faith, Family, Personal Development

Find Great Mentors | Letters To My Son

I’m sharing a series of “letters” originally written by Vince Miller. I regard Vince as a trusted resource for wisdom and insight on faith and family especially as it pertains to men and fathers. His bio is at the bottom of the post. Look him up. What follows is his work entirely. Vince communicates the messages I want my son to hear in a far more clear and concise way than I could ever say. Consider using these as conversation starters. I encourage you to share these letters with the important men in your life.

Everything I’ve learned I have learned from someone else. —John Wooden

And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. —2 Timothy 2:2

Why You Should Find a Mentor

Most men don’t know how to find a great mentor for a good reason: They haven’t been mentored. Given the time you’ve grown up in, mentorship works much differently than it used to. Families in the past used to spend much more time together, mentoring and disciplining each other—relationally, occupationally, and religiously. However, in your time, divorce, single-family homes, recreation, sports, and media consume us. The church, formerly the center of a community, is now an afterthought for Christians. Because of all these changes, I am concerned about you. These cultural hurdles have impacted how mentorship forms and the simpler structures of the past. Given this, a “traditional” understanding of mentorship, a protégé walking with a mentor for a prolonged period, appears to be threatened by the speed and dysfunction of life. However, you cannot punt on mentorship. We as men need to figure it out because John Wooden is right: “Everything we’ve learned we’ve learned from someone else.” This is a polite way to say we need men and mentors in our life.

Son, the simple fact is that we are always being mentored whether we intend it or not. We are being mentored by those who have access to our time and thinking. Consider who these people are in your life. They are coaches, teachers, employers, friends, and the people you listen to and watch on your device. Daily, these people are speaking into your life, and they are mentoring you. Some of their messages are valid, and some are misleading. But instead of subjecting ourselves to accidental mentorship and cultural voices with misleading worldviews, why not find the best mentors? Sound men and truthful mentors with a clear message. Men with wisdom and advice that works.

It took me a long time to learn to be mentored and then mentor others because I grew up in a fatherless home. Today I understand that I wanted mentorship more than anything. I wanted a guide, a coach, a mentor, or a confidant. I wanted a man who could point the way and help me to avoid the pitfalls of life, a mentor who would help me find my advantage. I wanted someone who understood me and could dig out my uniqueness. I wanted someone to help me leverage my skills for the most significant impact. I came to discover that God’s Word was the ultimate guide, but when combined with a teacher, the truth found in God’s Word had a spectacular life. I learned that a godly man was a means of cheating the system since I could glean truth and avoid pitfalls by learning from someone’s successes and failures. This has become my dirty little secret. I have learned how to get free wisdom from lawyers, leaders, entrepreneurs, trainers, inventors, philanthropists, authors, writers, builders, and many more. I have also discovered that by inviting them to share their wisdom, they are endeared to me—which itself is interesting. And it only costs me a drink or a meal, and most of the time, they pay. Through all this, I have discovered seven characteristics that make for the very best mentors. Whether these mentors are occasional or last a lifetime, the following are the characteristics I seek in a mentor. Rarely do mentors possess all seven. But if they do—they become the friends and mentors I lean on for a lifetime.

The 7 Characteristics of a Great Mentor

One | Chemistry

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.—Proverbs 18:24

You need chemistry with someone you will call a mentor. They shouldn’t be a man filled only with knowledge or some area of expertise, but one with whom you have relational compatibility. Finding this connection is essential, and I have learned it’s critical in a mentoring relationship. At first glance, you may think you could learn a ton from a potential mentor; however, once you meet with them, you might discover chemistry is missing. I would not make a long-term commitment to a mentor for this reason. This may be more intuitive in some of your first mentoring relationships; therefore, I would not jump into any mentoring relationship just because some man appears relationally savvy, has a vast resume, or is an expert in some field in which you have an interest. Look for that mutual chemistry that results in a “friend who sticks closer than a brother.” You might find that a lunch or two will help you discern if the relationship has longer-term potential.

The question you need to ask is:

“Do you have chemistry with them and they with you?”

