Posts Tagged ‘ephesians 6’

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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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The Christian Sword – The Guard

December 22, 2009

The most effective piece of armor to be used against any enemy is the warrior’s sword.  Unfortunately, for most Christians, I would daresay this is the one piece of armor that is rarely used, and if used, used effectively.  Truly, the sword for the Christian Warrior is to be that of  “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  But for most of us, we do not know what this means?

In the last posts, A Warrior’s Sword and A Warrior’s Sword-The Handle, we opened the discussion by opening Ephesians 6 and discussing the sword as part of the armor.  In spiritual warfare, the enemy is at our doorstep.  For those of us who are Christian Husbands or Christian Fathers, this war is a daily one.  Again, as we explore this passage, we have to remember that when Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians, especially the passage we are discussing, Ephesians 6:10-20, war was a bit more personal.  So we have discussed the sword and the handle, let’s move on to the guard.

Every sword had a portion of it right above the handle referred to as the guard.  There are a multitude of styles of the guard, but each of them served a major function for the warrior.  In personal, hand to hand combat, the warrior was incredibly exposed to injury from all angles and the guard of the sword was critical for protecting the warrior’s hands.  If your only weapon was the sword, an injury to your hand could be life threatening.

The same is true with God’s Word.  If we truly understand the meaning and importance of the handle, we will spend more time in the Word daily.  Just as the Word can prove to be an attack on evil, it is also our guard against the attacks of Satan.

We use what Christ teaches us through His Holy Word as a baseline for decision making.  For those who are lost or without Christ, the whole idea of right and wrong can be greatly affected by the world.  If you were to look over various generations, the views of what was “wrong” or “unthinkable” has changed with the passing of year.  On the contrary, those who spend time in the Word of God, this baseline of decision making has little “wiggle room.”  Decisions made cannot be simply reasoned away, but rather, have to balance with what we are told in Scripture.

Scripture is also our guard for when we are under spiritual attack.  I know personally, when worry and anxiety overcome me, I reflect upon Phil 4:4, “Be anxious for nothing.”  When I feel the need to speak my mind, I am reminded of the Scripture verses that speak to the danger of a loose tongue.  As a warrior, it is vital for me to keep my mind guarded against the schemes of Satan and the tricks of this world.

If I do not spend time training myself, I will be weak against what the world tells me is right.  The beauty of Scripture is the way it permeates through every aspect of our lives when we devote time to His Holy Word.  If we spend the appropriate amount of time learning how to use our weapon, the powerful nature of the Word is it will also serve as a guard against our enemy’s attacks.

If you would like more on the Christian Sword, check out the  series of post covering the uses of Scripture in the daily life of every Christian Warrior.

The Handle

The Guard

The Blade

Join us as we continue to discuss how today’s Christian Men can step up and become the Christian Warrior their family, friends, work, and community need them to be.

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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.

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Little Mermaid’s Ursula Helps Teach us about Sin

June 21, 2009

Teaching the subject of sin to children can be fairly challenging and intimidating.  I know personally, sometimes teaching the subject of sin to adults can be a daunting task as well.  Sin and temptation are common themes throughout all of Scripture.  Using various Bible stories as teaching tools is a great idea.  If you need to take the message a step further and need some help, let me introduce you to a great character to use… Ursula.

I guess I know so much about The Little Mermaid because it is one of my little girl’s favorite movies.  After watching it several times, I became intrigued with the correlation Ursula’s character has to the reality of sin and temptation.

Here are some helpful hints on how to use Ursula’s character to teach your children about sin and temptation:

1.  Ursula plotted to trap Ariel, using her own weakness/passion against her. If you have seen the movie, you will remember how Ursula watches Ariel’s passion for Eric develop and decides to use this as a ploy to trap her.  Unfortunately, our enemy does the same thing with us.  Like Ariel, when our mind becomes focused on something more than pleasing our father, we can easily be beguiled by the slippery words Satan uses.  Unfortunately, many have fallen to this temptation, never seeing or knowing that Satan had been plotting their temptation for some time.   We have to teach our children to be on their guard at all times.  Ephesians 6 tells us,

12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

2.  Temptation usually sounds like a deal that can’t go wrong… but it does. A number of us have fallen prey to the temptation of believing a deal that was not true.  Unfortunately, when we become obsessed with something, our rational approach to things and of all things, our spiritual compass, seems to go out the window.  Teach your children about how to guard against such things and be wary of making decisions before praying about them.  Just like Ursula’s deal with Ariel, sin sounds so inviting until we find ourselves caught in its snares.

