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.

Shame

shame

Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. Genesis 2:25

 In light of my posts about our post-Christian culture, I thought it important to unpack an attribute of most millennials as well as Gen Z.  It will provide insights into the millennial mind and how they come to their opinions and values.

I have had the good fortune of meeting with two men for close to 25 years. One of them, Ralph Ennis, is what I have described to others as a Christian rocket scientist. Among other things, he studies cultures and cultural trends.  Having listened to him for years, many of the things that he has observed of the next generation are starting to make sense.

One of Ralph’s observations of the next generation is that they are “Asian” in their outlook and world view. What does that mean? Well, understanding this concept may aid mentors and parents in how their mind thinks.  It also has important implications to the Church and our culture in how we guide them through our Romans 1 cultural universe.

As background and for context, that portion of the Western world that went through the Reformation developed a value system that held truth and the rule of law as top values. The rest of the world – including the former Soviet Union, the Middle East and Asian cultures – do not share these values.

Instead, when Ralph describes someone having an Asian outlook, he means that the highest cultural values is shame.  In Japan and Asia, it is called loss of face. Truth will take a back seat if a decision has to be made which will cause someone to be shamed. I saw this firsthand in representing many Japanese clients in my legal career.

I observed decisions by Japanese clients that did not make sense. Instead of correcting a mistake, they deferred doing anything to correct it.  To confront the truth that a bad decision had been made would have caused the person who made the decision to lose face. Shame can be a strong deterrent, but it is a weak substitute for the guard rails of right and wrong.

Joseph Stalin said: “Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.” For decades, the soviet people were controlled by their education in a Godless culture. The state was their god.  By the middle 1980’s, the leaders realized that something was missing – their people had not learned morality and ethics.

Trying to correct this educational void, they seized upon teaching Christianity in their school system as a way of teaching morals and ethics. The Soviet Ministry of Education reached out to the United States, and Co-Mission was created. It was a 5-year project sponsored by 80 different Christian ministries, churches and parachurches. They trained over 1,500 volunteers who went into the former Soviet Union to teach Christianity in the schools.

Think about that for a second. We look like Russia in many ways today. We have taken Christianity out of the public-school systems over the past 50 years. No wonder our next generation doesn’t understand right from wrong.  They are no better than Adam and Eve who didn’t think being naked was wrong, so they felt no shame.

The Soviets realized it was a mistake in their their education. We, in the United States, haven’t seen it that way…….yet.

In a post-Christian world, where right and wrong has been lost, the Asian outlook will explain the “how and why” of the next generation.

Since they don’t see things as black and white (i.e. right or wrong), they intuit their values by what appears to be good, and they will absorb what their peers are thinking, largely on social media. You can call that “group-think”. Unfortunately, their peers are equally as clueless as they are.

The implication of this on the Church is interesting. We have been brought up for the past 50 years on a guilt-based Gospel.  We are told that Jesus will save us from our sins. But if your worldview is non-Christian, that model won’t work so well anymore. The next generation often does not see some deviant behavior as a sin.

Ergo, they don’t see the need to be saved from something they don’t view as wrong. As the passage says, they feel no shame just as Adam and Eve didn’t feel shame in the garden of Eden. The four spiritual laws may no longer be an effective tool in the Evangelical toolbox.

One result of this Asian outlook is the fairly rapid retreat from the Christian value of marriage as being between a man and a woman. The next generation, having no biblical moorings, used observable data points which involved seeing gay couples who appeared to not be all that bad.

Hence, we now have same-sex marriages made legal thanks to the Obergefell decision in the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015. The millennials didn’t view the issue from biblical perspective and so their decision tree was largely based on the fact that homosexuality didn’t seem harmful and therefore was OK.

The Obergefell case was a shock to much of the Evangelical community because, just 10 years before, public opinion was strongly in favor of the traditional marriage between a man and a woman. A cultural convention that has existed for over 2,000 years was erased in just 10 years.  I can only imagine what will changes we may see going forward.

Why is this important?  Well it aids one in understanding how the next generation views the world.  The lines between right and wrong have gotten blurred, and instead, their attitudes toward culture is often determined by observation and their peers (who, by the way, are equally clueless).  That’s a very slippery slope.