Two | Expertise

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.—1 Corinthians 11:1

Next, I would then seek out a mentor for their expertise. We lean on mentors because of their knowledge; this is no big surprise. We want to learn from them because of their competency. To find the best mentor with the expertise you need, you need to assess your current needs. There are many areas of need for knowledge: dating, friendships, education, sports, leadership, skills, career, character, and faith. As you get older, you will discover even more like marriage, family, occupation, and legacy. Regardless, you must recognize where you currently lack the knowledge and need expertise and then seek out people who have the experience you need. People are willing to share and are even endeared to you when you ask. I would strongly recommend these domain experts, but also identify mentors who imitate Christ in their area of expertise. There are plenty of people out there willing to give you advice, but a person who lives in submission to Christ usually knows how to leverage their expertise in ways that bring glory to God.

The question you need to ask is:

“Do they have an area of expertise that you want and need?”

Three | Trust

Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.—Proverbs 11:13

We are not always readily trusting of mentors. Becoming honest, open, and transparent with anyone is challenging primarily because of fear. Fear keeps us from trusting a mentor—fear of being thought of as stupid increases this lack of trust. And the fear of how a mentor might handle information keeps us from discovering the positive potential of trust and growth. When we experience a break in confidentiality, it is hard to trust the next person.

You need mentors who can be trusted and give you opportunities to trust. These are people who don’t mind you asking what you consider to be dumb questions—even though they are not. You need mentors who can take you from your present state to your next best. The only way this is possible is if you can find a trusting person who knows you as you are and where you would like to be. Concealing your desired future state, for reason of fear, will only prolong your journey to becoming the man God wants you to be. This means you need them to keep your confusion, challenges, and personal issues private. The easiest way to build trust is to verbally agree to confidentiality and clarify it as you feel it is needed. Make sure that your mentor knows where you feel insecure and then clarify what is important to keep between the two of you.

The question you need to ask is:

“Do you trust them to keep private matters confidential?”

Four | Refining

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.—Jeremiah 29:11

There is nothing like finding a mentor who cares about your best interests. Over time, you’ll discover a boss, a coach, or a friend who will have agendas that benefit them in their mentorship of you. You need to remember that there are people out there who will give you self-interested advice, using you and your decisions for personal advantage. But “selfless” mentors do exist. More often than not, they are God-fearing people who selflessly set their agendas aside for you.

You need to find a mentor who wants God’s best for you. This means locating a mentor who, over time, gets to know your skills, knowledge, and ability and understands where you want to be as a man and a leader. This mentor should have a growing awareness of where your character needs refining and should be able to identify and help you leverage new areas of potential as an individual. Look for a mentor who can refine you.

The question you need to ask is:

“Do they want what is best for you and your future?”

Five | Challenging

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.—Galatians 6:1

You need a mentor who can lean into you. I know many avoid discipline and coaching by finding a mentor who only tells them what they want to hear. People who always agree with you are not helpful mentors; however, they may be nice friends. A mentor knows how to cheer you on and appropriately and regularly challenge you. They understand your temperament and find a way to encourage you to become better. Don’t back away from a man that may challenge you. I have found there are some abrasive mentors out there—men who say it as they see it. At first, I avoided these men, but I have found over time that a man who calls it as he sees it is often a man who is not afraid to speak the truth. Too often in a spirit of being nice, mentors fail to speak the truth because, at times, the truth hurts. The perfect mentor is the one who knows how to talk about the truth and do it lovingly. They restore us in what Paul the apostle calls “a spirit of gentleness.”

The question you need to ask is:

“Do they know how to challenge you respectfully and consistently?”

Six | Godly

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.—Galatians 5:22–23

These last two characteristics are the gems of any mentoring relationship. You need to find a mentor who has a godly character. They have an internal compass that reflects the “fruit of the Spirit.” While we often want a mentor for their success, how they achieved that success matters. There is nothing like the combo of a mentor who has incredible expertise and does this in a godly manner. These are men you need to lean on because their mentorship is multidimensional—good for this life and the life to come.

The question you need to ask is:

“Do they reflect and demonstrate Godly character?”

Seven | Truthful

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.—Joshua 1:8

I saved this one for last because I believe it’s the most important. You need to find a mentor who believes in objective truth and wants to help guide you to it through God’s Word. Nothing but God’s Word works. It is accurate, and it works every time. I had a hard time believing this when I was younger, but I am hoping you will take me at my word when I say that God’s Word is the ultimate guide—not man. Mentors will fail you, but God’s Word will not. When a man refers to, reads, or quotes scripture for you, pay attention. This is a sign that they want not their best for you but God’s best for you. We don’t need another opinion in this life. We need more truth, and God’s Word is that truth.

