faith, Personal Development

4 Self-Defeating Thoughts Many Men Have

Men need encouragement. If it’s not the popular culture, media, or even people close to us that are knocking us down, it’s the negative thoughts we carry around in our own head. So take some encouragement from Vince Miller who shares some insight on what we can do about self-defeating thoughts.

“I will never be good enough so why try?”

Core Issues: Fear, shame, and guilt that stem from sin and ongoing repetitive failure.

Your action plan:

Avoid cycling in secret self-pity. No one knows you are doing this to yourself and it’s not helpful.

Own your problems. Yet remember you are not the cause of all your problem(s).

Move through emotional gridlock. Name the emotions you feel stuck on and mature through them.

Live in your new identity in Christ. You are a new man even though you still make mistakes once in a while.

Memorize this: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.—2 Corinthians 5:17

“I am tired and confused, I just don’t know what to do.”

The Core Issues: Confusion based on the need for knowledge and clarity combined with feelings of incompetence.

Your action plan:

Clarify the capability gap that you think you have.

Ask someone to mentor you in the desired knowledge and capabilities you need.

Define simple and measurable goals toward reaching the needed capability.

Mark progress toward the goals.

Make adjustments and trust God’s sovereignty.

Memorize this: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.—Proverbs 1:7

“I am too overwhelmed, I’ll address it later.”

The Core Issues: Procrastination that stems from being irritated or overwhelmed.

Your action plan:

Just start doing something, even a small step. The right moment may never come.

Go public with your decision to do something, it compels action.

Be willing to get accountability or invite to help, it ensures forward movement.

Be transparent with others about how you feel or why you are putting it off.

Memorize this: Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil.—Ephesians 5:15

“I hope this will go away, so I don’t have to deal with it.”

The Core Issues: Failure to take responsibility, lean into challenges, avoidance, and fear of change.

Your action plan:

Identify what you are avoiding and why you are avoiding it.

Write down the future ramifications of non-responsibility.

Use the phrase “I’m Sorry” or “I’m Angry” and open up the dialogue.

Seek reconciliation in relationships, and invite the benefits of healing.

Take one step at a time don’t worry about all the steps, just the next right one.

Memorize this: Do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.—Ephesians 4:27

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 18 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. See his latest study Men & Marriage: Overcoming 6 Unspoken Tensions.

Family, Personal Development

6 Reasons Why A Man Needs Friends

Most every culture in the world recognizes the value of friendship. Literature abounds with quotes on the subject.

“But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life.”

Thomas Jefferson

“The bird a nest, the spider a web, man, friendship.”

William Blake

So why is it, in our modern culture, so many men shortchange themselves when it comes to developing deep friendships? Perhaps we fail to recognize just how we are enriched by truly connecting with men of faith that God brings into our lives? Here are six things we miss out on if we don’t nurture healthy friendships with other guys.

1. Sharpening

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”

Proverbs 27:17

Some of the sharpening processes are intentional. We might “apprentice” with a friend who teaches us a new skill, or meet regularly with a brother as a mentor or mentee, or learn from a more advanced one-on-one Bible study partner. Or we may be challenged by someone we respect to see an issue from a different point of view, or to step out of our comfort zone in some way. Sometimes the sharpening is the result of healthy, good-natured competition. We tend to step up our game when in the presence of a better opponent — or teammate. Sometimes the sharpening happens just by doing life with and observing another brother, watching the way he interacts with others and handles challenging situations. Sharpening can change us, help us grow. And we may see benefits on all levels: mentally, socially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

2. Companionship

“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

Proverbs 18:24

Clearly, it’s better to have at least one really good friend than to dabble here and there among lots of surface relationships. Even more important, though, is that we choose our friends well. You can either spend time with a companion whose influence makes you a better man, strengthening your faith, helping you along the way of life. Or you can hang out with guys who drag you down and get you in trouble having a detrimental impact on your character along the way. 

3. Acceptance

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

Proverbs 17:17

How good it is to enjoy friendship with another guy who is faithful no matter how badly we screw up; someone who appreciates us—flaws and all; someone who knows us well and loves us anyway. There’s nothing more healing than when a friend not only stands beside us but also helps us pick up the pieces and move on in the aftermath of disappointment or the consequences of poor choices. And we’re better men when we demonstrate that same consideration for other brothers in our lives.

4. Accountability

“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’”

1 Corinthians 15:33

I admit that it sometimes hurts to be admonished by someone we love, admire, and from whom we crave approval. But of course, we do each other no favors by winking at a brother’s questionable decisions or letting his sins slide by as if there’s nothing wrong. What kind of love is that? I’m not saying we should be judgmental, continually pointing out another guy’s weaknesses. But at the same time, really good friends will nudge each other, give each other a poke, intervene in some way when a brother seems to be veering off-course. We want to encourage each other in loving ways to behave well and make good choices. And if you’re really serious about overcoming some recurring bad habit, enter into an accountability arrangement with another guy, agreeing to check up on each other and be honest when you’ve stumbled, praying for each other and cheering each other on along the right path.

