Category Archives: Blog

5 Principles For Discipling Your Son

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5 Principles For Discipling Your Son

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.


Based on our recent survey of you, our reader, your top three biggest challenges are that you battle feeling like a failure, you want to be more intentional, and you struggle with discipline and training. This post will help you start tackling all three of these challenges, starting with intentionally discipling your son. Let’s rock and roll. 

In our handy, dandy father and son bible studies, we call these the “five vital principles.” Why? Well, when it comes to intentionally discipling your son, they’re “vital,” and they’re “principles.” There’s also five of them. Kidding aside, many of you feel like you just can’t seem to get your son to open up. One dads’ survey response struck me. He said, talking about his son, 

I wish we had the type of relationship in which I could speak into his life

How bad does it feel to think you aren’t speaking into your son’s life? On the flip side, how empowering would it feel to know you’re doing everything you can?

I want every dad reading this post to feel like you’re speaking into your sons’ life—and your son is listening.

Here’s the deal, do these five things. If you invest your time in doing these five vital principles, you’ll be intentionally discipling your son. You’re welcome in advance. You can thank me later. 

1. Take ownership of the process.

You have a small window of opportunity, don’t we? My kids are just starting to be the age where they have their own lives. You know? Like, their own “stuff” to be at. It sucks, not going to lie. What’s that saying, “the hours are long but the years are short”? It’s in those “long” hours that magic can happen—if we own that time.

Intentional fatherhood looks different compared to the world. Ephesians 6:4 has a different reference point for us as dads. There’s a purpose to it and our role. God’s Word instructs us to bring up our children “in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Dad, don’t leave this to chance; bringing up boys to be godly men will not happen on its own. So own it—it’s yours for the taking. 

2. Be humble, honest, and helpful in all your conversations.

Remember, the goal is to raise your son into authentic, godly manhood. Within reason and depending on your sons’ age, be prepared to share areas where you struggle in your faith and pursuit of being a godly man. Let your son see you are a man who needs God’s grace as you work toward godliness.

Sure, your sons’ journey to manhood should be found in Christ’s model of manhood. But, he should be able to see an example—right in his own home—you! As you teach your son how to be a godly man, you will need to have the trust of your son over the world.

3. Engage in conversations, not lectures.

Kent wrote in our State of Biblical Fatherhood report a point I needed to hear. He said, “Stop trying to ‘be God’ to your children, instead reflect His character.” Whoa, what’s that sound? Oh, that’s Kent stepping on my toes. Let’s all agree to talk out the issues and help our kids come to the answers on their own, with your guidance. Remember that more is caught than taught.

MJ Dad pro tip: take questions to God, seeking wisdom in prayer and from His Word—in front of your son.

Good or bad, our kids’ first thoughts about who God is are shaped by how we dads relate to them. Some of my most challenging, yet best moments, as a dad, have been when I’ve apologized to my kids for wrongdoing.

4. Continually learn about your son.

One dad in our survey said, “Sometimes I’m all business/work and find it difficult to slow down to play ball or catch with the kids; in fact, we seem never to do this.” We can do better if we aim higher. One big goal is to know your son’s heart, which means you’ll need to peel back layers constantly. Learn to ask right questions and continually improve at numbers 1, 2, and 3 on this list. 

Use the discussion questions in our 1-on-1 bible study guides if you need to. We can tell you what to say and when to say it. Another MJ Dad pro tip: Put your iPhone on airport mode or in a separate room—away from you—for intentional times of connecting. Let your son know he has your undivided attention. I’m just preachin’ to myself now. 

5. Apply biblical wisdom to real life.

The Bible provides answers to our questions. It’s useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). Remember, biblical manhood most easily starts with biblical fatherhood.

You will need to be digging into the Scriptures if you’re ever to be intentionally discipling your son. At the end of the Book of Matthew, Jesus gives us our mission in life to “go into all the world and make disciples…” (v. 28:19).