I would highly recommend a mentor who regularly spends time in God’s Word. Men of this kind are rare, but they are out there. Even if they don’t have the most profound resume or the most significant business, they have a success of spiritual proportions. These are men with a more certain compass, and they have a value that will pay off in the life to come.

The question you need to ask is:

“Do they consistently engage in reading and using God’s truth?”

This year, find a mentor. You don’t have to formalize it. In a cunning way, give it a whirl. Buy a great man a drink or a meal. I’ll even pay for it. Give it a try now, and you will discover that it leads to a great advantage for you in the years to follow.

I love you, son.—Dad

After serving in notable ministry organizations for over 25 years (including Young Life, InterVarsity, TCU Football, and Eagle Brook Church), Vince founded Resolute, a non-profit organization focused on providing men with tools for discipleship and mentorship. He’s written 13 books and handbooks, along with small group videos that are resources for mentorship. He also produces THE MEN’S DAILY DEVOand the MAN TALK PODCAST. His latest book is a devotional and mentoring guide for men called THIRTY VIRTUES THAT BUILD A MAN.

faith, Family, Personal Development

Moderate Anger | Letters To My Son

I’m sharing a series of “letters” originally written by Vince Miller. I regard Vince as a trusted resource for wisdom and insight on faith and family especially as it pertains to men and fathers. His bio is at the bottom of the post. Look him up. What follows is his work entirely. I sure couldn’t have said it better. I encourage you to share these letters with the important men in your life.

Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.

—Aristotle

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.—Ephesians 4:26-27

Prone To Anger?

So many men I know, are prone to anger. And you will be too. Understanding how to respond in these moments are critical as these are moments men are made and revealed for who they are. Understanding what anger is, how you exhibit anger, and the triggers that give way to your anger will be critical for you as you mature. Many men take too long to mature in this area and let their anger lead them with devastating consequences on teams, in relationships, and within the workplace.

Several men of the Bible, in the act of rage, have inflicted grave injury on others. Moses is a prime example. In passion, he stepped up when he saw the mistreatment of his fellow Hebrews—which was a good impulse. However, his untamed anger turned into a physical act of violence that resulted in murder. And later in Moses’ life, we again see him respond poorly in rage. As he was leading the people toward the promised land, he was instructed by God to “speak to a rock,” and God would open a river of water for the thirsty and obstinate nation. However, Moses “struck the rock” in anger, which was a willing act of disobedience over the complaints of the people. Moses was right to be frustrated but was wrong not to manage his holy frustration, which resulted in rebellion to God. Because of that one moment of defiance, God prevented Moses from leading the people into the promised land. Now that’s a bummer all brought about by anger.

So what valuable lessons do you need to learn about managing your anger? Here are a few I have learned the hard way. And I do mean the hard way.

Valuable Lessons About Anger

One | Anger is not wrong

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.—The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:26-27

It’s clear from many biblical texts that anger is not wrong. We know that God expressed anger and revealed his anger through many Old Testament prophets. At times there were significant consequences for angering God—case in point; Sodom and Gomorrah. Or consider the perpetual evil of humanity which resulted in God’s just anger that resulted in a worldwide flood wiping out corruption except for single faithful family—case in point; Noah the great flood. God justly denounces the perpetuation of evil and shuns immoral behavior, and there is just punishment for it. Therefore we can assume being angry is not wrong, or God would not do it. And we should fear God’s just and holy anger.

But as men, we must moderate our anger because we are not like God. Our anger originates most of the time from a place of selfishness and self-centeredness—rarely is it selfless. It’s about me not getting what “I want” or what “I feel I deserve,” and this is the difference between God’s anger and action and our anger and action. God’s wrath stems from righteous anger and has a moral result; ours does not.

But, it’s not righteous anger that will usually get you into trouble. When the male fuse is lit, it has the potential to become a destructive wildfire that is out of control. It’s sparked when a competitor oversteps a boundary. It burns into full-flame when you feel an imminent loss. It rages when a peer takes credit for what you have done. And the problem is that if these moments go unmoderated, our initial anger will burn into full flame with words and actions that seek to inflict harm which will destroy relationships. Hopefully, you see it’s the subsequent responses of the emotion of anger that are wrong.

