faith, Family, Personal Development

Be Offensive – 15 Ways To Your Best Offense | Letters To My Son

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, lewd 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 over-sensitivity, 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 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.

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

faith, Fortitude, Personal Development

My 2019 Book List

It’s that time of year again. The annual book list and review. You know I enjoy reading. I prefer to read to learn something versus reading for entertainment. I’m always on the lookout for a solid read from a respected author. I’m not one to plow through a book a week because some of what I read needs to be taken in small portions so I can digest it. See what I did there with the play on words?

So here is what I read in 2019 with a few notes about each one. I’m not saying you MUST read everything that I read, but if you are in the market for quality content to nourish your mind and soul, these have been impactful to me. And if you missed my book list from 2018, you can find it here.

By the way, if you have a book you think I’d like to read, please let me know.

Eyes Wide Open – Steve DeWitt

It is our nature to quickly judge literally everything as good or bad. We tend to see everything through our own lens of perspective and experience. This book suggests we open our eyes to God’s perspective and see things as he does. To see people as he does. To see nature, art, and science as he does. DeWitt has a clever writing style that challenges our perspective on this beautiful world around us.

31 Prayers for My Wife – Aaron & Jennifer Smith

This is a devotional style book that helps to focus my prayers. It’s a nice resource to keep bedside or wherever you normally conduct your business with the Lord. You can learn some things your wife struggles with that she may never say. Praying specifically for your wife will bless you both. FYI there is also a book for wives to pray specifically for their husbands by the same authors.

The Cross Centered Life – CJ Mahaney

This book is a treasure worth reading regularly. In college I learned this principle: “Major in the majors and minor in the minors.” It means to focus my energy and attention on the central, important, main things in life and faith and not fuss to much over the little things. Keeping the cross of Jesus Christ at the center of my life and faith is liberating. Doing so helps me avoid my common pitfalls of performance based, legalistic behavior. This is a book for every Christian.

21 irrefutable laws of leadership – John Maxwell

Among the bestselling leadership books ever written, this one is a must read for those who lead others, or aspire to do so. It’s practical, easy to read, and has interesting illustrations to make the principles come alive.

Total Truth – Nancy Pearcey

Oh my goodness, this book is heavy. Literally and figuratively. It is several hundred pages in hardback weighing five pounds and the content can only be absorbed in small doses because it is so rich and deep. Pearcey distills a lifetime of research through all of human history to break down the existence, reality, and reasonableness of truth. It’s quite academic and she even admits so saying there is a caution to the reader to not leave this study with mere information about truth, but to live it out in the way we believe and behave.

Convictions – Vince Miller

Here is a shorter book aimed at men who wrestle with the age old issue of knowing what you should do, but not doing it and doing what you know you shouldn’t do. How do we manage this ceaseless struggle and be the man we were made to be? Read this book to get unstuck from feeling convicted and live with conviction.

The Mysterious Island – Jules Verne

An old school classic adventure story. My teenage son read it first and thought I’d like it. He was right. This is a great story. Island castaways surviving with minimal supplies and their clever wits. The detail spun in Verne’s narrative puts you in the middle of the action on every page. You feel like you are on the island with them, feeling every emotion and sensation. Spectacular writing.

Surprised By Joy – CS Lewis

Author of many excellent works including The Chronicle’s of Narnia and Mere Christianity, Surprised By Joy is the story of Lewis’s early life. Witty, fascinating, and pretty deep sometimes. His journey to faith from atheism is pretty interesting. And his childhood is quite odd. I won’t spoil it, but it’s worth checking out if you are a fan of Lewis.

Reflections on the Psalms – Lewis

Here Lewis digs into the meaning behind the ancient poetry of the Psalms in the Bible. He writes his observations as I imagine he would write in his own personal journal; a bit raw and conversational with humor sprinkled in. Some of his analogies are hysterical. This book makes a pretty good study guide for those interested in a deep dive into the Psalms.

The Four Loves – Lewis

I have all 3 of these CS Lewis classics in one volume. It took a few months to get through all of it. This book is a through study on the four types of love humanity experiences; affection, friendship, Eros, and charity. He challenges us to work on all forms of love in our own lives and reasons how each form helps to explain God and draws us closer to him.

Kingdom Marriage – Tony Evans

If your marriage is awesome, I recommend reading this book. If your marriage could use a tune up, read this book. If your marriage is struggling, read this book. OK, if you are married, read this book. It’s that good. Tony Evans breaks down marriage in simple terms with stories and illustrations everyone can relate to. He pulls no punches, telling it like it is and just how we need to hear it. No psychology mumbo-jumbo, no fluff, no super spiritual rules or condemnation. This book will challenge your thinking about yourself and how you view marriage and its purpose in your life.

Sein Language – Jerry Seinfeld

A silly reprieve from the learning books I like to read. I received this book as a birthday gift in college. It’s a collection of Seinfeld’s early material, much of which you might recall from his TV show. It’s funny, clean, and super-fast to read. His observations on the everyday are hilarious.

