faith, Family

You Are Part Of Something Big | 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.

Church attendance is as vital to a disciple as a transfusion of rich, healthy blood to a sick man.

Dwight L. Moody

Wherever we see the Word of God purely preached and heard, there a church of God exists, even if it swarms with many faults.

John Calvin

I think it’s essential for you to hear this, but did you know you are a part of something big that some Christians believe is unnecessary. You are a member of a worldwide, and local body of believers called the church. While your personal relationship with Jesus Christ is essential, it was never intended to be private. Therefore participation in the body of Christ by joining a local church is not just nice; it’s necessary. I often worry about you not attending a local church regularly, and that you might dismiss it as irrelevant. But here are a few reasons I believe it’s important and the ways it has blessed me in my journey with Christ.

One | Man Was Created For Relationship

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”

Genesis 1:26

Notice the text above. God creates man us not just in “his” image but in “our” image. The use of the plural personal pronouns “us” and “our” is significant. And just like the Godhead (Father, Son, and Spirit) is in relationship, we were created with the same need, not only for a relationship with God but others.

But you intuitively know this. You would otherwise experience loneliness and aloneness without meaningful relationships. You have been aware of this your whole life. You are reminded of this immense value often—every time someone includes you or leaves you out. Every time a friend comes to rescue or leaves you hanging. Every time a girl takes an interest in you or, in some cases, ignores you. We desire relationship, and we cannot do without it. God sketched it into the very fabric of our being.

Yet the relationships that fill this void have the potential to move us in two directions. Either they move us toward God or away from God. They thus make us better or worse. You have heard these words from me many times, but these two scriptures capture this truth. “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.'” (1 Corinthians 15:33) And at the same time, here is another important scripture, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)

You know both your mother and I have always been concerned about the relationships you have. The reason being is that we know that relationships have great power to either corrupt you or make you sharper. At this point in your life, you get to make your own choices about the friends you will spend your time with, but I hope you’ll spend more time with those in the latter category—men, and women, that make you sharper.

Most of my longest-lasting friendships and relationships have been forged in the church. In fact, in the church, I have found lifelong friends whose character, skill, and influence is still having an impact on me. Their voices echo in the chambers of my heart and mind whether or not I still see them regularly—some have passed on, some have moved, and some I still see, but they speak truth to me. And because we have shared in worship and sought God’s way together, they have made me the man I am today. This is just one of the many reasons I think it’s vital to attend a local church. 

So go to church! Build some friendships and pursue God with others, even when it feels a little awkward for a while.

Two | You Need the Church and The Church Needs You

If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.

1 Corinthians 12:17-18

In these verses, Paul, the author, is comparing the church to a body. A living system of people that work together and therefore rely on each other as they rely on God. And while many believe you can be a Christian without going to church, nothing could be further from the truth—the reason being—you are the church!

Choosing not to attend because the church is full of sinful people, you don’t like its style, or think it’s not necessary to be called a follower of Christ is entirely mistaken. God never intended Christians to function independently from the Christian community. It’s simply impossible. This would be like saying you’re a soccer player when you don’t play on a team. Or suggesting you are a leader when no one is following you.

And here is the great part about being a part of church or body—you need them, and they need you. In reality, the church has gifts and resources that you need, and at the same time, you have gifts and resources that the church needs. Being a part of a body has numerous mutual benefits. Plus, you gather with people that share a common vision, mission, and values regarding life and godliness, and all this results in the biggest reason we go to church—to worship God together. Weekly we gather underneath the Lordship of Jesus Christ and worship him. As the author of Hebrews said, we must “not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25)

Three | Men Need Regular Positive Accountability

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:1-2

Accountability is something many men run from simply because we think of it only as something that occurs when we do something wrong. But accountability can be positive as well. It can be something that pushes and drives us to be better men, leaders, husbands, and fathers. I know without positive accountability as a man, I am destined for negative accountability—which is how most men learn through failure. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can be a little more proactive.

