Selasa, 11 Juli 2017

How to Win the War on Worry

How to Win the War on Worry

How to Win the War on Worry
“What if we don’t hit our numbers?”
“Supposing the new program launch isn’t successful?”
“What will happen if we can’t fill that staff position in time?”
These worries, and countless others like them, can dominate the thinking of leaders. But leaders must maintain the discipline to avoid needless worry is because of the mental energy it can cost you.
Few resources are more important to the vitality of a leader than mental energy. The ability to solve problems, build teams, cast vision and plan strategy all require significant portions of mental energy, and throughout your day you are either filling or draining your mental energy tank.
But the ability to overcome this challenge can be achieved if you know these four ways to win the war on worry…

Understand the difference between worry and concern

Concern is action-oriented. In fact, concern is one of the fuels that drives effective leadership. It flows from a deep sense of dissatisfaction over a situation, and drives the leader toward problem-solving.
Worry, on the other hand, is merely hand-wringing negativism.

Recognize the futility of worry

Studies have shown that 85 percent of what we worry about never comes to pass. For leaders the math just doesn’t justify expending mental energy on outcomes that are unlikely to ever happen.

Arrest “worst-case scenario” thinking

Much of worry flows out of assuming the very worst outcome of any situation.
For example, when results are below plan at a particular juncture, “worry” assumes that the trend will continue, that the plan will fail, that this will cost you your job, that you will therefore be unable to provide for your family, and on and on and on…
The mental discipline to recognize this thinking pattern, to arrest it mid-thought, and to refuse to entertain such scenarios is a tremendous energy saver.

Expect the best, prepare for the worst

This axiom may be slightly simplistic, but there is some truth to be found here.
Effective leaders don’t supplant worry with naiveté. And they certainly don’t adopt Alfred E. Neuman’s policy of “What, me worry?”
Instead they right-size the possibility of a negative outcome, and they put the necessary response plans in place.
There is no quick-fix, but if you embrace these strategies you can see dramatic improvements in your mental energy tank.
And over time you really can win the war on worry.
This article originally appeared here.

How I Recovered From Burnout: 12 Keys to Finding Your New Normal

How I Recovered From Burnout: 12 Keys to Finding Your New Normal

How I Recovered From Burnout: 12 Keys To Finding Your New Normal
I had never been through anything quite as deep, or frankly, personally frightening, as my burnout in 2006.
Burnout moves fatigue and the darkness from a place where it was in your control to a place where you can simply no longer control either.
I regularly hear from leaders who have let me know that they’re in the midst of burnout right now.
It’s like burnout, fatigue and overwhelm have become epidemics in life and leadership.
If you’re struggling with it, all I can say is I understand, and I’m pulling for you and praying for you.
I told part of my story in this post along with sharing 11 signs you might be burning out.
To diagnose burnout is one thing. But how do you recover from it?
Let me share my journey. While everyone’s recovery will be different, there were 12 keys that, in retrospect, were essential to my recovery.

Not an Instant Cure

And as far as time goes, for me there was no instant cure. It took about:
Six months for me to move from ‘crisis’ (20 percent of normal) to operational (maybe 60 percent).
Another year to get from 60 percent to 80 percent of ‘normal’.
Another three or four years to finally feel 100 percent again—like myself. Even a new self.
In the process, I completely restructured my patterns and rhythms so I could develop a new normal. Why? Because to recover from burnout and overwhelm, you need better patterns, not just a better attitude.
I’ve been asked so many times what those patterns are, I share them in an online course I offer called The High Impact Leader. I’ll tell you more about that at the end of this post.

12 Keys to Getting Back From Burnout

Along the way, these 12 things helped me immensely. And while your story might be different, I offer them in the hope they might help you even in some small way:

1. Tell Someone

This was hard. I think it is for most leaders, especially guys.
My guess is you will resist because of pride. But pride is probably what made you burn out. Don’t miss this: Humility will get you out of what pride got you into. 
Swallow your pride and tell someone safe that you have a problem. It’s tough, but it’s the first step toward wellness. When you admit it to others, you also finally end up admitting it to yourself.

