Letters to Young Men: Why Accountability Groups Fail

letters to young menRemember that accountability group in college where everyone went around the room and confessed their sins? You knew what everyone’s struggles were and sometimes you suspected your buddy was lying to you, but you didn’t quite have the guts to call him out. So it all broke down and everyone was still living with the same struggles as before. When you tried accountability you thought it was the key to everything… I mean it works so well on paper, but after you tried it you realized you were still lying to your mom, looking up swimsuit models on the internet, and letting curse words slip at the same frequency as before… but now you also had to lie about it once a week.

Here is the truth. Peer based accountability groups seldom ever work. I know they never worked in my case. Do you know why?… are you ready for it?… wait… wait… ok… here it is… The guys my age (myself included) didn’t have a clue! That’s right there is no, count it, zero wisdom in a room full of idiots… so maybe that’s a bit harsh (since I was in the room and those other guys might read this blog post). How about this… “You can’t tell someone how to get to where you have never been.” Jesus put it this way when talking about the Pharisees, “Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14 ESV)

The solution to this problem is actually quite simple though, you only need one person in the room who can see. Put someone in the room who isn’t an idiot and accountability might work (again I know this sounds harsh… but hang in there). Someone who has been around the corner can tell you how to get there (and doesn’t mind redirecting you when you blow it… because they actually know the next step)… That’s why there is value in having older mentors.

Do you want to be wise? Do you want to grow in your relationship with the Lord? Do you want to progress on the path of sanctification (be more holy)? Then find some godly older men to be your mentors!

When you are young you are looking for approval. It’s easy to hang with people your age because they are easier to impress. If you’re honest, part of you is a little bit threatened by hanging out with godly older men. I mean, after all… they aren’t talking theories anymore like you and your crew… they have actual battle scars (from real battles!) and war stories (from real wars!). But if you want first hand information on how to win the fight… these are the people you need to listen to (because they’ve been kicked in the teeth by the enemy and are still grinning!).

I was blessed early on to be mentored by several Godly men including my dad and my mom’s dad. I’ve served with two great pastors and sought out advice and wisdom from other great men along the way. There were times where I was intentionally the only idiot in a room full of wise guys because I needed their wisdom. My wife and I attended Sunday School Classes with older couples and intentionally befriended men and women who would invest in us. You see an idiot in a room full of idiots stays… get this… an idiot. But an idiot who will listen to wisdom from a wise guy… at least has a chance of becoming a wise guy.

Oh and one more reason you need to be mentored by someone older. You are looking for affirmation and you won’t find what you really need from your peers. But when an older guy affirms that you are on the right path, you are closer to becoming the confident young man God called you to be... so next time you feel the urge to get an accountability group together invite a godly older gentleman to the group and ask him to pour into you and ask him questions about whatever it is that causes you to struggle.

One word of caution: Not every older gentleman is wise about the same things. If you have financial goals pick a guy who seems to have his financial affairs in order. Unfortunately there are a lot of older men who spent too much time trying to impress their friends that they never picked up any wisdom along the way and they have little to share with you other than the testimony of wasted years. I pray you don’t become one of them.

Check into 1 Kings 12 to see a story about a guy who was more worried about impressing his peers than listening to the advisers his father appointed.

Is Church Designed for Sissies?

  Why Men Hate Going to Church by David Murrow is a compelling book about the gender gap that is growing in congregations world-wide.  Women outnumber men in some congregations with the differential ratios as high as 63 to a measly 37 percent.   In his newly revised ground breaking book Murrow attempts to explain the feminization of the church and what pastors and leaders can do to restore the masculine appeal.

The thing that piqued my interest most about Why Men Hate Going to Church is that way that Murrow lines out his argument for masculine church being a Biblical model.  According to Murrow (and he has some interesting stats and historical data on his side), the church (in general) has slowly drifted into a feminized form of Christianity which by nature appeals to women and excludes men.  The most damaging element of the slide into gender favoritism is that Church has historically appealed to men.

I really enjoyed reading this book and give it a full five stars. I can see it being useful to pastors and ministry leaders who are looking to restore some of the biblical and redeemed cultural initiatives that appeal to men.  For women who are interested in helping men find their way back to church, David Murrow has written another book that you may find helpful as well, How Women Help Men Find God.  You can find out more about author David Murrow and the book Why Men Hate Going to Church on his website: churchformen.com

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson as part of the BookSneeze program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Review of “Game Plan for Life” by Coach Joe Gibbs

Game Plan for Life by Joe Gibbs is a fantastic book!  Joe Gibbs is a 3-time Super Bowl Champion, 3-time NASCAR Champion, and a man’s man in the sports world.  I was greatly encouraged and motivated reading this book.  (To be honest I thought it was going to be another corny sports book, but was greatly impressed at how Joe and his team use sports to illustrate God’s game plan for life.)

Joe writes a few chapters of autobiography and then introduces a team of all-stars in their fields of expertise who take on the tough questions that men are facing.  Joe writes a brief intro to each chapter explaining his own struggles and triumphs in a given area and then turns the chapter over to the expert.  The chapters cover topics such as: Finances, Health, Relationships, Vocation, The Bible, Creation, God, Sin and Addiction, Salvation, Purpose, and Heaven.