You need to start building relationships with some Christian men you trust and with whom you can confide. Men that love Christ and will propel you to be better. They will help you to become the man that God wants you to be and offer you encouragement in the temptations and burdens of life.

While I am present for you now, there will be a day I am not, and I hope that you will always be connected to a church because it’s essential to your ongoing growth and faith development. Act upon this immediately, and it will bless your life along our long journey toward our eternal home—together.

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 18 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. See his latest book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.

Family, Fortitude

ConQuer Your Past Pains

If you’ve been ALIVE for any length of time, then you have pains. I’m talking about emotional pain. We all carry some “baggage” from our past – things we’ve said and done, or the things that others have said or done to us. It hurts bad. Or maybe we’ve become numb to the pain and we just kind of exist with it, like a prisoner on a life sentence with no chance for parole. Such pains are impossible to forget and seemingly impossible to get past. There is a desire to “get over it,” move on, and no longer allow the past pain to affect our attitude, outlook, and behavior today, but it’s hard. Are you nodding your head with me?

So how do you get over the past? The million dollar question has a pretty simple answer. Simple, but not easy. The first step is to realize what you’re REALLY trying to accomplish. What does it REALLY mean to get over the past?

You can’t change what happened. There’s no time machine that can send you back to relive the past. What’s done is done.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that your situation is hopeless. What I’m saying is that you first have to be clear about what you can and cannot change. You CAN get over your past (as I’ll explain). But you can NOT change events that already occurred.

The good news is that you don’t have to change the past in order to get over it. What you have to change is the MEANING of the past.

Think for a moment. Was there ever a time in your life when something horrible happened and you thought, “Why is this happening to me?” But then a few years later you looked back and you could answer that question. In retrospect, you understood why it happened. At first, it seemed like the world was caving in. Later, it all made sense.

In fact, very often, we eventually realize that bad times are part of a process that leads to something good!

It’s the events that FOLLOW bad times that determine the ultimate meaning of those times. In other words, it’s your future that determines your past; not the other way around. And since YOU are in charge of your future, then YOU determine the meaning of your past.

It’s interesting to think about this in the context of an age-old question: Do we have free choice or is everything predetermined? The answer is YES. Everything is predetermined AND we have free choice.

It’s like when you play a card game. You get dealt a hand. And you have no control over the cards you get dealt. It’s predetermined.

But you also get to play that hand. You also have free choice.

Ultimately, it’s the COMBINATION of the hand you’re dealt and the way you play it that determines the outcome. And it’s the outcome that shapes your view of the original hand you were dealt.

God deals you a hand. There’s nothing you can do to change that. But you get to play that hand. You get to respond to the events of your life. And it’s your response, your actions in the future, which determine the meaning of the events in your past.

So how do you get over the past? You don’t have to get over the past. The past is over! What’s important is the MEANING the past has for you NOW. And the MEANING of your past is determined by your actions in the future.

The people who have the best lives/ marriages/ relationships are people who went through hell in some way. They “got over” their past because they used it as a catalyst to IMPROVE their situation. In other words, the painful events inspired them to change themselves.

If you make the right moves, you will come to view certain events as birth pains that led to a new AND IMPROVED life/ marriage/ relationship. THAT’S how you “get over” the past.

It’s strange how life works sometimes, but if you play your hand right, your hurts become part of your healing. And, in fact, when it comes to relationships, it’s usually bad times that awaken people to search for new ways.

Thanks to Mort Fertel for doing the heavy lifting on this article. I’m grateful for his insight on the illustration about the cards we are dealt.

faith, Family

Four Things Friends Do Even When It's Hard

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 pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.”

—Charles Dickens

Son, you are hitting that time in life when you will find some friends, and you are going to go in different directions. While this is going to happen from time to time in your life, we can choose to handle this with relational excellence and process it well. Friendships are destined to change because we are all in process. Our values change over time, and because of this, we undergo detachments that take us each in different directions.

