Thursday, February 28, 2013

"Where is Adam?"

"If it wasn't for Eve then..."  You can fill in the blank with any number of answers given by people (primarily men) as to the consequences of Eve's decision to believe the talking snake and eat the forbidden fruit.  Before we jump on the "Blame Eve Bus," a question. Wasn't Adam the one who was given the Code of Garden Conduct by the Lord?  Where was Adam during all this conversation with a snake?

"When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it." -Genesis 3:6

Did you catch that (it was in bold)? Adam was standing right beside Even and said nothing (yes, I used a second bold for emphasis).  As a man, this verse convicts me.  Are there times I am a silent observer as someone I love barter's with THE snake? Do I remain silent as...

  • ...Entertainment choices are made by my family, friends and students?
  • ...Gossip spreads between students, adults or coworkers?
  • ...Social Media turns a perverse or hurtful corner?
  • ...Morality is compromised for social acceptance?
  • ...Morality is allowed to be compromised by parents/adults who want to be liked by their students?
I better stop there.  The list can get rather meddlesome for all of us men--right?  

I have recently entered into a study with a great group of my coaching buddies on what it means to be a man of God.  We are going through a study entitled Kingdom Man by Tony Evans (I highly suggest the study).  Here is what Tony writes about the problem of silence among men: 

"The disease of silence still afflicts men today.  Who is speaking about the discipline of children in the home?  Women.  Who are the vocal leaders volunteering for leadership in the church? Women. Who is willing to take a stand against immorality in their families? Women.  There are exceptions, but too many men operate just like Adam.  When it's time to take a stand, they simply have nothing to say."
-Tony Evans, Kingdom Man

Before you get defensive men, think about his words (Read them again).  I can say with authority, as a student minister and seminar presenter for public school, private school and church audiences, women are the major participants in discussions and conferences involving student nurturing, marriage health and parenting. So, where are the men?  They have to work is the logical answer.  However, many of these ministry and seminar moments  take place on weekends.  Perhaps Tony is correct in his conclusion that we operate "just like Adam" too much of the time.

How should men combat the affliction of silence?

Let me start by giving one simple tip on what NOT to do.  Don't compensate silence by yelling!  In other words, authority is established in the validation of words through the witness of a man's walk not increased volume level.  I know (confession time--I struggle in this area) it is difficult to control the volume when you break the silence in an attempt to make a stand for what you believe is right and are challenged.  Still, yelling is not synonymous with authority.

Here is what I believe to be the best FIRST step in breaking the affliction of silence as a man. Spend more time listening than speaking.  Remember the words of James, "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry"(1:19).  
Don't simply listen to gain understanding of the person and/or situation (this is important) but spend time listening to the Lord as well.  Have you ever noticed how many times the Gospels tell of Jesus "withdrawing into lonely places and praying?"  Jesus did a lot of listening and speaking with the Father before He listened and spoke to others.   A practical follow up would be reading the Gospels and discovering how the Lord used his words when confronting those bartering with THE Snake.  Personally, I do better speaking when following the Lord's example.  It even helps me determine and remain accountable in the level of volume and harshness of words I choose when speaking. 

By NO MEANS am I trying to down play the authority and significance of women in the world, society and/or church culture.  As a matter of fact, women have served heroically in areas men have vacated often leaving trails of pain for others to repair.  The point I am simply trying to make is that it is past time for men to embrace the authority the Lord has placed on them to lead! Our society, families and churches have suffered long enough from the affliction of silence.  

It is time to stop the "If it wasn't for Eve..." conversations and ask the "What if Adam...?" questions.

QUESTION:  What practical advice can you share with men wishing to break the affliction of silence ?(Women, your answers are particularly helpful)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

QUICK SET UP INSTRUCTIONS: Information you need before standing in front of your students

QUICK SET UP INSTRUCTIONS are a now common, typically one-page long (with pictures), instruction guide included with new TV's, Computers, Game Consuls and other similar devices.  They are put with the longer, complete instruction manual and designed to provide buyers with the quickest route to product use.  There is certainly a blog topic in why our culture is in such a hurry that we provide such instructions, but that is for another time.   For now, especially if you are about to stand in front of a group of students who are currently arriving at your youth group location, here are a few  Quick Set Up Instructions to keep in mind as you teach:

  • Don't Waste the Student's Time.  Yes, have fun and play the silly games, but tell them something about Jesus and the practical impact He can have on their lives. 
  • Land the Plane.  Student ministers are great with drawing out and encouraging energy.  However, we are not always skilled about bringing our message to an articulate, "do this" type ending.  Be sure your student's leave with something to do, embrace or accept.
  • Have Fun.  Let's face it, not everyone can stand in front of students and speak (or act crazy during an intro activity--anything with Duct Tape is awesome).  You are gifted!  Enjoy the experience.  Your passion and joy will bring increased credibility to your words.
  • Use the Bible.  Remember, the power is in the Word of God NOT a cool illustration or video.

Enjoy your time in front of your students.  They are listening (even when you think they are asleep or texting). 

REQUEST:  List a few of your QUICK SET UP INSTRUCTIONS below.