Family

Build Great Friendships | 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.

The secrets to building great friendships with others.

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

—Proverbs 18:24

It Was Easier When You Were Younger

It was a lot easier when you were a kid. Kids just showed up, and because they were present, you built friendships. As you get older, it gets a little more complicated. Morality, media, work, activities, and distance separate us. These issues will make formal friendships more and more challenging. Some of this separation is good, and some is bad.

“I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”—One of the top five regrets of men.

Many men on their death bed have big regrets. One of the top five is staying in touch with friends. I believe most do not realize until it’s too late how vital friendships are to us. Good relationships with your family and friends bring immense human happiness, which results in deep human satisfaction. And I want that for you. In fact, God wants it for you.

During my childhood, I was desperately lonely. My father was gone. My mother was absent. My friendships were challenging for me. But I wanted to have them, just like everyone else. While I was at lost for great relationships, I discovered a few secrets over the years that have brought me great satisfaction, and I hope learning these now will benefit you in your future.

5 Secrets To Building Great Friendships

One | Don’t Search, Reconnect

One way to build great friendships is by engaging with friends you already have. I have several good friends that live a considerable distance from me. However, I have come to learn that while I rarely see these men in person, I can still have an active and loyal friendship with them. There are many reasons I stay in touch, but reaching out to them regularly (even just once a month) has kept the conversation going and our relationships alive. Many men never think of doing this, but we should. We should take ownership of the connection and reconnection. All you need to do is occasionally call, text, email, or ping them. Touching base like this means a lot.

Here is why this is important. Men need to learn to maintain friendships by taking small steps to nurture them. I think our lack of initiative in nurturing is what leads to this feeling of regret. I know “nurture” feels like an effeminate word, but it’s not. Nothing could be more masculine. But nurture requires forethought and intention that is others-focused. Most men, me included, get consumed by all the other activities of life that revolve around self and thus fail to nurture friendships because we are obsessed only with ourselves. This is just one of the ways pride’s insidious nature impacts reconnecting with our existing relationships. It’s essential to learn how to nurture connection and reconnection now before you get married—because marriage and family are all about nurture.

And by the way, it’s good to practice on us by calling your mom, sister, brother, and myself once in a while.

Two | Don’t Be Interesting, Be Interested

As men, when it comes to relationships, we think competitively. Because we think this way, we spend more time thinking about what makes us unique and interesting. We aspire to be the “most interesting man in the world.” And yes, we are our favorite subject matter. But to build great friendships, you may need to worry less about being the most interesting man in the world and be interested in others.

People love other people who are interested in them because, as I have already stated, every man’s favorite subject is himself.

If you want to build some great connections, get a guy to share a story about himself, and show interest by asking subsequent questions. I have found people are fascinating. Their interests, upbringing, experiences, and areas of expertise are crazy cool. And behind every one of these people is an interesting story. Dig it out. Ask questions until you find it; everyone has one. Before you know it, you may discover you have a connection with a person who could become a life-long friend. So, work at getting people you meet to share a story.

Sometimes, when I meet people, I often see how long I can get them to talk about themselves before they ask about me. It’s a fun little game I play, mostly for my entertainment. Give it a spin with others, and use this question frequently—“Could you tell me more about that?”

Three | Don’t Pretend, Be Real

“Being real,” as I call it here, requires appropriate levels of vulnerability. We have to be careful, though. There’s a balance we must strike between sharing too much (oversharing) and not sharing enough (pretending). We need to find ways to share and connect that build trust with others, and vulnerability is the tool for doing this. Vulnerability builds trust, which leads to stronger and healthier relationships. While many men wrongly think being masculine is about being invulnerable, invincible, and impervious to issues, real men are appropriately vulnerable and thus authentic. Being vulnerable means we drop our guard, and in doing so, invite others into a more intimate relationship with us. This leads to relationships that welcome an emotional exchange, not merely a transfer of facts and opinions. This is precisely why, on a plane, people will spill their guts to the person sitting next to them about how they feel. They know there is nothing to risk because, more than likely, they will never meet them again. What ends up happening is we build a quick emotional and psychological connection with this person. Often, we don’t take these risks with people we see every day because we are afraid, and as a result, we pretend because we think it is safer.

