Decisions

 decisions

“And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child…..Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” 1 Kings 3:7.9

There is an expression which is used to describe people who instinctively make the right decision. It’s the French term “savoire faire”, and it means knowing what to do under the circumstances. You might have encountered someone with this gift. I wish I had it.  But most of us struggle making good decisions, particularly those big or critical ones.

For context, studies show that the next generation makes decisions based on emotion or whatever feels right. It’s subjective, not objective. They eschew decisions based on values, facts, science, reason or objective data. It’s a slippery slope, but it’s the slope that the next generation is camped on.

My friend, Jolene Erhlacher, recently did presentations to millennials on several college campuses. She asked the students whether they made decisions based on facts or emotions. Not surprisingly, approximately 80% said they based their decisions on emotion.

Vernon Law is quoted as saying: “Experience is a hard teacher because you get the test first and the lesson afterwards.” For many of us, we wish we had gotten the lesson before the experience. What is a better way to make good decisions other than basing them on what feels good?

Several principles may help the next generation (and the rest of us who don’t have savoire faire), particularly when a decision is in a gray area where there is no clear black and white. Here are some things that helped me deal with controversial or gray area decisions:

  1. Look for the big picture. An engineer client had a built-in prism in his mind when he made decisions. When held up to light, a prism displays a rainbow of colors. When it came to a decision, he would mentally hold his prism up to the light to see what color would come out.  He would get input from others and I watched him taking that input as if it was sunlight as he turned the prism in his head.  Put another way, try to see the big picture, not just from your vantage point but with input from others – particularly a mentor. It will help you see an issue from a perspective that you might not have on your own. Hearing the “other side” to a decision may not change the outcome, but at least you will have considered all sides. As I have often said, it’s what we don’t know that hurts us, so seeking counsel of others may help avoid making a poor decision.I wrote about this in a post entitled We is Better than Me which described the pitfalls of going it alone in life.
  2. Assume the best in others. This is a John Maxwell idea: treat everyone with respect and honor and don’t burn bridges. He usually took the high road, often when it was not deserved by others.  That means you “need to believe the best about others”, as Tim Elmore puts it. Granted, people will let you down, but in the long run, showing confidence in someone pays dividends. My wife is the best at this. She is such a positive person that she always sees the good in everyone.
  3. Think long-term. This was drilled into me by a friend of mine, Floyd Green, who was part of a group of men that I met with consistently for 25 years. We were the “spiritual board of directors” for each other. Floyd maintained that best decisions were made when he looked at the long-term consequences rather than the short-term benefit. It’s easy to make knee jerk decisions based on short-term results, without considering all the facts. Advertisers presses us to think about only today. Sadly, that pressure has resulted in huge student debt which now approaches $1.4 trillion dollars in the U.S. Students bought into the message of “Learn now; pay later” without thinking about what the cost will be later.
  4. Seek a win-win solution. Life is really a constant negotiation if you think about it. Just think about how a group decides where you might go out to eat. You put your preferences out there, but often you don’t get your way. I went through a workship on negotiation during my law career. One of the exercises involved a set of facts about a certain transaction between two parties. You were instructed to negotiate on behalf of one of the parties to get the best result for your party. Your workshop opponent in the exercise was instructed to do the same for the opposite party. You were free to choose your specific negotiating style.  One style might be to negotiate in a way so that you would only accept total victory and not make any concessions to the other side. That’s a win-lose Not surprisingly, the most successful results were achieved when the participants negotiated with a win-win style. This forces you to think about the other sides goals and objectives and to try to to develop ideas that will benefit each party.
  5. Do the “right” thing. If a decision involves choosing between doing the right thing or cutting a corner by doing something that advances your interests ahead of another inappropriately, my personal experience is that you are better off doing the right thing, even if it is inconvenient. Some decisions may affect everyone but may not please everyone. Using your power or position to take advantage of another is not the right thing. For me, let’s just say you sleep better at night.
  6. Pray for Wisdom. Most Christians would agree that Solomon was one of the wisest people in Scripture. Yet, even he felt intimidated about making decisions as a young King.  Solomon’s prayer for wisdom is found in 1 Kings 3. He needed guidance from above, and so do we. The Holy Spirit is a great resource and we often overlook His guidance. I prayed Solomon’s prayer daily during my career because my day consisted of having to make important decisions affecting my clients or staff that were difficult or complicated.

Our challenge is to help the next generation advance beyond their default emotional decision-making process. Seven decades on this earth has taught me that decisions based on a feel-good or emotional bases are often disasters.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Helping your mentee make better decisions may be one of the highest and best uses of a mentor. Your experience, objectivity and perspective may be an invaluable resource to a generation that defaults to making decisions on emotion.

FURTHER STUDY:  Solomon’s Prayer for Wisdom: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+kings+3%3A3-9&version=NIV

Iain King wrote a book entitled “How to Make Decisions – And Be Right All the Time.”  The last part of the title is intentional satire because it is impossible to be right all the time. A summary of the book can be found here.

