Check out this (fictitious) letter to a husband who has lost his way and is losing his family.
NB: This letter is fictional with regard to the particulars, but with regard to the nature of the sins described, it is unfortunately not at all fictional. Consider it a composite portrait, with no particular man in mind. At the same time, if any individual husband recognizes himself in the portrait and humbles himself, I would thank God and say that this was kind of the point.
You were probably expecting this letter, but so there will be no misunderstanding, I still wanted to begin by explaining why I was writing.
We have spoken off and on over the years about the problem of anger in your home, and you have consistently said that your wife was simply misunderstanding and/or misrepresenting you.
You have described what you do as simply being “firm,” or “stern,” while she has called it anger, sometimes through tears.
You have said that your wife must have been affected by feminism or something, and that you were simply trying to exercise a masculine leadership in the home that doesn’t mollycoddle the kids. And because it has always come down to did too/did not, and no external witnesses, the most I could do is exhort you generally.
But having witnessed your outburst at your family last Sunday, I believe I am finally in a position to address the issue with you directly.
You were probably expecting to hear from me because of how the outburst started in front of some others at the church picnic, but also, as it happened, I was walking through the parking lot about fifteen minutes later, and though I didn’t hear all of what happened, I know that I heard quite enough.
Well, it happened: I got behind on my Bible reading plan.
It makes sense, of course. I mean, in the last few weeks, I’ve:
- Went to Nashville to find an apartment;
- Got ready to move;
- Wrapped up everything in back in Canada;
- Spent a couple days driving to get to Franklin;
- Started setting up our apartment; and
- Started trying to make sense of American health insurance.
By the way, on that last one: it is really, really confusing! (Moving on…)
How I got off track
Naturally, all of this has thrown my entire rhythm of life off, but where I’ve noticed it most has been with my reading—and especially with my Bible reading. I was tracking along really well all year on my plan—sure, I had a few days here and there where I needed to do a bit of catching up, but overall, I was solid.
And then I wasn’t. I’m actually kind of embarrassed by how far behind I’ve gotten. And it really comes down to one thing: I didn’t consistently make sure it was the number one priority in terms of reading each day. There’s no real excuse for it, I just didn’t do a good job.
How I’m getting back on track
Talent and charisma aren’t bad. They’re good. They’re gifts to be stewarded. In the Bible, Joseph and Daniel are two striking examples of both attributes and how God uses them to put us in places of expanding influence. The problem, however, with both talent and charisma is that they expand our influence whether our character is ready for it or not.
Keep a close watch on yourself and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right, and God will save you and those who hear you.
~ 1 Timothy 4:16 NLT
Joseph and Daniel were prepared, even through adversity, for the platforms to which God led them. Other leaders have not been so well-prepared.
Every time we hear of another moral failure of someone we respected in leadership, a range of thoughts go through our minds…
- This didn’t have to happen! What a waste!
- Those poor, innocent and unknowing spouses!
- The children caught in the crossfire!
- The church now dealing with the aftermath of a scandal!
- The reproach upon the kingdom!
- The ammunition we give to the naysayers!
[optin title=”Get My Practical Insights To Grow Your Church” border=”true” text=”Delivered Weekly” buttontext=”Subscribe Today” leadlist=”61206″ successMessage=”Message has been submitted successfully.” errorMessage=”Failed to send your message. Please try later.” invalidEmailMessage=”Your email address does not appear valid.” collectfirstname=”false” collectlastname=”false” collectphone=”false” collectcompany=”false” id=”3436″]
Every year, usually around my birthday, I get teased for looking younger than my age.
Perhaps it’s my beardlessness, my small stature, my baby face—or a combination of all three. Whatever the reason, I gear up for the “Congrats on turning 21!” jokes.
Interestingly, some of the same friends and colleagues who jest about my appearance also tease me for being an “old soul”—from my taste in music, to my affinity for Classic TV, or all the old books I read.
I think old, or so they say.
As the years go by, I’ve started taking both types of teasing as compliments. I’m glad people say I look younger and think older. I hope these qualities will be true of me thirty years from now, too.
Especially when I survey the generational rifts in American society and evangelical churches.
The bridge between ages seems rickety these days. We’ve grown accustomed to dividing up people by generation: the Builders and Boomers, Generation X and the Millennials—now the biggest generation in American history.
Overall, I’m grateful for good research and analysis on generational commonalities and differences. Some stereotypes are too broad to do much good (“Boomers are self-centered,” “Generation X is neglected,” “Millennials are entitled,” etc.). But at its best, generational research can help us live on mission in the world God has placed us. We come to understand similarities among people who share the same generational sliver of time, just as missionaries note the commonalities among people who share the same geographical space.
In his new book, Impossible People, Os Guinness fears that generational analysis has devolved into “generationalism,” an overemphasis on the strong differences between the generations at the expense of the commonalities that unite us. After reading his chapter on this issue, I’d like to borrow a few of his insights and build on them here.
1. Generationalism hinders us in our common pursuit of truth.
Too many times, people appeal to their generation instead of to a standard of truth. “You couldn’t possibly understand because you’re not part of my generation.”
We’ve seen free speech and civil discourse take a hit on many college campuses across America, as identity politics have devolved into a shouting match (“You’re not of my ethnicity and gender, so there’s no way you could understand!”).
A similar situation takes place when generational divides become unassailable assertions. We no longer have room to reason together and benefit from each other’s wisdom and passion.
The youth-centered nature of American society exacerbates the problem. In other cultures, age signifies wisdom.
In North America, age and experience can often be perceived as detrimental. When the church adopts this mindset, we downplay the long-term pursuit of seasoned faithfulness over time in exchange for short-term flashiness.