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.

Fitness, Fortitude, Nutrition, Uncategorized

7 Tips to Keep Your Healthy Living Journey From Falling Off the Rails

Many people have fallen off the train to physical fitness. Maybe you can relate. Maybe you’ve been on the train (all aboard in January, right?) and fallen off multiple times. You are frustrated. It wasn’t your body that gave out on you though. Oh sure, you might have told yourself that your knee or back derailed your ride to fitness, but you know the truth: You chose to jump off the train. Maybe your results weren’t coming fast enough, maybe it was too hard, you were doing the wrong exercises, or other activities got in the way. There are a million excuses and yours is not new.


News Flash: Getting fit is hard. So is paying for medications, feeling stiff, weak, tired, and not being able to do the things you once did (or have always wanted to do). You choose. #toughlove

Getting fit (and staying fit) is a mental game more than a physical one. Most people approach fitness the wrong way, and it leads to failure. A mindset shift about fitness is required. Fitness isn’t a project with a defined start and end date. There is no “arrival.” There’s no retirement. Fitness is a process – a healthy living journey that never ends. Wrap your mind around the reality that you need to pursue a lifestyle of healthy habits and read on for more helpful tips to master the mental side of getting fit.

Set mindful goals

Set small reasonable goals and remember to focus on the process. Expect more internal negative feedback at the start than positive. You will be sore, and maybe hungry. You might get grumpy and want to quit. Health benefits are delayed for a while – longer than the instant gratification we all expect. Recognize that everyone struggles with new routine. Get used to being uncomfortable and know that it will be worth it if you don’t give up.

Don’t exercise – train

Exercising for the sake of exercising is terrible. We’re like a hamster on his wheel, mindlessly moving and loathing every minute of it. Kinda like how I feel about treadmills. Exercise on purpose. Train for something. Follow a plan or program. Sign up for a race or fitness event. When you finish, sign up for another one. Remember your driving force behind your fitness journey. Why are you really trying to get fit? How will you feel? What will you be able to do?

Be Social

Find other people to motivate you. Join a club or challenge group. Find a workout partner. Coach others. I have found the mutual accountability in helping others to be an awesome way to keep momentum in my healthy living journey. There is great power in being part of a group.

Change your Habits

Have you heard of Habit Stacking? It’s where you stack your new healthy habit on top of something you already do every day to help ensure you get it done. Plan ahead. Remove as much friction between you and the workout as possible. Set aside time in your calendar like any other meeting or appointment. Set your gear out the night before. Following a plan ensures you don’t show up to the gym with no idea how to maximize your results. We love working out at home because it eliminates so many of the common obstacles.

Define yourself

You are what you eat, you are what you do – not what you say you do. Talk to yourself and about yourself in a positive voice. “I am strong. I am healthy. I’m taking this time for me so I can be my best for everyone else.” You are a responsible person so you go to work every day. You don’t just skip work cuz you don’t feel like it. Same with your healthy habits. You are an active person, you are on a mission to be the best version of yourself, so you don’t ditch your program/ workout commitments.

Rest

Once you get on track, you love how you feel, you’re making progress, etc. you won’t want to stop. You still must listen to your body and rest. Give your body a chance to recover. But don’t use rest as an excuse to jump off the train. You can still eat right and do lower impact activity.

Change your routine as you age

Fitness isn’t a goal, it’s a lifelong process. It will change as you age. Adapt. Mix up your program. Avoid comparison with your younger self. Never quit. Find the activities that suit you. You may lose some speed and strength over time, but far slower than you would if you sat idle telling yourself you are too old or fat to do anything. Get moving. Conquer your mind. Do your thing. Press on!

faith, Personal Development

My 2018 Book List

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 2018 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.

The Joy of Trusting God by Dr. Bill Bright

Real joy eludes most of us these days. There is so much negativity and terrible things reported in the news that it is extra hard to have real joy in our soul. This book helped me to adjust my focus to trust God through all that goes on around me and allow God to fill me with joy and peace.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

This book surprised me big time. So good. I’m not a war history buff, but this is an amazing true story that grips you from page one. If you want to read about fortitude,courage, redemption, and get an insider’s view of WWII, this is it.

Jesus Is ___. By Judah Smith

Fill in the blank.Jesus is greatly revered, harshly criticized, and sorely misunderstood. Judah breaks down who Jesus is and explains to readers how understanding Jesus more fully will not only enrich their lives, but also give them meaning, as well as save them. Judah has a way of bringing well known Bible stories to life in a way that puts you in the story. Very impactful.

Invisible War by Chip Ingram

It might sound strange to you, but there is a spiritual war going on all around us that we cannot see with our eyes. This book uses the Bible to help us understand the evil in the world, how it works, and what we can do about it. It’s actually very helpful and encouraging. All is not lost people!

Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard

This book will challenge you to take a sober self-assessment. If we are honest with ourselves,there are attitudes, beliefs, fears, etc. that need to be addressed. This book provides some encouraging insight to help us take control of our heart rather than be steered by it.