A post on “We is Better than Me“: the benefits of having a close friend or mentor in your life:  https://mentorlink.wordpress.com/2016/05/10/we-is-better-than-me/

WORSHIP:  The song “Lord, I need you” by Chris Tomlin reminds us how much we need God’s help in making decisions: Chris Tomlin – Lord I Need You – YouTube

COMMENT:  I would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page or emailing me at otterpater@nc.rr.com.

SUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner of the site (www.mentorlink.wordpress.com)  and entering your email address.

 

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Renovation

renovation                          

Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12:2

I recently had to remove a large pine tree that was over 100 feet high which was infested with beetles that killed it in 30 days.  My tree expert noted that beetles start at the top of the tree.  Reminds me of how our heads (at the top) can poison the rest of our bodies if infected by the wrong things.

I have alluded to “living in a Romans 1 culture” in recent posts. You can read Romans 1:18-24 to see how God let the Roman culture devolve into depravity and moral decay. The Old Testament parallel is the story of Daniel who was in captivity in Babylon. Both stories demonstrate the pressure of the faithful to absorb and adopt to their culture around them.

History shows that the Roman Empire was destroyed from within. I can’t help but think about the comparison to our present circumstances.  We are now living in a post-Christian era, where the next generation has no biblical moorings when it comes to morality.

Even those with some biblical background are woefully unprepared. According to a recent Barna poll, less than half of churchgoers recognized the term “the Great Commission” from Matthew 28:18-20.  Another 6% said they weren’t sure. That is quite sad, actually, because it means that even those that attend Church are almost biblically illiterate.

The Barna poll goes on to show only 17% of the respondents knew what the Great Commission was, and another 25% had “heard of it but didn’t know what it was.”  Age was a factor in the response. 29% of “Elders” knew what it was, compared to 17% of Generation Z and 10% of millennials.

Those are disturbing numbers to me. I’m disappointed that older adults didn’t fare better. But it reinforces the observation that if they are biblically illiterate, it should not be surprising that the next generation is even worse off.

Paul’s letter to the Romans encouraged Christians to advance the Gospel in a culture that was even more depraved than what we may have seen today. Paul wrote a template of how to survive and thrive in the midst of moral decay. His letter is instructive today.

Paul starts in Romans 12:2 with the word “conform” in the opening line when he says not to “conform to the pattern of this world.”  “Conform” in the Greek means that we change our mind and character according to another’s pattern.  The influence comes from outside us – our cultural environment or secular worldview.

The“world” is where we live.  It’s our community, family, place of worship and our workplace. It’s the schools that we attend to be educated.  It’s the people we communicate with, often on social media. Sadly, our educational institutions are providing bad or no guidance on what Christianity and its moral values are all about.

A look at our college life provides insights into how far we have veered off course morally. A recent article described experts in academia warning that students are “going off the rails” and that they lack intellectual curiosity.  I won’t go into the statistics, but one poll cited in the article reflected that 82% of seniors in college had sex outside of marriage.

College is described a “parent funded motel party” featuring no-holds barred promiscuity. A University of Virginia professor is quoted as saying “many problems seen today would not exist if even just dormitories were single-sex.”

A recent course offering at George Washington University in Washington, DC offers a multi-cultural diversity course that includes a discussion of “Christian privilege.” The course description says that Christians enjoy a privileged, easier life than their non-Christian counterparts.

The premise of the course denies the reality that Christian face daily oppression around the world. To me, the course shows what some “in the world” think and are willing to teach at our best Universities.  This is junk academia that is being advanced in lots of places.

So, how does a Christian thrive in this environment?

Paul’s solution to the Christians in Rome is to renew your mind.  The word for “renewing” in the Greek means “renovation” or “a complete change for the better”. You know what a renovation looks like:  you remove the junk of the past and replace it with something new and better.  The picture above shows the “before” of our mind before the transformation has occurred.

What is so misunderstood is that anyone, even the worst monster, can find redemption in Christ. No matter what junk you have in your head or what you have done, you will find that God’s grace is like a spiritual eraser that helps rid you of your past. It’s still your past, but you have a new beginning point. A clean slate.

Pretty straightforward advice.  How do you survive in a world of moral decay?  You start with the basics by refusing to accept the message of the world, and by relying on the Holy Spirit and your own personal devotional life.   You can replace the “junk” in your mind that you have absorbed from a culture that has run off of the rails.

Having been a Christian for over 30 years, I can honestly say that my faith walk with Christ has grown in direct proportion to the amount of biblical knowledge I’ve garnered over the years. There is no shortcut.  It takes discipline and commitment. Sometimes it takes a mentor or friend to help you along the way as an encourager.  We are commanded to make disciples, and this is part of the process.

That’s the challenge for today’s mentors.  We are now encountering a generation that has limited biblical knowledge, and much of what they have been taught by secular education is wrong or misleading. They need to be shown a way to renovate their minds so that they can make wise decisions for their lives. Don’t be afraid to ask them what aspect of their life needs renovation.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:   The next generation is looking for authentic Christianity which has been lived out.  They will often learn more from who you are than what you say. Still, you need to press mentees to “renovate” their minds with the Word of God.

