Influencing Boys Toward Greatness | Purity

Nothing can derail a man from the path to greatness like sexual sin.  For parents and youth workers, there is no more important topic than purity.  And yet, when it comes to helping boys navigate the sexual pitfalls of our culture, I’d give us a collective “D+“.  I know that’s a little harsh but hear me out on this one.  I think we’re dropping the ball in a few key areas.


Most boys are surprised by their first encounter with pornography.  It’s like a sneak attack that they never saw coming and are ill equipped to handle.  We have to come to terms with the fact that, statistically speaking, boys are encountering pornography between the ages of 7-9.  If our boys encounter pornography without being warned about it, we have dropped the ball.

As parents, we must equip our boys for this first encounter.  They must know what to do and say when they are invited to see an image or video that could change the trajectory of their entire lives.  Boys don’t need to know everything about sex but they do need to know that pornography will hurt them.  I would recommend making two things very clear:

  1. If someone tries to show you a picture or video of people without their clothes on please don’t look or watch.  This is not good for you.  Please tell me if something like this happens
  2. No matter what mistakes you make in life I will love you and help you.  You can tell me anything.

To put it simply, as a parent you want to be the one who surprises your son with a conversation about pornography, not Billy down the street.  As youth workers, we can help in this area by equipping parents for these conversations and also by keeping parents informed of when we plan to talk about sexuality and pornography.


This will probably sound counter-intuitive, but most parents and youth workers make the mistake of overprotecting boys.  Before you hit that big red “X” at the top of your browser, hear me out.  I believe that internet filters are a great idea when you have boys in elementary and middle school but not helpful when they are in high school.

Part of our role as parents and youth workers is to prepare boys for adulthood.  When boys are out of the house they will make their own decisions about how to use the internet.  As a parent, I would much prefer to catch my son viewing porn through the use of accountability software and have a conversation with him than attempt to block every possible pornographic site.  Also, no internet filter is fail proof and most boys are viewing porn on mobile devices anyway.  Either way, after he graduates, you and the Internet filter won’t be there to protect him.

Parents also fall into the trap of completely disengaging.  Pornography will destroy your son.  Even though he may be bigger than you are mostly independent, he still needs you to help him navigate the issue of pornography.

As parents and youth workers, we must find the balance.  Don’t overprotect and don’t disengage.  Walk with him through the struggle.  It will be messy.  He will make mistakes.  You must wade in.  When necessary enforce consequences.  You must encourage and equip.  In short, you must be a parent and be a mentor.

If you found this post helpful, be sure to check out the previous posts of this series on respect and character.

Influencing Boys Toward Greatness | Character

This week, my blog is focused on raising great boys.  Yesterday was all about building self-respect and today I want to focus on building character.  Let’s be real, there aren’t many men of character out there.  So, how do we raise boys with a strong inner compass?  I’m glad you asked.


First, character cannot be taught.  There is not a video series or book that will impart character.  Character must be caught.  It can only be modeled.  So, very simply, if you want your boys to develop strong character, you must develop strong character yourself.  Your son will catch your ethics like a virus.  The boys in your small group will follow your example.  How you handle money, conflict, and anger will very likely be how he handles money, conflict and anger.

Step one in developing character in boys is to develop character in you.  My advice, become a student of Jesus.  Never has the world encountered a man of character quite like Him.


Sadly, in our culture, many men are either overgrown boys whose closest experience with manhood is Call of Duty, or insecure men whose only tools of influence and leadership are intimidation and coercion.  Because of this, boys don’t have many good role models.  Every one of us wants to become a quality man but few of us have any idea how to get there.  The road map has become exceedingly rare.

Men who genuinely put others first and possess the self-confidence to be who God designed them to be are hard to find.  When you come across one, connect your son with him.  Invite that man over for dinner or ask him if he would be willing to meet with your son a few times.  It may sound like I’m being a little awkward but boys need proximity with quality men to understand that there are alternatives to what they see on TV.  Quality men can help your son realize the potential of who he could become.


