This required a lot of reconciliation along the way. Therefore, defeat the need for excessive reconciliation with offensive character adjustments.

FOURTEEN | Vulnerabilities
When are you most vulnerable, be offensive. Cancel that appointment, subscription, event, or meeting. I have made the mistake of staying committed to harmful patterns and destructive relationships for too long. If it makes you vulnerable to sin, act quickly.

FIFTEEN | Accountability
Stop avoiding accountability. Be offensive by inviting other great men into your life who will drive you to be better. The longer you wait to develop these relationships, the further behind you will be in your development as a man and man of God. Men need brothers; never forget this.

In the end, life is not a spectator sport. It also is not intended to be only played defensively. We must engage as men. Be offensive.

I love you, son—Dad.

Find Great Mentors | Letters To My Son

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Find Great Mentors

Everything I’ve learned I have learned from someone else. —John Wooden

And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. —2 Timothy 2:2

Why You Should Find a Mentor

Most men don’t know how to find a great mentor for a good reason: They haven’t been mentored. Given the time you’ve grown up in, mentorship works much differently than it used to. Families in the past used to spend much more time together, mentoring and disciplining each other—relationally, occupationally, and religiously. However, in your time, divorce, single-family homes, recreation, sports, and media consume us. The church, formerly the center of a community, is now an afterthought for Christians. Because of all these changes, I am concerned about you. These cultural hurdles have impacted how mentorship forms and the simpler structures of the past. Given this, a “traditional” understanding of mentorship, a protege walking with a mentor for a prolonged period, appears to be threatened by the speed and dysfunction of life. However, you cannot punt on mentorship. We as men need to figure it out because John Wooden is right: “Everything we’ve learned we’ve learned from someone else.” This is a polite way to say we need men and mentors in our life.

Son, the simple fact is that we are always being mentored whether we intend it or not. We are being mentored by those who have access to our time and thinking. Consider who these people are in your life. They are coaches, teachers, employers, friends, and the people you listen to and watch on your device. Daily, these people are speaking into your life, and they are mentoring you. Some of their messages are valid, and some are misleading. But instead of subjecting ourselves to accidental mentorship and cultural voices with misleading worldviews, why not find the best mentors? Sound men and truthful mentors with a clear message. Men with wisdom and advice that works.

It took me a long time to learn to be mentored and then mentor others because I grew up in a fatherless home. Today I understand that I wanted mentorship more than anything. I wanted a guide, a coach, a mentor, or a confidant. I wanted a man who could point the way and help me to avoid the pitfalls of life, a mentor who would help me find my advantage. I wanted someone who understood me and could dig out my uniqueness. I wanted someone to help me leverage my skills for the most significant impact. I came to discover that God’s Word was the ultimate guide, but when combined with a teacher, the truth found in God’s Word had a spectacular life. I learned that a godly man was a means of cheating the system since I could glean truth and avoid pitfalls by learning from someone’s successes and failures. This has become my dirty little secret. I have learned how to get free wisdom from lawyers, leaders, entrepreneurs, trainers, inventors, philanthropists, authors, writers, builders, and many more. I have also discovered that by inviting them to share their wisdom, they are endeared to me—which itself is interesting. And it only costs me a drink or a meal, and most of the time, they pay. Through all this, I have discovered seven characteristics that make for the very best mentors. Whether these mentors are occasional or last a lifetime, the following are the characteristics I seek in a mentor. Rarely do mentors possess all seven. But if they do—they become the friends and mentors I lean on for a lifetime.

The 7 Characteristics of a Great Mentor

(Below is a quick reference checklist for you to download.)

One | Chemistry

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.—Proverbs 18:24

You need chemistry with someone you will call a mentor. They shouldn’t be a man filled only with knowledge or some area of expertise, but one with whom you have relational compatibility. Finding this connection is essential, and I have learned it’s critical in a mentoring relationship. At first glance, you may think you could learn a ton from a potential mentor; however, once you meet with them, you might discover chemistry is missing. I would not make a long-term commitment to a mentor for this reason. This may be more intuitive in some of your first mentoring relationships; therefore, I would not jump into any mentoring relationship just because some man appears relationally savvy, has a vast resume, or is an expert in some field in which you have an interest. Look for that mutual chemistry that results in a “friend who sticks closer than a brother.” You might find that a lunch or two will help you discern if the relationship has longer-term potential.

The question you need to ask is:

“Do you have chemistry with them and they with you?”

Two | Expertise

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.—1 Corinthians 11:1

Next, I would then seek out a mentor for their expertise. We lean on mentors because of their knowledge; this is no big surprise. We want to learn from them because of their competency. To find the best mentor with the expertise you need, you need to assess your current needs. There are many areas of need for knowledge: dating, friendships, education, sports, leadership, skills, career, character, and faith. As you get older, you will discover even more like marriage, family, occupation, and legacy. Regardless, you must recognize where you currently lack the knowledge and need expertise and then seek out people who have the experience you need. People are willing to share and are even endeared to you when you ask. I would strongly recommend these domain experts, but also identify mentors who imitate Christ in their area of expertise. There are plenty of people out there willing to give you advice, but a person who lives in submission to Christ usually knows how to leverage their expertise in ways that bring glory to God.

The question you need to ask is:

"Do they have an area of expertise that you want and need?"

Three | Trust

Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.—Proverbs 11:13

We are not always readily trusting of mentors. Becoming honest, open, and transparent with anyone is challenging primarily because of fear. Fear keeps us from trusting a mentor—fear of being thought of as stupid increases this lack of trust. And the fear of how a mentor might handle information keeps us from discovering the positive potential of trust and growth. When we experience a break in confidentiality, it is hard to trust the next person.

You need mentors who can be trusted and give you opportunities to trust. These are people who don’t mind you asking what you consider to be dumb questions—even though they are not. You need mentors who can take you from your present state to your next best. The only way this is possible is if you can find a trusting person who knows you as you are and where you would like to be. Concealing your desired future state, for reason of fear, will only prolong your journey to becoming the man God wants you to be. This means you need them to keep your confusion, challenges, and personal issues private. The easiest way to build trust is to verbally agree to confidentiality and clarify it as you feel it is needed. Make sure that your mentor knows where you feel insecure and then clarify what is important to keep between the two of you.

The question you need to ask is:

“Do you trust them to keep private matters confidential?”

Four | Refining

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.—Jeremiah 29:11

There is nothing like finding a mentor who cares about your best interests. Over time, you’ll discover a boss, a coach, or a friend who will have agendas that benefit them in their mentorship of you. You need to remember that there are people out there who will give you self-interested advice, using you and your decisions for personal advantage. But “selfless” mentors do exist. More often than not, they are God-fearing people who selflessly set their agendas aside for you.

You need to find a mentor who wants God’s best for you. This means locating a mentor who, over time, gets to know your skills, knowledge, and ability and understands where you want to be as a man and a leader. This mentor should have a growing awareness of where your character needs refining and should be able to identify and help you leverage new areas of potential as an individual. Look for a mentor who can refine you.

The question you need to ask is:

“Do they want what is best for you and your future?”

Five | Challenging

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.—Galatians 6:1

You need a mentor who can lean into you. I know many avoid discipline and coaching by finding a mentor who only tells them what they want to hear. People who always agree with you are not helpful mentors; however, they may be nice friends. A mentor knows how to cheer you on and appropriately and regularly challenge you. They understand your temperament and find a way to encourage you to become better. Don’t back away from a man that may challenge you. I have found there are some abrasive mentors out there—men who say it as they see it. At first, I avoided these men, but I have found over time that a man who calls it as he sees it is often a man who is not afraid to speak the truth. Too often in a spirit of being nice, mentors fail to speak the truth because, at times, the truth hurts. The perfect mentor is the one who knows how to talk about the truth and do it lovingly. They restore us in what Paul the apostle calls “a spirit of gentleness.”

The question you need to ask is:

“Do they know how to challenge you respectfully and consistently?”

Six | Godly

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.—Galatians 5:22–23

These last two characteristics are the gems of any mentoring relationship. You need to find a mentor who has a godly character. They have an internal compass that reflects the “fruit of the Spirit.” While we often want a mentor for their success, how they achieved that success matters. There is nothing like the combo of a mentor who has incredible expertise and does this in a godly manner. These are men you need to lean on because their mentorship is multidimensional—good for this life and the life to come.

The question you need to ask is:

“Do they reflect and demonstrate Godly character?”

Seven | Truthful

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.—Joshua 1:8

I saved this one for last because I believe it’s the most important. You need to find a mentor who believes in objective truth and wants to help guide you to it through God’s Word. Nothing but God’s Word works. It is accurate, and it works every time. I had a hard time believing this when I was younger, but I am hoping you will take me at my word when I say that God’s Word is the ultimate guide—not man. Mentors will fail you, but God’s Word will not. When a man refers to, reads, or quotes scripture for you, pay attention. This is a sign that they want not their best for you but God’s best for you. We don’t need another opinion in this life. We need more truth, and God’s Word is that truth.

I would highly recommend a mentor who regularly spends time in God’s Word. Men of this kind are rare, but they are out there. Even if they don’t have the most profound resume or the most significant business, they have a success of spiritual proportions. These are men with a more certain compass, and they have a value that will pay off in the life to come.

The question you need to ask is:

“Do they consistently engage in reading and using God’s truth?”

This year, find a mentor. You don’t have to formalize it. In a cunning way, give it a whirl. Buy a great man a drink or a meal. I’ll even pay for it. Give it a try now, and you will discover that it leads to a great advantage for you in the years to follow.