2. Get Help

You can’t do this alone. Really, you can’t. I went to a trained counselor and had a circle of friends who walked the walk with me.
You need to talk to your doctor and to a trained Christian counselor. And you need others. I had people pray over me.
My wife, Toni, was an incredible and exceptional rock.
I’m not sure I would have made it without them. I’m a guy, and I prefer to work through my own problems.
This one was so much bigger than me. But not bigger than God or the community of love and support he provides. So get help.
Solitude is a gift from God, but isolation is a tool of the enemy. Don’t stay isolated.

3. Lean Into Your Friends

Yes, this could have been included in Point 2 but the guys would have missed it. Friends. You need them.
Guys—word here. We tend not to have a lot of friends and we tend not to open up. Mistake. Lean into your friendships.
Friends came to my house and prayed for me. They called me.
One day a friend called and simply said, “I know you can’t feel it today, but the sun will rise again. It will.” I can’t tell you how much those words meant to me that day. Your friends care about you. Lean into them.

4. Keep Leaning Into God

Just because he seems silent doesn’t mean he’s absent. I did not feel God for months. Not when I prayed or read the Bible or worshipped.
But I didn’t give myself permission to quit. In these pivotal moments you will either lean away from God or into him. Lean in, hard. Even if you feel nothing.
I did, and eventually the feelings of intimacy return. Just because you can’t feel God’s love doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you. Your emotions will eventually catch up to your obedience.

5. Rest

I was so physically and emotionally tired when I burned out. I slept for about 10 hours a day for a month straight, adding naps to my daily diet on top of that.
Sleep is like money; deficits become debt. And debt needs to be paid off.
I paid off my sleep debt that month and I always try now to make sure I am not running a deficit.
If I do for a week or two, I pay it off with more sleep. You were designed to rest, and to rest in God. While I personally didn’t take a sabbatical or medical leave (our board offered me one), some may need to. I was too scared I’d never come back. So I took three weeks vacation and came back slowly.

6. Find Something Else to Take Your Attention Away From Your Pain

The problem with pain (or at least my pain) is when you do nothing you only have your pain to focus on.
Pain is selfish. It will demand all of your attention, unless you decide not to give it.
Distraction is a powerful tool to get your mind thinking about other things. Watch a movie. Go out for dinner. Go for a hike. Head out to a party. Take in a concert. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
At my worst, I would go to social settings and not want to talk to anyone, sometimes even ‘hiding’ from people behind my wife who is a foot shorter than me and 100 lbs lighter. But at least I went.
One night we hosted a dinner party and I left the table early and ended up crying in my bedroom for the rest of the night. But at least we threw the party. It got my mind off the constant cycle of depression.

7. Do What You Can

Again, you may need a long sabbatical. But I took three weeks off and went back to work. On my first week back in the office, it took me longer to write a three line email than it took me to write this entire blog post, but I focused on doing what I could.
The first weekend I preached, those who knew the shape I was in all told me, “We would have had no idea you were feeling so bad. You were amazing.” I knew how I felt inside, but it was good to know I could still be helpful to others in some way.
I think for me it was important to discover what I could still do.
When you’re burning out, focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do.

8. Don’t Do Anything Drastic or Stupid

Underline this. Because my illness involved my mind, I was tempted to do all kinds of things that could have ruined my life.
I felt like abandoning my calling, running away from everyone I knew and everything I knew, even my wife and kids.
In my worst moments, thoughts of ending it all crossed my mind. I am so thankful I didn’t succumb to any of those impulses.
Some days I just said to myself “don’t do anything stupid today.” And if I didn’t, that was progress. I’m so thankful I didn’t do anything rash or irresponsible.
When you’re not at your best, avoiding stupid is a win.

9. Trust Again

One of the contributing factors to my crash was a few relationships (not my family) in which trust was broken. As hurt as I felt and as cynical as I was at points, I made a conscious decision to trust again.
And the wonderful thing is: So many people are trustworthy. And God always is. Trusting again after your trust has been breached keeps your heart fresh and alive and—ultimately—hopeful again.