Based on what I read above from Paul exhortation to the Ephesians, there are a few primary responses to anger.

  1. Sinful angeranger that results in unrighteousness.
  2. Unaddressed angeranger that we suppress or ignore.
  3. Addressed angeranger to which we rightly recognize and respond.

The suggested key to managing your anger is to recognize anger as a signal and respond rightly, not letting irritation result in sinful reactions.

Two | Anger is a signal

And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.—Mark 3:5

Anger is an emotional signal that something is wrong. It signals that a personal value has been offended or that you have experienced or witnessed an injustice. Either way, anger indicates that something is amiss, and it needs to be addressed.

Think of anger as an indicator light on the dashboard of your car. When your vehicle is overheating or low on fluids, the lighted panel will tell you that something is wrong with a warning light before something catastrophic happens. Anger is similar—it’s an emotional indicator light that God gave you. It’s a strong feeling of displeasure. Many ignore this indicator without attempting to understand what this emotion is signaling since diagnosis can be challenging. Or others think expression or suppression of anger is socially acceptable without a need for diagnosing the underlying issue. But the right response to anger is to trace back this signal to the root issue.

The three response to the signal

Anger should warn you to do three things. First, you need to stop and address a problem—which is often relational. This implies metaphorically we need to “stop and pull the car over.” When you get angry you will need time to realize that you are mad—sometimes during the adrenaline rush, you may bypass the recognition of this. Remember it is fine to be angry, but that it’s not fine to act upon anger in the wrong way. So let yourself experience the irritation. Second, anger signals that you need to look “under the hood of the car and identify the issue.” When you get angry, it’s essential to find the source of the anger. Often the cause of aggravation comes from fear, pain, or frustration. At this point, you need to be honest with yourself about the origin of your perceived injustice. Was it something for which you are responsible, or was it something done to you? Identify your responsibility, and the other party as this will be important for taking the next and final step. Third, you need to address the relational issue that is unresolved for you. Usually, this means sitting down face to face with another person—which is hard for some, but it’s the right thing to do. This is where we locate and “repair the issue under the hood.”

The challenge is all this happens very quickly when we experience the emotion of anger. Getting this process to slow down is helpful. Then as you become more proficient, you will be able to speed it up, becoming more effective at understanding your signals—your unique anger.

Three | Know your anger

But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”—Mark 10:14

Your anger is going to be different than anyone else’s. You need to know yourself and how you respond. Psychologists will tell you there are two typical responses: fight or flight. Some people love a good fight others flee from it, but there are plenty of people in between these two extremes. Only you know you. So get to know how you experience anger and either how you express it or how you suppress it. If I were you, I would spend some time thinking about what happens when you get angry. Note your physiological responses like sweating, blushing, and increased heart rate—these are signals. Note other reactions like insomnia, anxiety, headaches, digestive issues, even depression—these are consequential signals. Note your language such as sarcasm, joking, sharp statements, and tones—the are reactionary signals. Note the effects you have on others when you are angry such a tension, confusion, alienation, and frustration—these are relational signals. It might do you well to start noticing the patterns and address them to keep your anger from adversely impacting your relationships with others. In life, we don’t need more opponents, but instead real friends, alliances, brothers, and life-long allies. The way we build these is by responding appropriately and governing our anger because anger can have devastating consequences on relationships.

Four | The consequences of anger

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.—Ephesians 4:31

In this scripture, you will see there are many manifestations of things related to anger. So many that Paul feels inclined to be exhaustive of the consequences on our fellow man. His list is as follows:

  • Bitternesshatred toward another person.
  • Wratha temper that is disorderly and selfish.
  • Angerpassion against an individual.
  • Clamorwild, rough, condescending yelling.
  • Slanderspeaking evil and being judgemental toward another.
  • Malicedeveloped hatred for another human.

Over your lifetime, you will experience these “emotions and actions” either perpetrated by you or by someone else. Everyone one of them has devastating consequences on relationships. They mark actions that cannot be retrieved and leave a permanent mark on us as individuals. Even today, I can recall hurtful words spoken by another human about me (directly and indirectly). I, too, have perpetuated the same. These words and behaviors become scars that are not easy to remove. Be careful son. Remember the wounds inflicted on you by others and do not inflict them on others. This is poison for humanity and a deadly virus to relationships with friends, teammates, and your own family.