I love you, son.—Dad

5 Ways A Man Handles Money

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5 Ways A Man Handles Money

This article is a repost written by Ryan Sanders is the Director of Outreach at Manhood Journey. He is married to Tonia, and they have three children. He received the Master of Divinity from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is a Fellow at The Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Ryan serves as Lay Pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, DC and is a diehard Redskins fan.


I love the TV show Shark Tank. I recently watched an episode, and one of the business mogul’s (I won’t name names!) struck me saying, “The most important thing in this world is money.” Let that sink in. At best, it was a cute quip for TV. At worst, it’s his worldview. The world respects this idea; biblical manhood lives differently. In this post, I want to distinguish the men from the boys. Biblical manhood understands the money you have is not your own. These are the top five ways biblical manhood handles money.

My pastor recently explained, if you have access to the following, you are incredibly wealthy:

  • clean water
  • clothes
  • a roof
  • your immediate needs met
  • transportation (a bus or car)
  • one book

Guys, how we view money and wealth is one of the greatest challenges we face. When it comes to money and biblical manhood (or biblical fatherhood), will you be the example your family needs? 

Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Thankfully, God is not silent about money. Let’s look at the biblical truths about money that can lead to a fulfilling life, no matter how much—or how little—financial wealth flows through our hands.

1. He Tithes

Oh, tithing, what should I write? I’ll tell you what. I’ll do my best to answer questions I think you’d ask about tithing. You’re welcome in advance!

Where do we tithe?

To and through the local church. The church feeds the poor and does God’s mission. Argue with me! ; )

When do we tithe?

Short answer: Regularly. There should be a clear pattern. You get paid bi-weekly. Don’t complicate it, give bi-weekly. Get in the habit of giving when you get. 

How much do we tithe?

Consult your local biblical scholar. Old Testament has lots to say about the tithe. Folks smarter than I have researched the first, second, and third-year tithe. Between the first-fruit offering and free-will offerings — conservatively — you’re looking at anywhere between 10 to 23+ percent. Have fun with that. A few Scriptures to ponder are Leviticus 19; 27:30, Exodus 23; 24; 35 and 36.

What’s the point of tithing? 

God wants His people to put Him before money. Tithes and offerings are not just God’s plan for financing His work. They are a means by which the Lord develops the heart of His people. When we give sacrificially without expectation of anything in return, we acknowledge that all we have and all we are belong to God.

A few principles we teach in our father and son Bible study about the tithe:

  • A tithe generally means a tenth, though that amount is not set in stone. (Leviticus 27:32)
  • A tithe is meant to honor the Lord, not just deprive us of material things. (Deuteronomy 14:22-23)
  • A tithe is the first or best part of what you earn or produce. (Proverbs 3:9)
  • God provided for certain people through the tithe. (Deuteronomy 26:12)

When should you start tithing? Right now. As in today. You’ll wonder where I stand on tithing if I don’t tell you now. Here’s my stance: Give now. Did you make $10 this week? Awesome. Give $1+ to the church in joyful worship understanding that God allowed you to come in contact with that $10. Biblical manhood tithes.

2. He Gives

What’s the difference between a tithe and a gift?

We owe God a tithe, but a gift goes beyond obligation; it’s an act of love, even a sacrifice to God or another person.

Those still reading will think, “Oh, tithing was sooooo Old Testament.” Well, in the New Testament, we don’t see specific commandment to tithe. Sadly for the greedy, money-hoarders reading this post, we see examples that go beyond tithing—to selling all of our possessions or giving everything away (Acts 2:42-47 and Acts 4:32-38).

This thinking may be helpful. When you tithe, you’re just getting started. Work in such a way that you can help someone or something out—beyond the tithe. What will I teach my son? By God’s grace, I’ll teach him that while we don’t give to get—when we get, we should give.

Scripture to consider:

  • Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” —2 Corinthians 9:7
  • “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” —Matthew 7:9–12

3. He Earns

Whether you have lots of money or little, it’s important to teach your son the value and responsibility of earning money. You work—you get money. That said, there’s a ton of Scripture that talks about work and responsibility.

Here are two verses and I’ll move on for now:

  • Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.” —Proverbs 10:4 
  • Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness.” —Proverbs 23:4

Live by example to your family about how you use your time and talents and work. These areas of life are opportunities to be grateful for the work and responsibility to earn money. Then, once you earn money, do the right thing with it.

4. He Enjoys

Do you think God wants us to enjoy our money? Sure. But, I don’t think this area is a problem for most of us. So, I won’t talk long about this point.

Just know these verses and let them guide how you enjoy your wealth:

  • Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil— this is a gift of God.” —Ecclesiastes 5:19
  • “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” —1 Timothy 6:17

It’s okay to enjoy material things and the wealth God provides. But we are not to pursue these things or let them become idols in our lives. If God provides something, we enjoy it. If He doesn’t, we rely on Him to meet our needs. The end. Jump to number five.

5. He Leaves

Do you have anything cool at home that your father or grandfather gave you as a special keepsake? My dad hasn’t passed or anything, but one of the coolest things I have from him is a few pocket knives. When I see one, anywhere, I think of my dad.

In Scripture, inheritances were usually passed on in the form of property.

  • Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers. —Job 42:15

What’s the big deal?

When saving money becomes about how you can leave a legacy for your kids or future generations—instead of that next thing you want to buy—this is when you ultimately move from being a boy to being a man. Dare I say, it’s part of intentionally discipling your son.

God can be trusted with your kids, your home, your money—everything. It’s already His. Don’t waste your money. Start at number one on this list and work your way down. The Bible says live with contentment and gives joyfully. If you take nothing from this post, remember this: Biblical manhood understands your money is not your own. Understand that, then teach it to your family by what you say and what you do. Where’s the profit in gaining the world, but losing your soul?

The Pride Problem | Letters To My Son

Im Proud of You a daily devotional by Vince Miller

The Pride Problem | Letters To My Son

Pride is more than the first of the seven deadly sins; it is itself the essence of all sin. — John Stott

He must increase, but I must decrease. — John the Baptizer, in John 3:30

Your Pride is Always Going to Be a Problem
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. — Proverbs 16:18

Pride is one of man's most notable challenges. As men, we are always flirting with either excessive self-esteem or unnecessary self-condemnation. Pride, called by a variety of words—avarice, arrogance, vanity, conceit, self-love, and hubris—is as insidious as everyone its names suggests. It has both internal and external manifestations. Internal manifestations range from self-condemnation, self-pity, to self-degradation. External forms range from self-exalting, self-promoting, and self-justification, and we as men need a keen awareness of the forms these take in our lives. While I would tell you there is nothing wrong with appropriate levels of self-satisfaction or self-disappointment, extremes of either of these can be destructive, as the proverbial writer notes above. Most often, this happens when we allow our successes or failures to define and shape us as men.

So, here are a few pointers to keep pride at arm's length in your life.

Watch the Indicators of Pride
In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride.—Benjamin Franklin

Because pride is so insidious, it attacks in a variety of ways, but there are indicators we can keep our eyes on before pride becomes fully mature in our lives. Here are a few things over which I would keep watch.

Protective Postures
Sometimes, we need to protect ourselves. But protecting ourselves from being vulnerable, transparent, and authentic with trusted people results in projecting a false sense of self. When you encounter insecurity—or a lack of confidence in something—be aware of how you protect yourself. A protective posture might look like embellishing a story, taking a shortcut, or inflating your skills. I have found that each of these has the potential to mature into pride.

Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.—Proverbs 26:12

Fixation on Self
There will be times you will need to give self some attention, but this can turn into you fixating on yourself. When this happens, some of your perception of self will be accurate, and some will be inaccurate. Try to remember that an unhealthy fixation on self is not good. It results in us fixing our eyes on the self rather than Christ, which will result in prideful actions.

Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.—Hebrews 12:2

Need For Attention
There are times you are going to feel "unsuccessful." In these moments, you may find you want and even need affirmation from others. Public attention does assist in validating our sense of self-worth. This is especially true when we're building new relationships or engaging in new experiences. We all have a desire to be liked, but we shouldn't allow this desire to give way to pride. For when our need for attention is met, and then becomes a validation of self-worth, the coupling of this feeling of reward is so powerful it will keep us coming back for more, and then pride takes hold.

Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.—Romans 12:16

Finding Fault in Others
There are times that the personality of a friend or a friend's success is going to irritate you. Because of this, a prideful spirit is liable to swell up within you, which may exhibit itself through fault-finding. You may find yourself deliberately identifying, verbalizing, and pointing out their mistakes. Be cautious, because while someone might agree with your assessment, this is usually an attempt to make you feel better. It's an attempt to degrade or to elevate self.

Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy.—Psalm 101:5

Disregard Of Others
Finally, and perhaps the most challenging, disregarding those who are not like you. I cannot tell you how many times my pride has exhibited itself from a place of disregard. Each time I pass the homeless, I fail to take time to listen to my wife, shirk from extending generosity to those in need, and not inviting a friend for the sake of my comfort. We often dismiss this as an infringement of time, but it's not. It's the preservation of self, through the inner voice of disregard, and just another indicator of pride.

The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.'—Luke 18:11

Additionally, Inadequacy Can Be Pride
"Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel.—1 Samuel 15:17

We usually don't think of inadequacy as pride. But if we take time to think about how insidious pride is, we'll discover that we all have played this mind game. Just as overinflating our image is pride, so is underinflating our image. It's where we attempt to make little of ourselves to feel better. This will work for a moment but not for long. It can escalate into secret shaming rants that are an attempt to punish the self. Most of the time, others are unaware that these critical tapes are playing in our minds, and they can diminish the good work God wants to do through you. Remember when the Lord anoints, he intends for his man to live this out.