A.D. 33: A Novel by Ted Dekker

The only fiction I read this year was this excellent story that shares the heart of Jesus. Dekker’s stories always move fast and keep you guessing. This is both entertaining and soul food.

Loving Your Spouse When You Feel Like Walking Away by Dr. Gary Chapman

Gary Chapman writes,“I believe that in every troubled marriage, one or both partners can take positive steps that have the potential for changing the emotional climate in their marriage.” This book was recommended to me by a dear friend because it has such practical application for ANY and all marriages. In fact, what you can learn in this book can apply to all relationships.

My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

This is a 365 day devotional book that can change your life. Written nearly 100 years ago, it’s amazing how piercing Oswald’s wisdom is for us today. I read it as part of my morning routine and have found it to be especially convicting and encouraging at the same time.

The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller

This is the most impactful book I’ve read this year. In fact, I’ve just finished reading it the 2nd time. I probably highlighted something on every page. It is so rich with wisdom and advice for thriving in the most important human relationship we have. This is a MUST read whether you are married or not.

The Heart of Christmas by Lucado, Maxwell, Hybels, Warren, Jeremiah, Hayford

I found this book in our box of Christmas decorations. It’s actually really good. Not only will this insightful book put you in the Christmas spirit, but it will encourage your soul as you think about what this holiday is really all about.

Fitness, Personal Development

Snooze Now, ConQuer Later

I can remember taking ‘power naps’ in college. At very random times of day, I would just lay down for a few minutes between classes. My posse back then often did the same. We’d say, “I need a 10.” It was our code for nap time. Just 10-20 minutes is all that was needed. I remember feeling so much better afterwards. Naps really work. I steal one every now and then these days, but its not my habit. Maybe it should be. A quick glance through history books reveals a long line of influential nappers. Albert Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Thomas Edison were all known to take naps.

Their decision, it turns out, is backed by science.

Napping and productivity

The benefits of getting enough sleep are widely acknowledged, but why choose naps instead of catching more Zs at night? The simple answer is that it makes the second part of your day as productive as the first. About an hour after waking is considered our most productive time. Even if you consider yourself a night-owl, chances are your cognitive abilities are sharper after some shut-eye. It is more than common sense. It is science.

In a review of the many studies conducted on napping, Dr. Catherine Milner and Dr. Kimberly A. Cote find a host of productivity-related benefits. Napping improves reaction time, psychomotor speed, vigor, and vigilance. In one [study}(https://elibrary.ru/item.asp?id=7466161), participants saw their ability to complete additional tasks improve post-nap and in another, retirees saw improvements in episodic memory, visuospatial abilities, and general cognition. Yet another study on memory found that working-aged people were able to perform recall tasks better after a nap when compared to drinking coffee. The nap doesn’t need to be long: even a six-minute micro-nap improves declarative memory.

Napping and learning

Sleep is known to help consolidate memory and contribute to learning, but some scientists say the same benefits can be reaped from naps. Dr. Sara Mednick looks at how sleep impacts learning. In a 2003 study, she found that a 90-minute snooze is just about as good for learning perceptual skills as a full eight hours. Even better, the power of a nap adds to the learning potential experienced during regular sleeping hours.

Participants who napped in addition to their regular sleep schedule experienced “improvement, such that performance over 24 hours showed as much learning as is normally seen after twice that length of time.” The research suggests that if you’re struggling with complex learning tasks, a nap can help.

Napping and health

We know that getting enough sleep is important for overall health, but there is also evidence that napping, in particular, is a healthy habit. A 2016 study by the European Society of Cardiology compared the health of 386 patients with arterial hypertension to see how napping might impact their health.

Those that took mid-day naps had lower blood pressure and anatomical evidence of less blood pressure related damage. Napping was also associated with fewer medication prescriptions.

The benefits extend into real-world results. In a longitudinal study of over 23,000 healthy people, nappers had a much lower rate of coronary mortality. Those who napped occasionally had a 12% lower coronary mortality rate, while those who napped often had a 37% percent lower rate.

Towards a culture of napping

Napping is becoming popular because it is easier to coordinate than a full eight hours of blissfully uninterrupted shut-eye at night. Work hours are long and time with our families is precious. A twenty-minute nap can be slotted in between meetings or a longer snooze can take place over lunch, leaving free time at home to be spent on hobbies or with loved ones.

In China, public napping is commonplace. “It’s nothing unusual,” Chinese journalist Lorraine Lu writes. “If you get tired, you just put a cushion or pillow on your desk, lay your head on it and rest for 15 minutes.”

Aside from the workplace, subways and even Ikea are fair game. The same is true of several other Asia countries, and the afternoon siesta is a time-honored condition in many Spanish-speaking nations.

Though the United States is yet to catch up, some companies are coming around to the idea of corporate nap time. A 2011 poll found that 34% of respondents were allowed to nap at work and hundreds of sleep pods are popping up in offices, hospitals, and schools around the country.

If you aren’t one of the Americans already taking naps, there is no time like the present.

*credit belongs to Erin Wildermuth and the team at michaelhyatt.com for doing the heavy lifting on this article