Monday, July 16, 2007

Scattered Thoughts Series: Checks and Balances

These are some thoughts I've arrived at in different ways, some in the past and some more recently. Some might seem obvious, but I hope they shed some light or bring some interesting questions into your mind.


The Christian life is a challenge in all seasons of life, and certainly no less for young adults and young men.

The basic elements of what it means to be a Christian and live a Christian life are not going to make you a "super-Christian". They are the minimum of what you will need to survive. Think survival, not icing on the cake.

If they were just icing on the cake, then the conclusion is obvious: We can pick and choose and miss some of them and get by unscared.

However, nothing could be further from the truth. If they are the bare minimum for survival, we can't afford to neglect them. It is warfare. Remember the old slogan: Loose lips sink ships. I'd just revise it for this posts purposes, and say "Looseness on this things sink many a guy".

So, here are the checks and balances the Bible gives us to "keep our head above water". I'm not going to list Bible verses, but I trust you'll know that these things are frequently covered in the Scriptures

1. Prayer & Bible Study. One thing about neglecting this is that if you have a past background in Bible Study and prayer, you may not notice immediate problems when you start slacking. You'll still have some carry-over in your Bible knowledge and feeling of fellowship with Christ, and that can be dangerous. Its easy to assume that you know things and that will often lull you further to sleep. We can't pretend we can stay afloat to any degree without these two spiritual disciplines. They are the basic sustinence, with out them we WILL wither up.

2. Attending Church. This is one of the biggest checks and balances that we have, partly because it points us to the other ones I've listed here. If you take a burning ember away from the fire, it will be cold fast. Fire needs more fire and kindling to last long. And lone ranger Christians are even less able to brave the elements on their own. If we want to be on fire, but don't make it to church, we are on a futile path. The Bible EMPHATICALLY mentions that we must gather with other Christians for worship & fellowship. It is important for accountability, instruction, and a neccessity to spiritual growth. And others need us there too!!! The body suffers when we are missing. It is easy to underestimate the effect that our absence actually has in discouraging others. Its easy enough to slack in ones spiritual life when attending church regularly, let alone when neglecting attendance!!!!

3. Parental guidance. Two instincts, perhaps magnified in guys, tend to push us away from utilizing our parents in this way: A. We know that being a man involves stepping up to the plate and making decisions and taking initiative. B. We are either of a too different mindset compared to our parents or our sense of independence pride is violated by seeking guidance.
However, we need to realize a couple things: Yes, being a man means taking initiative and being a leader. But being a leader is so much more than the raw self-decision-making. Good leaders delegate, consult those under them and above them, and are very open to any information they can get. A leader who rejects all advise is usually on his downhill. So consulting with parents is actually a "manly" thing to do, just like the husband who consults with his wife on a decision still can be a "man" and a "leader", actually it could be said that he's doing something that can make him a better leader. Parents have a unique perspective that young guys may not have just as a wife certainly has a unique perspective that her husband may not have. It is my opinion that many of the problems guys run into in all sorts of life matters come partially from either not involving their parents at all or just introducing them when crucial decisions are already made. As society changes, broken homes and dead-beat parents become more and more common, so that obviously can make things difficult. Not everybody has a Godly or even available parent to consult with, and the effect that this is having can't be underestimated. However, many of these things can be accomplished via another family member or a close mentor. In my life, I've personally learned that nobody can think they are so right and yet can be so far off base as a young man when he sets his mind on something (I say this as a young man). That is why I believe critical decisions are best formed with the help of (or at least throughly run by) respected individuals who have known us since we needed diaper changes. :) The amazing thing is that more often than one would expect, the two "generations" actually think similarily on things (assuming mutual understanding and communication is accomplished). Furthermore, if we are confirmed in our decisions by our parents or mentors, our resolve and confidence will be increased in a way that far exceeds what would be if we never had confirmation by receiving counsel from others. Additionally, even if the advise we receive isn't really the greatest or hampered by "hang ups", the "adversity" that gives us will actually be benefitial!!

There are probably more things that could be listed. But in these three things are exposed a plethora of issues that I think cause many hardships to young guys. These are so fundamental things, but perhaps the most widely neglected. And I hope sharing them might be helpful to someone else and clarify these things further in my mind.

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