How to Battle Pride
So daily, we must go to war with pride. It is a war that wages within each man, and each man must fight a little differently given his design and temptations. Regardless there is a way to battle that will diminish the power our tendencies give to pride.

Check Your Motives
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.—Proverbs 21:2

Our motive is the reason why we do what we do, and God cares far more about our motive than behavior alone. This doesn't mean God doesn't care about our practices, but that he knows our motivation drives behavior from pure or impure motives. So, as you do something, consider the reason why you are doing what you are about to do. Check your motivation; if it is done to draw attention to yourself, find a more honest course of action.

Accept Your Identity in Christ
In love, He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved. — Ephesians 1:5-6

You need to see yourself the way God sees you. "In love, He predestined you for adoption to Himself as a son." This is not the power of positive thinking; it's living in your spiritual reality. It's becoming the man you already are in God's eyes. Do this, and there is no need to prove your identity through your power or rely upon any power other than the Holy Spirit for strength. With God, there is no need for pride since your identity is found in Him and nothing else.

Give God Credit
As it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."—1 Corinthians 1:31

There is nothing more helpful for our everyday walk than deflecting glory to God. It may sound cliche, but when we give God glory, we gently remind ourselves that we don't need it. Now, some will say that a football player pointing up to heaven in an end zone is trivial, but I do not believe this is true. It's frequently an effort to deflect glory because we as men love to steal God's glory. We do it more often than we realize, and this bad behavior is an influential teacher when coupled with a triumph for which we take full credit. Keep pointing up and deflect to God as much as possible. Remember, every good gift is from God. He is the only one we praise. He is worthy of praise.

Trust God's Providence
Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.—James 4:15–16

It often fairs me well to remember that when things are or are not going my way, that they might be going the way God wants them. Trusting in God's providence means I need to believe him each step of the way, and less in myself. Providence attacks pride at its core. It steals power from personal pride in that it reminds me that God is controlling things, and I am not. When you are frustrated, angry, and pride seeps in, remember God is ultimately in control, and you are not.

Pride is going to be a lifelong battle. Wage war daily for the battle is hard-fought—daily.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.—Ephesians 6:12

I love you son, Dad.

The Power Of Addiction | Letters To My Son

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The Power Of Addiction | Letters To My Son

Quitting smoking is easy; I've done it hundreds of times.—Mark Twain

But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.—Luke 21:34.

But I'm Not An Addict
I know you are not, but so many are, and like Mark Twain above they deny it or ignore the power of it. Addiction is a growing epidemic among men. I find myself thinking about this on your behalf all the time because men are much more likely to become addicted than women to things like alcohol, pornography, gaming, gambling, smoking, drugs, and later in life work, money, success, and power.

Addiction is an associated learning process. It's a continuous brain reward and motive rewiring that results in physical, mental, and social dysfunctions and is characterized by an inability to abstain or control. We can be addicted to both a substance or an activity. A substance addiction would be something like nicotine, alcohol, or drugs. An activity addiction would be something like gambling, gaming, or pornography. The power in addiction is the pleasure that is outweighing the harm the substance or activity carries.

Therefore as men, we need to be on the watch for things of this life that attempt to steal our very being in the short time we are given in this life. Jesus himself warned us of this. "But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap."—Luke 21:34.

The following are valuable lessons I have learned about addiction that I have learned from others.

Lessons Learned About Addiction
One | Moderation vs. Addiction
"All things are lawful for me," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful for me," but I will not be enslaved by anything.—1 Corinthians 6:12

Some substances and activities are harmful from day one. It is easy to discern which these are. Many of them are illegal. Consciously we understand this; even basic intuition tells us they are wrong. But then there are those that we need for survival which we must moderate. And I believe learning to moderate the ones that are required helps us to learn moderation. For example, take food. Food is a substance that is necessary for life. Unmoderated food substances and eating activities do become problems for many people.

In the Bible, the first limit, or rule, a man was given was based on eating. God commanded us not to eat of a single tree, "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat"—Genesis 2:17. I have always thought this was interesting. God could have chosen anything for a first rule and thus the first sin, and his choice was a particular food and the eating of it. He took a needed activity and was requiring us to moderate it. And thus we can conclude that conscious moderation is not addiction.

Two | You Must Consider The Costs
For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?—Luke 14:28

Addiction is defined by the harm it inflicts, but an injury can occur on two levels. There are direct costs of addiction and indirect costs of addiction. For example, a direct cost of addiction to alcohol would be the cost of purchasing the substance and the time allocated to buying and consuming it. The indirect costs are the risks assumed with addiction to alcohol would be the effects on you physically, decreased performance mentally, damage to your reflection of Christ, and the potential impact on others. Most consider the direct costs of addiction, but fail to recognize the indirect costs, because the payoff of the "high" is too rewarding for them.

Considering both of these costs is important because as we make one choice, we must make all the other subsequent choices that go with it. For example, when someone chooses to use illegal performance-enhancing drugs in a sport, they are also giving way to making all the other choices that go with this first choice—including removal from a team, loss of scholarships, and the difficulties that result. These second-tier choices and costs are powerful lessons, and they can be an unfortunate teacher. I would prefer that you not learn this way but instead "count the cost" before.

Three | Loss Of Control
A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.—Proverbs 25:28

The definition of addiction infers that addiction only occurs when we demonstrate a "loss of control" with substances and activities, and then bad behaviors begin to pile up. Please note: this is different from a single sin since we are talking about "perpetual sinning pattern." Also note: this does not mean the substance is wrong; only the activity surrounding the use of the substance is improper. For example, in the Garden of Eden, the fruit of the tree was not "bad," in fact, the woman in the garden saw that it was "good for food" before she ate it. However, it was the eating of the tree that was bad. Another example, could be alcohol is not wrong in itself, but the pattern of use can be wrong. And the limit is "loss of control."

Self-control is critical to learn. Self-control is practicing a healthy associated pattern. Each man has his limits, and you need to know yours. I have limits, which are conscious decisions I have made in advance about several things. Alcohol, drugs, pornography, food, relationships, and even who I spend time with in life. These "advance decisions" are a mean of self-control for me, so that when I am in a moment, I am not making a decision. I make decisions before events so that when I am in them, I do not find myself losing control of self. Now, this requires you to both know yourself and know the situation, but over time, you will. We all have moments when the pursuit of a human pleasure will overwhelm us—I get it. I, too, have been here. You will find yourself here also. How you respond to this next time is essential, and you need to learn and build a better "wall" as the Proverb above states. This virtue preserves our character and all the other ramifications that many don't avoid.

Four | Practical Ideas Using Discipline
The point of all this is to find a better associated-learning process that results in holy rewards, not bad behaviors that pile up. Here are four things I would do to avoid addiction and build discipline.

Great Friends
Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.—Proverbs 11:14

We all need relationships. But there are relationships we need to avoid and relationships that we need to develop that by association make us better. I would recommend spending far more time with people that make you better. I am not sure more needs to be said here.

Advanced Decisions
Choose this day whom you will serve...—Joshua 24:15

Making advanced decisions keeps you from having to engage logical decision making in moments we are not thinking. I know it's laughable to say it that way. But too many times I have been caught, not thinking. You have heard me say when you have one boy; you have one brain. When you have two boys; you have half a brain. When you have three boys; you have a quarter of a brain. And when you have four boys; you have no brain. This is true because sometimes we live only for the moment, ignoring the apparent consequences. At this moment, advanced decision making comes in handy. You don't have to wait for logic to kick in too late because you have already made in a decision about what to do when the moment arises. This may serve you well in moments with other guys where compromise may be within reach—or even with a woman.

Renewed Thinking
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind—Romans 12:1

As men, we have to be continually renewing our mind. And the only way to "renew your mind" is to keep your mind in front of right thinking. I think some of the best thinking in the Bible, in an easy to read format, is written by King Solomon. His book of Proverbs is a book full of wise sayings that are great for putting a mind that can easily be corrupted in front of great thinking. There are 31 Proverbs, you could read one a day for a month, and this will fill your mind with great thoughts—thoughts that align with God's will.

Positive Results
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.—1 Corinthians 10:21

A discipline that results in positive behavior is done from the motivation of Godly love ultimately for the glory of God. It's not just discipline done for a personal reward but an eternal reward. Godly discipline produces positive results and has a multiplying effect. It also results in freedom and joy that addictive behavior does not. The temporary reward of an addictive high is nothing compared to the rewards of spiritual discipline done for the right reason.

Along the way your going to make mistakes, but learn quickly. Remember, I'm here to help when you need direction or when you find yourself stuck. Never be too ashamed to reach out for help.

I love you, Dad.

Moderate Anger | Letters To My Son

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Moderate Anger | Letters To My Son

Anybody can become angry - that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way - that is not within everybody's power and is not easy.—Aristotle

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.—Ephesians 4:26-27

Prone To Anger?
So many men I know, are prone to anger. And you will be too. Understanding how to respond in these moments are critical as these are moments men are made and revealed for who they are. Understanding what anger is, how you exhibit anger, and the triggers that give way to your anger will be critical for you as you mature. Many men take too long to mature in this area and let their anger lead them with devastating consequences on teams, in relationships, and within the workplace.