The implications of this are still being played out. Generation Z (those under 20), for example, are turned off by Christian attitudes towards the LGBT world. They see it as judgmental. This attitude will shape how the church embraces this generation in the future.

This Asian outlook is troubling particularly in the #MeToo environment. The next generation has absorbed a belief that sex outside of marriage is fine since no one seems to be harmed, and that it is OK to be a predator as a male because that is expected male behavior.

Neuroscientists tell us that the brain of an adolescent is not fully formed until they are in their early 20’s. Combining the Asian value outlook with the constant intake of violent and often graphically sexual media is a very troubling recipe.

It also helps explain how you have young people who have a proclivity to violent behavior. They are watching videos and media that is so graphic and violent that their sense of the value of human life and dignity is lost. They haven no filter in this arena.

Ralph Ennis told me something several years ago that stuck. He said that what you see in the media and on TV today will become the norm in our culture within 10 years.  One only has to look at what movies are like and TV shows to see how this has worked.  In the recent Oscars, 22 films that celebrated LGBT causes received awards. I rest my case.

Over the past several decades, parents have abandoned their role in teaching their children values and morality. They have abdicated that responsibility and instead relied on the schools to do the job. It’s a bad choice for many reasons.

It’s no surprise that home-schooled children continue to have more bedrock Christian values instilled in them. Their parents are not taking the chance for a school to do the job for them. Good for them, but unfortunately, they are a small population compared to all in the next generation.

Our challenge is to meet and interact with the next generation who are not moored to Biblical values.  It’s our job as mentors to help their world view. To the extent that they lack biblical knowledge, it’s important to encourage them to at least get in the habit of doing a daily devotional.

For other mentees, it may necessitate reading a book and digesting it together. That means “homework”. In the context of mentoring, it may be necessary to overcome their Asian outlook.  A mentor’s role is to take the mentee to the next level in all aspects of their life.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Do not shy away from challenging your mentee in the area of biblical discipleship. That may mean taking the initiative to make a bible study part of your sessions. It may be the best thing you can do for them.

FURTHER STUDY: A book has been written by Joseph M. Stowell about the amazing Co-Mission experience entitled “The CoMission: The Amazing Story of 80 Mission Groups Working Together to Take the Message of Christ’s Love to the Russian People.” It is available from Amazon.

WORSHIP:  Listen to the “Come to the Table” which reminds us that God’s grace extends to all even if you are on the outside.  https://955thefish.com/content/music/sidewalk-prophets-come-to-the-table-official-lyric-video

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.

 

 

#MeToo

MeToo

 “Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father’s flock. Some shepherds came along and drove them away, but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock.” Exodus 2: 16,17

I haven’t regularly addressed cultural issues that arise from to time. This one has caught my attention, both as to what is right with it and what is missing. In preparing for this post, I read dozens of posts, mostly from women victims.  I felt led to write a post giving a male perspective to this issue. It’s a voice that is needed.

For context to those who are not aware of what #MeToo is about, it started with the disclosure of Harvey Weinstein as being a sexual predator. Weinstein, a well-known producer in Hollywood, recently had over 60 women go public to say that he sexually assaulted or raped them.

Until that publicity came, it was a dirty secret in Hollywood. Everyone looked the other way. The victims remained silent. Then, last year, an actress, Alyssa Milano, used twitter to encourage women who had been sexually assaulted or harassed to tweet #MeToo.  Within a day, it had half a million tweets.

The hashtag phrase became a rallying cry to those who had been victimized but who, for many reasons, have kept silent about it.  Until #MeToo, many women treated sexual harassment or abuse as “something unspoken, something private, something to be ashamed at acknowledging” according to Sophie Gilbert in The Atlantic.

Soon, other occupations – media, business, politics, modeling, music, academia, and yes, even in the church – have had the #MeToo spotlight put on them. The daily news is replete with accounts of yet another highly visible person who has been accused of misconduct.

