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Encouragement For all You Struggling Writers

I recently read a book titled, “teacher” The Henrietta Mears Story, by Marcus Brotherton.  In the Introduction section, Brotherton is describing the influence Donald Miller’s highly successful book, Blue Like Jazz, had on his friend’s widow shortly after he had passed away.  He talks about our simple and small influence in people’s lives being so alive it “thunders with reverberation even after a passage of time.”

In tracing the influence of ministry he uses Miller’s book as an example.  Miller’s first book, Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Maintenance, sold so few copies that Miller considered giving up writing as a career.  What many people do not know is that his second book, mega hit Blue Like Jazz, also floundered desperately when it first came out—until Campus Crusade for Christ (now known as CRU) got a hold of it.  A staffer at CRUread the book and they soon ordered a total of 125,000 copies to put in their college Freshman Survival Kits.  This was a staggering launch forward for any young writer and solidified Miller’s writing career from then on.  The founder of CRU was Dr. Bill Bright.  CRU has reportedly touched the lives of over 3.4 billion people.  Bright also championed another young author, Ted Dekker, who went on to be the bestselling author of many novels.

So who influenced Bill Bright?  One of the major influences in his life was an elderly Sunday school teacher that no one has ever heard of (Henrietta Mears).  She had a major influence on the lives of many men such as Bill Bright and Billy Graham.  Because of her influence those men went on to influence billions of lives.

You never know who or how God is going to use your influence to make a difference in the world.  If you are a struggling writer, do not despair.  It only takes one person to change the fate of your book and the lives of all who come in contact with it.  Not only that but you are influencing unknown numbers people you will meet.  The question to ask yourself is, “Who are you being influenced by?”

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Raising Boys to be Leaders

If we want to raise boys to become leaders, we have to teach them to have courage.  It is virtually impossible to be an effective leader without courage. Leading a family, operating a business, going to school, and even volunteering your time require courage in various degrees.
Courage is not the absence of fear but the conquest of it. Courage (especially in males) is the willingness to fail. Courage is the defender and protector of all other virtues. Courage emancipates us and allows us to move with freedom and vigor.
So, how do we teach our sons to have courage?  One way is to teach your son that being “nice” isn’t the highest aspiration a man can live up to. In fact, sometimes I think niceness is the enemy of courage. Many times in life a man, husband, or father is forced to make decisions in the best interest of his family or society that do not appear to be nice on the outside. I’ve been forced as a father to make decisions that my children perceived at the time as heartless, mean-spirited, or just plain stupid. But they were always made with their best interest in the long run in mind. If my goal had only been to be nice (or to have been liked), I would have not been able to make the hard decisions that were important to their long-term healthy growth and development.
Our culture promotes being nice as the highest virtue a man can achieve. Many of the newer “guy” movies inspire males to be lovable slackers, with no aim in life but to smoke pot, bed women, and get by without working. But the young men are very “nice,” so it’s okay. And many young women today seem drawn to soft, passive, quiet men who do not ruffle feathers and who do what they are told. It’s a nonthreatening but uninspired vision of manhood.
Niceness and meanness are feminine concepts. You seldom see men complaining that another man is mean or not nice. On the outside, that desire for niceness in males would appear to be a noble goal. However, it’s really a way of neutering masculinity. Being nice takes away the power of a man to lead. It removes passion, conviction, and courage from a man’s soul. Nice guys might not always finish last, but they seldom run the race at all.
You cannot be a leader without at least some people getting mad at you. In fact, you cannot accomplish anything important in life without having someone get upset with you. By its very nature, leadership will offend or upset a certain percentage of individuals. If your son grows up to care too much about what others think of him or whether he inadvertently upsets someone, he will never accomplish anything significant with his life, including raising exceptional children.

Want your son to be a leader?  Teach him to be courageous.  Remember–parents who exhibit courage produce courageous children.
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The War on Men

Guys, we need to stop being ashamed of being men. Virtually every behavior that is natural to a man is now being criticized and we are made to feel ashamed about being our gender. Perhaps if we spent more time uplifting men instead of trying to annilate masculinity, we’d have better men.

 I recently posted this comment on a social network site. Not a huge fan of Men’s Health Magazine, but this ain’t bad advice: “You can’t be a topnotch man unless you’re deeply grateful. For what? Glad you asked. For the gift of your gender. For those muscles in your back. For those neurons in your brain. For your mirth. Your lust. Your courage. For your possibilities. A man in full appreciates the twist of fate that made him so strong, so cunning, so stalwart, so alert, so sexually skilled, so fully equipped, so good to go. Live the appreciation, by using it all.”