All of creation naturally slides toward chaos and brokenness.  As part of creation, boys are no different.  They need us to create and maintain boundaries so that they can learn character—so that they can learn the path to life.  We must come to terms with the fact that boys will not develop good character on their own.  His sinful nature will always push him toward what will harm him and others.

One of the keys to maintaining boundaries with boys is adjusting your approach as they grow older.  At first, you decide what the boundaries are and enforce them.  Most parents do pretty well when their boys are young and then practically lose their minds when their cute little boys morph into teenagers.  This happens not because teenagers are the devil but rather because they are different than little children.

A good example for boys is video games.  When he is young you (hopefully) keep his screen time very low.  As he grows older he will probably try to negotiate the boundaries.  Pull him into the conversation, talk to him about why you want to limit screen time.  Let him increase it as long as his grades stay where they ought to be and his social behavior remains acceptable.  Make him see that he will be responsible for his own decisions.

As parents, we must adapt our approach as our boys grow older.  They need to own the boundaries as much as we do.  We need to include them in on the process of creating and enforcing boundaries.  Help him understand why the boundary is important and bring him into the conversation of what’s to be done when he crosses the line.


One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard is that people don’t change until the pain of where they are is greater than the pain of changing.  Some of my greatest character lessons have come from mistakes.   These lessons hurt but I learned and matured.  They were necessary for the development of my character.  Looking back I wish I could have learned in a less painful way but I am grateful for lessons learned through pain and disgrace.

In my opinion, one of the worst things parents and youth workers can do for boys is bail them out of trouble every time they get into it.  Letting him face the natural consequences of bad decisions is great parenting.  It’s painful to watch him suffer but don’t give into the temptation to rescue him.  In doing so, you will nullify one of God’s clearest principles—you reap what you sow.




Influencing Boys Towards Greatness

There aren’t a whole lot of quality men out there.  When I think about the kind of man I want my daughters to marry, I don’t see many of them.  Men of character are an endangered species.

With all that said, I want to raise great sons and I want the boys in my student ministry to become great men.   I want them to become strong men of faith who know who they are and what their purpose is in life.  I want them to become faithful and loving husbands and fathers.  In a culture that is currently producing so many low quality men, how do we do this?  How exactly do you raise and mentor boys like that?  I have a few thoughts…


A quality man must have a strong sense of self-respect.  Why?  Because every man’s deepest longing is for respect—for the people around him to be proud of him.  If he doesn’t possess an understanding of himself that leads him to believe that he is respectable and worth being proud of, he will struggle through life.  So, as parents, youth workers or even friends, how do we build the self-respect of boys and young men?

1.  Does He Understand Where His Value Comes From?

Men naturally believe that their value flows from what they can do.  We were created to work—to build, create, fix and accomplish but because of sin we have developed an unhealthy assumption that what we do wholly determines our worth.

Boys need to understand that their value comes from the fact that God loves them not from what they can do.  We must repeatedly and carefully reinforce this truth.

2.  Does He Know that you are Proud of Him?  

The central need of a man is for respect.  In order to develop healthy future relationships, boys must develop a strong sense of self-respect.  As a parent you will deeply influence this process by the way that you talk to your son.  Does he know that you are proud of him?  Does he hear it on a regular basis?

Based on the way you talk about the boys under your influence, they will develop the belief that they either can or can’t in the world.  Boys who are not praised regularly or who are criticized relentlessly will have an incredibly hard time developing strong relationships as they grow older.

Life is hard and will at times leave a boy reeling.  Gift the boys in your life with an irreversible belief that he IS respectable.

3.  Does He Know What it means to be Respectable?

So, what exactly does it mean to be respectable?  Our culture is severely confused about this.  Popular TV, music and video games teach that respect comes from power and intimidation.  Because of this, guys spend an inordinate amount of time building muscles, athletic expertise and overall toughness.   No one is talking about honor, wisdom, moral strength or work ethic.