I was astonished at the number of women coming forth saying “#MeToo”.  But, as I think about how we got to this point, I have to admit that the issue is not new. King David had his way with Bathsheba, and then went so far in his “cover-up” by conveniently arrangeing for the death of Bathsheba’s husband by having him sent to the front lines of the battlefield to be killed.

One thing is clear in my review of articles: women are vulnerable in a way that men aren’t. A victim of a sexual assault leaves deep wounds. Men, like me, have a hard time grasping the damage that has been caused. Those wounds last for years – sometimes decades.

I have been in touch with Rachel Denhollander, an Olympic gymnast who testified at the sentencing portion of Dr. Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse trial. She was the last of 150 women to testify, all of whom told their story of his abuse over the previous 20 years.

Her testimony was riveting. She was aused by Dr. Nassar at age 15. She is now married with three children and an articulate lawyer whose mission is to provide resources for leaders to educate them and understand the issues.

I now have a better understanding of the scope and incredible damage done to these young women.  Most have been preyed on by predators who took advantage of their age, position or power.

They have been violated but most stayed silent because of the perceived risks: “What will my family, friends, pastor, etc. say if I tell them what happened to me, and what I have been going through all this while?” That is an actual quote from someone I know.

With this enhanced understanding, I have been pondering how our culture has permitted this. The answers, I believe, are multiple. In the 1960’s, promiscuity became the norm. In the 1970’s, colleges added to the problem when they created co-ed dorms. Our public schools changed their sex-ed curriculum, often using courses sponsored by Planned Parenthood, that teach “safe sex” without any moral boundaries.

When Christianity got thrown out of public schools, we lost a means of teaching morality and respect. As a result, sex has been promoted and dumbed down to getting consent of the other party. There is no moral perspective of having sex outside of marriage or what is right or wrong.

The results are predictable. We have been teaching that aggressive sexual behavior is OK, when it is not. Getting consent may be as easy as providing the second drink. Two stories recently reinforced this.

There is the story of the fraternity at Cornell which had a competition to see who could have sex with the heaviest coed. And if that isn’t enough, two women teachers recently have said #MeToo and disclosed that they have been sexually harassed a dozen times by high school students over the past 15 years. What’s wrong with this picture?

To see how far we have gone, the 2018 Olympic Committee handed out 110,000 condoms for athletes at the Winter Olympics this year, which is 10,000 more than the last winter Olympics. And that’s not the record which was recorded in the Summer Olympics in Brazil in 2016 where 450,000 condoms were handed out.

As the president of Oklahoma Wesleyan College, Everett Piper, noted in an interview, this avalanche of sex scandals was predictable. “What we’ve been teaching [in the public schools] for the past several decades…..has mocked morality. Why are we shocked to find we live in a society that has no understanding of personal morality?”

Piper’s summary: “If you teach lechery, you produce lechers.”  What the #MeToo movement has missed is that personal morality needs to return to our culture, and we can’t expect it to come from the schools. The Church has to stand tall as do Christian men.

According to a study done by the Harvard Graduate School, 87% of women between the ages of 18 and 25 have experienced some form of sexual assault or harassment. It’s mostly a male problem, although 15% of men have had similar experiences.

Even medicine has its problems. A study in 1995 showed that 52% of women in academic medicine said they had been sexually harassed according to NBC News. Medicine has been described as a male dominated profession.

Dorothy Greco, in Relevant Magazine, says that if we want fewer #MeToo stories, men need to step up and “condemn and interrupt misogynistic behavior.”

Condemnation is not enough. What I find lacking in the #MeToo movement is that there is no public discussion of personal morality. None. While calling abusers out is a good thing, I think we need to look at the root causes and start to work on that side of the equation with men.

I have grappled with what the Christian response should be, particularly when some of this abuse has occurred in the Church.  Christian voices on this topic have been muted, which is why I am taking this on. We need clear guidance on dealing with epidemic that has been culturally swept under the rug.

We have heard from the victims, but it is time to hear from men. Men who are not abusers need to speak up against those who are. We need to become Moses who came to the rescue of the seven daughters at the Midian well in Exodus 2.

We need to teach males how to be men, something that is lacking in our world. Many males “have not been mentored into manhood or were mentored badly” according to James Emory White in his blog “Church and Culture”.  That’s a clarion call for mentors of the next generation.

