Archive for May, 2011

Over the last two weeks I’ve been thinking and praying through an upcoming series on Manhood that we’ll be doing in June. I’ve been wrestling with the simple question why is it that many men have a hard time asking for help. Now, I’m not talking about the stereotypical “can’t ask for directions” or “I can put this thing together without the directions” type issues. I’m talking about what is at the core of a man not wanting to ask for help with his life? Many of these points are found in women as well, but for today I’m focusing on men. Here are some points I’m seeing why we as men can’t say these words:

1. We don’t want to look weak: “If I share this issue in my life, I’ll look weak and people will put me in the “broken” or “freak show” category. There is a mentality that says because I’m an adult….I’m supposed to know what to do here. They have what I call the “I got this” disease. “I got this. I just need more time and more will power and I’ll pull this together.” Here the man refuses to acknowledge that if they could have fixed it by now they would have. They have a hard time saying, I have no idea what I’m doing.

2. We don’t know we need help: This would seem like a no brainer, but it’s worth saying. How many times have you encountered someone that’s had a huge “blind spot” in their life? They didn’t see the wake they were leaving behind in their life so they “didn’t know what they didn’t know.”

3. We Don’t Want Accountability: This one is straight forward. They don’t ask because they don’t want accountability. If you let someone in on the issues you’re walking through, all of the sudden you’ve let someone “in” and they’re going to ask how you’re doing in that area. Men that are in this place hide their issues because they’ve bought into the lie that they’ve got their secret freedom to do what they want, but deep down they wish they were free from that issue.

The loving gospel of Jesus speaks to everyone one these issues.

1. Level Ground:  Jesus through the beautiful cross exposed all men as being weak and in need of him. If all men are weak without God that means “your normal.” Jesus comes to give men his strength as they bring Him their weaknesses. Owning your weakness is the first step toward repentance.

2. The Divine Mirror:  The Holy Spirit points to all truth. If you ask for God to reveal to you area that you are not seeing. He will: through His word, through others and by His Spirit. Here’s the catch: what will you do with what he shows you? (See #1)

3. Band of Brothers: Every man needs an ally. Someone to be in the foxhole of life. Jesus not only brings men to himself, He brings men together. Allow God to help you step out in bold friendship with another guy to trust, to share, to encourage and to do life together.

Say it with me…”I….need….help”,

Nathan

SWAT Team In My Mind

Posted: May 19, 2011 in communication, Life, Thoughts

A few days ago I overheard my oldest son Ethan (7) blurt out in a moment of frustration, “I can’t do anything right.” I made my way over to him to see what was going on. It turned out he was struggling with something he knew how to do in his school work, but he was trying to rush it. He stated again, “I’m not good at anything.” Obviously, I told him that wasn’t true and I began to remind him how powerful our words are. “Just as important as the words we say to others; are the words we say to ourselves”, I told him as we sat at the kitchen table. “The thoughts we tell ourselves about ourselves need to be filtered by the Word of God. The Bible states that we need to take every thought captive.” (2 Cor 10:5). My son loved the idea of taking something captive in his mind. He said, “I’ll send in a SWAT Team to arrest my bad thoughts and put them in Brain Jail.” Not a bad idea.

What thought in your mind needs to be locked up?

Nathan

I answered a call  into ministry 16 years ago with a ton of baggage from my past. Some luggage was from choices I had made and some from the choices of others. I’d like to tell you that when I got into ministry all my baggage was thrown out to sea, but that wasn’t the case. Much of it I continued to carry as if it was the most important thing I owned. For me, the process was long because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I honestly had no idea how much baggage I was carrying. I couldn’t see the toll it was having on my wife and my ministry. There were times when I would have glimpses of my dysfunction but for the most part I made it a point to be busy enough where I wouldn’t have to deal with it. What I didn’t realize is that when you don’t deal with the baggage from your past you inadvertently pick up more baggage along the way. Think of it as dysfunctional coping.

Here are 3 ways that I God took me a part and put me back together again over the last 12 years:

1. My wife: I’ve told her before she is what I never knew I wanted. She’s weathered much in our journey. She’s been an instrument of God in allowing me to see who I really am and who I am not. Some painful conversations, some breath taking realizations and a ton of grace. Marriage is a sanctifying work of God.

2. Pastoral Mentors: These were men who saw God’s best in me and called it out. They weren’t afraid to say difficult things at pivotal moments in my life. They called me up in love and God gave me the grace to respond in a way that was helpful. I’m grateful to still have men in this role in my life. Pastors need Pastors. You never get too old for accountability and growth.