What if you started by intentionally discipling your son?

Question > Which one of these five vital principles do you struggle with the most? We’re here to help. You can always email me or tweet @ManhoodJourney.

The 5 Voices Men Hear | Letters To My Son

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The 5 Voices Men Hear

The world is in a constant conspiracy against the brave. It's the age-old struggle: the roar of the crowd on the one side, and the voice of your conscience on the other.—Douglas MacArthur

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.—Jesus, in John 10:27

The Secret to Listening to the Right Voice
Son, I think being a man requires tremendous strength and courage. Even more, it requires a keen awareness of where to focus that strength and courage. Understanding this is crucial to your growth and development as a man, leader, and one day, husband and father. In fact, the advice I am about to give you could be some of the most important that I ever give. It took me years to understand what I'm about to tell you, but if you hold on to this lesson, it will aid you all your life.

Five voices are incessantly screaming at men. These five voices, as I call them, are heard several times during a given day. Given the circumstances of that day, certain voices will be louder than others. But these voices have incredible power over men. They have the ability to direct our thoughts, attitudes, and actions. This means they have the potential to lead you toward life and godliness or loss and destruction. If you can grow in awareness when you hear them, identify them, and redirect them, then you will experience great success in this life.

The Five Voices All Men Hear
Voice #1 — The Man That I Think I Am
And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory."—Mark 10:37

Every man wants to be legendary. We want to hold a trophy, stand on the platform, and be praised by fans on the world's stage. And some days, you're going to think you're a legend but only in your own mind. This insidious thought is a dangerous voice for men to follow. It's evidence of our deepest arrogance, and it must be addressed before our imminent fall. Pride comes in many forms, but it ultimately plants a thought in our mind, which impacts our beliefs, attitudes, and actions. The result of this is rather ugly and makes us look stupid. I wonder if James and John felt this way when they made the statement above. The only trophy they held on this day was the award for being the "Most Stupid."

I'm sure you have bumped into a few arrogant guys in life. Men who are masters at their skill, talent, or gift have allowed their mastery to master them. These men are destined for a great fall, so don't be this man. Avoid the fall by being cautious of the sex appeal of this voice.

Voice #2 — The Man Others Think We Are
And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them." —Luke 15:2

Yes, it's true: others have a wonderful plan for our lives. If you haven't discovered this yet, you soon will. Bosses, coaches, teachers, and friends project a manner of thinking and acting to us or about us. I promise that they will reinforce their voices with Tweets, Snaps, and posts. With or without malicious intent, their propaganda doesn't always correctly reflect who we are; it's their perspective. Their view is right to them, whether we like it or not. Yet, we have the choice to listen to this or not.

The truth is, these sound bites from others are often compelling voices that affect men. In the moments when we are emotionally vulnerable, they can be persuasive and leading, but you need to remember that you are not the sum of what others think about you. In fact, their voices may be genuine, but genuinely wrong, and lead you down a path of destruction.

As your identity is forming, the voice of influential friends, coaches, and teachers will be loud to you. You might end up believing that what they say about you is true. Take caution, because this leads to you living up only to what others expect of you—which could be off-course. Many men have chased after this voice, and then run from one voice to the next, and ended up confused and exhausted. Even Jesus ignored these voices when they led down ungodly paths; note the soundbite above from the religious leaders. Don't follow these ungodly voices or believe what they say about you.

Voice #3 — The Man We Think Others Think We Are
We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.—Numbers 13:33

This voice may appear a little confusing when you first hear it, but stay with me for a minute or two. This voice is the one we hear when we lie down at night, staring at the ceiling. It speaks to us as we reflect on the happenings of the day, considering that occasional failure— it's the voice of our mind talking to our soul about what others think about us. Unfortunately, this voice has incredible power because it develops thoughts about ourselves in our minds that, combined with emotions, construct systems of belief about who we are.