He Loves Me – Wayne Jacobsen

The depth of God’s love for me (and you) knows no bounds. We will spend a lifetime to understand it and still not be able to grasp it all. God’s love is unconditional which is hard to fathom. How can someone love me perfectly and fully regardless of my past, my mistakes, failures, fears, and annoying quirks? Well God does, and his love compels us to seek him more, trust him more and love him in return. This book dives deep into the relationship God desires us to have with him, explaining plainly the beauty, wonder, and benefits of receiving God’s gift to us. This is not a hard read, but I marked up the book thoroughly to highlight insights in every chapter that I can quickly refer back to. This is encouragement for your weary soul. I offer my highest recommendation to any who just want to be loved and live loved.

faith, Family

The Men We Are

It’s no secret this world is filled with negativity and negative messages about men. We must continually renew our mind (Romans 12: 1-2) and remember who we are despite the messages we hear – or tell ourselves. Let this list from God’s word encourage you as it does me. Thanks to Vince Miller https://beresolute.org/ for compiling this list. Listen to what God wants us to believe about ourselves in contrast to the world. Read them all and memorize the one you need to focus on today. Maybe even share it with a friend.

I AM A CHILD OF GOD. “But to all who have received him, those who believe in his name, he has given the right to become God’s children.” (John 1:12)

I AM CONDUIT OF LIFE. “I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me–and I in him–bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing.” (John 15:1, 5)

I AM A FRIEND OF CHRIST. “I no longer call you slaves, because the slave does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father.” (John 15:15)

I AM JUSTIFIED. “But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24)

I AM NOT ENSLAVED TO SIN. “We know that our old man was crucified with him so that the body of sin would no longer dominate us, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” (Romans 6:6)

I AM NOT CONDEMNED. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

I AM FREE FROM THE LAW. “For the law of the life-giving Spirit in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:2)

I AM A HEIR. “And if children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ) if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:17)

I AM ACCEPTED. “Receive one another, then, just as Christ also received you, to God’s glory.” (Romans 15:7)

I AM A SAINT. “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, and called to be saints, with all those in every place who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.” (1 Corinthians 1:2)

I AM REDEEMED. “He is the reason you have a relationship with Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” (1 Corinthians 1:30)

I AM A TEMPLE OF THE SPIRIT. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

I AM A NEW CREATION. “So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away–look, what is new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I AM RIGHTEOUS. “God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

DO THIS: Memorize the verse you need to remember.

PRAYER: God, remind me that I am not the sum total of what I think or others think about me—but only what you say I am.

faith, Family, Personal Development

Find Great Mentors | Letters To My Son

I’m sharing a series of “letters” originally written by Vince Miller. I regard Vince as a trusted resource for wisdom and insight on faith and family especially as it pertains to men and fathers. His bio is at the bottom of the post. Look him up. What follows is his work entirely. Vince communicates the messages I want my son to hear in a far more clear and concise way than I could ever say. Consider using these as conversation starters. I encourage you to share these letters with the important men in your life.

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 protégé 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

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

After serving in notable ministry organizations for over 25 years (including Young Life, InterVarsity, TCU Football, and Eagle Brook Church), Vince founded Resolute, a non-profit organization focused on providing men with tools for discipleship and mentorship. He’s written 13 books and handbooks, along with small group videos that are resources for mentorship. He also produces THE MEN’S DAILY DEVOand the MAN TALK PODCAST. His latest book is a devotional and mentoring guide for men called THIRTY VIRTUES THAT BUILD A MAN.

faith, Family

Love Women | Letters To My Son

I’m sharing a series of “letters” originally written by Vince Miller. I regard Vince as a trusted resource for wisdom and insight on faith and family especially as it pertains to men and fathers. His bio is at the bottom of the post. Look him up. What follows is his work entirely. Vince communicates the messages I want my son to hear in a far more clear and concise way than I could ever say. Consider using these as conversation starters. I encourage you to share these letters with the important men in your life.

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

“Marriage is a lot of give and take. You take a lot, and you give a lot.”

—Verna Mae Baker

Son, It Seems The Times Are A-Changin’

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

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

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

Eight Principles For Female Relationships

One | Be A Strong Gentlemen

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

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

Do this:

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

Two | Connect Emotionally With Women

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

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

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

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

Do this:

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

Three | Let The Creator Determine Manhood and Womanhood

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

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

Remember:

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

Four | Learn How To Love & Sacrifice For Women

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

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

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

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

Do this:

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

Five | Seek A Covenant Not A Contract

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

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

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

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

Do this:

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

Six | Avoid Immorality

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

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

Don’t do this:

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

Seven | Find A Woman Who Cares About You & God

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

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

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

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

Do this:

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

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

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

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

Do this:

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

Love you, son. Dad.

After serving in notable ministry organizations for over 25 years (including Young Life, InterVarsity, TCU Football, and Eagle Brook Church), Vince founded Resolute, a non-profit organization focused on providing men with tools for discipleship and mentorship. He’s written 13 books and handbooks, along with small group videos that are resources for mentorship. He also produces THE MEN’S DAILY DEVO and the MAN TALK PODCAST. His latest book is a devotional and mentoring guide for men called THIRTY VIRTUES THAT BUILD A MAN.