3. Counseling: I’m a big proponent of Christian counseling. I found a ton of help here. I was able have a sounding board with a professional that could help me have a satellite view of my baggage and was able to speak biblical truth into some lies I had believed for a long time. I know some have said they’ve done counseling and it was either not helpful or a bad experience. To that I would argue you would not stop going to medical doctors because of one bad experience. There are some great Christian Counselors out there.

3. Deep Friendships: There have been only a few men that have walked in deep friendship with me over the years. Those that could allow me to be myself without expectations, loved me without reserve and were willing to  hold my feet to the fire when needed. Every man needs an ally in their life. God placed strategic allies in my life over the years to help propel me to major mile markers in my journey.

For some, God radically changes them overnight, others he changes over time. God continues to use people in concert in my life to allow me to trade in my baggage for fruit. (Gal. 5:22).

Grateful,

Nathan

Most pastors I know are very likable guys. Not to say there aren’t some out there, but most people that go into pastoral ministry are not jerks. In fact, many pastors that step into ministry struggle with the “Please Like Me” disease. They’re in ministry because they love God and love people. They also enjoy being loved back.

Here is the rub: To pastor is to lead and that means decisions sometimes have to be made that people will not like. I use to struggle dramatically with people being upset about the leadership decisions I made. Sleepless nights would ensue, upset stomach, short tempered. Unable to focus on further leadership tasks, I was stopped dead in my tracks. As it turned out it was not about them not liking my decisions as much as it was my reaction to my perception of them not liking me. I was taking it personal.

Even if someone hates your decision because they just don’t like you, it’s not personal. It is their issue. You cannot control someone’s emotions or reactions. You cannot make someone like you. Don’t waste your time trying to get people on the bus that don’t want to go on the trip.

Bottom line: 10% will be hardcore “You” fans, 10% Will just not like you, and 80% will be “Fine” with you. 

When we stop making difficult decisions so that we’ll be adored, we in essence are not serving Jesus any more. We’re serving ourselves.

Go Lead,

Nathan

My personality type lends itself to always wanting to move forward and excel. In fact, most people that are naturally drawn to leadership are driven by the desire for personal achievement. While personal achievement can be a great motivator, it in itself cannot be confused as leadership. Many leaders after realizing personal success in the trenches of the battle field cannot make the leap to a broader leadership role because they believe they need to be the “hero” every time.   These type of leaders don’t allow others to grow and will sometimes actually sabotage their follower’s efforts and/or steal the credit.

Bottom line: If leadership is about leading others, the highest form of leadership success is succeeding through others. A leader that can equip, develop, and position others for success HAS succeeded.

What about you? What have you learned about leadership in this area? Join the discussion below.

Nathan

When I assess a leader or someone that desires to be in leadership, I always ask them what area do you need to grow in. If they can’t give me a clear answer I know right away that the person has a self-awareness issue. They’re blind to their weaknesses as a person. While a person might have some natural  talents and abilities you cannot continue to just run your leadership on these alone.

If you desire to grow in leadership you cannot continue to sit on your hands and wait for a “Super Ninja Mentor” to come ask you if he/she can mentor you. Take ownership of your own development. Here are 3 ways you can make some growth happen:

1. ASK: If you don’t know what areas you need to grow in; ask someone. Go to someone that has seen you in action and ask them to give you some feedback.

2. Grow through reading: This is a great way to have mentors at a distance with some of the best minds in the world.  (Side note: “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”)

3. Seek Out Mentorship: Grow through getting together with someone that’s farther along the journey then you are. Maybe take them to lunch or buy them coffee and ask for help. Good leaders want to invest in up and coming leaders like someone invested in them.

Go Grow,

Nathan

Forgiving Yourself?

Posted: May 10, 2011 in Christ, Failure, Forgiveness

Have you ever heard someone say with a somber tone: “I’m trying to move forward, but I just can’t seem to forgive myself”? As a pastor I hear this often as people recount their struggle to move on from a past mistake. They might readily acknowledge that others have forgiven them and that even God has forgiven them, but they just can’t seem to forgive themselves.

To those that struggle with this I ask this question: Do you believe that you hold a higher standard than God when it comes to forgiveness?

If the death and resurrection of Jesus has been applied to your life by you giving your life to Jesus and you’ve repented of your sin; then you are forgiven (1 John 1:9). End of story.

We’ve never had the right to decide what’s forgivable and what’s not for ourselves or others. That’s God’s department. 

We should feel Godly sorrow when we’ve disobeyed God, wounded others or just blown it big time. But, Godly sorrow is driven by the conviction of the Holy Spirit. We then embrace our mistake as truth, confess it, turn away from it with our lifestyle and move forward forgiven and grateful for the mercy and grace of God.

Your sin is not the exception to God’s grace. The cross made sure of that.

Nathan