3.  Sin affects those we love the most, even when we don’t mean for them to. Ariel’s deal with Ursula affected her friends, Eric and her father.  When the contracted was called to be paid, Ariel’s father had to pay with his life to save Ariel’s.  This is a great lesson to teach your children about sin.  As we covered in an earlier post, A Father’s Love, the king’s sacrifice for his daughter’s deal is much like the sacrifice Christ made for our sin.  As it states in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Teach your children that sin affects all of us, but that there is redemptive mercy in Christ’ sacrifice for our “contract”.

4.  The enemy makes the rules, but will cheat to win. I love how Ariel’s plan begins working, but when the scenerio seems to play in her favor, Ursula takes matters into her own hands and competes against Ariel, making it difficult to win.  Many of us think that for some reason, sin will work out in our favor and will not have the same effect other people’s sin has had.  This is simply untrue.  Like Ursual, Satan will not follow any rules that will further our relationship with Christ.  In fact, he lives to destroy it.  We have to teach our children how to know when we are being tempted and how to pray against it.  Additionally, as fathers, we need to actively pray for our children’s decisions, regardless of their ages.

5.  The deal will always take something from you. In this movie, Ariel’s voice is taken from her as part of the deal.  Help your children understand John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  Just like Ursula, the devil will steal something from them in every sin transaction.

Here’s a great idea for you to consider.  Let your children know prior to watching the movie the similarities of Ursula’s plot to that of Satan’s.  Have them be on the look out throughout the movie for different instances where the similarities are apparent.  You might be surprised what they come up with.  And better yet, you might just learn something new yourself!

If you would like more in this series, please be sure to check out the other articles in Using Movies to Witness.

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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.

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Enemy Behind the Lines: Fear

April 3, 2009

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear.”
H.P. Lovecraft

Here is an interesting list for you to consider:

  1. The number 13
  2. Air
  3. Body Odors
  4. Dentists
  5. Dust

So what do all of these have in common?  They are all listed as diagnosed phobias.  The list of diagnosed phobias was pretty exhaustive and surprising.

Alektorophobia.  That is the phobia I have.  Pretty terrifying and to save you some time researching, let me define it for you.  I have a gripping fear of chickens, well, roosters primarily.  Oh, and I have another one, Coulrophobia.  Again, another serious phobia I have of clowns.  I know you are laughing to yourself, but you have them too.  Those silent, hidden fears that keep you caged in yourself.

I found it interesting that when trying to determine the total number of phobias, the answer was quite simple, “there are as many phobias as there are things and situation.”  When I reread over Genesis, I read about the numerous items God created, but found it interesting that fear was not one of them.  So when did fear become so common and accepted as something just to name and accept.  Who comes up with all of these names for the million phobias listed? I would daresay Adam had the easier job naming all of the animals.

Why is fear considered an enemy behind the line?  Interestingly enough, even when you would describe yourself as fearless, you truly are not.  I found this to be true personally.  Granted, I have a distorted fear of clowns and roosters, I thought when it came to faith, I could be considered as fearless.   After comparing myself to some of the people in Scripture, I am not that fearless.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,  – Acts 16:25

After reading about Paul and Silas singing in the midst of facing almost certain execution… painful execution, I can’t really say I am all that fearless.  Of all of the emotions and all of the possible behaviors to display in a time like that, I can’t say that I I would have necessarily chosen to sing hymns to God first.  That, in my humble opinion, is pretty fearless. In today’s environment, we need more of that type of fearlessness.