The sociological breakdown of the family unit, and the disappearance of fathers in many marriages has only exacerbated the problem.  Teaching and modeling morality in the home has declined. In many cases, parents have abdicated their responsibility in this area to the schools. It’s a bad choice.

The challenge is for mentors to guide their mentees to become men. Manhood involves a developed concept of personal morality and respect for women. Mentors need to model it in their own lives.  They need to speak out against those who have been sexually abusive, even in the church, which has dropped the ball in helping victims or dealing with abuses within its walls.

Just ask Rachael Denhollander who found that poor theology “has caused churches to deal poorly with sex abuse victims”. She said that going public “cost me my church and my closest friends.”  She’s correct: forgiveness and justice are both biblical and must go hand in hand.

Our additional challenge is to be sure that our churches become better at helping abuse victims, as well as being outspoken on the topic. It is an issue that is front and center, and it needs to get some traction from our leaders.  Silence is not golden when it comes to sex abuse.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  You can help your mentees learn what manhood Is. Becoming a man is about by showing them that character, respect and personal morality matters. Be proactive in asking probing questions about their attitudes to be sure they are on the right path.

FURTHER STUDY: An article in Christianity Today on God’s message for #MeToo victims:

https://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2018/january/gods-message-to-metoo-victims-and-perpetrators.html   

Rachel Denhollander’s testimony: https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/24/us/rachael-denhollander-full-statement/index.html

Rachel Denhollander’s article in Christianity Today highlighting the price she paid for going public in her church: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/january-web-only/rachael-denhollander-larry-nassar-forgiveness-gospel.html

The distribution of condoms at the Olympics: http://time.com/5137272/condoms-at-olympics/

The story of Eva Rieder, a math and English teacher,  which contains a video of her presentation in front of the school board of her experiences with male students: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5388817/Teacher-claims-male-students-sexually-harassed-her.html

The Cornell Fraternity suspended for its competition to have sex with heavy women: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/02/cornell-fraternity-zeta-beta-tau-suspended-for-offensive-pig-roast-game.html

A Christian perspective of what needs to happen to have less #MeToo victimshttps://relevantmagazine.com/culture/if-we-want-less-metoo-stories-heres-what-has-to-happen/

Sexual abuse in medicine: https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/sexual-misconduct/harassed-hospitals-operating-rooms-women-medicine-await-their-metoo-moment-n846031

On Becoming Men by James Emory White: http://www.churchandculture.org/blog.asp?id=12210

WORSHIP:  Listen to Natalie Grant sing “Clean” which is a message of hope and how God can make us clean again. Natalie Grant – Clean (Live) – 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Background of the #MeToo movement: https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/10/the-movement-of-metoo/542979/

 

Fine

lonely

Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, Proverbs 3:13

 I was reminded of this title from my mother. She said she would ask us “How are you doing?” and we would always answer “Fine.”  That, of course, didn’t fly, and she would press for more details.

“Fine” is not very informative. In fact, probably not very honest either. Oh, sure, there were days when I was actually doing fine, but there were many days that I wasn’t.  But my instinct was not to tell the truth.  Revealing my real feelings and emotions was not cool. So, “Fine” was all she got.

In his book, Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout, Dr. Rick Rigsby discusses how tied we are to appearance rather than reality.  “Our present culture encourages effortless living since all that matters is appearing successful.

He said this in the context of having lost his wife to cancer in her early 40’s. For a while, his life was all about going through the motions – what he referred to as “making an impression”.

No one questioned his motives, and so little was expected of him. He was doing impressionistic living. He was creating an impression that he was “fine” when in fact, he was dying a slow death inside.

He goes on: “Ours is a visual world with citizens who delight in those who appear good or gifted or great.” He continues: “We find it pleasantly acceptable for morality to be replaced by materialism, principle by popularity, or character by convenience.”

“Friends, possessions and surroundings have value inasmuch as they are significant metaphors used in the construction of an image that promises temporal rewards and immediate gratification.”  Ouch.  Basically, with good-looking friends, and the “right stuff” you can build the perception of excellence and success.