10. Closely Monitor Balance

I used to pride myself in being able to go at whatever I was doing longer and harder than anyone else. Pride’s not a good thing.
I now closely monitor how I’m feeling, my rest and my balance between time with people and time alone. I’m hyper focused on it. Because I can’t afford not to be.
I build margin into my schedule because without it, the edge of the next cliff is right around the corner.
Margin is a leader’s best friend. The more you have, the more you thrive.

11. Watch for the Warning Signs

I watch these 11 signs of burnout diligently. From time to time, I’ll see a few of the warning signs creep back in. I tell the people around me immediately when I sense I might be heading for the cliff. And I pray about it and take a corrective course of action.
Sometimes you get false alarms. One time, I was two days into what I thought was a ‘mini burnout,’ but I sounded the alarm bells. In the end, it turned out to be my frustration over a leadership issue that was producing the symptoms. As soon as I cracked the leadership issue, the symptoms disappeared almost overnight.
But that kind of monitoring is for me central to staying healthy.

12. Take Full Responsibility for the Health of Your Soul

Nobody else is responsible for your health. You are. Pray, read your Bible, seek life-giving friendships, replenish your energy, eat right, work out, love deeply.
These things nourish your soul. If you don’t do them, nobody will.

Finding Your New Normal (and My Accidental Discovery)

It took me almost five years to get back to normal…but I realized early on that normal wasn’t going to do it this time. This time, I needed a new normal.
Here’s why: Getting back to normal will get you into the same burnout it took you into in the first place. 
For years now, I’ve worked hard to establish new rhythms and patterns that could sustain my life.
In the process, I accidentally discovered something.
These new habits, rhythms and patterns didn’t just keep me out of burnout, they made me far more productive and effective.
I had spent my 30s wanting to write a book. Since coming back from burnout, I’ve written three and am working on a fourth.
I also started speaking to leaders, writing this blog and hosting a weekly leadership podcast, all the while holding down a full-time job AND having more family and recreation time.
The #1 question I get asked post-burnout is “How do you get everything done?”
I finally decided to summarize the principles and strategies in an online course called The High Impact Leader.
Whether you’ve burned out or not, far too many leaders struggle with overwhelm: never getting things done when they’re supposed to be done.
Constant interruptions and distractions keep many leaders from getting their most important priorities accomplished. In addition, work keeps bleeding into family time.
You don’t have to live like that anymore.
The 10-session High Impact Leader online course will show you highly practical, proven strategies on how to finally get time, energy and priorities working in your favor. Just to be clear, it won’t help you recover from burnout but it will help you find highly effective time, energy and priority management strategies once you do recover to help you stay recovered.
Each session includes a video training and workbook that will help you personalize a plan to help you get productive and accomplish the very things you know are most important, but rarely have the time for.
The course is open now for a very limited time. You can learn more or take the course here.

What About You?

It was a long road back for me personally, and I had to keep believing that God wasn’t done with me. Eleven years later I’m so thankful. Our church has never been healthier or more effective.
I am enjoying what I’m doing more than ever. And the opportunities before me have never been greater.
How much of that could I see or imagine 11 years ago? Exactly 0 percent. But I had to not give up despite that. In those moments and days where I still don’t feel good, I cling to the hope that the sun will rise again. And it does.
So that’s my story.
I’m praying for you today and I hope that in some small way this helps those of you who are defeated, discouraged or believe it’s over.
It’s not. Our God still lives. And He loves you.
What’s your story? What’s helped you or people you love?
This article originally appeared here.

What if God DOES Give You Success?

What if God DOES Give You Success?

