Archive for the ‘Christian Men as Leaders’ Category

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A Portrait of David:What Happens When a Man Doesn’t Go To Battle

February 7, 2012

The account of David’s sin with Bathsheba is often used to teach about temptation, especially sexual temptation.  I will agree this is a great story for us to use, but often, there is a great lesson to be learned in the from the text proceeding the story.

1 And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.  2 Samuel 11

Interesting isn’t it?  The author made it a point to state that David “tarried still at Jerusalem.”  Traditionally, in David’s time, kings would go to any battles in the Spring with their armies.  In previous chapters, you will see David leading his army into battle.  Why this time did he stay home?  No one knows the answer to that question, we just know the outcome.   I believe there is a good lesson for men to learn from David’s epic fail, and essentially, the epic fail of most of us who call ourselves Christians.

The very minute we decide to get off the battlefield and tarry around or hang back is the very second we open ourselves up for temptation.  Although we do not do physical battle, we do have battles we fight as outlined in Ephesians 6.  We have continue to immerse ourselves in the Word of God daily and if we don’t, it is the same as us staying off the battlefield.  We open ourselves to potential attacks, the sneakiest of kinds.

As noted by many references, David was simply strolling on the roof, not really looking for trouble.  The fact is, if he had been at battle where he should have been, that glance would not have turned into a question which turned into a meeting which turned into sin and destruction.

Here are some quick items to walk away with:

  • If you’re not in God’s Word daily, change that!
  • If you are not meeting with an accountability partner or group, get into one
  • Get into a church family that will nourish your walk and help keep you focused on Christ
  • Stay in the battle.  If you feel yourself getting off the battlefield, let a fellow Christian know

Hope this helps you in your walk.  In our next post, we will talk about the difference between the predator and the prey.
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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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Where the Boat Separates

January 24, 2012

Wood is a pretty interesting material when you stop to think about it.  You can cut it, put it in water, let it sit out, make it curve and for the most part, it lasts.  Again, this is just one of the many awesome creations God made in his infinite creativity.  I guess it should be no surprise Jesus trained under a carpenter prior to launching his ministry of salvation.  I’ve always wondered why.

I am not claiming to know the divine answer to that question, but if I were allowed to be a bit creative and take a stab at it, I would have to say that we are a lot like wood.  Some of us like extremely warm climates, others can bear through the cold, some of us have to be chiseled, while others tend to bend when they need to.  All in all, we are a lot like the wood commonly used to build anything from a house to a boat.  Pretty interesting when you stop to think about it.

One of my fascinations has always been the large wooden colonial ships.  The engineering that went into it and the commerce that was opened as a result of these long distance carriers is amazing.  I often wondered how the wood on the ship lasted as long as it did.  When doing some research on this ADD thought, I discovered that the bottom of the boat that stayed under water was usually in great shape, primarily because it stayed underwater.  The part above the water stayed in pretty good shape because it was, well above the water.  The part of the boat which suffered was the area between.

Think of a ship’s hull and separate it into three parts.  You would have the top part (above the water), the bottom part (below the water), and the middle.  The middle portion would be the part of the boat that would sometimes be under the water and sometimes be above.  This could be the result of waves, tide changes, weight of the ship, etc.  This constant exposure to the two different environments often caused splitting of the wood.   It is thought the phrase “bottom out” came from the deterioration of this section of the boat.  Of course, God began working on my with this concept.

If you stop to think about it, the parable of the seeds talks about the different types of soil of our hearts.  Similarly, we can use the above reference to describe the types of believers there are in the world, using a very broad stroke of the brush.

The Top (Above Water)

These could be characterized as the doers, the ones who are seen throughout the church living on mission.  They enjoy their activities, but truthfully, there is not a lot of depth to them.  They can give you the great Christian cliches like, “God will never bring you to it unless he can bring you through it.” Or, “we are saved by grace.” Or better, “I’m blessed, thanks for asking.”  Now, all of these are true statements, but you know the type I’m talking about.  There’s no depth!  They like their masks and their activities, but at the end of the day, they’re just not getting it.

The Bottom (Below Water)

Have you ever met a believer that was so in tune with God’s word they simply just wowed everyone they spoke with.  I’m not talking about those who can quote the entire book of Romans from memory, but rather, those who seek and find God in every little circumstance in life.  The more you get to know them, the peace and understanding they have is a direct result of the amount of time they spend in the throne room of God, face down.

I once knew a guy like this.  He was younger than me but man he showed me up.  He was forever in the Word or just being still before God.  It was more like a habit for him versus a scheduled appointment.  Anyway, he had some of the most profound one liners that you could tell you had just been smacked by the Holy Spirit.