Several men of the Bible, in the act of rage, have inflicted grave injury on others. Moses is a prime example. In passion, he stepped up when he saw the mistreatment of his fellow Hebrews—which was a good impulse. However, his untamed anger turned into a physical act of violence that resulted in murder. And later in Moses' life, we again see him respond poorly in rage. As he was leading the people toward the promised land, he was instructed by God to "speak to a rock," and God would open a river of water for the thirsty and obstinate nation. However, Moses "struck the rock" in anger, which was a willing act of disobedience over the complaints of the people. Moses was right to be frustrated but was wrong not to manage his holy frustration, which resulted in rebellion to God. Because of that one moment of defiance, God prevented Moses from leading the people into the promised land. Now that's a bummer all brought about by anger.

So what valuable lessons do you need to learn about managing your anger? Here are a few I have learned the hard way. And I do mean the hard way.

Valuable Lessons About Anger
One | Anger is not wrong
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.—The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:26-27

It's clear from many biblical texts that anger is not wrong. We know that God expressed anger and revealed his anger through many Old Testament prophets. At times there were significant consequences for angering God—case in point; Sodom and Gomorrah. Or consider the perpetual evil of humanity which resulted in God's just anger that resulted in a worldwide flood wiping out corruption except for single faithful family—case in point; Noah the great flood. God justly denounces the perpetuation of evil and shuns immoral behavior, and there is just punishment for it. Therefore we can assume being angry is not wrong, or God would not do it. And we should fear God's just and holy anger.

But as men, we must moderate our anger because we are not like God. Our anger originates most of the time from a place of selfishness and self-centeredness—rarely is it selfless. It's about me not getting what "I want" or what "I feel I deserve," and this is the difference between God's anger and action and our anger and action. God's wrath stems from righteous anger and has a moral result; ours does not.

But, it's not righteous anger that will usually get you into trouble. When the male fuse is lit, it has the potential to become a destructive wildfire that is out of control. It's sparked when a competitor oversteps a boundary. It burns into full-flame when you feel an imminent loss. It rages when a peer takes credit for what you have done. And the problem is that if these moments go unmoderated, our initial anger will burn into full flame with words and actions that seek to inflict harm which will destroy relationships. Hopefully, you see it's the subsequent responses of the emotion of anger that are wrong.

Based on what I read above from Paul exhortation to the Ephesians, there are a few primary responses to anger.

  1. Sinful angeranger that results in unrighteousness.
  2. Unaddressed angeranger that we suppress or ignore.
  3. Addressed angeranger to which we rightly recognize and respond.

The suggested key to managing your anger is to recognize anger as a signal and respond rightly, not letting irritation result in sinful reactions.

Two | Anger is a signal
And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.—Mark 3:5

Anger is an emotional signal that something is wrong. It signals that a personal value has been offended or that you have experienced or witnessed an injustice. Either way, anger indicates that something is amiss, and it needs to be addressed.

Think of anger as an indicator light on the dashboard of your car. When your vehicle is overheating or low on fluids, the lighted panel will tell you that something is wrong with a warning light before something catastrophic happens. Anger is similar—it's an emotional indicator light that God gave you. It's a strong feeling of displeasure. Many ignore this indicator without attempting to understand what this emotion is signaling since diagnosis can be challenging. Or others think expression or suppression of anger is socially acceptable without a need for diagnosing the underlying issue. But the right response to anger is to trace back this signal to the root issue.

The three response to the signal
Anger should warn you to do three things. First, you need to stop and address a problem—which is often relational. This implies metaphorically we need to "stop and pull the car over." When you get angry you will need time to realize that you are mad—sometimes during the adrenaline rush, you may bypass the recognition of this. Remember it is fine to be angry, but that it's not fine to act upon anger in the wrong way. So let yourself experience the irritation. Second, anger signals that you need to look "under the hood of the car and identify the issue." When you get angry, it's essential to find the source of the anger. Often the cause of aggravation comes from fear, pain, or frustration. At this point, you need to be honest with yourself about the origin of your perceived injustice. Was it something for which you are responsible, or was it something done to you? Identify your responsibility, and the other party as this will be important for taking the next and final step. Third, you need to address the relational issue that is unresolved for you. Usually, this means sitting down face to face with another person—which is hard for some, but it's the right thing to do. This is where we locate and "repair the issue under the hood."

The challenge is all this happens very quickly when we experience the emotion of anger. Getting this process to slow down is helpful. Then as you become more proficient, you will be able to speed it up, becoming more effective at understanding your signals—your unique anger.

Three | Know your anger
But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, "Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God."—Mark 10:14

Your anger is going to be different than anyone else's. You need to know yourself and how you respond. Psychologists will tell you there are two typical responses: fight or flight. Some people love a good fight others flee from it, but there are plenty of people in between these two extremes. Only you know you. So get to know how you experience anger and either how you express it or how you suppress it. If I were you, I would spend some time thinking about what happens when you get angry. Note your physiological responses like sweating, blushing, and increased heart rate—these are signals. Note other reactions like insomnia, anxiety, headaches, digestive issues, even depression—these are consequential signals. Note your language such as sarcasm, joking, sharp statements, and tones—the are reactionary signals. Note the effects you have on others when you are angry such a tension, confusion, alienation, and frustration—these are relational signals. It might do you well to start noticing the patterns and address them to keep your anger from adversely impacting your relationships with others. In life, we don't need more opponents, but instead real friends, alliances, brothers, and life-long allies. The way we build these is by responding appropriately and governing our anger because anger can have devastating consequences on relationships.

Four | The consequences of anger
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.—Ephesians 4:31

In this scripture, you will see there are many manifestations of things related to anger. So many that Paul feels inclined to be exhaustive of the consequences on our fellow man. His list is as follows:

  • Bitternesshatred toward another person.
  • Wratha temper that is disorderly and selfish.
  • Angerpassion against an individual.
  • Clamorwild, rough, condescending yelling.
  • Slanderspeaking evil and being judgemental toward another.
  • Malicedeveloped hatred for another human.

Over your lifetime, you will experience these "emotions and actions" either perpetrated by you or by someone else. Everyone one of them has devastating consequences on relationships. They mark actions that cannot be retrieved and leave a permanent mark on us as individuals. Even today, I can recall hurtful words spoken by another human about me (directly and indirectly). I, too, have perpetuated the same. These words and behaviors become scars that are not easy to remove. Be careful son. Remember the wounds inflicted on you by others and do not inflict them on others. This is poison for humanity and a deadly virus to relationships with friends, teammates, and your own family.

Five | Forgiveness is power against anger
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.—Ephesians 4:32

Given these consequences, forgiveness is a powerful healing agent. Learning to forgive others, be forgiven, and live in active forgiveness when it is not deserved is powerful ointment to the burns and scars of anger. Forgiveness addresses deep wounds inflicted. It releases us from unspoken bondage of unforgivable actions. It relieves our mind, soul, and heart of anxiety and stress when we say "forgive me" or "I forgive you," and we genuinely mean it.

Forgiveness is the basis of our relationship with Christ—in that Christ forgave you and me. Learning to practice forgiveness is the healing salve for your underlying issues that resurrect your anger. It requires far more strength as a man to forgive than it does to live in perpetual anger and replaying the injustice you have unfairly suffered. You are at no point more like Christ than when you forgive someone else of the suffering they have projected onto you.

Sadly, we live in a fallen world. And because of this, we are going to suffer unfairly through evil actions perpetrated by the anger of another. As men, we have a choice—we can contribute and add fuel to the flame of evil and suffering, or we can quench the fire of sin with the spring of forgiveness. Develop the strength to forgive. To forgive others, to forgive self, and to be forgiven by God—be free the bondage of anger.

I love you, son—Dad.

Produce Value | Letters To My Son

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Produce Value | Letters To My Son

"I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinions of himself than on the opinions of others."—Marcus Aurelius

"For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come."—1 Timothy 4:8

Everything Has Value—real and ascribed

Value is the belief that something has merit. Therefore the value we ascribe to something grants it its worth—#cha-ching. For example, a $20 bill has a real value of .10 cents, which is the actual cost of the paper, ink, and labor for production. But we ascribe to this debt note value of $20. While in our mind it's worth 20 dollars, its real value is not 20 dollars—notice the delta between real and ascribe.

Understanding how value works becomes critically important in understanding yourself. This is because value is not just something we ascribe to things; it is something we also ascribe to people—even ourselves.

You may not recognize your value or the values you hold, but you have a unique set of personal values that drive your current behavior. In fact, your current behaviors are evidence of your values. These values can be spoken or unspoken, but either way, they exist. These values are the hidden standards for your judgment and action. For example, I have a few that have been with me most of my life. Words like "integrity, leadership, mentorship, discipline, and faith" are a few deeper values I hold. Sometimes I speak openly about these, and other times they are evidenced by my actions. They make me unique and form if not inform my everyday life. More often than not, we discover them over time through trial and error.

As my son, I see deep, high, and lasting value in you, while you may not be able to recognize and name them all at this point in your life. But over the next few years, you will discover a list that you call your own. Below are a few things to consider as these "themes" rise to the surface.

One | You Have Value As A Male

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."—Genesis 1:27

The world is getting a little strange on the gender issue. For some reason, the mistakes of one person of a particular gender are negative contributions to the whole. In the court of public opinion, our gender is pronounced guilty before a jury of social media predators who are determining constructs for new masculinity and attacking not only the evils of humanity but also the man with his gender. You will hear people, even professors with some worldly clout, proudly proclaim that our gender is "toxic." In addition, they may also project contributing issues onto you as a man over which you have no control. And because of this, they will presume you should feel regret for being a man.