Most of us, however, would recognize our other fears or phobias.  Those who are afraid of heights stay away from high places.  Others who are afraid of flying don’t even go to http://www.travelosity.com to price flights, it’s just not an option to consider.  And those of us who are afraid of clowns, we steer clear of circuses.  We are able to embrace the fears we know about, but not the fears that are “behind the line.”

If I asked you to speak to a group of people regarding your testimony or to simply share the Gospel with them, unless you were agorophobic, you would not have a tremendous problem with it right?  Chances are, the group I assembled would be somewhat believers ready to receive or at least listen to what you had to say right?  Let’s change the situation.  What if I were to ask you to stand up in a crowded movie theater before a movie started share the Gospel?  Ok, that feeling you just felt in the pit of your stomach, that is the enemy behind the lines… fear.

We all have it, fear of failure, embarrassment, humiliation, or rejection.  This fear is the fear crippling many Christians, especially Christian Men in today’s society.  As a man, it is easy to be the bold one in business, the “take no prisoners” type.  Personally, at one time in my life, I felt great pride in taking down an opponent whether it be a competitor in business or simply someone who, in my opinion, needed to be put in their place.  It was almost second nature.  The tide has shifted though for those of us who have submitted ourselves to Christ.

There is a fear infested in us that lies dormant, it seems, until we commit ourselves to Christ and take up His armor and mission rather than our own?  Suddenly, your ability to “take down enemies” seems to be nonexistent when it comes to defending your faith.  What am I speaking of?  Let’s say someone in your office speaks about women in a lewd and disgraceful manner.  Will you stand up and tell them that it is no longer acceptable to speak in those ways about women?  Ok, if you answered yes, let’s take it one step further.  If you were asked why the sudden change, would your answer be, “Because I have committed myself to Christ and we are to love and honor our wives as Christ loves the church, not speak about them so harshly.”  Yeah, not as easy.

Fear cripples most of us and we do not know how infested our camp is with fear until we are faced with one of these moments.  Most of the time, myself included, we back down and simply retreat thinking there will be another day to fight.  I have thought the same, but have been asked by Christ through my spirit, “What if the battle you needed to fight was today?”  That’s a hard question to answer.

Paul and Silas may have had some fear about singing hymns while in prison, but then again, what did they have to lose?  Chances are, they were told they would be executed or beaten.  They had a bodily threat where today, most of us only have a threat to our egos.  Paul and Silas had a greater fear though: the fear of the Lord.  They knew who was truly in control and submitted themselves to Christ again, in the midst of their fear.  Sometimes, that is all Christ is wanting from us, simple submission.  I am quite sure that as these two men sang, their fear began to subside back into the darkened corners of the prison where it belonged.

As a result of their prayers and praise through their fear, a Phillippian jailer was converted.  Their choice to overcome their fear through fervent prayer and worship saved not only the jailer, but his family.  What a testimony we have in this passage!  As a Christian Warrior, we are called to be bold and fearless in Christ.  Greater is he that we serve than he that comes against us.  If we all were to realize this slippery enemy in our own camp, perhaps Christ could use us more to reach out to the lost men we are constantly working with, speaking to, working out with, coaching with, etc.  Could you imagine the impact it would have on the Kingdom?

If you liked this post, you might want to check out the others in this series:

Unforgiveness

Regret

Self-Reliance

The Lie

Have new posts delivered right to your email, click here.
Subscribe to Christian Men-Christian Warriors by Email
Share/Save/Bookmark

Subscribe//

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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.

urch Development as a Church Consultant.

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Enemy Behind the Line-Unforgiveness

March 20, 2009


Continuing our series on the “Enemy Behind the Line“, I wanted to spend some time on one I have struggled with and continue to struggle with: unforgiveness.  Read this Scripture Passage from Luke 15:

“The son got up and went to his father. While he was yet a long way off, his father saw him. The father was full of loving-pity for him. He ran and threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am not good enough to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to the workmen he owned, ‘Hurry! Get the best coat and put it on him. Put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet. 23 Bring the calf that is fat and kill it. Let us eat and be glad. 24 For my son was dead and now he is alive again. He was lost and now he is found. Let us eat and have a good time.’