The voice of "what we think others think" is a deceptive voice because it is both powerful and private. I cannot tell you how many times in my younger years, I lied awake in bed at night with thoughts about myself and what others think about me. These voices disturbed me for years. In bed, many men hear the voice of an unloving father, an unappreciative wife, an unsatisfied boss, an unsupportive coach, and an unreliable friend—and believe that they, the man, are responsible for the voice. Men replay the sounds of these tapes, privately shaming themselves, ruminating only on failure and allowing these voices to control their lives.

Voice #4 — The Man We Actually Are
For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.—Romans 7:18

At some point, you are going to come face-to-face with the most challenging voice any man hears: the voice of your sin. Yes, we men inflict harm intentionally or unintentionally, which results in suffering for others. You are already aware of this. But occasionally, you will hear the weightier voice of sin. You will feel sin's full weight, which is more than just making a mistake or hurting someone else; it's an offense against God. Some days this voice will be so weighty it will feel overwhelming. It will bring you to your knees so much so that you will see no way out. When this happens, I want you to remember you are not the first to feel this way. Even the apostle Paul felt this way, and he let us know this in the sentence above. While I want to say ignore this voice, this voice is true. Son, we all sin. We screw things up. We make mistakes. We have, indeed, offended God. But it's not the end of the story. This voice teaches us and motivates us to look for a solution and a better voice, which brings us to the last voice—the one you need to hear.

Voice #5 — The Man God Says We Are
"This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."—God speaking to Jesus, in Matthew 3:17

In the end, there is only one voice that you should hear. One voice to heed. One voice that is true. It's the voice of God. What God says and says about you is the only truth you should believe. The other sounds we hear are jibberish soundbites in a world that is lost and confused. God's voice is the only true one. God's is the only one that matters. It's God's voice that spoke you into existence. It's God's voice that echoes across time. It's God's voice that extends grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness to you when you hear voices that say you don't deserve it. It's your Father's voice that utters the most beautiful sentence you will ever hear, "This is my son [insert your name], with whom I am well pleased."

Son, I can barely hold back tears in writing this letter to you. It's God's voice all men long to hear. Stop chasing the other voices. Shun them. Turn a deaf ear to them. Listen to only one from the God and Father who created you. It's he you follow, listen only to him. His voice is trustworthy, confident, and dependable.

He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him."—Matthew 17:5

Vince-Miller-Bio-Pic-2019

Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 16 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org

In Your Singleness | Letters To My Son

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In Your Singleness

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

Companionship is a Worthy Desire
If you are looking for companionship, friendship, and a relationship with a woman, know that this is a worthy desire. And having the aspiration to one day be married to an awesome woman is a declaration of the desire for a relationship and to one day become a husband and a father. It also indicates an awareness of our passion for an ongoing connection. Even Adam, the first man, wanted a relationship, and God saw that it was good for him not to be alone—therefore, God created woman.

But during your single years, you have an opportunity. It's the opportunity to develop spiritually and hone a character that's worthy of a long-term relationship. Right now, you have the chance to become the man God wants you to be—aside from the titles husband, father, or leader. I know many married men and fathers who wish they had invested more time in character and spiritual development before marriage. Even though the challenges of relationships refine us, it's crucial during your singleness to become the man God wants you to be today. You must find your identity in Christ today. It will be the anchor for your life regardless of the titles you hold tomorrow, including husband, father, and leader.

Four Things to Consider While You're Single
One | Learn self-leadership
All men need to learn self-leadership. Discovering the value of self-leadership as a single man is a great asset. I don't know any woman who is not attracted to a man who can lead himself effectively. A man who cannot lead himself is destined for relational issues in all other parts of life. Self-leadership is an intentional exercise. It affects many aspects of a man's life: timeliness, responsibility, conflict, self-care, grooming, building healthy relationships, avoiding unhealthy ones, and setting priorities. Self-leadership involves organizing our lives around priorities and values that lead to purposeful action rather than leaving each moment to happenstance.

Here's a potential question that might get you thinking about your self-leadership.