Do not be confused; humanity needs to repent of both conscious and unconscious sin. Men have made mistakes, except we are all sinful. Male and female. In actuality, humanity is "toxic" but only because the toxic impact of sin impacts it—and it's not gender-exclusive it gender-inclusive.

But the toxic impact of sin does not mean that you should devalue your gender. Be proud to be a man. The Creator made you this way. You had no control over this. Yes, you are distinctive biologically but don't live in shame or confusion about this. Your gender is beautiful, and while sexually different from females, males and females are both bearers of God's image, both heirs of God's grace, and both called to rule God's creation. So be God's man.

Two | Your Male Friendship Have Value

"Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another."—Proverbs 27:17

Every man contributes some form of value to another man. I add value to you, and you add value to me. We are continually exchanging it. It's like we're each making deposits and withdrawals with each other.

What's interesting is that in some relationships you will not experience deposits, rather only withdrawals. Some people will take value, while others will contribute to it. And I would recommend you find a disproportionate number of men that make good, healthy, and rich deposits into your life. You are going to have to seek them out. They are not just going to walk up to you. You are going to have to buy them a coffee, invite them to a meal, or schedule an appointment. You need to find men that have the value that you want—men who are further down the road of life than you in several areas. Business. Marriage. Leadership. Faith. Family. Seek these men out for their value and then be unashamed that you need mentoring from them because of their value. Men will most often willingly give it for free, especially for men passionate about growth and being a "sharper man."

Three | Discover Your Values Through The Irritations

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."—Jeremiah 29:11

Personal values, like I hold, are essential to identify. It may be too early to know them all, but you'll discover them in an irritating way. People around you will say or do things that strike a nerve-ending in your heart, soul, and mind. They might say something that offends you, do something that angers you, or unintentionally do something that hurts you. At this moment be alert, because this "internal alarm" will draw attention to the values you hold. It might awaken a passion, a sense of justice, or a holy discontent.

Many of the values I hold I stumbled on because I had moments, experiences, and encounters that awakened them. Moments of dishonesty that led me to value integrity. Experiences with weak leadership that led me to value great leadership. And encounters that lacked discipleship that led me to value mentorship. Embrace these "alarming" moments and recognize the passion that lies within you. Spend less time being irritated and more time concerning your heart with the solutions to the problem around the value they have awakened. Remember these moments, name the value, tell stories about them, and then get some passion for the activation of them.

Four | You Have Value To Extend To Others

"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another."—1 Peter 4:10

In the New Testament, a few books reference "spiritual gifts." These lists are not exhaustive of every form of a spiritual gift, but they teach a profound point—that we each have a contribution to make to the world but also the institution of the church. What's interesting about our gifts is that they are given to us for the benefit of others, not-self. The selfish use of our gifts is misuse. Therefore you have a contribution to others for their benefit, and others have the same. This is a value exchange of spiritual proportions. This means the world and the church need you and you need them.

Too many bury these "talents" in the ground and fail to experience the multiplying impact of them. I wish I would have learned this lesson much younger than I did. I am just now beginning to see and feel the multiplying effect of my value to the world because I want late in discovering and finding a place to use them—but even more, because I failed to pay attention to them.

If you want to discover your gifts, I would recommend a spiritual gifts assessment like this one—www.beresolute.org/sga. Take it and discuss it with someone who has similar gifts as you and find out how they have used their gifts for the value of multiplying impact in the life of others.

Five | Find a Woman Who Knows Her Value and Shares Yours

"An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels."—Proverbs 31:10

The one thing I am most concerned about for you is finding a woman whose values are shared and complemented by yours. A woman who shares your faith in God and wants to find ways in this worldview to live out your values as they mutually honor God. Don't settle for physical beauty alone; find the spiritual beauty that accentuates the physical beauty. This woman will be precious and valuable to you. I found this same thing in your mom when we met for the first time—physical attraction and inner beauty. Seek it and don't settle.

Six | Invest In Things That Have Meaningful Value

"For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?"—Matthew 16:26

Some ventures are profitable, and others not so much. You mom and I have learned the hard way from making poor investments with our time, talent, and treasure. But even more than this is the investment we make that have an eternal impact.

It's essential to provide, save, spend, and invest financially, but there is one economic engine that you need always to be giving attention to—the investment in spiritual riches that have eternal gain.

Don't invest so much time in athletic pursuits that you refrain from time with God. Don't spend too much time in relationships, events, socials, and activities that you avoid weekly church services. Don't value school, studying, homework, or projects, and then avert spiritual development. In this life, some things hold some value and items that have eternal value. Invest more time, talent, and treasure in the latter.

Seven | God See's Value In You

"...and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty."—2 Corinthians 6:18

You will advertently or inadvertently cheapen your real value, by ascribing to yourself a lower value than you deserve. On the field of play, you're going to mess up and then privately shame yourself. Don't shame yourself. In relationships, you're going to say the wrong thing and then subsequently beat yourself up. Don't beat yourself up. At work or school, you will blow it, and you will think, "I am not good enough, smart enough, qualified enough," and nothing is farther from the truth. Don't believe this. The voice of self-disqualification is powerful; don't convince yourself to listen.

Instead, remember your identity in Christ gives you value. Son, you are a son of God. Live in this identity; it's your real identity. You are not defined by the things you do, don't do, or do wrong. You are not defined by the things you say, don't say, or say wrong. You are not defined by the things you think, don't think, or think wrongly. You are only assigned and thus given real value by God based on what He has said and that alone. Live in this. It's becoming who you already are—valuable.

Love you, son—Dad.

Love Women | Letters To My Son

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Love Women | Letters To My Son

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”—Genesis 1:27

“Marriage is a lot of give and take. You take a lot, and you give a lot.”—Verna Mae Baker

Son, It Seems The Times Are A-Changin’

We live in a time in our culture where it appears men and women compete with each other. In this battle for equality and preserving the masculine and feminine identity, it seems there is an attack on old customs. Former “gentlemanly traditions” are now brought into question as if their motivation was to force women to become our subjects in the home, marriage, marketplace, and the church. While this could long be debated, including the underlying motivations and resultant issues, it’s had an impact on what it means to be a man and how to best cherish and honor women. I would say it has made relationships more tricky to navigate. Some men are skittish, and others ignore it—but the world is not skittish and refuse to ignore it. Popular media throws out words that even I have to look up—like “misogyny” and “misandry.” Colleges now subject incoming students to pronouns about gender and sexual identity that inherently have a double meaning—like “cisgender.” And I wonder if this is creating more clarity for anyone, or just adding to the confusion. On our quest for understanding, could we be frustrating ourselves?

Maybe this is partly our fault as men. The unintended consequences of not living out the character of Christ might be catching up with us. Our misuse of power, objectification of beauty, locker-room lingo, misunderstanding of submission, and poor treatment might have created the perfect storm in our time. The sad part is that it calls into question all that was good about gentlemen behaviors like provision, protection, roles, and manners that had long-standing masculine charm. Our culture is trying at hyperspeed to redefine masculinity, but this does not change God’s plan for manhood.

So how can we best love the women of our life?

Eight Principles For Female Relationships

One | Be A Strong Gentlemen

“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”—1 Peter 3:7

Everyone gets tripped up by the “weaker vessel” part of this verse, yet why wouldn’t every woman want a strong man? But “strong” does not infer that we should use power to demand the submission of others. It means to steward our strength to “lift a heavy box” responsibly and with the understanding, we do have some common ground with women—a grace that redeems us both. Balancing this is a delicate art. Sincerely strong men know they possess a “power,” whatever that power may be, and manage it with care toward others. This is God’s obligation before us. Being strong is to know our strength and then practice it in a way that brings beauty to those who possess a different strength. I believe this is what it means to be a “gentle” man. And I want you to be this man—unashamed of your strength but not shaming others with it—especially women.

Do this:

  • Hold the door for a woman.
  • Give a thoughtful gift to a woman.
  • Wait until marriage to have sex.
  • Respect your mother or any older woman.
  • Put Godly boundaries on your interaction with women.
  • Kiss her respectfully.
  • Protect her dignity with other men.
  • Mind your manners around all women.
  • Defend and embellish women.
  • Don’t put yourself in a compromising position with a woman.

Two | Connect Emotionally With Women

“Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.”—Colossians 3:19

One thing I failed to learn before marriage was how to connect emotionally. Due to the emotional damage in my life, I was unable to discover that emotional connection was critical in marriage, relationships, and leadership. Emotional connection is a part of life, and it requires honesty, openness, and transparency. If you want a great relationship with women and marriage, then you are going to have to learn how to connect with women emotionally. This means sharing your heart with them about the things you are experiencing, not just talking about the facts, your opinions, or being ready with the next best joke.

“Harsh” men, as Paul references above, have failed to learn to connect emotionally. Contrary to popular belief, anger is not the only emotion we have as men. Many men never learn this. Angry men have not learned or been taught the strength and power of real honest, open, and transparent sharing. They have not learned to identify and address their wounds, and thus, in fits of anger express this confusion. And when we are “harsh” with women, we end up treating women as submissive subjects rather than loving them the way God would love them.

Emotional connection is vital in a relationship with women, raising children, and leading people. "Emotional Intelligence," terminology Daniel Coleman popularized, is the ability to understand self enough that we can connect healthily with others. But this is not to be reduced to a leadership tactic—it’s an emotional ability of mature men. Women have an intuitive sense in this area and know when we are not making an emotional connection with them. And emotional connection begins with us connecting and getting real with how we feel—angry, disgusted, fearful, happy, or sad.