What If God DOES Give You Success?
Be careful what you ask for.
We all know the punch line, right? “Because you might get it.”
But what if that’s not the real punch line?
What if the real answer is, “Because you might not know what you are asking for?”
We know God wants success for us. The tension resides in the fact that we don’t always define success the same way God does.
We might think success is a big church in the burbs. God might think success is a small church in the country. Or what if God doesn’t connect success to numbers at all? What if God’s definition is more about character, trust, obedience, loving people, lifting His name and teaching the gospel?
God did promise new territory to Joshua. (Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west.) That does sound like “numbers.”
But God also focused on the relationship Joshua had with Him.
7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Joshua 1:7-8
How you define success matters.
Do you have a definition?
Does your definition of success remain consistent, or does it change according to your circumstances?
What does your heart long for?
Let’s be honest, anyone who leads wants success. I’ll bet you’ve never awakened in the morning to a thought like: “I sure hope I fail today.”
And probably similar to me, you’ve experienced both the successes and failures that life has a way of delivering.
The following are a few things I’ve learned over the years about success. I hope they are helpful to you.

1) Allow success to be something God gives you, not something you take.

You can’t force success no matter how hard you try. You can work hard, and that makes a big difference, (God wants you to do your part), but God’s timing doesn’t always match our desires. However, His timing is right.
It’s not uncommon for leaders to try to “take” success from God. Meaning, it’s something we expect, or feel entitled to, in our way, in our timing. Of course, that never works well.
You may be in charge, but you are not in control.
When you take success into your own hands, it’s incredibly heavy, often short-lived and usually exhausting.
When God gives success, you still work hard and get tired, but the fruit tastes so sweet. The load is lighter, and there is more than enough joy and meaning to replenish your weariness and refresh your soul.

2) If you are blessed with success, never forget where it came from.

One of my mistakes as a leader is when I pray less in a season of success. I continue to learn that it’s during times of success that I need to pray most.
It’s easy to subtly slide from the truth that ultimately God makes it all happen, to “I made it happen.” I really don’t ever believe that, but I can begin to live and behave as if I think that way. That’s a subtle and dangerous difference.
God is gracious and kind to provide His favor.
Whatever small or large success I may be blessed with, I acknowledge and thank God for it daily.

3) Don’t sell your soul for continued success.

Success to the soul is like sugar to the palate; you just want more.
When I have a chocolate chip cookie, my first thought is never, “Well I’m good now.” I think, “Just one more,” and that thought never ends. There’s nothing wrong with a chocolate chip cookie, but I can sell out my health if I keep eating them.
Most leaders are highly driven and dedicated to the mission. And when you get a “taste” of success, you may be tempted to pay any price for continued success.
Where do you draw the line? Do you protect and put your family first? How about your physical health? And your spiritual life, ironically, can be at high risk even when your time is dedicated to God’s work. How would you describe your prayer life—is it all that you want it to be? These are good questions for a personal check up.

4) Failure is a springboard to future success.

Some leaders are more successful than others, but no one experiences continued success throughout their life.
Failure is inevitable, but it’s not final.
Failure can knock you down, and sometimes it can feel like it knocked you out. But you can get back up.
What you and I learn from our failures makes us better leaders. How we apply what we learn makes all the difference.
Sometimes we need a more experienced and wiser friend to help us navigate the difficult seasons. Sometimes we need a fresh start. Sometimes it’s nothing more than a good night’s sleep and start again in the morning.
Whatever the case might be for you as a leader, embrace failures as part of life, learn all you can and keep pressing on.
This article originally appeared here.