I would recommend that you learn how to develop the muscle of vulnerability in your life. I know life is not perfect, and I know you will probably not share everything with me, but you should with someone. If you spend too long pretending in life, you will end up being artificial—and people can sense this from a long way off. Lean into this with a trusted Godly man. You will not regret it.

Four | Don’t Neglect, Make Time

You need to be forging out a little time for relationships every day. College is not just about being consumed by studies, advancement in sports, and locating a spouse—it’s about getting a job. But all these activities touch on one crucial element, and that is your social development. You need to give just a little bit of attention to this each day. Your life is going to get busy—too busy. You’re going to become consumed by activities. And this will be an ongoing problem you will encounter, regardless of your stage or phase of life.

I am much older than you and deal with this every day. My problem is my ability to laser focus on tasks. While this is a tremendous strength, it can also be preventative to relationships. Often, I become so focused on the present task that I become oblivious to this need, and it has taken work and attention on my part to address this. I have had to give attention, a little bit each day, to get my mind off a task and care for the people God has given to me. They, after all, are the means and the end of every job I am trying to complete.

I would encourage you to spend time watching people who are experts in relationships. Men who are inspirational that others instinctually follow. There are small habits and behaviors that they embrace that others do not. They may be aware or unaware of these things, but spend time with these men and study them. Practice what you see in them that has Godly implications on your relationships.

Remember, all this requires time—so make time. First, make time learning how to master relationships as you spend time with people who are experts. Second, make time to invest in these relationships as well.

Five | Don’t Wait, Make Plans

I don’t know why men don’t do this, but we don’t make plans. Women make plans all the time. You may remember or trip to the Dominican Republic in your senior year of high school. I was blown away by how many women were there. I even turned to your mom and commented on this. I distinctly remember your mom saying, “It’s because women make plans,” and she is spot on. I think if men were smart, they would figure this out, as it’s a big missed opportunity.

Be a leader and get some guys together. Whether for road trips, ski trips, hunting trips, or mission trips, it doesn’t matter. See the world while you are young, but do it with friends. You can make plans; even something impromptu is excellent. In college, we called it “making a memory.” You can either sit around staring at a device or you can jump in the car and make a memory you will never forget. I have a ton of memories like this, most of which I may leave out of this letter and share with you privately.

In closing, you have limited time. You cannot have a hundred great friends. But you can have a few close friends.

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

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, Fortitude

The 5 Voices All Men Hear | Letters To My Son

The world is in a constant conspiracy against the brave. It’s the age-old struggle: the roar of the crowd on the one side, and the voice of your conscience on the other

Douglas MacArthur

The Secret to Listening to the Right Voice

Son, I think being a man requires tremendous strength and courage. Even more, it requires a keen awareness of where to focus that strength and courage. Understanding this is crucial to your growth and development as a man, leader, and one day, husband and father. In fact, the advice I am about to give you could be some of the most important that I ever give. It took me years to understand what I’m about to tell you, but if you hold on to this lesson, it will aid you all your life.

Five voices are incessantly screaming at men. These five voices, as I call them, are heard several times during a given day. Given the circumstances of that day, certain voices will be louder than others. But these voices have incredible power over men. They have the ability to direct our thoughts, attitudes, and actions. This means they have the potential to lead you toward life and godliness or loss and destruction. If you can grow in awareness when you hear them, identify them, and redirect them, then you will experience great success in this life.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

Jesus in John 10:27

Voice #1 — The Man That I Think I Am

And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”

Mark 10:37

Every man wants to be legendary. We want to hold a trophy, stand on the platform, and be praised by fans on the world’s stage. And some days, you’re going to think you’re a legend but only in your own mind. This insidious thought is a dangerous voice for men to follow. It’s evidence of our deepest arrogance, and it must be addressed before our imminent fall. Pride comes in many forms, but it ultimately plants a thought in our mind, which impacts our beliefs, attitudes, and actions. The result of this is rather ugly and makes us look stupid. I wonder if James and John felt this way when they made the statement above. The only trophy they held on this day was the award for being the “Most Stupid.”

I’m sure you have bumped into a few arrogant guys in life. Men who are masters at their skill, talent, or gift have allowed their mastery to master them. These men are destined for a great fall, so don’t be this man. Avoid the fall by being cautious of the sex appeal of this voice.