Five | Forgiveness is power against anger

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.—Ephesians 4:32

Given these consequences, forgiveness is a powerful healing agent. Learning to forgive others, be forgiven, and live in active forgiveness when it is not deserved is powerful ointment to the burns and scars of anger. Forgiveness addresses deep wounds inflicted. It releases us from unspoken bondage of unforgivable actions. It relieves our mind, soul, and heart of anxiety and stress when we say “forgive me” or “I forgive you,” and we genuinely mean it.

Forgiveness is the basis of our relationship with Christ—in that Christ forgave you and me. Learning to practice forgiveness is the healing salve for your underlying issues that resurrect your anger. It requires far more strength as a man to forgive than it does to live in perpetual anger and replaying the injustice you have unfairly suffered. You are at no point more like Christ than when you forgive someone else of the suffering they have projected onto you.

Sadly, we live in a fallen world. And because of this, we are going to suffer unfairly through evil actions perpetrated by the anger of another. As men, we have a choice—we can contribute and add fuel to the flame of evil and suffering, or we can quench the fire of sin with the spring of forgiveness. Develop the strength to forgive. To forgive others, to forgive self, and to be forgiven by God—be free the bondage of anger.

I love you, son—Dad.

After serving in notable ministry organizations for over 25 years (including Young Life, InterVarsity, TCU Football, and Eagle Brook Church), Vince founded Resolute, a non-profit organization focused on providing men with tools for discipleship and mentorship. He’s written 13 books and handbooks, along with small group videos that are resources for mentorship. He also produces THE MEN’S DAILY DEVO and the MAN TALK PODCAST. His latest book is a devotional and mentoring guide for men called THIRTY VIRTUES THAT BUILD A MAN.

faith, Family, Personal Development

Produce Value | Letters To My Son

I’m sharing a series of “letters” originally written by Vince Miller. I regard Vince as a trusted resource for wisdom and insight on faith and family especially as it pertains to men and fathers. His bio is at the bottom of the post. Look him up. What follows is his work entirely. I sure couldn’t have said it better. I encourage you to share these letters with the important men in your life.

“I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinions of himself than on the opinions of others.”

—Marcus Aurelius

“For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”—1 Timothy 4:8

Everything Has Value—real and ascribed

Value is the belief that something has merit. Therefore the value we ascribe to something grants it its worth—#cha-ching. For example, a $20 bill has a real value of .10 cents, which is the actual cost of the paper, ink, and labor for production. But we ascribe to this debt note value of $20. While in our mind it’s worth 20 dollars, its real value is not 20 dollars—notice the delta between real and ascribe.

Understanding how value works becomes critically important in understanding yourself. This is because value is not just something we ascribe to things; it is something we also ascribe to people—even ourselves.

You may not recognize your value or the values you hold, but you have a unique set of personal values that drive your current behavior. In fact, your current behaviors are evidence of your values. These values can be spoken or unspoken, but either way, they exist. These values are the hidden standards for your judgment and action. For example, I have a few that have been with me most of my life. Words like “integrity, leadership, mentorship, discipline, and faith” are a few deeper values I hold. Sometimes I speak openly about these, and other times they are evidenced by my actions. They make me unique and form if not inform my everyday life. More often than not, we discover them over time through trial and error.

As my son, I see deep, high, and lasting value in you, while you may not be able to recognize and name them all at this point in your life. But over the next few years, you will discover a list that you call your own. Below are a few things to consider as these “themes” rise to the surface.

One | You Have Value As A Male

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”—Genesis 1:27

The world is getting a little strange on the gender issue. For some reason, the mistakes of one person of a particular gender are negative contributions to the whole. In the court of public opinion, our gender is pronounced guilty before a jury of social media predators who are determining constructs for new masculinity and attacking not only the evils of humanity but also the man with his gender. You will hear people, even professors with some worldly clout, proudly proclaim that our gender is “toxic.” In addition, they may also project contributing issues onto you as a man over which you have no control. And because of this, they will presume you should feel regret for being a man.

Do not be confused; humanity needs to repent of both conscious and unconscious sin. Men have made mistakes, except we are all sinful. Male and female. In actuality, humanity is “toxic” but only because the toxic impact of sin impacts it—and it’s not gender-exclusive it gender-inclusive.