Calming the Chaos

Calming the Chaos

Calming the Chaos
There is no doubt that we have all experienced the chaos of herding preschoolers during small group time (although it really can feel like herding cats). Stop throwing! Let’s sit down for rug time! Spit out that play-dough!
As small group leaders, in the midst of the chaos that can ensue, it’s our job to maintain some order so that we can create a safe place where ALL of our kids can learn and love Jesus! Having some techniques in your tool belt for managing that tension can be helpful during your time with your few.
Watch your levels.
If we let our emotions get out of control, we can be sure our preschoolers will do the same. Kids tend to match their level of loud with your level of loud. Meeting them in their hysteria will only result in more hysteria. When you feel the levels rising in your room, try to remember to speak in a calm voice. You would be amazed at what a whisper can do in a room! Your preschoolers will be straining their tiny ears to hear you.
Find your helpers.
So many times, I have found there are always a few in my group that have a consistently hard time following directions, which adds to the chaos. Those few can become your best helpers! You can have them hand out supplies, help clean the room or assist in leading your group to the large group area. If their hands and feet are busy, you may find they redirect all that energy into something positive.
Divide and conquer.
If you find your preschoolers ganging up to start a riot in your room, this might be a good time to divide and conquer with your co-leader. A great technique to lessen the chaos of your room is to split the activities between yourself and your co-leader and to separate the kids into teams. You get bonus points for being strategic in dividing the children who tend to feed off of each other! When the kids finish their activities, switch teams with your co-leader. I’ve found that organizing your time with your few in this way can help you to have a better connection with fewer kid at a time. Many times, our overactive kids are really just wanting some attention.
Even in the midst of chaos, God still wants to speak to your few, and He wants to use you to do it! The most important work that you do isn’t keeping the peace and maintaining order, although it can sometimes feel that way. You’re working toward creating a space safe enough and conducive enough for your few to experience God’s love. And that is very important work.
What are some techniques you use in calming the chaos in your small group?
This article originally appeared here.

How to Go about Life Decisions when the Husband Is the Head of Your Home

Matt and Lauren Chandler: How to Go about Life Decisions when the Husband Is the Head of Your Home

How Should Husbands and Wives Agree on Life Decisions
Marriage has a deeper meaning than two people taking up space in a home, sharing responsibilities, and physically connecting with each other. In fact, it is marriage between a husband and his wife that God uses to provide a picture of His relationship with His church. As true as that may be, it’s also true that every marriage is made up of two sinners, who are prone to weakness, selfish desires, and fleshly thinking. So how can a husband and wife partner together in order to make life decisions?  Matt Chandler, who is pastor of the Village Church, and his wife, Lauren, provide insight through this video about that very thing.
The Lord, according to Lauren, has created the husband to fulfill the role of servant leader within marriage just as Christ loves, leads, and serves the His church. Wives, just like the church, should flourish under the leadership of her husband. Husbands can provide this type of servant leadership by listening to how their wives view and feel about upcoming decisions. Ultimately, the decision lies with the husband either by deferring or by his direct decision. This means that the ramifications of the decision will lay with him and not his wife.
Godly husbands, says Matt, have no natural desire to say “no” to their wives but try to lay down any “yes” before their wives. But there are times when deferring would be unwise and could put the family in harm’s way. Male headship is not about flexing his authority but about protection of the marriage and family as well as values that honor Christ. Husbands can communicate this leadership by saying, “the answer is ‘yes’ now ask the question”. This gives wives unfettered communicative freedom with their husbands and encourages good dialogue about significant life decisions.

Women Use Porn Too

Women Use Porn Too

Women Use Porn Too
There’s no more frightening place to sit than alone in the shadows with your sin. The permeating decay of sin’s destruction is the stuff of true nightmares.
But what if pastors and friends from church were inadvertently helping you stay in the shadows? We can easily chat about total depravity, but the moment a pastor addresses only men on a Sunday morning to confront “their” porn problem, he’s unintentionally left women in the dark…with their sin.
I’ve counseled women with varying degrees of damage from sexual sin—from those willingly involved in BDSM all the way to sex-trafficking victims. No matter how much I see it, I never grow unphased by the shrewd precision with which sexual sin wounds women. And now, thanks to the cultural normalization of pornography and the availability of WiFi and smart phones, statistics of porn users have not only soared—they’ve left no age group, demographic or gender unharmed.
That said, we must stop assuming pornography is a men’s problem, because it’s not. It’s a human problem.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to mankind. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Cor. 10:13)
In context, Paul is addressing two specific temptations: sexual immorality (1 Cor. 10:8) and grumbling (1 Cor. 10:10). Paul calls these sins “common” because they are regular temptations everyone faces. To assume sexual sin is only a male problem is to deny the help God promises to send all Christians.