Voice #2 — The Man Others Think We Are

And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

Luke 15:2

Yes, it’s true: others have a wonderful plan for our lives. If you haven’t discovered this yet, you soon will. Bosses, coaches, teachers, and friends project a manner of thinking and acting to us or about us. I promise that they will reinforce their voices with Tweets, Snaps, and posts. With or without malicious intent, their propaganda doesn’t always correctly reflect who we are; it’s their perspective. Their view is right to them, whether we like it or not. Yet, we have the choice to listen to this or not.

The truth is, these sound bites from others are often compelling voices that affect men. In the moments when we are emotionally vulnerable, they can be persuasive and leading, but you need to remember that you are not the sum of what others think about you. In fact, their voices may be genuine, but genuinely wrong, and lead you down a path of destruction.

As your identity is forming, the voice of influential friends, coaches, and teachers will be loud to you. You might end up believing that what they say about you is true. Take caution, because this leads to you living up only to what others expect of you—which could be off-course. Many men have chased after this voice, and then run from one voice to the next, and ended up confused and exhausted. Even Jesus ignored these voices when they led down ungodly paths; note the soundbite above from the religious leaders. Don’t follow these ungodly voices or believe what they say about you.

Voice #3 — The Man We Think Others Think We Are

We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.

Numbers 13:33

This voice may appear a little confusing when you first hear it, but stay with me for a minute or two. This voice is the one we hear when we lie down at night, staring at the ceiling. It speaks to us as we reflect on the happenings of the day, considering that occasional failure— it’s the voice of our mind talking to our soul about what others think about us. Unfortunately, this voice has incredible power because it develops thoughts about ourselves in our minds that, combined with emotions, construct systems of belief about who we are.

The voice of “what we think others think” is a deceptive voice because it is both powerful and private. I cannot tell you how many times in my younger years, I lied awake in bed at night with thoughts about myself and what others think about me. These voices disturbed me for years. In bed, many men hear the voice of an unloving father, an unappreciative wife, an unsatisfied boss, an unsupportive coach, and an unreliable friend—and believe that they, the man, are responsible for the voice. Men replay the sounds of these tapes, privately shaming themselves, ruminating only on failure and allowing these voices to control their lives.

Voice #4 — The Man We Actually Are

For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.

Romans 7:18

At some point, you are going to come face-to-face with the most challenging voice any man hears: the voice of your sin. Yes, we men inflict harm intentionally or unintentionally, which results in suffering for others. You are already aware of this. But occasionally, you will hear the weightier voice of sin. You will feel sin’s full weight, which is more than just making a mistake or hurting someone else; it’s an offense against God. Some days this voice will be so weighty it will feel overwhelming. It will bring you to your knees so much so that you will see no way out. When this happens, I want you to remember you are not the first to feel this way. Even the apostle Paul felt this way, and he let us know this in the sentence above. While I want to say ignore this voice, this voice is true. Son, we all sin. We screw things up. We make mistakes. We have, indeed, offended God. But it’s not the end of the story. This voice teaches us and motivates us to look for a solution and a better voice, which brings us to the last voice—the one you need to hear.

Voice #5 — The Man God Says We Are

This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.

Matthew 3:17 – God speaking to Jesus

In the end, there is only one voice that you should hear. One voice to heed. One voice that is true. It’s the voice of God. What God says and says about you is the only truth you should believe. The other sounds we hear are gibberish soundbites in a world that is lost and confused. God’s voice is the only true one. God’s is the only one that matters. It’s God’s voice that spoke you into existence. It’s God’s voice that echoes across time. It’s God’s voice that extends grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness to you when you hear voices that say you don’t deserve it. It’s your Father’s voice that utters the most beautiful sentence you will ever hear, “This is my son [insert your name], with whom I am well pleased.”

Son, I can barely hold back tears in writing this letter to you. It’s God’s voice all men long to hear. Stop chasing the other voices. Shun them. Turn a deaf ear to them. Listen to only one from the God and Father who created you. It’s he you follow, listen only to him. His voice is trustworthy, confident, and dependable.

He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.

Matthew 17:5

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, 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, 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.