I found the book to be very genuine and very encouraging.  I think it would be especially helpful to men who have questions in these areas of life or for a believer to share with those who have questions about Christianity or how the Christian life works out practically.

Overall I really enjoyed reading this book and would highly recommend it for men who are looking for practical answers to some of life’s questions. The retail price of Game Plan for Life is $14.99 (Paperback), and is available around the web in places like Amazon.com for $10.19. I gave it five stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Tyndale House Publishers as part of their Tyndale Blog Network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Letters to Young Men: Let the Word be Your Authority

Dear Friend,

I hope this letter finds you doing well and continuing to grow in wisdom and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I have written you before and challenged you Treasure God’s WordI am confident that you won’t find this letter much different, yet I still find it necessary.

When I was a younger man at the age of seventeen my father challenged me with the advice that I now share with you.  Let God’s word be the final authority in your life.  When discussing issues, debating doctrine or discerning how you will behave, know there is no more important guide than the Bible. The Apostle Paul writes about this when he addresses Timothy:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

(2Timothy 3:16-17, ESV)

You cannot and should not form doctrinal stances and practices based solely on the opinions of others men. You must first and foremost regard the Scripture as authoritative.  The words of your father, your mentor, and even your friends do not carry the same weight as the Scriptures.

Here is what you should know.  People can be wrong.  Sometimes, we cloud our judgment with self-love or hatred of others.  We dull sharp edges of the Word and sharpen dull edges to suit our needs. Often not by design, but perhaps by preference.  We embrace what is comfortable.  We accept what is tradition.

I’m not asking you to doubt everything.  Descart started us down a path that in the end only reveals that the human mind is significantly able to doubt everything.  Instead I am asking you to test the genuineness of your doctrinal positions and motivations by the Scripture.  Be correctable, but let it be the Word that corrects, not merely the opinions of another man.

I am confident of this, that those who judge the Word and hold themselves above it, will in the end be judged by the Word and found to be false.  Those who come humbly to search the Word will in turn find that their own hearts have been searched by the Word of God.  Let the Word be you authority.

 

Your Friend,

Pastor Jonathan

Letters to Young Men: Integrity in your Relationships

Dear Friend,

I hope this letter finds you doing well and growing in your relationship with God.  Last time we spoke, we talked about being in the word of God.  I want to encourage you to keep up your commitment to reading the scripture.  Along those lines please read the scripture passage I have enclosed.  This week I want to share with you what the Bible says about being the husband of one wife and how to best prepare yourself to lead in your marriage one day.

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you– if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. (Titus 1:5-8)

I know that this passage deals primarily with appointing pastors and elders, but think with me for a moment.  Do we expect more of our pastors than we do of our people?  Is it right for a believer who is not the pastor to be sleeping around, getting drunk, quick tempered, rearing children that hate God, greedy, and undisciplined? No!  We expect Christians to act like Christians and we expect our pastors to model the Christian life. (As a pastor I pray that you have seen Christ modeled in my life along the way.)  So while this passage is about pastors… It also out a picture of what a mature Christian man looks like.  That being said, you are to aspire to be a mature man in Christ.

So now what about that “husband of one wife” phrase?  How doe that apply to you as an unmarried man?

The idea being communicated in the text is that of “a one-woman man.”  How does a single man make sure that he is a one woman man? … You guard yourself from craving of soliciting the attention of a plurality of women. In short, if you like a young woman, tell her.  It doesn’t have to be awkward, but it is important to define the relationship sooner rather than later.  If you don’t, you may end up leading someone on. If you aren’t interested in marrying a young woman, don’t flirt with her.  If you think that she likes you and you don’t like her, remind her (and act towards her) that you are just friends.

I remember early late in college around the age of 21, I found myself newly single and eager to share my insights on life with anyone of the female persuasion who would listen.  Little did I know that I was leading people on more than I had planned. All the girls I had been “flirting” with told the one girl I really liked that I flirted with everyone and I got dumped before the relationship ever began. In the long run it ended up working out well for me in that I sobered up to how I was leading some young women on, learned more about biblical manhood and womanhood and  was careful to define relationships.  I hope to spare you some bumps and bruises along the way by weighing this scripture and my advice.

Are you living like a one woman man?  Are you leading anyone on?  Remember sometimes women can put more stock in a friendship than we do. Is there a relationship that you need to define?

The wait is worth the reward.  Have I shared with you before about how I courted my wife? It’s a good story.  You should look it up if you are interested.

Your Friend,

Pastor Jonathan

Book Give Away (Living Life in the Zone)

Last month I wrote a brief book  review of Living Life In The Zone, written by Kyle Rote, Jr. and Dr. Joe Pettigrew.  This month I have decided to give away a copy on the blog.  To enter for a chance to win all you need to do is read my review and then come back here and provide a comment on why you want the book (even if you want it to give to someone else).  I’ll randomly draw a name on Monday (February 8th, 2010) and announce the winner in the comments section here.  If you win I will also contact you via e-mail so I can make arrangements to get you the book (so make sure you fill that part out when leaving a comment).