FURTHER STUDY: Moral decline as one of the “main causes” for the fall of the Roman Empire: http://www.tribunesandtriumphs.org/roman-empire/causes-for-the-fall-of-the-roman-empire.htm

Barna Poll on 51% of Churchgoers have not heard about the Great Commission: https://www.barna.com/research/half-churchgoers-not-heard-great-commission/?utm_source=Barna+Update+List&utm_campaign=e792b614f1-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_12_28&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8560a0e52e-e792b614f1-180577765&mc_cid=e792b614f1&mc_eid=b530e12afb

Campus life going off the rails:  https://www.thecollegefix.com/post/43767/

University of Tennessee – Knoxville has a “Sex Week” which includes a workshop on sex toys: https://www.thecollegefix.com/post/43707/

George Washington University course on diversity training including Christian Privilege: https://www.thecollegefix.com/post/43577/

WORSHIP:  Listen to “Anchor” which reminds us what the hope we have in Christ: Anchor – Hillsong Live (Worship song with Lyrics) 2013 New Album …

COMMENT:  I would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page or emailing me at otterpater@nc.rr.com.  SUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner of the site (www.mentorlink.wordpress.com)  and entering your email address.

 

 

Happiness – 2

happiness

 And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.  Ecclesiastes 4:4

I’ve wrote a post on this topic over a year ago.  A recent article on The Huffington Post stated how there are “over 75 million Google search results for the term and 40,000 happiness-related books available for purchase on Amazon … And it’s not necessarily helping us to become any happier.”

A couple of articles caught my attention which has brought me back to this topic. It caused me to think of the lyrics to the country and western song by Waylon Jennings which goes “searching for love in all the wrong places.” Just substitute “happiness” for “love” and you get the point.

The first story comes from Yale University, an Ivy league college in New Haven, Connecticut. Just out of curiosity, what would you think is the most popular course at this institution?  English? Philosophy? A terrific history course?  Nope. None of the above.

The answer is Psych 157: Psychology and the Good Life taught by Laurie Santos. Almost one-fourth of the entire undergraduate school has signed up for this course.  In her own words, she “tries to teach students how to lead a happier, more satisfying life in the twice-weekly lectures.”  Mind you, all of these students are classified as millennials.

Why so popular?  Well, a recent study in 2013 by Yale found that more than half of the undergraduates have sought mental health care since being enrolled. That is fairly consistent with other studies of millennials which have shown a dramatic increase in depression and suicide in this age group.

One of the core principles of the course is that millennials are finding that their quest to obtain happiness by achievement – winning an award, getting a high grade, or landing a prestigious internship – has nothing to do with achieving happiness. As Santos notes, scientists have gotten it all wrong on our intuition on what makes us happy.

Put another way:  stuff and awards don’t make one happy. Pretty basic, and something Solomon thought about back in Ecclesiastes when he said it was all just chasing after the wind.  As a staff writer for the Yale newspaper put it:  this is a student’s “Cry for Help.”

The second story is the recent Gallop study of 2.5 million Americans to determine their “subjective well-being”, which is a euphemism for happiness.

The bottom line of the study is that we aren’t happy, and that there is a disturbing decline in our nation’s sense of well-being. “The overall decline (in 2017) was driven by worsening emotional health, social well-being and purpose well-being.”

I’ve always said Solomon was a pretty smart guy.  History bears that out. The above passage from Ecclesiastes 4 really hits it on the head. We all are wired to compete for accomplishments. We aren’t happy coming in second, or third, or even last. We are motivated by comparison to others. Yet, both stories say that this is “chasing after the wind”.

Even if you achieve the accomplishment you always wanted, it is not a ticket to happiness.

Alannah Mayez, a Yale student who put it this way: “In reality, a lot of us are anxious, stressed, unhappy, numb.”   She went on to say that many of peers are so tired that they numb their emotions “so they can focus on their work, the next step, the next accomplishment.”

As I read these stories,  I can’t resist but saying that one solution may be overlooked, and it’s the spiritual one.  When one is grounded spiritually, life’s purpose becomes clearer, and you realize a purpose outside of yourself.

Based on my own experience of becoming a Christian at age 38, life gets better with Christ at the center. As James Emory White notes, “Every life would be better with a deep and clear sense of true north in terms of navigating what’s right and wrong, true and false, good and bad.”

Studies confirm that people are searching for happiness in all the wrong places, and that a quest for money and possessions is unlikely to achieve it. According to Inc. Magazine, 50% of your ability to achieve happiness is hard-wired into your genetics which you can’t change. Only 10% is a result of environment.

On the other hand, 40% is due to “intentional activity” which gets me back to my point on having purpose in your life. To do that, the author suggests three things to focus on.