5. Wisdom

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

Proverbs 13:20

Again, so much rides on the company we keep. But when we walk with another man whose wisdom runs strong and deep — perhaps an older friend or mentor with a wealth of life experience and spiritual maturity — we can only benefit. We ask for wisdom, but we can’t expect God to make us wise suddenly. He often grants our request through our investment of time with a well-chosen brother. 

6. Encouragement

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”

Hebrews 10:24

We need to be intentional about encouraging each other. It’s not something we should only expect from others. We need to look for ways to encourage the other guy, to perpetuate a mutual cycle of inspiration that motivates and generates enthusiasm for really loving and serving others with joyful hearts.

So find a friend. Be a friend. Let’s step further into becoming the men God designed us to be.

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

We Are All Addicts

Everyone is addicted to something. It’s human nature. That’s right. You are an addict. I am an addict.

Popular cultural defines an addict as someone addicted to illegal drugs or alcohol. But an addict is simply someone who is unable to stop some harmful or negative behavior.

Whoa.

Not only does that cover everything from gambling to porn, but also gossip/ drama, food, shopping, sex, TV/ gaming, risky behavior (aka adrenaline junkie), physical appearance/ vanity, internet & social media, your phone, etc. There is also addiction to comfort, control, safety, power, self-righteousness, self-loathing, the list goes on. You can fill in the blank with any negative behavior. It’s really anything that you “must have/ be/ do” so much that if something gets in the way, you will become upset and frustrated. What is the draw for you to engage in any of these activities or behaviors? What “need” does it seem to fill for you?

Maybe you identify some of the items above as being part of your life, but you don’t believe you are actually addicted to it, or you could stop if you wanted to. So what’s the big deal? Geez Chad, leave me alone already!

The big deal is that if you can muster the self-awareness that your behavior includes some addictions that are not healthy, you are already on the way to overcoming those addictions and being the person you were made to be. Free. Free to love, give, serve. Free to have, be, and do what really satisfies. Free from the slavery your addiction held you in. Free to be your very best self – for yourself and those you care about most. And maybe calling your “thing” an addiction may inspire action to change, because you don’t like to be called an addict, right?

In my personal experience, I realized something about my “things,” my addictions, that help me to see them for what they really are. One is feeling like I have to justify or defend my behavior – even if only to myself. Saying to myself things like, “What’s the big deal?” or “It’s not that bad.” or “Others do much worse than me.” If I need to justify (even to myself) that what I’m doing is fine or “not that bad,” then that’s a red flag to dig a little deeper into my motives. Time to ask some questions: What is the draw to engage in any of these activities or behaviors? What “need” does it seem to fill? Is this “thing” what I really want to be about- is it REALLY that important to me? Why?

The second is the truth that people spend the most time, energy, and money on the things that matter the most to them. In addiction, we find hypocrisy. What we SAY is the most important to us is often not supported by how we spend our time and energy. I don’t want to be a hypocrite, so I take a hard look in the mirror and reevaluate myself. Regularly.

I promise that if you take a sober self-assessment you can identify some negative behavior in your life that you really struggle with. I’m here to tell you that you (and I) have an addiction that keeps us from being our very best and we can beat it. But how?

There is a simple process to follow, outlined below. Simple, but not easy.

1. Decide

“I can’t tolerate it anymore.” Whatever is the “thing,” you’ve finally come to the end of your rope. It’s not serving you anymore, but rather enslaving you. You will never slay your addiction without this deep conviction that enough is enough. Find your personal compelling reason WHY you can’t tolerate it anymore and lean into it when temptation strikes.

2. Describe & Identify

This is about the trigger. The emotions or circumstances that precede the behavior or activity. It’s usually some form of stressor. For example, you realize that you go to the pantry for comfort when something stressful happens and you overeat junk food to cope. Name your trigger.

3. Make Advanced Decision

This is where it gets real. Ultimately you need to choose your next move the next time the trigger hits. It’s not enough to say, “NO, I won’t go to the pantry when I’m stressed.” Try replacing the action of eating with another positive action, such as going for a walk, or munching on some baby carrots. Having decided your course of action BEFORE the trigger strikes makes it way easier to choose well in the heat of the battle. Best option ever: PRAY! Tell God you are triggered and you need his help to choose well. God loves to hear such prayers, and will be happy to help you if you will trust him to do so.

4. New Reward

Recognize the many benefits of your good choice. You become closer to God having trusted him for help. You made another key step towards your healthy habit, which boosts esteem and confidence. You can do it!

