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.

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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

lion-1477963

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.