But the toxic impact of sin does not mean that you should devalue your gender. Be proud to be a man. The Creator made you this way. You had no control over this. Yes, you are distinctive biologically but don’t live in shame or confusion about this. Your gender is beautiful, and while sexually different from females, males and females are both bearers of God’s image, both heirs of God’s grace, and both called to rule God’s creation. So be God’s man.

Two | Your Male Friendship Have Value

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”—Proverbs 27:17

Every man contributes some form of value to another man. I add value to you, and you add value to me. We are continually exchanging it. It’s like we’re each making deposits and withdrawals with each other.

What’s interesting is that in some relationships you will not experience deposits, rather only withdrawals. Some people will take value, while others will contribute to it. And I would recommend you find a disproportionate number of men that make good, healthy, and rich deposits into your life. You are going to have to seek them out. They are not just going to walk up to you. You are going to have to buy them a coffee, invite them to a meal, or schedule an appointment. You need to find men that have the value that you want—men who are further down the road of life than you in several areas. Business. Marriage. Leadership. Faith. Family. Seek these men out for their value and then be unashamed that you need mentoring from them because of their value. Men will most often willingly give it for free, especially for men passionate about growth and being a “sharper man.”

Three | Discover Your Values Through The Irritations

“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

Personal values, like I hold, are essential to identify. It may be too early to know them all, but you’ll discover them in an irritating way. People around you will say or do things that strike a nerve-ending in your heart, soul, and mind. They might say something that offends you, do something that angers you, or unintentionally do something that hurts you. At this moment be alert, because this “internal alarm” will draw attention to the values you hold. It might awaken a passion, a sense of justice, or a holy discontent.

Many of the values I hold I stumbled on because I had moments, experiences, and encounters that awakened them. Moments of dishonesty that led me to value integrity. Experiences with weak leadership that led me to value great leadership. And encounters that lacked discipleship that led me to value mentorship. Embrace these “alarming” moments and recognize the passion that lies within you. Spend less time being irritated and more time concerning your heart with the solutions to the problem around the value they have awakened. Remember these moments, name the value, tell stories about them, and then get some passion for the activation of them.

Four | You Have Value To Extend To Others

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another.”—1 Peter 4:10

In the New Testament, a few books reference “spiritual gifts.” These lists are not exhaustive of every form of a spiritual gift, but they teach a profound point—that we each have a contribution to make to the world but also the institution of the church. What’s interesting about our gifts is that they are given to us for the benefit of others, not-self. The selfish use of our gifts is misuse. Therefore you have a contribution to others for their benefit, and others have the same. This is a value exchange of spiritual proportions. This means the world and the church need you and you need them.

Too many bury these “talents” in the ground and fail to experience the multiplying impact of them. I wish I would have learned this lesson much younger than I did. I am just now beginning to see and feel the multiplying effect of my value to the world because I want late in discovering and finding a place to use them—but even more, because I failed to pay attention to them.

If you want to discover your gifts, I would recommend a spiritual gifts assessment like this one—www.beresolute.org/sga. Take it and discuss it with someone who has similar gifts as you and find out how they have used their gifts for the value of multiplying impact in the life of others.

Five | Find a Woman Who Knows Her Value and Shares Yours

“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.”—Proverbs 31:10

The one thing I am most concerned about for you is finding a woman whose values are shared and complemented by yours. A woman who shares your faith in God and wants to find ways in this worldview to live out your values as they mutually honor God. Don’t settle for physical beauty alone; find the spiritual beauty that accentuates the physical beauty. This woman will be precious and valuable to you. I found this same thing in your mom when we met for the first time—physical attraction and inner beauty. Seek it and don’t settle.

Six | Invest In Things That Have Meaningful Value

“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”—Matthew 16:26

Some ventures are profitable, and others not so much. You mom and I have learned the hard way from making poor investments with our time, talent, and treasure. But even more than this is the investment we make that have an eternal impact.

It’s essential to provide, save, spend, and invest financially, but there is one economic engine that you need always to be giving attention to—the investment in spiritual riches that have eternal gain.

Don’t invest so much time in athletic pursuits that you refrain from time with God. Don’t spend too much time in relationships, events, socials, and activities that you avoid weekly church services. Don’t value school, studying, homework, or projects, and then avert spiritual development. In this life, some things hold some value and items that have eternal value. Invest more time, talent, and treasure in the latter.