"What are my honest relational priorities, and what's my plan for getting there?"

As a man, you must begin to determine your relational priorities now. Let's say you define your priorities in this order.

  1. A vibrant relationship with God that gives glory to Him.
  2. Career fulfillment that positively impacts others.
  3. Core relationships that influence self and others.
  4. An active relationship with my family of origin.
  5. A committed God-honoring marriage.
  6. God-fearing children.

Now, these are only broad examples, and you can borrow them if you like. But as a single man, naming these "relational priorities" in this way will allow you to begin devising a plan and determining the self-leadership needed for the course. While at present, you cannot do much about tending to a marriage or children, you can devise a plan for becoming a man that a wife and child would love and respect. And you can give a lot of attention to the first four priorities on the list above. You can devise a plan and focus on becoming the man God wants you to be. And by leading yourself in the present, you will be more prepared for leadership in marriage and of a family with children. But you must determine personal priorities first and then take a little time to reflect on how you are going to lead yourself there.

Having identified what's on your priority list, you now need to develop an intentional plan for getting there. This is where self-leadership moves from reflection into action. Perhaps there will be several small steps in each area where you can live out your priorities. Leaders are intentional, and your intentionality—while you are single—will serve you now, and if you get married, it will serve you later. So, start by leading yourself now.

DO THIS:

  • Make a list of relational priorities (or borrow mine).
  • Reflect on what is needed to get there.
  • Set one goal in each priority.

Two | Determine your values and grow into them
If you haven't taken the time to write down or state your values, you need to do so. A value is a stated measurement for a standard of behavior. Declaring values is a considerable step toward maturation and stewarding your life and calling. Many leaders I've met in life state business values and require employees to live by them, but they fail to know or declare their personal values. Determining, stating, and living by your values are essential steps toward finding a woman who shares these values. Just think about it for a minute. What could be worse than working for an employer or being a relationship with a person who does not share your values? Just so you know—it's miserable.

Take a couple of minutes to reflect on the following question:

"What values guide your life, and how would you define those values?"

Let's say, for a moment, that a value you possess or aspire to hold is honesty. Rather than just recognizing this, define it. Write down the implications of living a life of honesty. Consider how the application of that value may influence your actions, attitudes, motives, and relationships with others and God. Don't make the mistake of thinking of values as dull ideas. Instead, think of them as living measures that influence your actions, attitudes, and motives. You might state the value of honesty this way:

"In all that I do, I will speak honestly, seek the truth, and do my best to live transparently with others."

Because it's written down, stated, and rememberable, your value has the potential to become a guiding principle. And as you look forward to marriage, you can aim to find someone who either shares or supports your value of honesty. If not, it might be a deal-breaker, not because of the person but the value.

DO THIS:

  • Make a list of three values you possess or aspire to possess.
  • Define these values in your own way.
  • For one week, evaluate your actions, attitudes, and desires, using these three values.

Three | Discover your identity in singleness
Men and women sometimes get married because they believe they are missing out on something in their current situation and feel a spouse will fill that void. While there is much to be said about a man and woman becoming "one flesh," we need to remember that Jesus offers the relationship that completes us—not a spouse.

A relationship with Christ is one of perfect grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love, which cannot be found in any human relationship. Your relationship with Christ is the ultimate relationship and primary to every other relationship. Coming to a place of contentment in your singleness with Christ is part of living out your identity in Christ. And why is this important? Well, because your identity is not found in marriage. Marriage doesn't take the place of one's identity in Christ; it only compliments that identity. Remember, in singleness you are a complete person in Christ. Regardless of popular opinion, your spouse will not complete you—Jesus does.

Four | Get to know yourself
Finally, you need to know yourself. This is a lifelong pursuit. So begin today to get to know who you are in all kinds of circumstances, for in marriage or companionship, you will not be able to hide.