 The point was that men should have an attitude of gratefulness. Is there anything wrong with a man being grateful? Hardly—I’d say it’s one of the foundations of authentic masculinity. Men were almost embarrassingly silent regarding the post, but a number of women responded with snarky comments like, “so humble” or “vain,” or “very prideful.”

 Really? Are we so threatened by passionate, proud masculinity that we (as a culture) are programmed to immediately take steps to keep it squashed down. After all, if we can keep men ashamed of themselves, we can keep them docile. And docile men are easy to control. We’ve raised a generation of docile sons and we now call them slackers. If I had posted a note encouraging women to be proud of how they were created I’d have been lauded as an enlightened and highly intelligent human being.

In the past, men’s conferences such as Promise Keepers were met with criticism and distain by the media and women (even Christian women). They were portrayed as men getting together to plot and scheme with some ulterior motive to dominate or control women, putting them back under the thumb of oppression. Recently a Christian men’s conference focusing on inspiring men to act more manly has been heavily lambasted by Christian men and women in the media as being chauvinistic and rather stupid. Comments such as “Why do men need a conference to teach them how to be men anyway?” were cavalierly tossed about intending to humiliate the men who attended (yet interestingly national and local conferences that teach women how to live fulfilling and satisfying lives as wives, mothers, and women are thriving).

As a culture we seem to be highly threatened when groups of men get together so we do all we possibly can to demolish (or at least integrate with females) men’s clubs, boys groups, or any other male-only domains. After all, we wouldn’t want men getting together without the supervision of a female—who knows what might happen? When men have gotten together in the past they’ve only done things like, oh, put a man on the moon, or write the Constitution and Bill of Rights for the greatest country ever created in the history of the world.

 Men are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If they make no efforts to improve themselves they are criticized as being lazy and self-centered. If they do try and improve themselves by learning from other men they are accused of trying to usurp a woman’s rights and it’s assumed that there must be some nefarious motive behind what they are attempting. And when they do good and right things (like the young Catholic men in the photo above who were praying together to protect a Catholic cathedral from vandalism) they are mocked and chastised.

 Guys don’t buy into it. You need other men in your life. Learn from them what healthy (and unhealthy) masculinity looks like. And when you make mistakes (which you will) learn from them and don’t be ashamed. If you are not making mistakes (and getting criticized by someone), you’re not accomplishing anything.

 Now go out and figure out how to accomplish something great!

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Training Up Leaders


Pray not for lighter burdens, but for stronger backs.
–Theodore Roosevelt

As a culture we are losing our most valuable resource—male leadership. Young men have grown up in an age of cultural suspicion, and they have found that it is difficult to exercise any kind of leadership without raising someone’s ire.
Cultures that allow families and communities to exist with no stable, healthy male authority and leadership devolve into chaos. Healthy masculine leadership protects the weak. It uses its influence and power to provide safe, life-giving encouragement and provision.

A healthy man doesn’t shirk his responsibilities. He undertakes tasks with a “can-do” attitude and does not gripe or grumble when they become difficult or times become tough. He provides for his family as part of his manly duty. He takes pride in solving his own problems. He willingly shoulders his duties and doesn’t face his responsibilities sullenly. Aubrey Andelin says, “His acceptance of this responsibility adds substance to the faith his wife places in him when she leaves the security of her parents’ home to make her way with him.”

Boys need to hear words like strong, brave, talented, and noble in order to assimilate their duty as leaders. They need to have the adults in their lives intentionally speak affirming language that inspires and uplifts them to willingly assume the mantle that leadership imposes upon him. They need to be taught to relish the satisfaction that duty and honor bring to a man.

I am blessed and fortunate to continuously see the fruits that my ministry labors produce. To live a life where people frequently contact you to say that you made a difference or changed their lives and the lives of their families is an awesomely gratifying experience that carries with it great responsibility. Many men who know me look at my life with envy, but few are willing to make the sacrifices or take the risks necessary to achieve it. We need to encourage boys from a young age that God has a special plan for their lives. We need to train them early to be leaders and prepare them for the responsibility that comes with that role. We need to be intentional in equipping them with a bigger vision of what life is about rather than just letting them “settle” for whatever life throws at them. We need to inspire them to use the gifts and powers that God has endowed them with to make a difference in the world.

When we do that, not only will men become men again, but the world will be better because of it.

Question: What does being a leader look like to you. Talk with your son about the burdens of responsibility.