Seven | God See’s Value In You

“…and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”—2 Corinthians 6:18

You will advertently or inadvertently cheapen your real value, by ascribing to yourself a lower value than you deserve. On the field of play, you’re going to mess up and then privately shame yourself. Don’t shame yourself. In relationships, you’re going to say the wrong thing and then subsequently beat yourself up. Don’t beat yourself up. At work or school, you will blow it, and you will think, “I am not good enough, smart enough, qualified enough,” and nothing is farther from the truth. Don’t believe this. The voice of self-disqualification is powerful; don’t convince yourself to listen.

Instead, remember your identity in Christ gives you value. Son, you are a son of God. Live in this identity; it’s your real identity. You are not defined by the things you do, don’t do, or do wrong. You are not defined by the things you say, don’t say, or say wrong. You are not defined by the things you think, don’t think, or think wrongly. You are only assigned and thus given real value by God based on what He has said and that alone. Live in this. It’s becoming who you already are—valuable.

Love you, son—Dad.

After serving in notable ministry organizations for over 25 years (including Young Life, InterVarsity, TCU Football, and Eagle Brook Church), Vince founded Resolute, a non-profit organization focused on providing men with tools for discipleship and mentorship. He’s written 13 books and handbooks, along with small group videos that are resources for mentorship. He also produces THE MEN’S DAILY DEVO and the MAN TALK PODCAST. His latest book is a devotional and mentoring guide for men called THIRTY VIRTUES THAT BUILD A MAN.

faith, Family

6 Qualities of an Encouraging Parent

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Sometimes I find an article that fits Team Quadzilla well so I’m compelled to share it with you. As we approach Father’s Day, I thought this encouragement about parenting was timely. For those who don’t care much for the Bible, I will only ask that you read this anyway because there are some practical ideas to help us be better parents. Enjoy this content from Dr. Eric Scalise.

What is encouragement and why is it so essential for maintaining healthy marriages and families? Encouragement represents positive influence, to literally give courage to someone—not waiting until it’s deserved or asked for, but taking initiative when things are difficult and uncertain. There are many synonyms one could use: to give support, confidence or hope to another; to hearten, cheer, uplift, inspire, motivate, vitalize, embolden, or rally. The impact can be far reaching and often makes a difference when relationships begin to falter. Even the neuroscience gives credence to this dynamic. Criticism and negativity release harmful stress hormones, inhibit concentration, diminish the brain’s executive functioning, and tend to create knee-jerk reactions vs. calm and rational thinking.

The Bible provides a wonderful example of a life fully lived under this principle. His name was Barnabas and there are several lessons we can draw from his story. Here are six worth considering:

1. The first thing about an encourager is that he or she is practical.

Barnabas arrives on the scene in Acts 4:36-37. He was just a regular “Joe” (Joseph, a Levite), but his nature was so uplifting and encouraging, that the Apostles changed his name to fit his character—Bar (the Son of) Encouragement. He sold some land and laid the money at the Apostle’s feet. Here were the leaders of the first century church who were trying to take care of widows and orphans, and what they needed at the time were financial resources—so practical in the moment.

While attending to someone spiritually is always appropriate and helpful, we shouldn’t neglect looking for ways to encourage the people we love on practical levels as well. Perhaps you have heard the saying, “We can become so heavenly-minded, we are no earthly good.” Imagine if your nickname was “husband” or “wife” of encouragement. . .father or mother of encouragement. Sometimes our spouse or child needs a simple hug, an act of service, a helping hand, or an arm around the shoulder that says, “I love you.” Let your encouragement today be practical.

2. Second, an encourager is a risk taker.

In Acts 9:26-27, Barnabas stood up for Saul when no one else believed in his conversion and everyone was still afraid of him. He took a risk when others wanted to reject Saul for his behavior. Love has the ability to look past brokenness and pain, even sinful choices, and still see God at work in the midst of a situation. Loving and caring for someone can be risky and often requires us to be authentic and to move beyond our comfort zones.

Marriage and parenting offer numerous opportunities to forgive when we have been hurt or a sacred trust has been violated. Being open and transparent in a marital or family relationship, especially in sharing thoughts, emotions, hurts, etc., can mean stepping “outside the box.” There are no guarantees that we will be immune from the storms of life on this side of eternity. However, in Christ, risks are frequently overcome with steps of faith. Take a risk today—encourage your loved one by being vulnerable.

