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.

faith, Family, Personal Development

The Pride Problem | 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.

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.

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.

faith, Family, Personal Development

The Power Of Addiction | 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. I sure couldn’t have said it better. I encourage you to share these letters with the important men in your life.

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.

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.

faith, Family, Personal Development

Moderate Anger | 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. I sure couldn’t have said it better. I encourage you to share these letters with the important men in your life.

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.

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.

faith, Family

5 Ways A Man Handles Money

This article is a re-post 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 die-hard 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?