True respectability comes from humble strength.  It comes from living rightly and serving the people around us—not dominating them.  A respectable man draws the best out of people by empowering them.  This is especially true in a good marriage.

We must show our boys what real respectability is all about.  As a father, how do you treat the women in your life?  Are you empowering them through humble service?  As a mother, how do you talk about your husband or other men in your life?

How you handle conflict will also teach boys about respectability.  Do you demand what you want through intimidation and guilt?  If so, this is what he will learn.  How you conduct yourselves during conflict will teach him how people ought to be treated when it really matters.


The foundation of a man’s identity is his sense of self-respect.  You can help the boys in your life develop healthy self-respect by showing them why they are valuable, that you are proud of them, and what respectability is all about.

I’ll continue this topic tomorrow by sharing some ideas on how to build character in boys.



Why Camp LifeLine Rules

Tomorrow is almost better than Christmas.  Tomorrow our student ministry leaves for camp.  Without a doubt this is one of my favorite weeks of the year.  I am incredibly proud of our camp both in terms of our program and for how astronomically well our volunteers and students lead and serve.

When it comes to camp our team is boss and yet, we keep it very simple.  We’re only aiming to do three things.  But, we’re planning to knock these three things out of the park.  Here they are.


We unapologetically attempt to blow the roof off when it comes to fun.  There will be entertaining videos.  There will be dance parties.  There will be ridiculously creative games.

We have been working for months on some of the best videos we’ve ever created.  Our camp storyline is epic.  That’s really all I can say because it’s all top secret.

Here’s the thing, I happen to believe that fun can be a spiritual experience.  Yes, I’m being serious.  Many of this generation’s students are hurting.  Many of them are under enormous pressure.  Many of them feel abandoned by the adults in their lives.  If we, as a ministry representing Jesus, can offer them laughter and fun and a reprieve from the pain, pressure and abandonment then fun is a spiritual experience.

When adults take vacation time to spend a week with students—when they get on the students’ level by having fun and laughing with them—God is pleased.


Everything we do at camp points toward Jesus.  The sessions, the worship, the fun, the games, the relationships—everything is focused on Jesus.   If we get to the end of camp and we haven’t made it crystal clear to all of our students that God loves them and wants a relationship with them through Jesus then we have failed.

More than anything else we are interested in connecting students with Jesus because we believe that life, meaning and purpose is found when we connect our passions, talents and possessions with the mission of Jesus in the world.


Everything we do in LifeLine revolves around relationships and our camp is no different.  Each cabin functions as a small group.  Cabins compete together, eat together, and experience sessions and small groups together.   Our goal is that each cabin would function as a family at camp.

I like to think of a week of camp as a little taste of heaven.  For one week each student can get away from his struggles and pressures.  For one week each student is treated with love and respect.  For one week each kid doesn’t have to produce anything.  For one week distractions are put aside and a kid can worship her creator without worrying about what other people are saying about her.  For one week a student can share her heart and a caring adult will listen empathetically, cry with her and pray with her.   For one week students can feel the very presence of God and hear His voice calling them to real life.

Camp is so amazing.  I can’t wait to see how our volunteers and student leaders rise up and love students—some of which haven’t been loved well ever in their lives.  I can’t wait to see the smiles and laughter of students getting a little taste of heaven.  I can’t wait to see how God moves and transforms life.  Can you tell that I’m psyched for Camp LifeLine?

Youth Ministry Videos 101

A few years ago we came to terms with a painful truth.  Students don’t listen to us when we talk to them from the stage.    Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty sure they nominally pay attention to the teachings but they never listen to announcements.  Every time we take the stage and invite students to sign up for a retreat or to tell them about an event that will drastically change their lives they stare at us blankly and remember nothing.  Meanwhile, the energy in the room plummets.  By the time we start our worship set the girls are texting and the guys are asleep.