While pondering today’s Scripture Reading, I noticed one line of this story I had never really taken into account.  Of course, we all know the story of the two sons, one son who works the fields while the other one spends his inheritance on matters of the world and after finding himself with the pigs, decides to go back to his father for forgiveness.  You know this story as do I and most us focus on the wonderful correlation to how the father welcomed his son home regardless of his faults and how Christ does that to all of us when we turn back to him.

When reading this passage this morning, I was struck by one line, look below:    

The son got up and went to his father. While he was yet a long way off, his father saw him.

Notice the part I underlined.  These four words brought a totally new perspective for me to this story.  I felt the Holy Spirit inspire me to ask myself the question, “How did the father see his son from afar if he wasn’t already looking for him?”  Of course with my mind, I began racing to the mental theater in my mind now seeing a piece of the play I had not paid any attention to before.  Rather than the father simply seeing his son by happen-chance, I now see the father pacing on the hill, constantly looking for his lost son to return home and when seeing him, being filled with joy and then running to embrace him.

This has helped me better understand something about Christ that I have always been told and an attribute that Scripture supports.  We all use the passage in Revelation about Christ knocking on the door and “letting him in to dine with us,” but isn’t it a comforting revelation for all of us who strive toward a more Christ-like life to know in our heart of hearts that when we have strayed from the right path, Christ, like the father in the parable, is pacing on a hill looking for us to return?  And it’s not like He waits for us to run to Him and throw ourselves before his feet and beg for forgiveness, the simple act of turning to Him and taking the first step almost forces the heart of Christ to run to us where we are.  Now that is a Saviour!  Unlike those we live with day in and day out who wait for us to approach them wtih an apology, and at times revel in our graveling for their forgiveness, Christ waits to run to us.

I think we all to often forget that forgiveness is part of the requirement of us.  It is very easy for me to sit and brew over something.  Although I say I have forgiven that person, in actuality, I have not.  Unfortunately, I believe this is a battle many of us have to fight.  One simple foothold Satan can use in our lives is that of unforgiveness.  It is the seed of so many thorns in our lives that will choke the Word being scattered in our lives by Christ.  It starts as a simple vine, then eventually, it will take over.  It is one of the enemies behind the line.  As a Christian man or Christian Leader, you have to uproot this weed before it is too late.

One final thought for you to ponder: Do you think it is ironic that the father in this story was pacing on a hill looking for his lost son?  I can’t see anything Christ doing as being simply ironic, but rather, divinely inspired, only because He still paces on a hill waiting for us.  The hill is called Calvary!

So if you are a father or in a leadership position, let’s try to remember to be actively looking for opportunities to forgive and embrace those who change their hearts…

If you liked this post, you might want to check out the others in this series:

Unforgiveness

Self-Reliance

The Lie

Have new posts delivered right to your email, click here.
Subscribe to Christian Men-Christian Warriors by Email
Share/Save/Bookmark

Subscribe//

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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.

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The Enemy Behind the Lines- Self-Reliance

March 4, 2009

This series began with the first blog article entitled; “The Enemy Behind the Lines-The Lie” which focused on the lies Satan has convinced many of the men of today in believing. As a man, I believe one of the “enemies behind the lines” I have had to face is that of self-reliance. Unfortunately, it has been a lesson that has been excruciating at times, but one needing serious attention.

My grandfather always had a garden, and I have the greatest memories of being out there with him, working on the various crops. At the time, I only saw it as a way to get away from my normal, everyday routine during the summer. As I look back on it, I know now it was Christ’s way of training me for the life ahead with the mini life lessons my grandfather taught me in that garden in south Alabama. One of those lessons applies to the subject of self-reliance is Paw Paw’s simple saying regarding weeds. “It only takes one, then they take over.” Self-reliance works in much the same manner.

Self-reliance is just that, relying on one’s own abilities to accomplish one’s ambitions. How is this one of the lies or enemies behind the line? If you are truly attempting to be a Christian man, one following the path to the cross, Self-reliance is one of the first weeds you need to pluck or prune. My grandfather explained to me that one weed, although it did not seem like a major problem, would eventually germinate quicker than the real vegetation in the garden and eventually choke the life out of the plants you were actually trying to harvest. Self-reliance works in much the same manner, slowly taking over your spiritual garden and choking the life out of the vines that produce the fruits of the Spirit.