3. Third, an encourager is committed.

When Barnabas was sent to Antioch and got among the people, the Scriptures says he began to encourage them with everything he had (Acts 11:19-24). The words describe him as having a “resolute heart.” In the Greek, this is translated as prosthesis kardia, which literally means, “purposed in the will.” This was part of who Barnabas was and his sense of calling.

In the same way, when we walk down the aisle with someone and pledge vows, or choose to bring a son or daughter into the world, we need to be committed as “all in” when it comes to our own role and responsibilities as spouses and parents. In some ways, success can be defined as falling down seven times and getting up eight. Great marriages and great parenting are not created by 50-50 commitments, thinking this represents a whole relationship, but after two people each give 100%. When Cortez landed in the New World, he burned his ships; it signified there was but one direction in moving forward. Find a way to encourage your spouse or a child that indicates you’re all in.

4. Fourth, an encourager is others-centered.

Shortly after arriving in Antioch, Barnabas turned his thoughts toward his good friend, Saul (Acts 11:25-26). He knew he had to share this blessing and not be consumed with his own sense of self-importance. Inviting others into your journey underscores the reality that we were created by God in relationship and for relationship. He never intended for us to be alone and take a solo flight through life.

Marriages and families are composed of individuals who each have their own set of expectations, desires, hopes, dreams, and plans. We all need to grow in the practice of “relational gift-giving.” Here, we can proactively choose to focus on our spouse or child and consider what would bless them, please them, support them, and draw them closer to God. Encourage your loved ones and make this moment, this hour, this day, a celebration of who they are.

5. Fifth, an encourager is available.

While in Antioch, the Lord commissioned and directed the very first missionary journey (Acts 13:1-3). Immediately, Barnabas and Paul made themselves available and were sent out. This implies an ongoing state of preparation and anticipation, a willingness to lay down one’s own ideas, plans, and desires for the benefit of others. Leaders often understand more can depend on a person’s availability before God than necessarily his or her ability.

Making ourselves available to the Lord, as well as to our spouses and children, can open up the doors of opportunity for deeper relationships, ministry, healing, and transformation. For many, time is one of the most valuable commodities in today’s fast-paced world. Sharing it with a loved one is a wonderful gift. It says, “Here I am. . .for you. . .for us. To listen, to care, to serve.” The power of presence should never be underestimated. God can accomplish much in a marriage or family through vessels who are fully yielded to Him. Be an encourager and offer yourself in love.

6. Finally, an encourager is patient.

During the first missionary journey, Barnabas took along his young cousin, John Mark, who later left them in the middle of the trip. On a subsequent journey when Paul suggested they visit all the churches that were started, Barnabas wanted Mark to join them once again. However, Paul accused Mark of desertion and he and Barnabas had such a significant argument, they parted company. Paul took Silas and Barnabas took Mark (Acts 15:36-40). Barnabas remained patient and longsuffering with his cousin.

There are times when loving someone means standing with him or her in the middle of major mistakes and shortcomings. The first descriptor of love is that it is patient (1 Cor. 13). We have all probably heard incredible testimonies that speak to the power of a praying mother. Who will continue believing in, advocating for, and supporting our spouse, son or daughter? Encourage that family member through your unwavering, patient, and unconditional love.

As I close, let us examine the fruit of encouragement. In 2 Timothy 4:11, Paul is imprisoned and in the twilight of his life on the earth. He says, “Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.” Later, in 1 Peter 5:13, when writing to the believers who were scattered because of persecution, Peter says, “She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark.”

Even though we hear very little about Barnabas or Mark after they parted company with Paul, these verses reveal that somewhere along the journey, this young disciple “made it.” The one who had failed miserably, moved into a place of responsibility and maturity. Here, we see the two preeminent Apostles of the first century who are strongly supportive and complimentary of Mark—Paul saying he was useful to him and Peter referring to him as a son in the faith. God Himself allowed Mark to write one of the four Gospels. Although Scripture is largely silent on the matter, I believe the fact that Mark was able to work through whatever issues he had, was because Barnabas refused to give up on him and was willing to stick it out during the long journey.

You potentially may be the most influential person in your spouse’s or child’s life. . . in the best position to support, pray for, believe in, and journey with him or her in all the ups and downs. The gift of encouragement is within you right now. May the outcome be as equally transforming as it was for John Mark.