Archive for the ‘Iron Sharpening Iron’ Category

When Social Media, Politics and Morality Collide–What Do You Say?

June 14, 2011

To use a phrase a friend of mine used all the time in high school (and apologies to cat-lovers), “you can’t swing a dead cat without” hearing about the latest development in the Anthony Weiner Twitter scandal.

“I told you that social media stuff is the bane of our society”

“There isn’t a good politician out there–they are all corrupt”

You may not have heard these exact phrases but there are sentiments of each of them in every news story, blog post or twitter message being sent about this story.  On the DadPad, we typically discuss issues related to being a dad so why address THIS issue.  As I sat and thought about what’s happening and since I’m a social media consultant, there are a number of angles to write and comment about when it comes to these kind of stories.  But what do I do with them as a father?  Seems to me that these are GREAT places to engage in discussions about a lot of things with our kids, using age appropriate terms and detail.

So, is the real evil the social media tool?  Is Twitter to blame?  Church leadership has “banned” Facebook use for some of its leaders to remove the temptation for flirtation or more explicitly deviant uses.  I applaud men with weakness to “run” from the temptation in their lives, no matter the form or vehicle of delivery.  But, is the answer simply to blame the tool and pretend it doesn’t exist without regard to the user?  Here’s the truth..social media is here to stay.  We better learn how to use it for good and not just ignore it like it didn’t exist.

And, we certainly have heard about politicians who’ve abused their status and power for sex, money and position.  So, do we simply blame Anthony Weiner for being a politician as if had he been a plumber or accountant, this wouldn’t have happened?  The issue is much less about his role as a politician than that he is a human being.  This doesn’t excuse his behavior but, instead, lays the problem squarely on his shoulders as someone who made a very poor decision, or series of them.  Isn’t that usually the case with these situations?   The media and public sentiment can do all they can to find out the ramifications of being a politician and the temptations that they or athletes or actors face because of their position, but in the end, it’s all about poor judgement…poor choices.

The truth is that the heart of the problem always lies in one place…the heart of the man (or woman).  This is a great chance to discuss issues of morality with your kids.  We live in a culture that is constantly trying to place blame everywhere but where it belongs…with the person who committed the act of indecency, immorality or illegality.  Certainly access to tools that allow us as sinful men and women to more easily carry out inward thoughts and turn them into external actions have played a part in more widespread distasteful acts by humans at large.  But are the tools to BLAME?  Without going into a longer post about this, I can, with confidence state, “No”.  The problem isn’t the tool.  It’s the tool holder.  If I put a hole in the wrong wall with a hammer, is the hammer to blame?  Maybe I should have held the architectural drawings right-side up.  This is all good fodder for a discussion with your children–especially a generation that is growing up native to the use of texting, Twitter, Facebook and other forms of online networking.  And, they are growing continually wary of politicians, musicians, actors and athletes who abuse their position for personal gain, as if they were above the law.  But, is it their position that is to BLAME?  Again, I don’t think so.  Because of their notoriety, they are more subject to commit these acts than you or I might be.  Yet, if we simply place the blame on their fame, we completely miss the mark.

Ultimately, the discussion needs to rest on the truth that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Only God provides the ability for us to uphold an objective measure of morality.  We can place blame on tools, roles and circumstances, but ultimately decisions to act upon fleshly urges rests within the heart and soul of each one that has the urge…do I act on it or subject my thoughts and feelings to One who can help me overcome them and make wise decisions.

Don’t avoid the news, online technology or pursuit of careers because they are subject to being misused or abused.  Rather, lead discussions in your family about what taking personal ownership of decisions looks like.  Bring up why these kind of stories are thought of as   “newsworthy” (though we could discuss the over reporting of sensational stories for ratings, we won’t here :).  When you hear or see life happening around you and someone chooses poorly, don’t ignore or shut off immediately…engage and use them to point to right choices and right responses so that your children learn that they can live in the world but don’t have to succumb to its temptations.

How do you handle these stories in your home?

DadPad Quotes and Notes: Don’t be an April Fool-Part 2

April 6, 2010

Proverbs 13:20 Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

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There are two dangerous things for men.  First, being alone.  Second, hanging out with those who’d be better off being alone.  There’s another verse that says, “bad company corrupts good morals.”  In some way, men face a real dilemma (at least this man has and has spoken to many others who have as well).  The dilemma?  We are afraid we’ll be found out.  We feel that if people (our wife, our boss, our kids, our friends) found out who we really were, we would be abandoned, fired, ridiculed, shunned or cast aside as useless, like an old shirt that no longer fits.  This theme has come up time and time again in discussions with other men in over 20 years of working in men’s (and family) ministry (as a layman and now full time on staff with FamilyLife).

