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, 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, 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.