Here are ten questions to reflect on today:

  1. What do you believe is possible for you?
  2. What activity in your life gets you fired up?
  3. How would you like others to perceive you?
  4. What is something you love doing, even when you are tired?
  5. What do you fear about a job or a relationship?
  6. What have you done in your life that makes you proud?
  7. What is your most significant self-limiting belief?
  8. Who is your role model?
  9. Who is a person that you don't like but spend time with?
  10. What is one failure that you have turned into your greatest lesson?

God made you unique, and as a man who lives in a broken world, you have unique capabilities and vulnerabilities. Know and get to know your strengths and weaknesses as you encounter friendship. You will learn some lessons as you go, but be willing to get to know yourself as you do. This exercise in self-awareness will benefit you, your future wife, and your future children. Be committed to self-improvement and getting to know yourself through the phases and stages of life.

I love you, son—Dad.

Vince-Miller-Bio-Pic-2019

Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 16 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org

7 Types of Busy Dads

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7 Types of Busy Dads

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.


Dad's Are Busy

Most of us dads are busy. I get it. Our sin is busyness. Said a different way—our sin might be workaholism. Here’s the deal: Regardless of busyness, you are responsible to shepherd your family. Many will tell you, “You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and darn it, people like you.” I’m not here for that. What kind of dad are you?

“As a shepherd, I don’t get to simply lead the sheep. I bind the wounds of the sheep. I take care of the sheep.” Dr. Tim Pasma 

The gospel truth is: you aren’t good enough, you aren’t smart enough and people won’t like you.

You need God’s help. Getting at these seven types of dads will help us grow and change so we lead families who grow and change. I’ve learned most about this topic from Dr. Tim Pasma (Pastor at LaRue Baptist Church and one of my biblical counseling professors). This post comes from his lectures on the idols of the heart and workaholism. I’ve distilled his lectures down to dads. Thank me later.

Now, we church dads know our sinful heart drives our sinful behavior. Any behavior you see on the outside—has to do with the inside—the heart. James 1:13-15 says “each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death“.

Desire is at the root of all sin. Our goal then is to change the heart so we change behavior. How? By establishing biblical priorities and implementing biblical principles. Biblical fatherhood knows these priorities and principles.


7 Types of Busy Dads and the Idols of Their Hearts

#1 Mr. Able (Idol = Greed)

This dad wants to buy and own expensive luxury items. Think about large boats, more houses and so on. Before you draft an email to me—hear me out. There’s nothing wrong with having money and having fun with your money. But what are we teaching our children when it comes to selfishness and greed?

Tedd Tripp talks in Shepherding a Child’s Heart about the “fight over a toy” among siblings. He begs us to ask ourselves as parents whether it’s simply a “fight over a toy”? Or is it a failure to prefer others over self? Is it selfishness?

Tripp goes on:

Do you tend to see your children’s greedy “I wants” as the idolatry of possessions? Or do you think that it is simply natural—something that will be outgrown? If so, you will fail to help your children grapple with spiritual reality. You will never confront the sinful tendency to find meaning and significance in things. Life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.  

Can you have money? Sure thing. Great on you. You’re blessed. Save and spend, brother, spend and save. But what does giving look like in your life? Better yet, what does sacrificial giving look like for you? If you reflect and find your hearts’ desire is to have a sixth and larger boat—when you ain’t in the boat-shipping business—well, that’s interesting, based on this verse:

See Matthew 6:19-24 and 1 Timothy 6:17-19:

Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God, who richly provides us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do what is good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and willing to share, storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of what is truly life (1 Timothy 6:17-19).

#2 Mr. Baxter (Idol = Fear and worry about the future)

This dad is a tad different than Mr. Greed. This dad may not want rich things, but he’s afraid of financial loss and unsure about the future. He’s usually the over-saver. It’s a thing. Maybe you didn’t have possessions growing and now that you have some—you ain’t givin’ them up! You save so much you never give. You hold on to your possessions in fear and worry. Congratulations, this makes you a sinner like Richy Rich Dad in #1.