One example was a time when he and I were running late for a meeting.  We had to go up two flights of stairs and I had decided I was going to take two at a time to his one right after the other approach.  I got to the top before he did and through my panting told him to hurry up.  He told me,

“You know, sometimes God wants us to just take one step at a time and trust him, rather than rushing to get to the top.  If you think about it, we both got to the top, but your short cut would up hurting you in the end.”

With that he just walked away!  Yeah, I’m sitting there completely floored by such a statement, and he thinks nothing of it.  What was the best part about his statement was that it was an answer to a question I had asked God in prayer the night before.  This guy was so entrenched with the Word and walking so closely with God, he was used daily without even knowing it.  Now that’s a deep hull!

Where it Cracks

The part of the ship where it cracks is a result of going in and out of two different environments is a lot like those of us who tend to bounce between the two worlds.  One minute they’re completely immersed in God’s word, walking closely with him and the next minute they’re just doing church.  There are numerous verses referring to the dangerous effects of swaying back and forth.

Ephesians 4:14 “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”

If you find yourself in this predicament, be careful of the warnings from Scripture.  Dig deeper into God’s word and surround yourself more with people who are deep versus those who just like to seem like they are.  The truth is, the bible is clear about its sanctifying nature and it will expose the cracks in your life.  It is not to be seen as a negative thing because God tells us He desires us to be in close union with him.

So, chances are if you’re reading this you consider yourself to be a Christian, the question is which part of the boat are you on?

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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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Christian Dads-What Legacy are you Leaving?

January 22, 2012

Some of the best movies always have some aspect of the plot centered around the father-son/daughter theme.  Think about it, here are some examples: Star Wars, Tron Legacy, Green Lantern, Lion King, and many more.  All of these have a deep rooted character who is seeking either a relationship with their father, trying to find their father, trying to impress their father and the list could go on.  This just highlights one simple, basic principle: a father’s influence over their child is critical, needed, and desired by children, no matter their age.

I believe one of the most important thoughts that should be on the forefront of any father’s mind should be their relationship with Christ, followed quickly by the legacy he will leave with his children.  If you take a minute to think back, chances are, you will find yourself doing things your father did.  I know I will often find myself saying something to one of my kids and thinking inside, “I sound just like my father.”  It’s not always a bad thing, but there are some things, as Christian men, we need to break.

It struck me while listening to a sermon on  Jacob and Isaac that the “sins of the father” has a definite theme based in Genesis.  Many of us will look at the deceiving of Isaac by Jacob with disdain, but where would a child learn something like that?  If you go back to the previous chapters in Genesis, you will see the practice of lying has deeper roots.  His father and grandfather both had lied to Abimelech.  Sure, these were great men of God and even they had their moments of weakness, not trusting God wholly that he would protect their family.  Jacob was simply following in the generational footsteps.  Jacob continued this tradition, leaning more on his own strength and understanding than that of God.  If you continue to read through Jacob’s story, you will find the deceit continuing when his sons sell their brother into slavery.  When will the cycle stop?

Joseph was cut from a different fabric.  Time and time again throughout his life, he was given the opportunity to be deceitful, self-reliant, but he fled from them and clung to God.  In one instance, he fled so quickly he fled naked from a sin he could have easily given in to.  Through his continued focus on God, Joseph was able to be saved from many situations, and was even used to save his family.  This is what God can do with simple obedience, he can break the sinful patterns of our fathers.

What is it in your life that you are passing on to your son or daughter?  This is a critical questions that if you have not already taken some time to think about, you MUST.  Do you have an anger issue?  If so, you can pretty well bet your child will struggle with the same.  Do you often lie to win people’s affection or affirmation?  If so, you will pass this curse on to your children.  This can only be done by submitting to Christ and letting him mold you to the father he needs you to be, no only for your sake, but also for that of generations to follow you.

Joseph’s obedience was used to break the generational cycle and saved a nation.  Take a moment to think about all of the issues we face as fathers and the issues our children will face in their times.  Just think of how willing God is to transform our families and our nation.  You never know what your obedience to him may spark in your family and ultimately, many generations down the road, in our nation.  Pray, focus, and submit.  Your children are dependent upon that!
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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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Man Alone-The Need for Accountability Groups Part II

January 19, 2012

In the previous post, Man Alone-The Need for Accountability Groups, we talked about the gradual decline of “pack mentality” of Christian men today.  Again, it is critical Christian men do not continue to go at it alone thinking that is their only option.

In this post we are going to look at some critical characteristics of a christian men’s accountability group.

Trait 1: Confidentiality

This is one of the most critical aspects of the group’s character.  If you do not have a group of men who respect confidentiality, you will never move past having the traditional, superficial groups where men continue to wear their masks.  It is crucial to a group’s survival and essence that men are able to take off the masks and be open, honest, and real with the other men in the group.  Some of the burdens we carry can be not only overwhelming but embarrassing.  In the early church, members would openly confess their sin and ask for not only prayers, but accountability.  With this in mind, look back at what happened to the early church: EXPLOSION.  Bearing your soul to other men allows you not only to release the burden, but also allows you to ask for accountability.  You cannot have this without true adherence to confidentiality.