The first is to align your activity with your values, gifts, talents and passions. Secondly, it suggests that one should do “random acts of kindness.”  Third, and not least, is to “count your blessings”. Be grateful for who you are and what life experiences you have had.

Those are good suggestions, particularly for the next generation who have isolated themselves from real relationships due to their digital habits and have increased rates of depression and suicide.  No wonder they are interested in finding happiness.

Our challenge with the next generation is to get below the surface and find out what is driving them.  Part of that is to find out how developed they are in their spiritual life, and also to help them find their purpose.

God has put them on earth for a purpose – He has gifted each of us with unique talents, gifts, passions and desires for a purpose.  It is the role of the older generation to lend a hand in helping the next generation discover their purpose.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY: One of the best things a mentor can do is to help a mentee ascertain what God’s purpose is for their lives. A person with a clear vision is usually well centered for dealing with the ups and downs of life.

FURTHER STUDY: A copy of the Psych 157 Course Description: http://catalog.yale.edu/ycps/subjects-of-instruction/psychology/psychology.pdf

The Yale Daily described the Psych 157 course as “It’s a Cry for Help”: https://yaledailynews.com/blog/2018/01/26/overheard-at-yale-its-a-cry-for-help/

The 2017 Gallop Poll on well-being:  http://news.gallup.com/poll/224675/gallup-top-findings-2017.aspx

WSJ Article correlating stress and social environment to general health:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-do-some-people-get-sick-less-often-1521889260?emailToken=715a1329049f51148acd9cc933242d3fXqVccjEXiDVAgjSyvx2LSkW/e5VradGhT8lTbuBrmzy0RWMs2yNdXpXEzbDRzNJvLC9iZsjfKljn2DvHaCGeh/zF1+YRr+oXQDHaNVXXAkQ=

An article in Inc. Magazine titled “Looking for Happiness in all the Wrong Places”: https://www.inc.com/marla-tabaka/you-have-a-50/50-shot-at-happiness-according-to-sc.html

WORSHIP:  Listen to the song “Sweeter” where the lyrics tell us that “every day with you, Lord, is sweeter than the day before”.

Sweeter Than the Day Before Cindy Cruse Ratcliff ~ Lakewood …

COMMENT:  I would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page or emailing me at otterpater@nc.rr.com.

SUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner of the site (www.mentorlink.wordpress.com)  and entering your email address.

 

Influence

sucess

“But Moses pleaded with the LORD, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.” Then the LORD [said], . . . “Go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.” But Moses again pleaded, “Lord, please! Send anyone else.” Exodus 4:10-13

Often overlooked is the concept of influence and the impact it has on the lives of other people. We often act like Moses who was having an attack of feeling inadequate for the job that God called him to with Israel. We are like Moses who essentially said, “Why me?” to God.

As Tony Dungy notes in his devotional, we often think we aren’t influencing people outside of our own sphere. As I noted in my last post on “Why Not?”, we also often think we have nothing to offer someone from the younger generation. We get paralyzed by worrying about “what if my mentee asks me a question I can’t answer?”

Welcome to the world of the mentor, where the questions and issues are often unpredictable. Unlike other things in life where you are able to prepare to talk about a specific topic or issue, the mentor doesn’t set the agenda.  The mentee does.  That’s what makes it so fun and interesting for me and others who believe that investing in others’ lives is a calling.

Life is not linear, and mentoring isn’t either. I’ve had to spend time in between visits to bone up on a topic that popped up. Sometimes I have to do a little homework to get my brain around an issue that I am not familiar with and do some scriptural homework to be able to offer guidance. Keeps me young.

I recently ran into a woman who was the wife of a friend of ours from Raleigh. We were in Orlando at a Christian convention for financial planners. She wanted me to know that my wife (Sis) had said something at a study over a decade before that had profoundly impacted her.

I don’t remember what it was that my wife said to her.  It doesn’t really matter. The point she made was that she had never followed up to tell Sis how important her words had meant to her. As I was leaving the conference, she asked me point-blank: “What are you going to tell Sis when you get home?”

I pledged that I would tell Sis how she had impacted her, which I did. Sis was unaware of what it was that she had said and was actually surprised at the attention. Like Sis, we often don’t realize when something we say or do will have an influence on another’s life.

Mind you, my wife did not set out to say something profound or impress anyone. She was just being herself. I think there is something to be said for the ability to influence someone in a natural setting. There was no soapbox, no platform.  She was just being herself.

We may not think of ourselves as someone having influence. Yet, think about all of the events that led to you being where you are today? Why you are here, and what are events and people who may have shaped you? I would submit that it is neither an accident nor random.

I’m convinced God knew exactly where you would be at this moment, even as you read this. He created you with unique passions and gifts and provided you the platform you stand on. He has a purpose in your design which is eternal and intended to impact the world around you.

So, how different would your life be if you really believed that God intentionally designed you to impact others?  What would you do differently? What steps would you take if you knew He had already planned them?

A friend recently said: “A man’s prosperity is not about the number of cars in his garage or the size of his bank account. You are rich by the number of lives you have affected.”  Good stuff.