One thing we noticed about our culture is that people always pay attention to screens.  Call it being addicted to technology or visually stimulated or whatever you want but a compelling image or a well done commercial captures us.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about schedule your next team meeting at Buffalo Wild Wings and see how much you accomplish.

So, based on our observations about the power of screens we started shooting video announcements.  In the beginning it was just me sitting in a chair talking and it has evolved into rap videos and other ridiculousness.  I know we aren’t breaking new ground here and plenty of other ministries use video announcements but ours are way better than theirs.

OK, not really but we have been amazed at how video announcements have contributed to our student ministry community and culture.  Adding some ridiculous characters and YouTube spoofs has amped up the fun level.

If you’re interested in getting in the video announcement game, here are a few suggestions.

1.       Invest in Good Gear

Filming can be as inexpensive and simple as pulling out your iPhone and hitting record but we all know that isn’t going to yield a visually pleasing end product (not to mention the audio). Here’s the thing. Your students and volunteers all watch TV in HD and probably movies on Blu-Ray. A good set of gear and trained people will help get you comparable quality.  People appreciate well made videos.

In the film world, you get what you pay for. A video shot on a two thousand dollar camera and a fifteen hundred dollar lens will look better than a seven hundred dollar camera on a standard kit lens. And the same goes for audio and microphones. It can be daunting at first with all the choices, but that’s where people with experience come in. Chat it up with someone you know who does film, tell them what you plan to do and ask what lens will be best for you, what tri-pod they’d recommend, which lens best fits your needs, etc.

2.       Find and Film Expressive People

There is a reason that not everyone is an actor.  This doesn’t mean that your videos require professional actors but it does mean you need expressive people.  Maybe this is you, maybe it isn’t.  This could also be a great opportunity to pull in students and volunteers.  Trust me when I say that the wrong people on video are worse than the wrong people on stage.

3.       Act like a Clown

Sometimes the announcement needs to come from you—even if you’re not expressive.  We’ve discovered that acting normally while filming will make you appear like you just woke up from a nap.  You have to amp up your energy.  Focus on making your face more expressive.  Talk with your hands and act like you’re overly excited.  I know this sounds ridiculous but trust me.

4.       Keep it Short

Our biggest mistake in creating announcement videos has been length.  Anything over 5 minutes is WAY too long.  We aim for 4 minutes or shorter if there is some sort of storyline or 2 or 3 minutes if it is a simple announcement.  Never overestimate the attention span of your students.  Squirrel!

5.       Delegate the Filming and Editing

If you’re like me, editing software might as well be in Chinese.  I’m helpless.  No problem.  There are a bazillion people out there who love to film, edit and produce videos.  They’ll probably also complete projects 40x faster than you could.  Take advantage of people who want to serve.

6.       Grant Creative Freedom

Over the last 4 years, video characters and ongoing storylines have dramatically increased the fun in our student ministry.  Especially in middle school, a few reoccurring characters can be brilliant.  My advice, find some funny people and turn them loose to create ideas and videos.  If you have someone who can do voices, plug them in!  You can score costumes for basically nothing by spending an afternoon perusing local thrift shops.   Amp up the fun in your student ministry by getting ridiculous with announcement videos.

7.        Steal Ideas

We’re all on the same team right?  Our early video ideas were all stolen—usually from Saddleback.  Sorry!  Sometimes we still steal great ideas because, well they are great ideas.  Here’s our Vimeo page.  Feel free to steal our ideas or at least laugh at how bad our early videos were.

photo credited to SPDP

Church Signs

I’m fascinated with church signs. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve driven by a ridiculous church sign, did a facepalm and almost crashed my car, I’d have at least $20.  They are just so hilarious and embarrassing!

So, at the risk of offending everyone who writes content for church signs, I’d like to spend a little time reviewing some of the more baffling ones I’ve seen.


I’m assuming this comes with a “Jesus is my child support” bumper sticker.