There are no easy answers to this dilemma for men.  And, I’m not going to turn this into an analysis of the male psyche.  But, I do think that the verse above from Proverbs holds a key element in beginning to approach this problem for men.  When men feel threatened or inheritantly anxious about their roles and abilities, there is a trigger reaction to push people to the periphery of their lives.  I mean, if we let someone in too deep, they’ll discover what I’m really like and either render me as hapless or, worse, evil.

I’ve had more than my share of screw ups, moments of giving in to weakness, things done that I’m not proud of and thoughts that I can’t even share now.  Additionally, being a follower of Christ, often makes those inadequacies feel even weightier.  That is not the biblical truth but something that Christian men have wrestled with for centuries.

So, how have I experienced some victory in this area?  I’ve practiced what the verse says— I’ve spent time with others who understand these issues about themselves but who live according the truth as given to them by God through His Word.  I’ve learned to expose the truth to others about things I’ve done, ways I’ve messed up, and asked for advice from “wise guys”.  Whenever I found myself in seclusion or in the company of others who simply nodded or affirmed my destructive thoughts or behavior, I was trapped.  That’s why the verse “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” has been so life transforming for me.

Our male “dilemma” is no more visible than in the area of fathering.  I don’t know about you but I didn’t see the manual come out with the child.  I have felt that I’m completely and woefully inadequate to be a dad.  Yet, if I respond to this feeling the same way I have in other areas of my life, I would simply find ways to work longer, travel more, rely on my wife to take care of the parenting duties.  You see, I’m pretty good at covering up my weaknesses by assigning them to someone else or ignoring them.  But, when I started sharing the responsibility of being a dad with other dads who felt strangely similar in their sense of inadequacy, it didn’t feel so burdensome.  As we began to encourage each other in our roles, listen to each other as we shared struggles and missed opportunities, we all began to sense that this was something we could do, with God’s and each others’ help.

My encouragement for you as a man and as a dad is to find a man in your church, at your work, in your neighborhood or family who you admire.  Someone who seems to have a peace about his life and would admit in a minute that he’s not done it all well but he has done it–this thing called manhood.  First, you’ll likely discover he didn’t do it alone and that he surrounded himself with other men who could encourage, admonish and lift him up.  Then, you’ll find out that he was (and probably still is) just as anxious about failing in all aspects of being a man as you are.

Don’t be an April fool.  No matter how much you’ve succeeded in some of your roles as a man, open yourself up to another man or group of men that can sharpen each other to be the men of God you were created to be.  No one can do this alone.

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DadPad Quotes and Notes: Don’t be an April Fool-Part 1

April 1, 2010

Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

It’s April Fool’s day.  I’ve never been one that has taken to practical jokes, even on April Fool’s day.  I have heard of some great jokes and others that are just plain mean.  But, I want to talk about another kind of April Fool for the next three days leading up to Easter.

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If you’ve spent anytime reading this blog there are two things we hope you have been able to see.  First, we are not perfect dads and don’t profess to be so.  Second, we do profess faith in the One True Father and that is the underlying power for everyone who’s submitted an entry for this blog.  We often talk about being a father without overtly discussing elements of our Christian faith.  Yet, you’d be hard pressed (hopefully) to find anything that we have shared from our earthly experience as dads that we haven’t tried to base in our faith.

Given that premise, it’s our desire to share some things that more directly tie into our underlying faith as we lead  up to the most significant day in the New Testament church–Easter.

The verse in Proverbs at the beginning of this post says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”  This is not only biblical but practical as well.  Yet, it seems to me that it is one of the hardest things for us to do as men.  Get advice.  Only when we reach the end of the rope will we let down our veneer and others inside our pain, our failings, our life.  This happens to too many men.  Is it true of you?

Throughout my life, I’ve been on both sides of this fence.  I’m the guy that doesn’t want to ask for directions.  I know it’s stereotypical, but it’s true for me.  GPS has been a God send :).  Yet, as I’ve walked through the years and experienced pain (much of it self inflicted), I’ve been thankful that there are a handful of men I can reach out to and know that they will be there for me.  I’m not just looking for advice.  I’m looking for wisdom from other men who care about me and who are grounded in their faith.  It doesn’t mean they walk perfectly but they first love God and they’ve shown an intentional love for others.

Dads, it’s our desire that this blog is a place where you can hear from other ordinary dads/men who walk with an extraordinary God.  We’ve made mistakes (some of which have been the fodder for DadPad blog posts and soon to be posts) and have experienced some success as men and dads.  All of us would say that we’ve had others from whom we could seek advice.  How about you?  Are you an April Fool and only looking to yourself for advice or do you seek the wise counsel of others?  To be the dads we need to be for our family, we hope it’s the latter for all of us.

Thought:  What successes have you had in being advised by another wise man?  What are the challenges of opening up to another?  What are the consequences if you don’t?

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