Here are some excellent verses to remember about temptation:

Hebrews 2:18 Because he himself (Jesus) suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

I realize this is a heavy topic. Much more can be written for sure. My hope is to have provided a mental exercise for you to consider to help you be your very best. We don’t want to be addicts or hypocrites, so let’s do the hard work to slay our “thing.”

Family, Fortitude, Personal Development

Who's in Charge of Your Marriage?

When men fail to love their wives because of what they perceive to be a lack of responsiveness, they are allowing themselves to be controlled by the behavior of their wives. In fact, I find that these two things are occurring when this transpires:

1. The man is waiting for permission from his wife to be the man he vowed to be.

When a man bases his love on the behavior of his wife, he is not in control. Whether he realizes it or not, he is being controlled by her negativity not by his conscience, his commitment to the marriage vows, or his God. His is committing the mistake of allowing her behavior to dictate his actions.

This is a classic mistake that spouses make in a troubled marriage. In a sense, they are allowing the dysfunction of their spouse to become the true god of their actions (Romans 6:16), and this is always a problem in that no individual or couple will ever rise higher than the true master of their marriage. We deal with this in chapter 3 of our marriage book.

2. The man becomes a walking contradiction.

What most give off that they are the most is what they are the least.

Bank tellers will tell you that the person with lots of bling and the shiniest car is usually poorer in relation to the man with an old truck and overalls.

The teenager that has to walk with a strut and talk a big game typically has the least confidence. It is the young man that finds but little need to let everyone know how confident he is that is truly over abounding with confidence. (Proverbs 17:27)

In the same way, the man that runs from his obligation to serve his wife yet becomes bitter about her negative responses will often tout how he could care less what she does. But, it should be noted that the man that has to tell everyone how little he cares is usually showing how much he cares. If he did not care, then why does he feel a need to verbalize his disgust.

Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh (Matthew 12:34). I know people say that you cannot know someone’s heart, but Jesus teaches otherwise. We typically know what is in someone’s heart by their words as they are heart indicators.

Love Because it is Right

Though I am the first to admit that there are some women that are dissatisfied no matter how much love they receive, men will be wise to love their wives because it is right rather than because it produces the result they desire. In fact, when a man refrains from loving his wife because of her lack of responsiveness he is showing that he is simply a conditional lover.

Conditional Love is Not Love

To say that someone is a conditional lover is oxymoronic. That is, a conditional lover is not a true lover. He or she is merely one that has mastered having good behavior in order to receive a desired result. This is not love as much as a deceptive form of love which is no love at all. (I Corinthians 13:5)

True Repentance

Many men will do well to remember that true repentance is taking total responsibility for the state of their actions and the repercussions of those actions. I have found that men do not even begin to prosper until they stop blaming their wives for their negative behavior and focus more on the lack of love that has caused the lack of good feeling in their wives.

If I neglected to change the oil in my car, I have nobody to blame but myself. I can ignore the warning light, argue with it, or take full responsibility. In the same way, many husbands will do well to accept total responsibility for the state of their marriage and their home and return to their first works.

Man Up

I am finding many men that are balking at taking full responsibility for the state of their marriage. Though I am aware that some women will reject the love of even the best of men, this is more of an exception rather than a rule.

Behind every bitter woman is a man that failed somewhere. That man may be a father, ex-husband, old boyfriend, or current husband. But, mark it down, somewhere out there, a man lacked the strength or the wisdom to pull her outside of herself in a loving way.

I am a firm believer that the lack of responsiveness that we have today from the wives in our society is a reaction rather than a mere action. It is a reaction to the lack of masculinity in our families.

The Demasculinization of America is a Faulty Premise

I say that nobody, including our wives, took it away. We gave it up. Take responsibility for your actions and the negative repercussions of those actions. Do what the scriptures say and “be men of courage.” (I Samuel 4:9 and I Corinthians 16:13)

I often hear people talk about the demasculinization of America. However, as of late, I have been swaying away from using this term. This is because if someone can take away my manhood, then I was not much of a man from the start. In other words, is someone taking away our manhood as a society or are we as men giving it up by walking contrary to the scriptures?

About the Author: Dr. Raymond Force currently serves as a pastor of the Crossroads Bible Church in Ocala, FL. Having served in a number of churches throughout his ministry, Dr. Force pulls from his experience as a pastor and a youth pastor to help others to overcome difficulties in their lives and relationships. Dr. Force has been married over twenty years and he is a father of seven beautiful children. Hitting Home is a family owned and operated ministry that enjoys working together for God’s glory.