Matthew 6:25-34:

“Therefore I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? … For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Full disclosure: I think the dad who seeks first the kingdom of God—his life will be a different example to his kids than the dad who doesn’t. Which dad are you?

#3 Mr. Dean (Idol = Reputation/Pride/Status)

You know this dad. This dad wants neighbors and community to view him highly—but inside of the house is usually a different story. This dad seems awesome on the outside. Everyone who doesn’t live with him would think he’s the best dude ever. But if his wife and kids were honest with you—a different tune would be played.

This one gets at motivation too. Honestly, even if people in your own house think too highly of you—it may speak to your efforts to play God and be the hero—instead of point your family to God. Go ahead and email me on this one!

It’s not that having your neighbors and community think highly of you is a bad thing. But, at what expense and how major and life-changing are their opinions to you? There is a work versus grace mentality going on here. Are you doing the “right things” for people and their view of you? Or, are you serving Christ and not living for people all that much? One of these ways is better than the other! I have to ask: which dad are you? Let’s seek humility over the sin of pride.

See Philippians 2:1-11 and Philippians 2:20-21: 

For I have no one else like-minded who will genuinely care about your interests; all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.

#4 Mr. Eric (Idol = Escape responsibilities and duties)

This dad usually has a bad marriage and family life. If you’re this dad, you don’t want to come home. You drive slower in traffic just to take a longer commute. When home, you convince yourself and your family you’re too tired to help or deal with anything in the home.

Often, this is a slow decline. You started off decent as a newly married. You did everything to win the girl. Then, the slow creep down to escape-responsibilities town started taking place. So much that it’s been months or years and your wife handles most things at home and with your kids. Are you this dad?

Read the entire passage of Ephesians 5:15-6:4. But I’ll key in on Ephesians 5:15-17: 

Pay careful attention, then, to how you live—not as unwise people but as wise— making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

Imagine the difference made in this type of dad if he lives in view of these verses? If we father with Ephesians 5:16 in mind, our evenings and weekends will look different than they do now.

#5 Mr. Ford (Idol = Pre-adultery/Adultery)

This dad finds acceptance and approval with the female secretary or colleague. He’s starting to form—or has already formed—unwise, inappropriate relationships. Let’s be honest and call this what it is—pre-adultery.

I won’t go lite here because I don’t want you to go lite on me. Dads, we don’t get up in the morning, read our Bible’s, pray and truly worship God all day—just to commit adultery by 5 PM. No, adultery is death by a thousand paper cuts. There were a thousand little decisions you made along the way. We can’t be ignorant of what’s happening. Guard your affections. See the signs. Teach your sons.

Matthew 5:27-28

“You have heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery. But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 

#6 Mr. Grady (Idol = Man’s approval/Avoid disapproval)

This idol is sneaky. You should want to do good work in life. And, in general, you should care what people think. But not too much! What’s your why? Kind of like #3 Mr. Dean—what’s your motivation behind your actions? You can do the right thing for the wrong reasons.

Do you work hard at work—because you understand you’re honoring God? Or, are you working hard simply because you’re afraid of displeasing your boss or losing your boss’s approval? This takes discernment. But I see this one in my own life. Why do I say yes all the time and over commit to work or church or whatever? Why am I so afraid to push back?

When I’m at my best, I know whether I’m saying yes to simply please people—or—I can say no and please God. I get it. There’s seasons and all that. But, there’s gotta be a balance somewhere between doing the right things—yet not doing them for selfish interests—or being terrified to say no. Gotta be. What’s my point? We should be careful to serve God and not man—in all of our dealings. Fear of man is a thing. It’s in the Bible.

Proverbs 29:25: The fear of mankind is a snare, but the one who trusts in the Lord is protected.

John 12:42-43: Nevertheless, many did believe in him even among the rulers, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, so that they would not be banned from the synagogue. For they loved human praise more than praise from God.