Photo Credited to J.G. Charlet III



photo credited to flamk


I’m trying to remember the last time I paid for GPS…

photo credited to jon rubin


I always appreciate good theology coupled with good grammar.

photo credited to williac

Day 207 :: 365 É Church Signs

Great.  Now I’m craving A1 sauce.

photo credited to echo9er


If I remember correctly, Scully goes to this church.

photo credited to au_tiger01


And if God had a dumpster, this sign would be in it.

photo credited to au_tiger01


I’m not really up on technology.  Is this a Xanga reference?

photo credited to Loren Sztajer


Fun as in slavery? I think I’ll keep my kids home.

photo credited to ttcopley


Well that should put an end to atheism…

photo credited to Dvortygirl


I could look at ridiculous church signs for hours!  So entertaining.  OK, I’m done.

Lessons on Porn from the British


Apparently the leaders of the British government have had enough of pornography.  David Cameron, the Prime Minister of gave a speech recently in which he announced that pornography is “corroding childhood.”  He announced that “family-friendly filters would be automatically selected for all new [Internet] customers by the end of the year – although they could choose to switch them off.   And millions of existing computer users would be contacted by their internet providers and told they must decide whether to use or not use ‘family-friendly filters’ to restrict adult material.”

If you’d like to read an article that describes this in detail, click here.

What I appreciate about Cameron’s speech is not that his measures will stop people from viewing pornography because people who want to watch porn will find a way.  What I appreciate is that he is willing to call pornography wrong.  He took a stand to protect the children of his nation.

Secondly, I do believe that Cameron’s initiatives could push back how early children see pornography.  Based on the testimonies of students and volunteers that I’ve interacted with, most people’s first contact with pornography happens unintentionally and almost always through the Internet.

With that said, we as parents and youth workers need to come to terms with the fact that kids will see pornography.  The latest statistics that I’ve seen reveal that 98% of boys have seen pornography by age 18.  More and more kids are introduced to pornography while in elementary school.  So what do we do?  How to do help our children navigate this?  Here are a few thoughts:


First, we need to come to terms with the fact that our children will see pornography.  The age where we could keep them from the destructive influence of porn is gone.  Now, we must learn to help them navigate a culture in which sex is pervasive.

This doesn’t mean that we simply surrender.  In fact, it means that we must be even more vigilant.  The first step is to help our elementary age children understand that pornography is wrong. And, if they run into it we want them to talk to us about it.  We want our children to process their introduction to porn with us, not friends or the Internet.



Watch what your kids are doing online.  Set up filters when they are young to protect them.  And when they are older, use X3watch.  This is a tool that will email you (or any accountability partner) any sketchy sites that your child visited.  It is an accountability tool.  In my opinion, accountability is better than filters because your child will learn to navigate around filters.   X3watch can lead to conversations between you and your child, which is exactly what your child will need.





One of the ways you can help our kids is by explaining the dangers of pornography.  We need to stop simply saying, “Don’t do it because it is wrong.”  Kids aren’t dumb.  They need to understand for themselves why it is dangerous.  This video does a nice job of explaining how pornography affects the brain in the way drugs do.


Computers are relatively easy to monitor.  Just keep the computer in a public space in your home.  Smart phones and tablets are a different story.  It is alarming that kids can access pornography anywhere at any time from a device they keep in their pocket.

When setting up boundaries, don’t forget about mobile devices.  A good rule is to require that your kids’ phones be charged in a public place overnight.  Keep all screens in public places.  Also, consider putting X3watch on mobile devices as well.


The way we respond to our kids when they confess to looking at porn or when we receive an email from X3watch that reveals what our kids have been looking at will determine whether or not our kids will trust us with accountability and honesty in the future.  Respond with compassion and help rather than anger and disappointment.

Especially for teenage boys, pornography is overpowering.  They need help navigating our over-sexualized culture rather than a guilt trip.  Help them set up boundaries.  Yes, consequences are still important but make them constructive.

The stories I hear of students overcoming pornography always involve them coming clean with their parents (particularly their dads) and their parents responding with compassion, love and healthy consequences and boundaries.