Trait #2:- Confirmation

When one of the members of any sort of group shares something from their soul, they need confirmation.  I don’t care how uncomfortable or awkward it is, the worst that could happen for this individual is to hear crickets in the audience.  You don’t have to be able relate or empathize with him, simply confirm he said something for starters.  I have been part of groups where I have shared something to the welcoming sound of crickets in the room and I can tell you, it took me a while before I shared anything else.  This scar not only affected the group I was in, but other groups I participated in going forward.  This does not spark growth.  Confirmation of someone taking the leap to throw themselves out there is key for continued growth within the accountability group.

Trait #3- Consistency

If you decide to join one of the accountability groups in your church or area, be sure it is one which meets consistently and frequently.  Remember, the lion goes after the ones not close to the herd.  As a pack, we have to stick closely to our fellow warriors and can only do this if the group we are involved in meets consistently.  Sure, there will be times around holidays when meeting can be almost impossible, but don’t forget most everyone has a phone or email.  Sending a text message of encouragement can be all someone needs to get through the mini battle they are facing at the moment.  In addition to consistent meetings, there should always be consistent conversations/encouragement/relationship among the members.

Trait #4 – Code Words

Let’s face it, no one would feel comfortable with their accountability partner coming up to them and in the midst of the conversation ask, “So how’s your struggle with pornography going this week?”  Um yeah, just thinking about that kind of a situation sends most men into shut down mode.  One group I was a part of had the brilliant idea to come up with code words that only we knew.  One of the members in my group had the code word peeps.  So I’d occasionally text him and ask, “How’s the peeps doing?”  We’d have conversations among a group of people using our commonly used code words and be able to check each other on accountability, without anyone else knowing what was truly going on.  One guy’s wife asked him why everyone always asked him about his peeps?  Of course the guy shrugged it off, and we all got a good laugh about it.  Let’s face it, we’re all still five year old boys at heart and who doesn’t relish the idea of using code words as a spy?

Trait#5- Covenant

In biblical times, to go into covenant, or contract, with someone was pretty serious.  Unfortunately, in today’s realm, a lot of that has been diminished.   I would encourage you to talk to your group and devise a brief contract or covenant that everyone signs embracing the traits above.  This way, everyone is bound and everyone knows the rules of the group.  This is the one trait that is optional.

Hopefully, this has given you some ideas on what to look for in a group, or if you’re in a group, how to take it to the next level.  I encourage you to find a group of guys, open up, pray together and always, always, take care of the peeps in the group!
In the next post, we talk about what you should expect out of an accountability group.
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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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Man Alone- The Need for Accountability Groups

January 17, 2012

Have you ever felt this way?  As a man, it seems we have become geared to be severed from others.  Even if we are involved in sports, business groups, etc, we still seem to feel alone in the world.  We are graded constantly by everyone on our job performance, performance as a father and husband, our income, ability to provide, likability, you name it.  It never ends does it?  There is an epidemic across the world of men, Christian men, feeling isolated, unable to connect with anyone and simply accepting it.  This is not how God made us to be.

Thinking back to our image of the Christian Warrior, 300 style, there is a difference in the mentality of men.  Those in the 300 were close on many levels.  Why was that?  Their life depended on it.

In previous posts like “The Traits of the Christian Warrior“, “Christian Sword Series” and others, we talked about the lessons we could learn from the Spartan 300.  They were a fighting unit like no other.  One of their most notable traits was their strategy of never fighting alone.  Each Spartan would guard the back of their partner and the other would do the same.  What happened to this?  Look how successful the Spartans were and how long their legacy lived on.  What legacy are we leaving?  If we don’t change anything, we’re telling our sons to expect to be alone and to just learn to deal with it.  Yeah, not so much.

Jesus had disciples and when he ascended into heaven, these disciples began traveling together spreading the Gospel.  Paul spent most of his Christian life in relationship with other Christian men, living life on life.  The books to Timothy show Paul’s dedications to not being alone.  In one of his letters toward the end of his life, he asks Timothy to bring his favorite cloak.  You cannot tell me he and Timothy were not close, thus, he helped to set the stage for what Christian men need to get back to today.

So what is an accountability group?  Simply stated, it is a group of Christian men who get together to not only go through a bible study, but more importantly, take some time living life on life.  Questions like, how’s the job going?  What is going on in your marriage?  How is your struggle with _____?  These are the most important aspect of any Christian men’s group.  I believe too many times, leaders of such groups spend more time on bible study than they do actually discipling.  This is an art, an art we could look to Jesus to help us understand.