One friendship in the Bible that went through a sudden separation was the friendship between Paul and Barnabas. Readers of the Bible often are saddened by the break up between these two incredible men and friends. The rift, of course, occurred when Barnabas proposed that his cousin Mark accompany them on a journey, but Paul adamantly opposed the idea for his reasons. Their falling out was painful, and significant in part because of how deep their bond had been. They had been the best of friends and Christian brothers.

But even so, here are four things we learn about their friendship that are important for you to hear.

One | Friends champion each other.

And when he (Paul) had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus.”

(Acts 9:26-27)

One can understand why everyone was suspicious of Paul at first. After all, before his conversion, he had been a cruel persecutor of Christ-followers. But Barnabas believed that Paul’s newfound devotion to Jesus and his zeal for the gospel were genuine. So he championed for Paul, and because so many looked up to Barnabas, many Christian men listened. Indeed, through much of Luke’s account in the first half of the Book of Acts, Paul and Barnabas were inseparable. Reading between the lines, it would even seem that Barnabas played a massive role in mentoring Paul and developing his spiritual life as their friendship took root and grew. 

Never forget this. Great friends are great champions of each other. They fight for one another, stand behind them, and advocate for them, especially when it aligns with the values of God.

Two | Friends partner in mission and adventure.

“While they (prophets and teachers in the church at Antioch) were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul (Paul) for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.”

(Acts 13:2-3)

Paul and Barnabas made quite a team during what we have come to call Paul’s first missionary journey, effectively communicating the gospel to audiences from the port city of Antioch, to the island of Cyprus (Barnabas’ home), to Asia Minor and beyond. They complemented each other well, Paul an engaging speaker and Barnabas a born encourager (his name means “exhorter” and “comforter”). They knew each other’s strengths and allowed these strengths to shine. Along the way, they encountered — and by the Holy Spirit’s power defeated — an evil sorcerer, performed miracles of healing, and at one point were even mistaken for Greek gods. The response to their message and their chemistry as friends and colleagues was hugely positive — though some among their Jewish listeners were becoming a bit unnerved.

Find friends that make you better. Guys who bring out what you best bring to the world, and then make it look excellent. Like a role on a team, friends play a position on the team with you. Some play defensive roles. Others play offensive roles. Individually they are nothing, but in partnership and adventure, they can make some great memories and impact the world for the glory of God.

Three | Friends see each other through adversity.

“…it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

(Acts 15:25-26)

In this excerpt from a letter to Gentile believers from the Jerusalem Council, Paul and Barnabas are acknowledged as “men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The duo’s encounters with the opposition during the first missionary journey were sometimes frightening, to say the least — Paul was even stoned and left for dead when they were in Lystra. But in an early demonstration of “no man left behind,” Paul was rescued, and the pair hightailed it to Derbe. The point is, friends have each other’s backs. They’re willing to face risky, even life-threatening, ventures as a team because they know they’re in it together.

See your friends through their challenges, and they will never forget you. Too often, we fail to be this friend. But this is what a great friend does—supports another through the challenges of life. This is the ultimate test of a great friendship, be this friend and others will more likely be this friend to you.

Four | Friends weather their conflicts and move on.

“And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.’ Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.”

(Acts 15:36-41)

This is a severe departure. Heartbreaking. But let’s make a couple of critical observations. First, the dispute between Paul and Barnabas was not about doctrine. They remained united on the gospel message and teachings of Christ they shared throughout the land. And second, they did not allow their disagreement to deter them from their mission — both went on to follow through on the work they’d committed themselves to complete. Nor is there any evidence that they bad-mouthed one another after going their separate ways. In fact, there is some indication that they eventually reconciled (see 1 Corinthians 9:6).

The truth is that conflict is inevitable even in the healthiest of relationships. It’s a fact of life and certainly should never deter us from pursuing friendships with other brothers in the Lord. When conflict happens, we should strive not to let our tempers control our speech, and we must always seek reconciliation. In the meantime, let’s take a cue from Paul and Barnabas and cheer each other on, partner with each other for the cause of Christ, and leave no man behind.

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.

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