Our challenge is to see God’s purpose in our lives.  It is not about being financially successful. It is about influencing and impacting lives for God’s kingdom. Mentoring is part of that, and an invaluable way of providing a positive influence on a generation that seeks it

 MENTOR TAKEAWAY: Your mentees are watching you, both as to what you say and what you do. That’s a good thing, because it gives you an opportunity to speak into their lives in multiple ways. If you are going to be an influence in someone’s life, at least it should be a good one.

WORSHIP:  This is Easter Week, so my worship suggestion is one that I love. Listen to “I Will Rise” by Christ Tomlin: Chris Tomlin – I Will Rise (Lyrics) – YouTube

COMMENT:  I would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page or emailing me at otterpater@nc.rr.com.

SUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner of the site (www.mentorlink.wordpress.com)  and entering your email address.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Not?

whynot

They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas. Acts 15:39

 I have spent the better part of two years writing about why mentoring is so needed by the next generation.  My posts include biblical stories of mentoring, practical advice on the “how to” and profiling the attributes of millennials and Generation Z so that mentors would be aware of generational differences.

I was reminded of an anecdote recently. A college philosophy teacher was known to ask difficult questions on exams.  When his students arrived for his exam, he wrote one word on the blackboard: “Why?”

Most students immediately set out writing furiously in their exam booklets.  The ones writing furiously all started their answers with the word “Because”. One student, however, pondered the question for a while, and then wrote a two-word answer and turned in his exam booklet and left early.  His answer?  “Why not?”  He received the highest grade in the class.

I have often thought I would have loved to write a two-word answer to a college exam and have the guts to leave early.  I written a lot on the why and how of mentoring.  But when it comes to mentoring, the question might better be phrased as “Why not?” rather than just “Why?”

A recent anecdote may illustrate my point.

A respected elder in my church took it upon himself to get a group of mentor-aged men to consider mentoring younger men.  He asked the church staff if they would help identify millennials looking for a mentor. The result was predictable: he got no referrals. Nada.

I then made a suggestion to the group.  I said that I was mentoring five men in our church, none of whom were referred to me by church staff. I just sought out younger men that I thought might appreciate an older person speaking into their lives and asked them to have lunch (or coffee) with me. All of them said “yes”, and that has led to more lunches and coffees.

I urged them to take the initiative by doing something similar and see what happens. They might be surprised.

Which brings us to the “Why not?”  Well, here are the top five answers:

  • “I’m too busy”
  • “I don’t know how”, or “I feel inadequate”
  • “No one ever asked me”
  • “What do I have to offer”
  • “I don’t care”

The last one is the lamest, but not surprising. Apathy is a default response of many in the Church today. The real answer is that you should care because of the scriptural principle to “pass it on to the next generation.”  When a generation stops passing it on, our next generation loses out. Just look at France which went from 75% Christian 30 years ago to 5% today. That’s the price of not caring.

If Barnabas had not seen the promise in John Mark in Acts 15. Paul was willing to jettison John Mark. But, Barnabas cared enough to take John Mark along with him and encourage him in the faith.  If Barnabas had not cared, we might not have had the Gospel of John written.

Too busy?  Actually, that’s a good thing. People who are busy are successful and often are the ones who have valuable experiences to pass on. Many mentors like me are retired. We have lots of time. As to anyone else, it’s a matter of priorities, not time. You always have time for anything that you make a priority. If you can find time to go to a coffee shop now and then, you have time to spare.

Don’t know how?  This is where I believe that, at its basic essence, being a mentor is organic. Anyone with a life-time of experiences can be a mentor. You know what worked and what didn’t. That’s valuable to someone who has not “been there, done that.”  That’s what you have to offer: your personal experiences have no value if not passed on.

Albert Einstein once said something that resonated with me. He said: “The only source of knowledge is experience.” For the next generation, that’s a valuable resource.

I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all method to mentoring. What you do and how you do it will be determined by your own personality and life experiences, and it will also be different for each person you mentor. Sure, you can learn “best practices”, but I think trial and error works well. As the Nike ad urges us, “Just do it.”

Another Einstein quote is appropriate: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them.” That is a profound insight into leadership – a millennial who is willing to say “I need help” or “I can’t do this alone” is able to get past his or her shortcomings

The challenge here is for those sitting on the sidelines to realize that scripture tells us to pass it on to the next generation. Don’t drop the ball!

For mentees, I generally advocate that they should be proactive.  Seek out someone who you respect and that you think might be helpful. You can invite them to lunch or coffee. You don’t have to mention mentoring because it may cause the knee jerk answers listed above. Then, wash, rinse and repeat.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  If you haven’t been asked, then take the initiative. That goes for both mentors and mentees. Don’t be shy. You could impact a person’s life who desperately is looking for help.