#7 Mr. Heston (Idol = Self-righteous/perfectionist)

This dad is a “good Christian.” He’s proud of his work ethic and does what is right. Often, this dad simply hasn’t experienced failure. This dad says when things go wrong, “I’ll just lean in a work harder.” Half-truth alert! Sure, sometimes leaning in is the answer—because you actually haven’t been working hard enough! But, beyond that, where is God in your life? Are you dependent on him—regardless of how much or how hard you’re working?

Sadly, while this dad might not say it aloud, he lives as though he believes being the perfect worker makes him righteous. Are you this dad?

Philippians 3:4-9: 

I have reasons for confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more: … But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ… 

These are the desires that drive each of us, busy dads. Our goal should be to change the heart so we change behavior by establishing biblical priorities and implementing biblical principles of time management. Biblical fatherhood knows his priorities and how to manage time.

Do you still feel too busy?

Change your heart, brother. If you want to help yourself and your kids, begin learning how to combat your idols—the idols of your heart—the cravings—the desires. This is why we wrote 7 Deadly Sins of a Disengaged Dad, to combat these sins for dads.

What’s motivating you to do what you’re doing? Why are you overwhelmed with busyness? I not a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I think God would remind you of Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Last question: which dad are you?

Build Great Friendships | Letters To My Son

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Build Great Friendships

The secrets to building great friendships with others.

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

It Was Easier When You Were Younger
It was a lot easier when you were a kid. Kids just showed up, and because they were present, you built friendships. As you get older, it gets a little more complicated. Morality, media, work, activities, and distance separate us. These issues will make formal friendships more and more challenging. Some of this separation is good, and some is bad.

"I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends."—One of the top five regrets of men.

Many men on their death bed have big regrets. One of the top five is staying in touch with friends. I believe most do not realize until it's too late how vital friendships are to us. Good relationships with your family and friends bring immense human happiness, which results in deep human satisfaction. And I want that for you. In fact, God wants it for you.

During my childhood, I was desperately lonely. My father was gone. My mother was absent. My friendships were challenging for me. But I wanted to have them, just like everyone else. While I was at lost for great relationships, I discovered a few secrets over the years that have brought me great satisfaction, and I hope learning these now will benefit you in your future.

5 Secrets To Building Great Friendships

One | Don't Search, Reconnect
One way to build great friendships is by engaging with friends you already have. I have several good friends that live a considerable distance from me. However, I have come to learn that while I rarely see these men in person, I can still have an active and loyal friendship with them. There are many reasons I stay in touch, but reaching out to them regularly (even just once a month) has kept the conversation going and our relationships alive. Many men never think of doing this, but we should. We should take ownership of the connection and reconnection. All you need to do is occasionally call, text, email, or ping them. Touching base like this means a lot.

Here is why this is important. Men need to learn to maintain friendships by taking small steps to nurture them. I think our lack of initiative in nurturing is what leads to this feeling of regret. I know "nurture" feels like an effeminate word, but it's not. Nothing could be more masculine. But nurture requires forethought and intention that is others-focused. Most men, me included, get consumed by all the other activities of life that revolve around self and thus fail to nurture friendships because we are obsessed only with ourselves. This is just one of the ways pride's insidious nature impacts reconnecting with our existing relationships. It's essential to learn how to nurture connection and reconnection now before you get married—because marriage and family are all about nurture.

And by the way, it's good to practice on us by calling your mom, sister, brother, and myself once in a while.

Two | Don't Be Interesting, Be Interested
As men, when it comes to relationships, we think competitively. Because we think this way, we spend more time thinking about what makes us unique and interesting. We aspire to be the "most interesting man in the world." And yes, we are our favorite subject matter. But to build great friendships, you may need to worry less about being the most interesting man in the world and be interested in others.

People love other people who are interested in them because, as I have already stated, every man's favorite subject is himself.