Slaying Taboos

We’re often uncomfortable talking about female use of pornography. It’s a delicate topic for pastors to address with women because sexuality, by nature, is intimate. Since confessing sexual sin to a male pastor or elder is difficult, many may be less aware of the problem.
Yet when we treat porn as a men’s issue, we withhold grace and help from women in their time of need (Heb. 4:16). Our great high priest doesn’t sympathize with just some of our weaknesses, but with all of them. And because of the Spirit’s power at work in us, we can boldly confront any kind of sin.
But when we make a particular sin taboo—from the pulpit or anywhere else in the church—it creates pockets of darkness where sin can fester and flourish. Sheltered by silence and fed by shame, the unaddressed sin has unrestricted reign to destroy lives.

Humility Unchains

On the other hand, no Christian regardless of gender can remain both silent about sin and free from shame. Proverbs 28:13 says, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”
The more we conceal our sin, the harder our hearts become. And sin always harms, even when it seems private—this includes masturbation and pornography; this includes sexting; this includes lustful thoughts. As explicit as it is to write those words, we must be clear that true freedom and holy restoration are available to women who struggle in these ways.
Believers silent about their sin waste away in grief (Ps. 32:3). When we isolate ourselves, we prize the pride our shame protects over the holiness our humility allows (Prov. 18:1).
But God “opposes the proud” and “gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). Sisters, humble yourselves and don’t submit again to the yoke of slavery (Gal 5:1). Confess. Repent. Your Father is faithful and just to forgive your sins and purify your heart (1 John 1:9).
Jesus answers your cry of loneliness with his perfect comfort.
Jesus answers your feeling of shame with his perfect record.
Jesus answers your desire for companionship with his perfect communion.
Jesus answers your desire for ultimate pleasure with his perfect promises.
Sister, confess your sin and embrace Christ instead.

Team Effort

People don’t change because of the power of statistics or hearing about the devastating effects of porn. People change through the transforming power of the gospel. People change by submitting to the truth of God’s Word rather than the ravenous appetite of the flesh.
And people change with help from one another (1 Thess. 5:14).
Pornography is a spiritual problem rooted in the deceitfulness of idolatry—and like all idolatry, we need one another in the fight. A Christian struggling with porn needs other believers to help her slay sin by the power of God’s Word (Eph. 5:18–21; Col. 3:16).
Following the text on temptation in 1 Corinthians 10:12–13, Paul writes: “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” We all need help. None of us is above the temptation pornography provides.
Pastors, pornography is a human problem.
Women who struggle, come out of the shadows to Jesus.
Church, rise up and help your sisters.
This article originally appeared here.