Parenting Through Social Media

I ran across a very interesting study last week about parents and social media.  The gist of the study is that “teenagers who are connected to their parents on social media feel closer to their parents in real life.”

This makes sense to me because whether we like it or not and whether we think it is good or not, students value social media connections.  They not only value them but actually find real meaning in them. Parents ought to take advantage of this and jump into social media.  Unfortunately, according to the study, only 16% of parents are interacting with their kids through social media on a daily basis.  As parents, we are missing a huge opportunity here!

Secondly, I am continually shocked by parents who do not know what their kids are doing online.  I’m not a isolationist by any means but the Internet can be a dangerous place and the decisions that students make on what to post can stick with them forever.

Also, why in the world do we let our children into social arenas in which children and adults mix regularly–in which normal people and creeptastic people regularly mix, without keeping an eye on them?  At the risk of offending parents…GET ONLINE AND OBSERVE YOUR KIDS!

So, now that I’ve yelled at you…I bet you’re wondering what social media apps you should get involved with.  Well, I’m glad you asked.  Here are (in my opinion) the most popular social media apps with teens…

snap chat

1. Snap Chat:  This is one of the only social media sites that scares me.  Kids taking pictures and videos of themselves and send them to friends.  The trick is that the pictures delete after only a few seconds leaving no trace of the images.  A recipe for awesomeness…nope.  I would recommend at least a conversation with your child about this app.  I know quite a few parents who have banned this app.  The worst thing about it is that you can’t monitor it.


2. Teens love Twitter.  One of the reasons is that most parents aren’t on it.  I personally use Twitter constantly.  You’ll be dismayed by the stream-of-consciousness style of communication that teens often use but it will help you connect with your kid and you’ll learn a lot about the way he and his friends process life.





instagram small

3. Instagram is fantastic.  It’s all about sharing photos and videos.  There are simple editing tools that make you look like a photography pro.  You can also share photos on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook all at once.  One of the great features of Instagram, Vine, Facebook and others is that you can “like” your kid’s posts or pictures without making an obnoxious comment that embarrasses her.  “Liking” is an easy way to show support, approval or simply that you’re paying attention without being intrusive.

Vine right one

4. This app is very much like Instagram except exclusively video.  Before Instagram added video it was the video app of choice for students.  It may fall out of favor but for now many teens are still on it.

facebook small

5. Many teens shy away from using Facebook for anything other than pictures because Facebook is so huge.  And, most parents are already on Facebook so students go to other social media outlets to hide.  If you aren’t on Facebook or are but aren’t friends with your kid you need to get on!


So if you’re a parents, get involved with social media.  Leverage social media to help you invest in your kids’ lives.  If you do, according to the study I read, it may actually deepen your relationships with your children.


How to Survive in Student Ministry

Student Ministry can be a tough gig.  It wasn’t long ago that the average stay of a youth pastor was only a year to 18 months.  Actually, I don’t know who came up with those numbers.  They may not be real but I do know many youth workers who have dropped out of ministry far earlier than they dreamed.

It is also true that we as youth workers are most vulnerable in the early days of our career.  So, how do we survive these pivotal first years?  Here are a few thoughts…


1.       Admit that You’re not an Expert…Yet


When I graduated from good ole’ Moody Bible Institute, I thought I knew everything.  It didn’t take me long to realize that in fact I knew next to nothing.  The classroom just can’t teach the nuances of ministry.

The pressure of being new will temp you to pretend that you know everything.  This is a horrible idea.  Humility is paramount.  4 years of classroom training grants you a piece of paper.  It doesn’t make you an expert.  Years of experience in the field make you an expert.  During your first few years of ministry humility and teach-ability are crucial.


2.       Every Church Has Issues

Both of my church jobs had a honeymoon period.  One of them lasted 6 months and the other for about 6 days.  And no, I’m not telling you which was which.