FURTHER STUDY:  Thomas Rainer’s video on Why You Need a Mentor:

https://thomrainer.com/2018/03/why-you-need-a-mentor/

RESOURCES:  For men, one of the best books is authored by Howard and Bill Hendricks entitled “As Iron Sharpens Iron”. It is available at Amazon.

For women, I would suggest reading Impact My Life, by Elisa Pulliam.

If you are interested, I have put together a four-page Mentoring Resources, which gives reading suggestions, along with links to individual posts on mentoring topics for the next generation that might be helpful. Drop me a note and I will be glad to provide it to anyone who asks.

WORSHIP:  Listen to Chris Tomlin sing “We Fall Down” which reminds of our humanity and needing help from others: We Fall Down by Chris Tomlin – YouTube

COMMENT:  I would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page, or emailing me at otterpater@nc.rr.com.SUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner of the site (www.mentorlink.wordpress.com)  and entering your email address.

 

 

 

 

 

Gender – Part 2

gender2Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. Romans 1:28

 There’s a lot to be said about this issue, particularly in a world which is apparently embracing the LGBTQ movement without realizing its devastating consequences which are never mentioned.

According to Dr. Paul Murtagh, a Pediatric endocrinologist  of the American College of Pediatricians: “Suicide rates are 20 times higher for those who use cross-sex hormones and that 98 percent of boys and 88 percent of girls eventually accept the reality of who they were born to be.” When did you ever hear that?

Dr. Murtagh continues:  “[A]dopting these policies is harmful to a child’s well-being and is child abuse.” “These policies” refers to policies and ideology “that identifying with a gender other than their biological one is beneficial.”  That’s pretty strong language.

Even the NCAA (the ruling organization for collegiate sports) has jumped on the bandwagon in an effort to promote “inclusiveness and tolerance”. They officially back the LGBT agenda, which is surprising because some states (like California) have banned any state institution from funding or sponsoring travel to states that “allow discrimination against LGBT persons on religious or other grounds.”

The problem however, is that three states – North Carolina, Tennessee and Kansas – are all hosting 2018 NCAA basketball tournament events this month, even though they have been identified as discriminatory states. California is not alone, by the way, because New York has a similar policy which caused a state institution to cancel an early season baseball series with Southern Mississippi.

The fluid gender movement has already gotten traction in some states. Delaware is considering a law that permits a child to make a gender and race choice without informing the parents. Mind you, these are minors. They are not wards of the state or of the school. The school is not their parent, and if I remember correctly, making a profound decision about a child is the parents sole responsibility, absent a court order.

Also, it’s important because what is shown on media, TV, videos and movies today will be the norm in 10 years.  I learned that from my friend Ralph Ennis over 20 years ago. It’s a pretty scary thought

This is important because the next generation is quick to adjust to the “new normal” and what seems “normal” to them and their peers must be OK.  Call Me By Your Name was awarded an Oscar recently for best screenplay.  The film is the story of a 24-year-old man in a homosexual relationship with a minor who was 17. It was one of 52 Oscar nominees for the Oscars motion that had LGBT themes.

This issue is not going away. The LGBT movement is alive and real. It took them some 40 years of behind the scenes work in the schools to change current public opinion about same-sex marriages.

Now we have an assault on our children by an educational system (and complicit media) which encourages children to consider their gender as something they can choose.

Christians are getting marginalized in this argument, often being labeled as intolerant, or that any criticism of this topic is “hate” speech.  No matter that study after study consistently shows that children of their biological parents “consistently have better physical, emotional, and academic well-being” according to a November 2014 study.

The LGBT movement is following in the footsteps of the same-sex marriage movement, only taking it to different and more difficult places. At Harvard last month, a Christian group was put on probation for denying leadership to a woman who was dating another woman.

The Christian group says that she was removed because of “irreconcilable theological disagreement pertaining to our character standards” for leadership.  It was a leadership issue. Harvard, however, said it was discrimination based on sexual orientation.

It is an attempt to overwrite biblical leadership standards. It will be opposed, just as other attempts, but it puts the Christian groups on campuses on the defensive.

In another arena, the Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., recently adopted a resolution to eliminate all gender references to God. In other words, they are rewriting the Bible based on current culture. What will come next, I wonder?

Why does all this matter? Well, if we are not smart about what the next generation is learning about gender, either from the media or the schools, we are headed to a very uncertain future, and the depravity described in Romans 1 will only become more real.

A good overview is an article in World Magazine entitled The Dissolution of Gender by Kiley Crosland.  It’s a short but concise read on where we are (or aren’t) on this topic. The headnote: “Gender ideology seeped into law, education, medicine and the military in 2017.”

In July 2017, Planned Parenthood released new guidance recommending that parents teach their preschoolers that “your genitals don’t make you a boy or a girl.” Note this is aimed at preschoolers.  When I mentioned this to one parent, their reaction was “That’s insane!”

One good sign: in Fayetteville, NC, parents turned back an effort to bring the Planned Parenthood curriculum into the school system.  It is happening in your school system, often without fanfare or publicity.