Do this:

  • Listen to how she is feeling.
  • Share with her how someone made you feel.
  • Listen to her struggles.
  • Share a struggle you are trying to overcome.
  • When you are confused, confess it and ask her for advice or wisdom.
  • Share something new you learned and why this was important to you.

Three | Let The Creator Determine Manhood and Womanhood

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”—Genesis 1:27

God is the Creator. We are not. He does not remain neutral on the fact that men and women are unique and beautiful and yet both made in his image. But the world is going to have a lot to say about men and women. In college, your professors and friends will have lots to say. The world will even try to define it for you. But don’t listen to the creation on Creator issues. Marketing, movements, and sensationalism cannot redefine what God has already established. It has been tried repeatedly. When you want the best answer, go to the Creator, not creation—their opinions and ideas don’t matter. The designer, in this case, is God. He has the best purpose, plan, and payoff. And the significant part is that he has given us the best model—Jesus Christ.

Remember:

  • God has the best plan for man.
  • God has the best plan for women.
  • God has the best plan for marriage.
  • God has the best plan for a family.
  • God is the truth; when you have questions, go to the truth.

Four | Learn How To Love & Sacrifice For Women

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”—Ephesians 5:25

My grandmother used to say, “Marriage is a lot of give and take. You take a lot, and you give a lot.” And her point is well taken. Nothing is more humbling than discovering there is no end to the need to cherish and sacrifice. There is no line, no boundary, and no limit. We take and give endlessly. But personally absorbing and acting in the beauty in this is difficult. Women are not perfect. Men are not perfect. But we can love and sacrifice in lieu of this and see perfection through it.

In those moments, I am most challenged by my wife, I still think to myself about the high responsibility I have to love and sacrifice for her. Sometimes my selfish nature says, “again?” But in the years we have been married, I have continued to fight off this broken logic. I have discovered I do still love her underneath it all—we are merely having one of our moments.

You too will have these moments—moments of deep frustration. This is sometimes a communication issue and sometimes just part of the challenge of relationships. Don’t be quick to think it’s just a woman thing. It’s a human thing. People are sinful and broken—men and women. Due to this, you are going to have to love and sacrifice in spite of the challenges. Jesus did the same. He loved and sacrificed for a people who did not love him, and he did it anyway—so should you. And this is the point of this text. Learn to love and sacrifice—anyway.

Do this:

  • As a man, love a little longer than the moment.
  • As a man, love when you don’t want to.
  • As a man, love a little longer when people tell you not to.
  • As a man, sacrifice till it hurts and discovers real love.
  • And look for a woman who will do the same.

Five | Seek A Covenant Not A Contract

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”—Genesis 2:24

Oneness is a great mystery. God wants us to enjoy it live in it. He wants us to find someone with whom you will spend the rest of your life with whom you will share sexually, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.

All I know is that we can corrupt this oneness. We have the opportunity to take and steal from this oneness even before marriage by separating them from a covenantal relationship. Don’t make this mistake. God’s covenant of marriage is not something to adulterize. Many do this thinking they will be fine, and they are not.

Many people hold a “contractional” or “transactional” view of marriage. Don’t keep this view. If it’s contractional, then it’s meant to be broken. If it’s transactional then determining your half of the contribution will lead to much debate. But understand marriage as “covenantal,” and then you will take it much more seriously—because there is a third person involved in the covenant—God. And it is God who created us for a relationship, a forever commitment when the time comes. Look for a woman who wants this kind of commitment with you and God.

Do this:

  • Identify marriages that you admire and pray for them.
  • Identify characteristics in women that you want and pray for them.
  • Identify characteristic in men that you want and pray for them.

Six | Avoid Immorality

“Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?”—Proverbs 5:20

Yeah, this is one of those points that never gets old. It’s a timeless truth. Don’t treat women this way, and don’t treat yourself this way. What more needs to be said?

Don’t do this:

  • View pornography or undress women with your mind.
  • Joke sexually about women even with others, it's not funny.
  • Endorse the objectification of women by giving your money to entities that do.
  • Don't support others who do any of the above.
  • Don't be alone with an untrustworthy woman.

Seven | Find A Woman Who Cares About You & God

“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.”—Proverbs 31:10-12

“He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.”—Proverbs 18:22

Your mom has made me a better man. Women often see us as their favorite project. And while some think this could be interpreted as overstepping and positionally arrogant—honestly, I want to be better. Daily I am challenged by her to be better, push harder, do more, serve further, love more, be more open, become more romantic. While once I used to see this as a drawback, I now view it as an advantage I have. So look for someone who will make you better—a better man, husband, father, and leader. And someone for who you can do the same.

And nothing is more important than finding someone who not only makes you better but loves God even more than you. Someone who puts Him first. A woman who is wholly subject to God. Who wants to grow in character and virtue with Him and then you. Find this woman. Settle for nothing less. I am blessed to have found it. And only now I realize that it is the great “coincidence” of my life. And why would I suggest this? Because a woman who honors God will always honor you. It sounds a little selfish, but it’s wisdom to be trusted.

Do this:

  • Pray for a woman who loves you just the way you are.
  • Pray for a woman who enjoys you—your style, humor, personality, and values.
  • Pray for a woman who loves God.
  • Pray for a woman who makes you better.

Eight | Be The Right Man & You’ll Find The Right Woman

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”—1 Corinthians 16:13

Often, men and women date, hook up, or even get married because they are missing something in their lives and believe that one of these things will fill that void. While there is much to be said here, many fail to remember that Jesus is the relationship who completes us regardless of our married state. If you cannot come to a place of contentment, joy, and understanding your identity in your singleness, you will not find this in marriage. In fact, if you cannot find it now, it might complicate it further to be in a relationship or get married. Your identity is not found in a relationship or marriage because neither of these relational states takes the place of one’s identity in Christ—it only compliments it. You are a complete person in Christ, dating, married, or not. Regardless of popular opinion, your spouse will not “complete you,” Jesus is the only one that does. So be secure in who you are in Christ. Act like a man, the man that God made you be.

Do this:

  • Groom yourself.
  • Smell good.
  • Act in Godly character daily.
  • Seek a career path.
  • Work hard and play hard.
  • Have fun but don't overdo it.

Love you, son. Dad.

Respect Authority | Letters To My Son

respect-authority-a-blog-written-by-Vince-Miller-of-Mens-Ministry

Respect Authority | Letters To My Son

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”—Jesus, Luke 22:42

“Football is like life - it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication, and respect for authority.”—The legendary coach, Vince Lombardi

The Posture We Once Assumed
In times past, we assumed respect of those who were elders or in authority. Respect was something extended to anyone in power, not something principally earned, debated, or immediately in question. Of course, I might be overstating this position, but in some cultures, respect is was not something earned—it was assumed.

But today it seems commonplace to question authority and even directly question it on the assumption we have the right and freedom to challenge it. We encounter a conflict of respect when we do not agree with authority. When we feel that something is injustice and unfair, but this does not mean we should disrespect the person on the other side. How we handle this conflict is critical. And while we should put thoughts, words, actions, and attitudes to the test—assuming the worst of all authority at every turn may be extreme and project disrespect. Not every leader, pastor, teacher, coach, parent, referee, politician, and officer have ulterior motives that require a response of consistent challenge. Disrespectful words, actions, and attitudes are often a result of never being taught how to appropriately respect and challenge authority when it acts “out of the character” prescribed by that office.

So how can we best respect authority?

A Few Important Principles On Respecting Authority
One | Face The Reality That People Are Imperfect
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”—Romans 3:23

Yes, everyone is imperfect. But a person’s imperfection does not give us the right to disrespect them. This principle is more a reminder that mankind is flawed, just like you. So what if you got a ticket and felt you did not deserve it. So what if a referee punishes you and you thought you were a victim. So what if your parents punish you and you feel the punishment is unjust. These things happen, but blaming, faultfinding, and protesting authority are not helpful in these situations. These people will and do make mistakes, but this does not mean we should disrespect them entirely. As Paul said in Romans, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That means they will make an error in judgment, unfairly discipline, or over-exercise punishment. But we have all been victims of this. And you will do the same when you are given power and authority. Merely remember life is not fair because the world is full of sin and sinful people.

Two | Authority Afflicts A Leader
“Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”—1 Kings 3:7-9

Young Solomon, who has just taken the throne from his father David, knows in a private encounter with God that he’s in over his head. God gave him something most men would love to have from their father—an incredible opportunity to lead God’s nation. But as you can see, he was concerned about stewarding this moment. A lot was weighing on him that perhaps we forget to take into account.

People given authority do not always like the power that they have been given and sometimes do not exercise it well. This is the leadership challenge we all have. Father’s don’t know how to father until they are given the opportunity to father. Leaders don’t know how to lead until they are given a chance to lead. Pastors don’t know to pastor till they are allowed to pastor. And so, leadership is an experiment in motion. And with it, we have opportunities to succeed and fail. And leaders do both. So when they fail, we need to keep in mind, they just like us, are in process. So treat them with respect as a leader whose experience, skill, and character is in process.

Three | Agreeable Action In A Disagreeable State
“[Slaves], obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.”—Colossians 3:22

Eventually, you are going to be in a disagreeable situation. You will, at some point, serve under an authority that is less than agreeable and in conditions that don’t agree with you. This is always a challenge. You will work for a boss, be appointed a teacher, or encounter a leader, coach, pastor, or officer whose posture, position, and power are abusive, manipulative, and narcissistic. To put it frankly, it’s going to suck.