If you’re like me, the emotions of life cloud your thinking.  When things go south it’s easy to say, “I picked the wrong church!  I gotta get outta here!”  Or “Church X down the street has a contemporary service!  I should go work there instead.”  The truth is, humans go to your church and humans go to that church.  There will be a few asinine policies wherever you go.  You will find impossible people in every environment.  There is no perfect church.  The comparison game is dangerous.

With all that said, I have seen a few toxic churches.  These communities will burn and scar you.  In these cases you should run and run fast.

However, you should never decide that your church is toxic too quickly or in a vacuum.  The heart is deceitful and we naturally detest what is difficult.  If you think your church is toxic, bring in a mentor to help you decipher the situation.


3.       Find the RIGHT Mentors

Everyone needs a Yoda.  Good news!  There are many seasoned student ministry vets out.  Find them.  You would be wise to spend some time with them and join their communities.  You can learn a ton from these people.

However, I have one piece of advice.  There are some vets out there who are venomously bitter.  To be blunt, don’t spend a lot of time with these people.  Bitterness is like the flu.  It’s highly contagious.  Protect yourself from bitterness because it will rob you of joy.


4.       Make a Commitment

While interviewing for my first job, I told the leadership that I would commit to five years.  Later, there were a few times that I wanted to kick myself for saying that.  In the end, I kept my word and I’m very glad that I did.

I needed time to work out who I am, what I believe, and my approach to student ministry.  You can’t figure this stuff out in a class or even a year on the job.  It takes time and practice.  It’s takes trial and error.

My encouragement for anyone who is early in their student ministry is to buckle down and stay put.  Work hard and learn.  Use this time to figure out your strengths, weaknesses and ministry philosophy.  Understanding yourself will lead to greater effectiveness whether you stay in your current position for decades or if you decide you need to move on.

How to Misinterpret God’s Will

What college should I go to?  Should I marry Bill?  Should I take the job in Delaware?  Decisions can be so confusing and we as Christians often struggle with making good decisions in light of God’s will.  Does God want me to marry Bill?  How do I know?

I happen to be pretty opinionated when it comes to God’s will.  I think a lot of people over-spiritualize God’s will.  Here are three traps to watch out for when it comes to discerning God’s will in your life.


When I was in high school my church was struck by lighting and burned to the ground.  No joke.  That actually happened.  I’ll never forget standing in the parking lot watching the inferno.  The blaze was so compelling that my friends and I actually abandoned a Red Wings playoff game to witness the destruction.

Hardly anyone would say that God was mad at my church and therefore smote it.  And yet, many people try to interpret the circumstances of their life in this way.  “I opened my Bible and saw the word marriage.  That means I should marry Bill.”  Nope.  The last time I remember hearing about God speaking to people this way a dude was running around in camel clothes and eating bugs.  I’m not saying God doesn’t speak that way anymore but I think it is a little dangerous to make major decisions based on signs.


Here’s the thing, God already gave us His Will.  It’s called the Bible.  In the pages of scripture God has already laid out the answer to most of life’s questions.

“Should I marry Bill?”

“Is he a follower of Jesus?”

“Uh…not exactly.”


One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard was this:  “Don’t try to make unclear what has already been made clear.”  If you really are interested in living out God’s will then study God’s letter to you because the answers to most of your questions have already been clarified.

Going Solo

Most bad decisions are often made in a vacuum.  If your parents, friends and small group all think marrying Bill is a bad idea…it’s probably a bad idea.

God exists in community—Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  God created us to reflect His nature.  We as humans reflect God best when we live in community.

Jesus left us with the Spirit and the Church.  The word church literally means assembly or gathering.  We, as humans are simply better when we submit to community.  We were designed for it.

Your family, friends and Jesus community know you.  They can see your blind spots.  If they don’t think marrying Bill is a good idea, you should listen to them.  Together as a community we uncover what God’s will is.  Attempting to do this alone is dangerous.

So, that’s my opinion on understanding God’s will.  You don’t have to agree with me but I’d love to hear your thoughts on these ideas.  Oh, and sorry if your name is Bill.