When going through the Gospels, we see Jesus actively seeking out disciples which was unheard of in his time as a rabbi, which is what many saw him as.  Once they were in the fold, Jesus spent a lot of time with these guys living.  They traveled together, ate together, went through trials together, and also ministered together.  It was this life on life, daily discipling curriculum Christ used to prepare his disciples to go on in his absence.  Along with the Holy Spirit, these men were able to continue doing what Christ had done with them with other men.  We have got to get back to this model.

In the next post, we talk about what you should expect out of an accountability group.

What to look for in an accountability group. 
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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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Best New Book for Men

January 12, 2012

I just completed reading this book and have to say it is one of the best books on Christian Men and Men’s Ministry.  I read it in about five hours because I could not put it down!

This book is written by the same author of Man in the Mirror (http://www.maninthemirror.org) and builds upon 7 Primal Principles of the man’s soul.  They are as follows:

1. To believe, really belive, that God knows, loves, and cares about me personally.

2. To believe my life has a divine purpose.

3. To break free from the destructive behaviors that keep dragging me down.

4. To satisfy my soul’s thirst for transcendence, awe, and communion with Christ.

5. To love and be loved without reservation.

6. To make a contribution and leave a legacy.

7. To feel and know I am not in this alone.

As one who feels particular called to the discipleship of men, this book was awesome and extremely relevant.  It isn’t one of those self-help books, but more of an eye-opening manual on how to become more “alive” as a Christian Man.  He addresses the tendency of men to lose heart, go silent, and anesthetize their pain through seclusion.  Many of us know how often men make the decision to follow Christ, but are then left to the wolf because no one disciples them.  If you think about it, discipleship was the first thing on the mind of Christ when He rose.  What did he do first?  Go after his disciples and reinforce the Gospel.  We should do the same.

Here are some scary stats on Christian Men shared in the book:

  • 80% are so emotionally impaired they’re unable to express or even identify their feelings
  • 55% of marriages experience financial dishonesty, mostly by the husband
  • 50% of men who attend church still seek out pornography
  • 40% get divorced affecting over 1 million children a year

I was on the floor when I saw these.  No wonder we have such a void in the church today of Christian Men, real Christian Men.  If you’re in ministry or in a men’s group or simply feel called by Christ to start something, I would highly encourage you to read this book!  Great read and very applicable.

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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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Be A Man of Christmas!

December 3, 2011

My family and I have some great friends who had a passion to bring the real meaning of Christmas back into families.

So, in their own words:

“As a parent there is nothing more exciting than watching your little ones get hyped-up about Christmas. You anxiously wait for this moment, from the time they are born…and then that special time finally arrives. Your children become eager to help put up the Christmas tree, string up colorful outdoor lights, and listen to catchy Christmas tunes. This is our story; this is our tale to tell: Our oldest daughter was four years old, and our middle son was three, and they were pumped for what Christmas had in store. As any good parent would do, we thought of all the possible fun and creative traditions we could start with our children. We specifically wanted ideas that would make an impact on their childhood. STRESS!!! We scattered our memories of our own personal childhood traditions, and also discussed with our closest friends, what they did for their children. On a four hour car trip to the coast, my husband and I started brainstorming. We talked about Santa, elves, making homemade candies and cakes, but there was one thing we both agreed on. We wanted to teach our children the true meaning of Christmas, and instill in them values that would last a lifetime. Before you know it, The Christmas Angel idea literally fell into our laps! I jotted our creative thoughts onto a notepad that I was using for last minute gift ideas. The concept was certainly God-inspired, and this inspiration will stay in our hearts forever.”

My wife and I were on board immediately not only because the creators were friends, but also because we had a similar disdain for how the Christmas story has gotten muffled by the noise of the world.  So, this year, we were so excited to introduce the Christmas Angel to our family as a new tradition.  Of course, as Christ always does, our family time has become something we never would have thought of.

We decided to do the Countdown to Christmas plan on Youversion.com in conjunction with our Christmas Angel nightly.  So, every night, we spend some time going through God’s Word and praying as a family.  Sadly enough, we were surprised how excited the kids have become with this new tradition, almost nagging us every thirty minutes to have Bible Story time.  This is shadowed greatly by the wonderful conversations and teaching we have been able to experience, not to mention the gut wrenching, innocent prayers our children have offered up in the process.

So, my Man Challenge for you?  Check out the Christmas Angel, order one, and begin a new tradition in your family.  You can go to Youversion.com and pick one of the countdown plans for Christmas and make this time a priority with your family.  You’ll see some pretty amazing results:

  • Closeness with Christ
  • Closeness with your wife
  • Your children will bond with you
  • You take your family back!

My family and I sincerely hope you have an amazing Christmas!

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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.