If you want to build some great connections, get a guy to share a story about himself, and show interest by asking subsequent questions. I have found people are fascinating. Their interests, upbringing, experiences, and areas of expertise are crazy cool. And behind every one of these people is an interesting story. Dig it out. Ask questions until you find it; everyone has one. Before you know it, you may discover you have a connection with a person who could become a life-long friend. So, work at getting people you meet to share a story.

Sometimes, when I meet people, I often see how long I can get them to talk about themselves before they ask about me. It's a fun little game I play, mostly for my entertainment. Give it a spin with others, and use this question frequently—"Could you tell me more about that?"

Three | Don't Pretend, Be Real
"Being real," as I call it here, requires appropriate levels of vulnerability. We have to be careful, though. There's a balance we must strike between sharing too much (oversharing) and not sharing enough (pretending). We need to find ways to share and connect that build trust with others, and vulnerability is the tool for doing this. Vulnerability builds trust, which leads to stronger and healthier relationships. While many men wrongly think being masculine is about being invulnerable, invincible, and impervious to issues, real men are appropriately vulnerable and thus authentic. Being vulnerable means we drop our guard, and in doing so, invite others into a more intimate relationship with us. This leads to relationships that welcome an emotional exchange, not merely a transfer of facts and opinions. This is precisely why, on a plane, people will spill their guts to the person sitting next to them about how they feel. They know there is nothing to risk because, more than likely, they will never meet them again. What ends up happening is we build a quick emotional and psychological connection with this person. Often, we don't take these risks with people we see every day because we are afraid, and as a result, we pretend because we think it is safer.

I would recommend that you learn how to develop the muscle of vulnerability in your life. I know life is not perfect, and I know you will probably not share everything with me, but you should with someone. If you spend too long pretending in life, you will end up being artificial—and people can sense this from a long way off. Lean into this with a trusted Godly man. You will not regret it.

Four | Don't Neglect, Make Time
You need to be forging out a little time for relationships every day. College is not just about being consumed by studies, advancement in sports, and locating a spouse—it's about getting a job. But all these activities touch on one crucial element, and that is your social development. You need to give just a little bit of attention to this each day. Your life is going to get busy—too busy. You're going to become consumed by activities. And this will be an ongoing problem you will encounter, regardless of your stage or phase of life.

I am much older than you and deal with this every day. My problem is my ability to laser focus on tasks. While this is a tremendous strength, it can also be preventative to relationships. Often, I become so focused on the present task that I become oblivious to this need, and it has taken work and attention on my part to address this. I have had to give attention, a little bit each day, to get my mind off a task and care for the people God has given to me. They, after all, are the means and the end of every job I am trying to complete.

I would encourage you to spend time watching people who are experts in relationships. Men who are inspirational that others instinctually follow. There are small habits and behaviors that they embrace that others do not. They may be aware or unaware of these things, but spend time with these men and study them. Practice what you see in them that has Godly implications on your relationships.

Remember, all this requires time—so make time. First, make time learning how to master relationships as you spend time with people who are experts. Second, make time to invest in these relationships as well.

Five | Don't Wait, Make Plans
I don't know why men don't do this, but we don't make plans. Women make plans all the time. You may remember or trip to the Dominican Republic in your senior year of high school. I was blown away by how many women were there. I even turned to your mom and commented on this. I distinctly remember your mom saying, "It's because women make plans," and she is spot on. I think if men were smart, they would figure this out, as it's a big missed opportunity.

Be a leader and get some guys together. Whether for road trips, ski trips, hunting trips, or mission trips, it doesn't matter. See the world while you are young, but do it with friends. You can make plans; even something impromptu is excellent. In college, we called it "making a memory." You can either sit around staring at a device or you can jump in the car and make a memory you will never forget. I have a ton of memories like this, most of which I may leave out of this letter and share with you privately.

In closing, you have limited time. You cannot have a hundred great friends. But you can have a few close friends.

I love you, son. Dad

Vince-Miller-Bio-Pic-2019

Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 16 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org

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.

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