But the battle goes on, often being unseen by parents and the church. According to the Wall Street Journal, Common Core, a curriculum introduced in 2002 in the “No Child Left Behind” movement, has a game in its sex education curriculum called “Identity Bingo”.  I bet that comes as a surprise to many.

What is at stake here is the next generation has been  described by some commentators as embracing sexual fluidity. In a remarkable post, James Emery White talks about The Rise of the Digisexual. For those of you who, like me, don’t recognize the word “digisexual”, it refers to “a primary sexual identity coming through the use of technology.

James White cites a UK study that revealed that nearly half of young people do not think themselves as exclusively heterosexual. Why is this? Well, White notes that the “greatest value for this Generation (Gen Z) is nothing less than individual freedom.”  It’s their Achilles heel.

White goes on to provide a dictionary of twelve new terms describing these new fluid sexual types.  It is an eye-opener. For example, the term “Skoliosexual” refers to a person “primarily attracted to genderqueer, transgender, transsexual or non-binary people.”

We need clear articulation of what is at stake, and it needs to come from the Christian community, among other places. This is no time to sit on our hands wondering if this will go away.

I use these illustrations of what is happening in many venues to show how widespread the issue has become.  It’s encouraged by our media, institutions, including liberal churches.  It’s a 24/7 attack on all fronts. The battle for gender identity has crept into our world under the cloak of discrimination and intolerance which blunts all opposition.

However, there is a big difference to combatting discrimination and advocating something for our children that is known to be harmful. If the topic advanced was encouraging smoking cigarettes, everyone would be up in arms because they know the that cigarettes cause cancer.

Here, the “science” is known, but the oppressors ignore it and attack those who would oppose them as haters or use some other epithet.

So, here are some things to consider:

  • The Evangelical world need to be vigilant and take the offensive, rather than be on defense. As Ephesians 6 says, we need to “stand our ground”.
  • The Church also needs to realize that Generation Z is likely already tainted by this onslaught. Those in Gen Z’s view of church may be framed by what the church teaches on gender (See my post on Spirituality).
  • As parents, monitor your schools’ curriculum for its sex-education content. If you don’t know, then ask. They will not ask your permission to put in Planned Parenthood or similarly slanted curriculums.
  • Ask your pastor to study this issue and speak out. Silence in the German church over Nazi propaganda had disastrous consequences for Jews. You can pass your Pastor a copy of these two posts as a starting place.

The challenge is to be sure that the next generation gets the whole story, not a story that is one-sided. Too often the Christian voice is being crowded out in this debate, but they have 2,000 years of history on this topic. We need to forcefully make it clear that this gender issue is important, and not let it happen without resistance.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Don’t be afraid to discuss this topic with your mentee. There’s nothing like sunlight to an issue to make it clear of the facts on gender selection. It has been shown to be harmful by study after study. As Andrew Comiskey notes, “Satan hates reality.”

FURTHER STUDY:  2016 Article by American College of Pediatricians denouncing policies advocating gender fluidity:  http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2016/march/american-college-of-pediatricians-say-gender-ideology-is-child-abuse

The Delaware law proposal to let children make gender/race choices without parents’ knowledge”.https://townhall.com/tipsheet/chrisreeves/2018/02/21/insanity-delaware-pushing-to-let-students-change-race-gender-without-parents-n2452342

The story behind Call Me By Your Name, an Oscar winner for best screenplay: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Call_Me_by_Your_Name_(film)

Changing gender references to God by Episcopal Diocese: https://aleteia.org/blogs/deacon-greg-kandra/episcopal-diocese-votes-to-avoid-gendered-references-to-god/

Stamford, Connecticut’s move to eliminate gender pronouns: http://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/368340-connecticut-city-votes-to-remove-gender-pronouns-from-rules-of-order

Andrew Comiskey writing a post entitled “Why Gender Matters 3 – What Children Need” which provides the quote from the Pediatricians: http://andrewcomiskey.com/gender-matters-3-children-need/

Another post by Andrew Comiskey on Why Gender Matters 4: http://andrewcomiskey.com/why-gender-matters-4-gender-vandals/

James Emery White’s blog from Church and Culture on “The Rise of the Digisexual” which includes the new nomenclature: http://www.churchandculture.org/blog.asp?id=12035

2014 study showing benefits of normal biological parents on the outcomes of children, including the effects of divorce https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4240051/

The review of Common Core’s curriculum in the Wall Street Journal including the game “Identity Bingo”: Read full article →

WORSHIP:  Listen to “”I’m Going Free (Jailbreak) by Vertical Church Band which reminds us that we can break any chains that bind us: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2ZMjmZMo1o&list=RDJ2ZMjmZMo1o

COMMENT:  I would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page or emailing me at otterpater@nc.rr.comSUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner of the site (www.mentorlink.wordpress.com)  and entering your email address.

 

 

Gender – Part 1

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The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4

If you asked me whether we would be talking about gender several years ago, I would have said “no way!”. No reason to discuss it. It’s settled. Boys are boys and girls are girls from birth. This issue is now front and center, and it is a war for the hearts and minds of the next generation. Make no mistake about that.