Fortitude, Personal Development

Life Lessons from Rocky

Our family recently watched all 6 Rocky movies. It had been long enough since I’d seen any of them that I forgot much of the story. Of course I remembered Mr. T as Clubber Lang, Apollo Creed, and Ivan Drago, but I totally forgot about Hulk Hogan as Thunderlips along with much of the good story telling about real life. I was surprised at the positive messages in these boxing movies. I don’t care for boxing at all, in fact I think it’s a barbaric sport, but I can’t deny the positive life lessons taught in these movies. Read on for my insights from these movies in hopes that they will encourage you as they do me.

We Are All Overcomers

A central theme in the Rocky stories is heart or fortitude. Fortitude is the mindset that you will not be defeated no matter the obstacle, sacrifice, suffering, and pain. The body will only go as far as the mind will allow it. That’s why I like to say, “Healthy living starts between your ears.” Rocky had his mind right even if his body was never like that of his opponents. He won because of his heart. He would never give up. That’s mental fitness and fortitude.

You and I are not striving to overcome the physical beating a boxer takes, but we all have our personal battles. Maybe it’s defeating a doubt that we can’t do/ be something. Maybe it’s fear that we will fail, or never measure up. Maybe there’s a bad habit we wish we could conquer. Maybe it’s a bitterness or resentment that eats at us. We all have something to overcome. Rocky reminds us that we are overcomers and when our driving force to “win” is stronger than the excuses and obstacles, we can do amazing things. https://youtu.be/D_Vg4uyYwEk

No Regrets

In the 6th movie, Rocky is old and long retired living a quiet life as restaurant owner in Philly. Without spoiling the story, he gets this “itch” to fight again and he can’t shake it. Fighting is what he’d always done. Boxing is what brought him the most joy and satisfaction, how he was known, how he identified himself. Despite his age, there was still a fire in his belly to fight again. He called this fire “stuff in the basement.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Et_Bdct1T0U

It seems strange that he would want to fight again because it really is crazy, but are we any different? I’m not. Life is short, health is not guaranteed, and I believe we all have a secret desire to not have regret. We don’t want to regret NOT doing the thing we always wanted to do, but were too afraid to go for it. We wonder, “Could I have really done X?” Rocky asked this question and he went for it, despite all the odds and obstacles. Despite what other people thought of his goal, Rocky went for it. I believe he is challenging us to do the same. https://youtu.be/KFLgYy2VHV0

What is your “stuff in the basement?” The thing in your heart that kind of eats at you to do, but you keep pushing it back down for all the list of excuses you’ve come up with over the years. Maybe it’s time to “let the beast out.” It doesn’t have to be an audacious physical goal either. Maybe it’s to do your part to restore a broken relationship, or confront a loved one, or to change jobs, or move away. I don’t know what it is, but you do.

Love Fiercely

I was not expecting to learn about marriage and family from Rocky, but it’s in there. Watching Adrian love and support Rocky is convicting and heartwarming at the same time. Man, she loved Rocky fiercely. Despite his flaws, which are many, she was always there to love, encourage, and support her husband. I’m convinced that Rocky would never have won any fights without the knowledge that Adrian was in his corner no matter what.

They yelled at each other. https://youtu.be/SDe3qE_aw8Q They argued. Mostly Adrian was right. But they reconciled quickly and let love rule their relationship. It’s beautiful. I love this quote:

“Adrian has gaps, I have gaps, but together…no gaps.”

Rocky Balboa

He knew he needed Adrian and he loved her deeply, cared for her, and always wanted the best for her no matter what. Marriage is meant to help complete the individual through mutual sacrificial loving. It’s how God designed us. Flawed as they are, Rocky and Adrian demonstrate this love well.

Family is important to Rocky and Adrian. He often talked about “home team” particularly with his son in Rocky V. When Rocky lost sight of his “home team,” Adrian was there to draw him back and the family was strengthened for it. Rocky even loved Paulie, Adrian’s drunken loser brother by forgiving him often when Paulie treated him or Adrian poorly https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fp80snqeI3w, and even when he squandered their fortune. Because Paulie was family, Rocky did all he could to love him despite his flaws and failures. A great example for us all.

Work Works

In all the movies, Rocky’s training plan was old school, fundamental, blood, sweat, and tears hard work. He didn’t have the fancy facilities or equipment, latest techniques or technology, or cutting edge gurus on his team. He didn’t take steroids or chemical supplements to improve his strength or stamina. The guy just worked. Hard. The Russian Drago in Rocky IV had all the stuff and he still lost.

I can’t get past this illustration applying to today’s multi-billion dollar health and fitness industry. All the gimmicks and gizmos, machines, pills, and chemical concoctions that promise to make you look like a superhero with minimal time and effort. Baloney. What really works is work. Doing the hard work consistently over time and having a team around you to support, care, encourage you along the way. Dang, sound a lot like Team Quadzilla. Just sayin’.

So there you have it: My take on the Rocky series and some of what we can learn about winning at life. What life lessons from Rocky resonate with you?