Dr. Rigsby finally realized that faith without works is dead. He had to go from making an impression to making an impact. It was radical, because he had to change from going through the motions to actually living above his circumstances.

Put in other words, he had to go from saying “I’m fine”, to learning to be honest about his emotional state and get up and do something.  He couldn’t remain a viewer of life, but a doer of life. This was a wisdom planted by his parents, a wisdom that is lacking in our present society.

I recently did a post on Burnout. In it, I noted that the statistics for the next generation in two areas (depression and suicide) are alarming.  While reading Dr. Rigsby’s book, I resonated with his experience.  I had experienced many red flags along the way to hitting the wall when I burned out, and I ignored all of them.

I was not honest with myself, nor with those around me. To the world, I appeared to be doing “fine”.  On the inside, I was an empty suit, going through the motions to keep up the impression that I could tough out my stressful life without anyone’s help. Until I couldn’t.

I won’t repeat my story (see my post on Burnout for the details), but I will say that my experience with burnout and depression was very real to the point of incapacity.

The culture of the next generation is ripe for depression, burnout, and sadly, suicide. While social media permits them to connect with “digital friends”, they are often really friendless with others and have nowhere to turn when times get tough.  No one stops them when they say “fine” and pushes the conversation to find out how are they really doing.

Which leads me back to Dr. Rigsby. By the way, there is a short video of a graduation speech by Dr. Rigsby that got me interested in getting his book. It is funny, poignant and inspirational, and I have added the link below. It is worth watching.

In his book, Dr. Rigsby talks about what helped him out of his despair from losing his wife. It was simple – it was the wisdom of his father. He then goes on to say: “The lack of wisdom in our present society poses a critical threat to the quality of our lives.”  Couldn’t have said it better myself.  What is lacking, he notes, is that the older generation’s wisdom is not being carried forward.

In more contemporary terms, the older generation is not paying it forward to the next generation. The older generation is a generation of “doers” and the next generation is a generation of “viewers”.  But you can only get so much from the digital world.

Learning from the wisdom of an earlier generation “may well be the societal glue that reconnects our society with the traits and values of an era that practiced common sense values as a lifestyle.”

The fact is that the next generation (millennials and Gen Z) are looking for mentors and not finding them.  It means that, at a base level, they are aware that they are missing wisdom from someone older.  That’s a siren call for mentors.

An interesting article in Psychology Today by Sean Grover discusses the negative thoughts in teenagers’ heads, and how they would want you to react.  One of Grover’s suggestions is that teenagers want someone to talk to.

 I need someone to look up to who isn’t you [their parents]. I need an adult to admire, someone I want to be like. A person who believes in me, pushes me, and understands me. A mentor, a counselor, a therapist…anyone who can give me hope when I have too little for myself.

My first challenge is to the mentor aged generation.  You are needed on the front lines to connect with a generation seeking people of character in their lives. You can make an impact on somebody’s life.  You can push them and give them hope when they don’t have it inside. But you can’t do it from a distance – you have to reach out and engage them. It’s that simple. They are waiting for your initiative.

My challenge to the next generation: seek out a mentor. Be bold and assertive. The older generation has wisdom to impart, but many don’t know that they need to pay it forward to the next generation. One of the excuses given by the mentor aged population for not mentoring is that no one had ever asked them to be a mentor. You can change that. Find someone who will press you to be honest as to how you are really doing. Nuff said.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Be on the lookout for members of the next generation who are seeking a mentor and encourage others of your era to invest in their lives. When meeting with your mentee, dig below the surface to see how they are really doing and don’t take “fine” as a good answer. Be prepared to ask hard questions.

FURTHER STUDY:  Dr. Rigsby’s book, Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout (2006), is available at Amazon.

A video of Dr. Rigsby’s graduation speech can be found at: Rick Rigsby – Make An Impact – YouTube

The article in Psychology Today about teenagers facing depression: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/when-kids-call-the-shots/201801/the-negative-voices-in-your-teenager-s-head

WORSHIP:  Listen to Michael W. Smith sing “Open the Eyes of My Heart.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idQ1n3cdgfo

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.