Can a Christian Drink Alcohol

Can a Christian Drink Alcohol

Can A Christian Drink Alcohol
On Monday night, news broke that Olympic gold medalist snowboarder Shaun White had been charged with vandalism and public intoxication. On my Facebook wall, I posted the following comment: “This just in…and the gold medal for character enhancement, once again, goes to alcohol.”
For years, well-meaning, sincere Christians have debated the subject of drinking. Let me be clear by saying there isn’t a single verse in the Bible that says a Christian cannot have a drink; although the Bible clearly warns about the destructive and addictive nature of alcohol (Proverbs 20:1; 21:17; 23:29-35; Ephesians 5:18) and is very clear that drunkenness is always wrong (Romans 13:13; Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Peter 4:3; Habakkuk 2:15; 1 Corinthians 5:11).
The Bible is also clear that mature Christians should avoid causing others to stumble by drinking (Romans 14:21), and that leaders ought to avoid drinking alcohol (Proverbs 31:4-7) and cannot be given to drunkenness (1 Timothy 3:3, 8Titus 1:7.)
I have yet to hear from anyone who drinks how alcohol enhances anything or blesses anyone. Max Lucado said, “One thing for sure, I have never heard anyone say, ‘A beer makes me feel more Christlike… Fact of the matter is this: People don’t associate beer with Christian behavior.”1 I’ve yet to see how it improves someone’s testimony or makes anyone a more effective witness for Christ. Quite the contrary, like Shaun White mentioned above, or Richard Roberts, Oral Roberts’ son, who was arrested in Tulsa, Oklahoma, driving under the influence, the result doesn’t enhance your testimony. Rather, it takes away from what testimony you had.
Recently, a friend of mine, former megachurch Pastor John Caldwell, wrote an article in Christian Standard magazine called To Drink or Not to Drink? Here’s the link to his article. John’s article explained why he has personally abstained from drinking alcohol and dealt with the bigger issue of the contemporary church becoming more and more like the world.
Not surprisingly, a number of people responded to John’s article and some called him to task for taking such a strong stand against drinking. In response to the responses, my good friend Ken Idleman, former President of Ozark Christian College and now Pastor of Crossroads Christian Church in Evansville, Ind., wrote these words, which are among the very best I’ve ever read on this issue. I asked Ken for his permission to share them here.
“OK, I am conscience bound to weigh in on this one… For a minute, forget about making a definitive case for or against ‘drinking’ from the Bible. Here’s the truth from logic and real life. No one starts out to be an alcoholic. Everyone begins with a defensive attitude saying, ‘I’m just a social drinker and there is nothing wrong with it!’ no one says, ‘It is my ambition that someday I want to lose my job, my health, my self-respect, my marriage and my family. Someday I want to be dependent on alcohol to get through my day.’ Yet, this is the destination at which several millions of people have arrived. Why do you suppose that is? It is because alcohol is promoted and elevated as a normal/sophisticated activity in life… It is also expensive, addictive and enslaving. People get hooked by America’s number one legal drug. And just like all illegal drugs, alcohol finds it way into the body, the bloodstream and the brain of the user/abuser.
I had two uncles whose lives were wrecked by alcohol. The exception you say? Hardly. It is not what they wanted when they dreamed of their futures when they were in their 20s. Praise God, they were wonderfully delivered in their 60s when the grace of God became real to them. And can you imagine it?… They got their lives back by becoming total abstainers by the power of the Holy Spirit!
One of my most memorable conversations in the state penitentiary in Jefferson City, Mo., was with a young man facing a 28-year prison sentence for the brutal sexual assault of his own 8-year-old daughter. I will never forget the image. The tears literally ran off his chin and splashed on his shoes as he gushed, ‘I guess I did it. I don’t know. I was drunk at the time.’
Listen, some of those who are defensive in response to Dr. Caldwell’s thoughtful and courageous article will want to revise their text if, in a few years, they discover that they were able to handle their drinking just fine, but their son or daughter could not. Answer honestly. Could you live with the knowledge that your dangerous exercise of Christian liberty factored into your children’s ruin? Or, if your loved one is killed some day in a head on collision by a driver under the influence who crossed the center line, will you still be defensive of drinking?
A good friend during my growing up years was the only child of social drinking parents. When his folks were away, he would go to the rathskeller [German for tavern] in the basement where he developed a taste for alcohol. I won’t bore you with the details. He is 65 today. A broken life, broken health, broken marriages, a broken relationship with his only son, a broken relationship with his only grandchild, a broken career and a broken spirit that…tragically…he tries daily to medicate with the alcohol that led him to this tragic destination.
Hey, thanks for indulging my rant. Like my friend John Caldwell, I confess to setting the bar high for Christian leadership [especially] when it comes to aesthetic holiness. Call me a ‘right-wing fundamentalist.’ Call me a ‘throw back to the days of the tent evangelists.’ Call me a ‘simpleton.’ Call me a ‘minimalist.’ But, if you do, go ahead and also call me a ‘watchman on the wall’ where the welfare of my family [children, in-laws, grandchildren] and my church family is concerned.”2
Personally, I’ve yet to have my first beer and have no desire to start now or to drink alcohol of any kind. At the same time, I don’t judge those who believe they have freedom in Christ to drink. But when asked, I always tell people I don’t believe it’s the best choice.
The bottom line is this: The question really isn’t CAN A CHRISTIAN DRINK? Rather, it is: SHOULD A CHRISTIAN DRINK?
© 2012. Barry L. Cameron
1 David Faust, Voices From The Hill, (Cincinnati, OH: Cincinnati Bible College & Seminary, 2003) 252.
2 John Caldwell, “To Drink or Not to Drink,” Christian Standard 11 August 2012, 18 September 2012.