But keep in mind there are many people before you have served under oppressive people that were ungodly. Even first-century slaves, who appear to be in a seemingly unjust situation, had to learn to respect authority. Paul, the writer to the Colossians, encourages those slaves to use their obedience, not their disobedience, as a means of service to God. This perspective is powerful and deeply profound. Learning to do this is good for us all, and yet one of the harder lessons to learn. Submission to the authority of God given the sovereign situation at the moment.

Four | All Authority is God’s
We sometimes fail to remember that God established authority and also distributes it to people and takes it from people. Trusting God sovereign distribution of power and authority is part of the process of respecting authority. Submitting to lower authorities is one way we show support for the authority of God.

Remember, it’s God establishes authority in the government.
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”—Romans 13:1-2

Remember, it’s God establishes authority in the family.
“Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise).”—Ephesians 6:2

Remember, it’s God establishes authority in the church.
“...upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”—Matthew 16:18

The issue we sometimes come to terms with is we think we are the best authority. Or we think we would be a better authority than someone else. This brings us back to point two. God distributes authority and will take power from people. Sometimes he will give it to you. But how you steward it matters. If you cannot respect God, him who has all authority, how will you steward even small amounts of it? Notice the apostle Paul’s encouragement to his young protege Timothy as he is establishing leaders in the church.

“He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?”—1 Timothy 3:4-5

Five | Jesus Demonstrates Human Respect For Divine Authority
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”—Luke 22:42.

These are humbling words. Even Jesus, at some point, submitted and respected God’s choice for his present and future challenge. While facing the imminent death, Jesus cried out for a change of circumstances. Asking for a change was not wrong. But it would have been disrespectful and out of character to not submit to God plan in spite of the challenges that lied ahead. And we too need to relinquish the rebellion we experience in our heart.

Six | Respect Out Of Holy Fear and For Clear Conscience
“Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.”—Romans 13:5

Finally, we should respect authority because we respect God. We revere Him and his ways even we do not fully understand. Complete faith infers we trust to the greatest extent that he has our best in mind. And in doing so, we encounter a great gift—a life lived with a clear conscience. A life absolved of a concern of wrongdoing. A life lived without fear of looking over our shoulder. Clarity of conscience gives us a freedom we otherwise do not have. We can run the race a little harder, live a little more adventurously, and sleep more soundly.

A Time To Respectfully Protest
But, there will be a time. Yes, they will only be a few, where you will be allowed to protest and challenge authority. How this is done is essential. What you say and how you say it is critical and speaks volumes about your leadership and character. Embrace one rule of thumb—make sure your protest is in line with God’s will done in the character of a follower of Christ. When men do this greatly, they become like great men.

The Fight Of Apathy

Battle a daily devotional by Vince Miller

The Fight of Apathy

"I never worry about action, but only inaction."—Winston Churchill

Apathy Is Our Primary Battle

We need to address a serious issue. It's our apathy. I believe apathy is the first and chief sin of men. It runs rampant among men and even well-intentioned Christian men.

As we look back to the dawn of time in as told in Genesis 3, we see our sin issues are deeply related to the fact that we remain apathetic when God has empowered us. The problem in the Garden of Eden came about because we alone watched it unfold and sat by and watched. Like we watch television at home. The entrance of sin into the world was not the serpent's fault; all Satan was doing was acting true to his character. Sin was not to be mainly blamed on woman, accusing her action does not at all resolve man's inaction. Sin entered the world because man sat on the couch and watched sin unfold and did nothing and said nothing. And in the end, the man dared to blame the woman and ultimately God for our lack of action. Yet God empowered us with tremendous authority, including the power to define creation, steward timelessness, a responsibility to a single mandate, and the enjoyment of life with a woman. With this authority came great responsibility to take action and unfortunately at the moment we were most needed in the Garden we threw in the towel and rejecting our call to speak up and act when we should have mustered some initiative for the battle. Our mandate to leadership is deteriorating, not because of the world. It's deteriorating because of our apathy rooted in selfishness for the things we want. This is our primary issue.

Here's proof of our male pattern apathy. The statistics are staggering.

For Every 10 Men In The Church

  • Nine will have children who leave the church, and many will not come back.
  • Eight will not find their jobs satisfying.
  • Six will pay the monthly minimum on their credit cards.
  • Five will have a severe issue with porn.
  • Five will get divorced.

These are not great stats about men—which I am one. These statistics, either directly or indirectly infer a few things.

  • First, men are ineffective as spiritual mentors—90% of our children will leave the church and potentially not return.
  • Second, men feel purposeless at work—80% are unsatisfied.
  • Third, men are poor stewards money—60% are carrying unhealthy forms of debt.
  • Fourth, men are unsatisfied in relationship and objectify women—50% are regularly looking at pornography.
  • Fifth, men are failing to understand the value of commitment in marital challenges—50% will get a divorce.

Please keep in mind there are nuances in every situation that impact these statistics in different ways, but these generalizations inferred are at least directionally correct. This is not a great direction for us men. And remember these statistics are about Christian men, not men in general. And I wonder if today's Christian man looks any different, or better, than that of secular man? And we have to ask the following question, "Are we representing the character of Christ in our world?" But there is a positive side.

All these facts are affected by a man who lived with some active conviction.

Fight Atrophy

The strategic place to begin the fight is with our enemy—apathy. This is because apathy leads to atrophy.

I am not sure if everyone knows what atrophy is, but for those of us who have broken an arm or leg and worn a cast for a while, you know atrophy. Atrophy is the steady decline in the effectiveness of muscle due to underuse. Often we experience severe atrophy when we wear a cast or brace for an extended period. Muscle underuse causes the tissue and cells to deteriorate and breakdown. I believe many of the statistics above are proof of spiritual atrophy in men—a cellular breakdown from male spiritual inaction. And men, we need to address this. While we can blame others, church, family, circumstances, or even the general pervasiveness of sin at some point, we have to stop the blame. We already tried fault-finding in the Garden, and God still called us to accountability. At some point, we have to take responsibility for our inaction and own up to the fact that we are not doing a great job. The statistics are proof; they don't lie.

I believe we can put a dent in these statistics with spiritual attention given to these five areas:

  1. Spiritually Mentoring Our Children.
  2. Defining Vocation Calling.
  3. Stewardship Of God's Resources.
  4. Honoring Women And Relationships.
  5. Upholding The Covenant & Commitment Of Marriage.

But please keep in mind spiritual action and voice of any kind is helpful.

It's apathy that's the worst possible option. Just consider this for a moment. Action, positive or negative, is always better when our motive is right. Because we can learn from action even when we do the wrong thing. Negative action is movement and the use of "spiritual muscles." Even if we do it wrong, we learn another way not to do something-it's inaction that discontinues spiritual development.

For example, take Peter and his incident on the Sea of Galilee where he walked on water. Even though this moment does not go well for Peter, he did learn something-how to walk on water. He did something no other man ever did. And in the process, he discovered through action that led to a failure that faith focused on Jesus, which believes, and not doubts, can accomplish incredible things. But inaction is the worst possible option; without it, Peter never walks on water. And the same is true for you.

Apathy Is A Challenge For All Men

Apathy is no respecter but of persons or ages. As men, we all know we will encounter moments we don't care. We will be apathetic to:

  • Responsibilities
  • Work Quality and Quantity
  • Chores, Errands, and Tasks
  • Self-care and Maintenance
  • Marriage, Family, and Relationships
  • Communication
  • Integrity, Character, and Ethics
  • Discipline
  • Spiritual Growth

And what is interesting about these apathetic moments is often we know what to do. Inundated with information, we simply do nothing and say nothing. Such was the case in Genesis 3. But let's discover how to fight. How to resist the impulse of inaction with properly motivated action. The Biblical narrative is 1 Samuel 17. This story gives us both an understanding of apathy and at the same time, some killer principles on how to fight apathy in the man's life.

26 And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 27 And the people answered him in the same way, “So shall it be done to the man who kills him.”

28 Now Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.”29 And David said, “What have I done now? Was it not but a word?” 30 And he turned away from him toward another, and spoke in the same way, and the people answered him again as before.

31 When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul, and he sent for him. 32 And David said to Saul, “Let no man's heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33 And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. 36 Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”—1 Samuel 17:26-37

So I want to make six observations from this text and draw application from each of these that will help us understand the apathy of Israel and fight apathy in our own lives.

6 Observations About Men Who Fight With Apathy

ONE I PASSIVE MEN PERPETUATE APATHY.

Notice the jealous heckling of David's older brother Eliab. While this seems like good old fashioned sibling conflict, there is something more here. While this may conjure up memories of noogies, wedgies, and charlie horses, don't miss the underlying issue stirring in Eliab's heart. Could it be that passive men often have a conflict with men of action?

Men of action inquire and respond. Men of inaction understand, give an excuse, and disseminate their message of inaction to others in hopes that others will join them in their apathy. Eliab, who has been living in atrophy for the last 40 days, is perpetuating his message which is rooted in his insecurity and fear. And this is only later reinforced further by King Saul, who also does not step in to take action. And as we know, Saul was the most viable candidate for fighting Goliath, and by doing nothing, he perpetuates apathy in the Israelite army.

TWO I RESIST THE INTERNAL BATTLE TO BE APATHETIC.

Subsequently, notice that David is laughably dismissive of Eliab and thus dismissive of the mental ambivalence. Men who are resistant to apathy have developed a resistance to inaction in others and respectfully dismiss it. One of the preemptive battles that David needs to fight, before the big one, is the mental battle against the reasoning and trash-talk of his brother, other warriors, King Saul, and even Goliath. Even when the human odds were against him, his spiritual determination for God was greater than the shame of social apathy.

