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.

faith, Family

In Your Singleness | Letter 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.

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

Ephesians 5:25

Companionship is a Worthy Desire

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

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

Four Things to Consider While You’re Single

One | Learn self-leadership

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

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

“What are my honest relational priorities, and what’s my plan for getting there?”

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

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

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

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

DO THIS:

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

Two | Determine your values and grow into them

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

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

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

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

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

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

DO THIS:

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

Three | Discover your identity in singleness

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

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

Four | Get to know yourself

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

Here are ten questions to reflect on today:

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

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

I love you, son—Dad

Vince Miller 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, Family

Get Good Counsel on Money | Letters To My Son

Without counsel, plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.—Proverbs 15:22

There are certain areas of a man’s life where the counsel of others is necessary, but where I have found it hard to ask for help. One of these areas is money.

Why am I so hesitant to ask for help in the area of money and finances?

I think there are several reasons.

One | Shame

I, like many, have made numerous financial mistakes over my lifetime. I’ve lived on the financial edge, accrued debt, purchased useless things that I could not afford, and have made a bad investment or two. I, like most men, don’t like to reveal my failings to other men; it is shame and embarrassment about these events that keep me from getting the help I need.

Two | Self-Reliance

Shame, while one of my issues, is not the only issue. Self-reliance, in combination with ongoing shame, is a powerful one-two punch. Self-reliance complicates everything, resulting in the belief that I ought to be able to figure out budgeting, spending, saving, and investing on my own. Even though I may have a novice understanding of money, remaining in a state of ignorance because of self-reliance is not the better choice. And worse, the faulty self-talk that says, “try and figure it out on your own,” will keep you captive to unhealthy practices and from gaining the knowledge, disciplines, and skills for success.

Three | Pride

The third related core issue with shame and self-reliance, is pride. Arrogance keeps me, and all men, from asking for help and advice.

How do we handle these personal issues that keep us from getting the help we need?

I have learned we must humbly find help before we become humiliated. Proverbs 15:22 says it this way: “Without counsel, plans fail, but with many advisers, they succeed.” One mark of Godly men is humility—not shame, not self-reliance, and definitely not pride. Humility is to think of yourself less. It’s thinking less about how the present financial situation reflects on you as a person and more about how others can aid in guiding you out of it. This infers that we must separate who we are from what the issue is, and in doing so, we must embrace the virtue of humility. But a humble man does not think “less of himself” in a self-defeating manner, but instead, he “thinks of himself less” as it relates to the issue at hand. Money, as it relates to manhood, can feel like a direct attack on who we are as a person. The best thing we can do is detach the issue from who we are and admit our mistakes and failures so we can find a way out with competent counsel. Why? So we can be the men God designed us to be and so we do not live in constant shame, self-sufficiency, and pride.

Where do we find help for our financial questions?

First | Jesus

One of the most popular and essential areas from which one to develop a biblical understanding of money, finances, budgeting, debt, and sound financial decision-making is the teachings of Jesus Christ. Jesus talked about money more than many other subjects—more than heaven, more than hell, more than heaven and hell combined. And even more than love. Of the 39 parables Jesus told, eleven of them are devoted to talking about some aspect of money. Maybe Jesus knew money would be challenging for men?

So if you are looking for wisdom on money, read the words of Jesus in a few of these stories.

  • The Parable of the Prodigal Son—Luke 15:11–32
  • The Rich Man and Lazarus—Luke 16:19–31
  • The Day Laborers in the Vineyard—Matthew 20:1–16
  • The Widow’s Two Coins—Mark 12:41-44
  • Ceasar’s Taxes—Matthew 22:15-22
  • The Rich Young Man—Matthew 19:16-24
  • Zaccheus the Tax Collector—Luke 19:1-10

Or consider these foundational quotes by Jesus about money.

  • For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.—Matthew 6:21
  • Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.—Luke 9:3
  • No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.—Matthew 6:24
  • For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?—Mark 8:36
  • Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.—Matthew 5:42

Second | Other Faithful Christian Men

There are many great Christian men out there who know a ton about money. They are usually men who have done an excellent job managing, leading, and guiding their finances. Ask them if they would share with you what they know and how they handle their finances. Ask them questions and let them know what kind of specific guidance you need. If you want, you could gather a group of men together who wish to openly discuss the topic of finances, learn with one another and encourage one another.

But remember that there are also some people from whom we should not seek counsel. Psalm 1:1 says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers.” Be aware that some of the financial advice that we find in the world can be self-serving. In other words, it feeds on the assumption that we will be selfish at some point and that, financially, there will be things that we will want, that we will be afraid of missing out on, and that we will convince ourselves that we need right now.

Regardless of whom you turn to for guidance, spend some time addressing your motives and desires and make sure that your heart is in the right place before you make a significant purchase or investment. If in doubt—don’t do it. If pressured for a quick decision—walk away. If you have not prayed about it—wait. Waiting is a profound financial principle that people who live in a consumer-driven society need to heed.

Son, don’t let shame, self-reliance, or pride keep you from discovering the fantastic gift of financial freedom. We have all paid a dumb tax with finances. Don’t pay more. Get counsel, teaching, and Godly advice on money.

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, Family

How To Feel Differently About Your Spouse

Feelings have no engine of their own.  In most cases, they are pulled around by thoughts and actions. Therefore, if you are going to see a change in the way you feel about your spouse, then, first of all, you will have to change the way you are treating them.  This is why I often say, “Never expect to feel any different about your marriage unless you are willing to do something different.”

I have come across many a spouse that seems to be waiting for their feelings to mysteriously change before they start treating their mate in a different manner. The only problem is that they are waiting for something that does not exist.

The Proverbs 16:3 Principle

Proverbs 16:3 gives us some insight on this subject. It says:

“Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.”

If you will notice, God’s Words tells us that the external can positively affect the internal. In other words, Proverbs is teaching us that in that in order to move the inside, sometimes, the outside must be the first to change.

Imagine if I obtained a train car, painted the word feelings on it, and set it all by itself on the tracks. Let us also go a little further and assume that it is hundreds of miles away from where I would want it to travel.

First off, this train car may describe some of you in that your feelings for your spouse may be far away from where they once were at another time in your marriage.

Secondly, the train car may also portray how you feel in that you sense that you are all alone and emotionally stuck.

Getting the Train Car Called Feelings to Move

The question is how are we going to get that train car to move in a positive direction? We could sit back and wait for it to move on its own accord, yet I am sure that would accomplish little. We could have long conversations about possible solutions, but that would also be to no avail.

Ultimately, the only plausible way for forward progress to begin is to hook an engine to that train car and proceed down the tracks.

In like manner, husbands and wives that are seeing very little movement in their feelings toward one another must find a similar engine. I call it an engine called action. Once this occurs, it is almost always just a matter of time before they start to feel differently toward their spouse. 

There’s always Something You Can Do

I certainly understand that there are people with chemical imbalances, hormonal problems, or physiological issues that may throw their feelings off. I am fully aware of such cases. I also understand that there are heart issues such as hurt, unforgiveness, and bitterness that take time to heal. Nevertheless, I have found that even in the most difficult of cases, there is always some way to start showing kindness in a tangible way so that a spouse can eventually start to feel differently about their marriage. It is not only a Biblical step, but I have also found it to be extremely effective.

Credit to Dr. Raymond Force of Hitting Home Ministries for the content of this article.