By the way, the phrase “god of this age” in the 2 Corinthian4:4 passage actually refers to Satan. This passage goes a long way to explaining what we are experiencing today which more and more looks like the culture Paul described in Romans 1.

Why is this important? – particularly to parents and mentors. Because the media and LGBT onslaught on gender fluidity is, for all intents and purposes, no more than propaganda. Propaganda is telling partial truths or facts, but not the entire facts, and the ones omitted would change the perspective.

I am reminded of the experience of Dietrich Bonhoeffer who observed that the attitude of the German people towards Jews was quickly swayed by Nazi propaganda prior to World War II. In a short time, people went from considering Jews as immigrants to believing that they were enemies of the state deserving eradication. The German church stood by, silently.

I’m raising this cultural issue because of what happened to public attitudes on same sex marriage in the U.S. In ten years, public attitudes changed to overturn over 2,000 years of cultural convention. The gender issue is not going away, and the LGBTQ activists are already plotting how to advance this issue into the school system.

This will be the new battleground, brought on by the next generation whose values are often peer generated and formed by a complicit media. It’s not a comfortable topic to talk about or discuss, much like my post on #MeToo. In fact, I would ask if any of my readers have heard anyone talk about this in their church. I doubt it.

If you relied on the media and the liberal social agenda, you might come to the conclusion that gender is a choice. Well it’s not, and all choices have consequences. What is not heard is the voice of several millennia of cultural conventions that have worked perfectly well.

It started in bathrooms in Charlotte, NC, where the City passed an ordinance saying that boys’ bathrooms were for boys, and girls’ bathrooms were for girls. The outcry from the social liberals was deafening. Corporations jumped into the fray (inappropriately, in my opinion) and several large sports events were moved in protest to the law, costing the City millions in tourism revenue.

Why the outcry? Well, now we have “issues” about gender selection, although as best I can tell from my biology course and the doctors in my family, there is only male and female. Methinks that’s the way it is in the Bible too.

As for Gender “selection”, the LGBT movement doesn’t bother to tell you what our Pediatricians themselves said: ‘We urge healthcare professionals, educators, and legislators to reject all policies that condition children to accept as normal a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex. Facts-not ideology-determine reality.” American College of Pediatricians, May 2017.

Some states and colleges are moving to eliminate gender-based language from the English language, such as eliminating “he” and “she” and replacing it with a gender neutral ones or other titles. Stamford, Connecticut recently passed an ordinance in January 2018, which eliminated gender pronouns.

All of this is an attempt to increase the numbers of LGBT people, but there is more to the story.

My friend, Paula Rinehart, wrote a wonderful post entitled Virtue and Muir Skate; The Magic of Gender. In it, she said “The most contentious conversation in our culture now is about gender.”

She is a Christian author and counsellor and was marveling at the beauty of watching two Olympic skaters perform.

Her takeaway: “Our biological self is a bedrock reality. It’s truth we spend a lifetime growing into. Our gender is a corner of creation where the Living God has shared with us a piece of his glory.” I recommend you read her post – it is remarkable for its clarity on this issue.

Here’s what the media and the LGBT lobby is not telling you. The statistics of gender switching are grim: 41% attempt suicide and clinical depression affects even more. One survey published by the U.S. National Institute of Health from the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine said that “the suicide rate among transgender persons ranges from 31% to 50% across all countries”.

The challenge here is to understand what is happening in our post-Christian culture that preys upon the young. They are not often getting good guidance from anyone, least of all from their peers and social media. Parents and mentors need to step into the gap. According to counselors I know, many children wonder if they should be something else. They need to know that changing their gender will not solve the problem, and in fact, may lead to worse outcomes.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY: Gender dysphoria is affecting the next generation outside of their parents’ consent or knowledge. It’s either from social media or the educational system. Make sure your mentee knows that the soft language of “inclusiveness” hides the bitter truth that gender fluidity often leads to misery and untold consequences.

FURTHER STUDY:
52 actors who got LGBT nominations in the Oscars:
https://www.advocate.com/film/2018/2/27/52-straight-people-who-nabbed-oscar-noms-lgbt-roles

Paula Rinehart’s Post on Gender: http://www.paularinehart.com/blog/2018/2/26/virtue-and-muir-skate-the-magic-of-gender-eht9n
Suicide statistics for LGBT Youth: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/preventing-suicide/facts-about-suicide/#sm.00001gzfv0ajvscvkxylhu0mys1o5

The survey from Indian Journal Psychological Medicine on suicide around the world for transgender persons : https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5178031/

WORSHIP: I can’t think of a better song that “Good, Good Father” which reminds us that we have a Father who loves us: Chris Tomlin – Good Good Father (Audio) – YouTube

COMMENT: I would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page, or emailing me at otterpater@nc.rr.com.
SUBSCRIBE: You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner of the site (www.mentorlink.wordpress.com) and entering your email address.