THREE I GODLY PERSPECTIVE ENLIGHTENS APATHY.

David next brings a fresh Godly perspective into a counterproductive viewpoint that Israel has been immersed in for well over a month. This mindset had become paralyzing to the military forces of Israel. Often apathy is addressed with audacious Godly perspective in combination with responsive action. Sometimes just a fresh set of eyes offer an advantage, but combine this with action, and you might lead others into moments that snap us and others out of apathy.

FOUR I MEN OF ACTION STAND OUT.

Next, we hear that David's perspective and thoughts made its way quickly to the King. Please beware: non-apathetic people stand out, especially in a sea of apathetic men, and this is not always comfortable. It can be risky, but remember, action is better than inaction. Even imperfect action is better than inaction. Consider the words by Winston Churchill, "I never worry about action, but only inaction."

FIVE I MEN OF ACTION CONFIDENTLY KNOW THEIR UNIQUE CONTRIBUTION.

Next, I love David's resume. Here we listen as David states his resume and God's victories of the past. We have to highlight this. Non-apathetic people are focused on the wins by and through God and simultaneously have great anticipation about what God will do in the future. A part of becoming a man of action is understanding our unique God-given gifts and putting them to work vocational for God. Try a spiritual gifts assessment if you haven't: TAKE A TEST

SIX I MEN OF ACTION ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT SOMETHING GREATER.

And finally, David is willing to stand up for injustice. Men who are passionate, truly passionate about God's truth, are both discontent in injustice, and mutually passionate about God. In this situation, we see both come together beautifully because it is not fame that David is after, but rather God's glory. And men that are passionate for God cannot, and I mean cannot, remain apathetic. They stand up for injustice on God's behalf.

So, men, I am hoping that something here motivates you today to do something. I know you are thinking about some situation where you have been apathetic. Is it in your sin, parenting, marriage, finances, or personal spiritual discipline? My call today to you is to start doing something, just something, and take one more step toward action in your life.

Doing Religion

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Doing Religion

"Many think that Christianity is you doing all the righteous things you hate and avoiding all the wicked things you love in order to go to Heaven. No, that's a lost man with religion. A Christian is a person whose heart has been changed; they have new affections."—Paul Washer

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, "It is finished," and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.—John 19:30

Are You Exhausted From Doing?
"Doing religion" is not the same as following Christ. That's a significant misunderstanding that some have about Christianity in comparison to other world religions. In a nutshell, it's the difference between "doing" and "done." Here's what I mean: Religious approaches to faith are more about grading yourself against a long checklist of do's and don'ts. How do you measure up? Are you more good than bad? Have you earned enough of God's approval to merit entrance into heaven?

How you doin'?

The problem is that you never know when you've done enough. Perfection seems out of reach, so what goal, quota, or performance metric must you achieve to maintain an acceptable record? Now that sounds exhausting.

The Christian life, however, is not reduced to a simple list of do's and don'ts. It's far more about what God has done for us rather than what we have done for God. Not only did He dwell among us as an example of the perfect human being, living the perfect life that we could never live, but He also died on the cross to pay for all of the sins we've ever committed, or ever will. And then He rose again, conquering death once and for all. It's done, complete, and finished. He accomplished the goal, quota, and metric—and we are recipients of His grace.

So live life well. Do good by all means, but not to earn favor with God. Instead, let your motivation be born of what's done—what he has done—and live each day like the winner you are.

Three Principles to Remember

One | You Can't Do Enough
We live in a broken world. No one is perfect—we're all sinful. Keeping this in mind is essential—not to shame us, but rather to keep us humble. If achieving a passing grade on a checklist of do's and don'ts was all it took, there would have been no need for Christ. This is one of the harder lessons to learn in life because it means we must come to the end of ourselves. It means we don't have all the answers, and admitting that to ourselves and others is hard. We want to be self-reliant people. But it's this self-reliance that gets us into trouble. We tend not to want anyone else's help. We want to achieve and accomplish. We want the accolades. But this is not God's plan for us.

Two | Grace Alone Saves
God's grace is a significant distinction between Christianity and other faiths. Defined, "grace" means "unearned favor." God extends His grace to us in our brokenness because we cannot DO enough for Him. It's like trying to squeeze blood from a turnip. We are entirely reliant on God's grace because His standard is perfection. There's no way we could ever meet such a lofty goal, quota, or metric on our own.

Three | The Motive Is Love
Our motivation for "doing" is not to try to earn God's favor, but rather to demonstrate our love for Him and our gratitude for what He has done for us. The difference may seem subtle, but the outcomes are miles apart. It's the difference between exhaustion and freedom. Living the Christian life motivated by love for God and the grace, He grants us leads to joy and changed behaviors that bring Him glory. But this is radically different from trying to earn God's favor and feeling exhausted every day because we never measure up.

God is our champion. His grace never ceases, no matter how often we stumble and fail. And don't forget that His Holy Spirit is our helper – our source of strength and encouragement when we can't possibly muster enough by ourselves. It gives a whole new meaning to "just do it," right?

Vince Miller Speaking All In

Vince Miller is a speaker, author, and mentor to men. He is an authentic and transparent leader who loves to communicate to audiences on the topics of mentorship, fathering, leadership and manhood. He has authored 16 books and small group curriculum for men and is the primary content creator of all Resolute materials. Contact Vince Miller here. His newest book is 20 Lessons That Build A Leader.

Solitude: The Quiet Discipline

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Solitude: The Quiet Discipline

“Solitude is the furnace of transformation. Without solitude, we remain victims of our society and continue to be entangled in the illusions of the false self.”—Henri Nouwen

And he said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest awhile." For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.—Mark 6:31

We have little of it
If there is one thing that our society has mass deficiencies in its solitude. Solitude is being alone and quiet so that we can contemplate. It demands freedom from distractions by television, radio, devices, and other people. And it's in solitude that we withdraw from the noise of life, engage reflective thought, war with personal failure, explore future options, and find direction from God.

Maybe we're trying to avoid it?
Most of us don't like the quietness of solitude. We have grown accustomed to the noise that fills our souls, consumes our minds, and drives our behaviors. The static is not just coming from the devices we carry. It comes from the conversations, problems, meetings, sporting activities, and the flurry of family members traveling in competing directions all at the same time. Without knowing it, we have grown accustomed to the noise as if we need the stimulation. "Stimulation" not "solitude" is the theme that describes our lives.

Given the noise referenced above, why would we resist solitude, when it appears we might be craving it? Maybe it's because being alone and uninterrupted is terrifying. In absolute quietness, we are forced to view the infrastructure we have built in our life. In solitude, we are forced to face issues we struggle with and have to be honest about the state of our character, relationship, marriage, children, and work. In solitude, we encounter a God who wants to comfort and challenge us. In solitude, there is accountability with God who knows all and sees all. In solitude, our motives and desires are revealed, and we have to assess and evaluate them when the noise of the world allowed us to avoid them.

Yet a wise man is willing to look square in the eye of the infrastructure of their life rather than live with a lie. Great men are strong enough to withstand the silence and willing to confront the truth about themselves in the stillness of silence.

So what are the benefits of solitude?

Three Benefits Of Solitude

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One | In solitude, we are forged
No one wrote more eloquently on solitude than did Henri Nouwen. He said, "Solitude is the furnace of transformation. Without solitude, we remain victims of our society and continue to be entangled in the illusions of the false self." And why is this? Because in solitude, we face the facts about ourselves, not the persona we seek to project or the person that others see and tend to believe. Isolation thus terrifies most men because it is the retreat toward reality. But it simultaneously beckons us because it's the voyage to transformation. It frightens us to reflect on the truth about our sinful nature, desires, and behaviors, but it equally invites us to know God more deeply and follow Him more intimately. In solitude, lies we have wrongly believed are displayed, discovered, disputed, and dismissed, and when combined with the truth of Scripture, they are defeated. Solitude thus becomes the furnace that men who need being refined, forged, and sharpened.

Two | In solitude, we hear the voice of God
The Books of Kings has an intriguing encounter of man with God. Elijah, a prophet of God, beat up, discouraged, and exhausted and went to a remote place where he found refuge in a cave and sought God. Here is the account.

"And [God] said, 'Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.' And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.'"—1 Kings 19:11-12

A "low whisper" is how God chooses to speak us, but how do we hear that whisper in the noise of life? We usually don't, and it is why we often don't believe that God is still speaking today. The fact is that he is, but we are often not able to hear him if you desire to hear God's "low whisper" get away and practice solitude.

Three | In solitude, we discover a divine relationship
"Be still, and know that I am God," declares Psalm 46:10. And it is in silence that we find the need for this "knowing." And knowing is not just an intellectual exchange; it is intimacy with God found in silent communication. Like the intimacy we discover as we lie with a son or daughter in bed as they begin to drift to sleep—this child longs for the safety of closeness that is not found in verbal communication or recreational stimulation. This type of intimacy is only found in being close to God in the practice solitude. For solitude is not about escaping to be alone, it's about escaping the noise to be alone "with God," which might appear to others as escapism. But it's not isolation from God, only isolation from the things of this world.

In fact, the more intense our lives, the more we need those times of solitude. This is not a "time out." Instead, it's a time to be "in." It's a "time in" with God.

Vince Miller Speaking All In

Vince Miller is a speaker, author, and mentor to men. He is an authentic and transparent leader who loves to communicate to audiences on the topics of mentorship, fathering, leadership and manhood. He has authored 16 books and small group curriculum for men and is the primary content creator of all Resolute materials. Contact Vince Miller here. His newest book is 20 Lessons That Build A Leader.