Self-reliance calls for accountability only to oneself, not to God. It submits only to the authority of self-ambition and rebukes any correction offered by Christ. Self-reliance slowly takes the divinity of Christ off of the thrown in our own Holy of Holies and replaces it with our own image. Rather than worshiping the one true God, we begin worshiping our own creations and furthermore, we begin to expect others to do the same. If one who is Self-reliant ever finds their circle of friends, their family, or their co-workers are not praising their endeavors, it becomes a major bone of contention and could even result in a major stumbling block in any of those relationships. Christ, in numerous parables, relates the Kingdom of God to that of a field and often speaks of the vegetation versus the weeds war. James 3:16 puts it another way, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition [Self-reliance ] exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” As James says, “every vile practice” is the eventual result of selfish ambition or self-reliance.

Personally, I never had any idea just how deeply rooted this issue of self-reliance was for me. In 2007, I rededicated my life to Christ and said a prayer that changed my life’s course. In the silence of the night, I prayed, “Christ, break me and mold me.” What I really meant was, “Christ, break me and mold me, but only the way I want you to.” Fortunately, Christ doesn’t work that way. Once the prayer left my lips, the work Christ had begun in me was kicked into high gear. The heat, used to mold me to conform to the image of Christ, was turned up about 250 degrees and my little castle of cards began to fall, one story at a time.

At the time, I was a Vice President of Human Resources for a major bank in the Southeast. In my late twenties, a lot of “power” and “influence” was not the best thing for me. Submitting to Christ meant I had to begin “unsubmitting” to myself. Although I had the same sense of false humility that most Christians seemed to have, Christ was calling me to something deeper. Within only a couple of weeks, I was released from my position at the bank and so began a 90 day journey jobless. For such a long time, I introduced myself as Trent Cotton, Vice President of HR for *** Bank. So much of my identity was wrapped in the person I had made myself to be, not in whom Christ had made and called me to be.

So when my job was eliminated, I initially thought, “Not a big deal, I am marketable, everyone will want me.” After about 90 days, I soon realized I was not all I cracked up to be. I prayed for days to understand what was happening, why was I not getting anything. While searching for answers, I heard a lesson based on this verse:

37 And He will say, Where are their gods, the rock in which they took refuge, 38 Who ate the fat of their sacrifices and drank the wine of their drink offering? Let them rise up and help you, let them be your protection! 39 See now that I, I am He, and there is no god beside Me… Deuteronomy 32: 37-39

This particular verse shows the warnings against a Self-reliant spirit. What are the consequences? For me, Christ watched as the perfect storm in my life soon consumed me and chipped away at the self-reliance I had acquired over the years. When I cried out to Christ for help in my plight, I could almost hear, “And where is your god? Aren’t you the all-powerful god that can do anything? See now that I, I am He and there is NO god beside Me …”

As I looked back, I could see where my self-reliant defiance against the authority of Christ in my life had ruined so many aspects of my life. I saw the character others saw in me and was pretty displeased, borderline embarrassed by what I saw. While I was preaching to be a great Christian man, I did not have enough confidence in the one who saved me to guide me, mold me, and yes, save me. In my mind, all of those tasks fell under my authority and jurisdiction. Essentially, I wanted to be saved by Christ, but wanted him to be this little figure in the corner of my life that I could bring out every Sunday and talk about as if I truly knew of his grace and divinity, but then place him back in the closet of reason and doubt during the week. Fortunately, his grace saved me from living a life believing that lie.

So, how do you tell if you are Self-reliant ? Let’s look at some questions to ask yourself:

  • When I am not noticed for the work I do, is it hard for me not to throw an internal fit?
  • When I have a major project, do I rely totally on my own abilities rather than praying for specific guidance?
  • Am I hard to teach?
  • Am I unwilling to listen to correction from someone, even if it is on how to become closer to Christ?
  • Do I shrink away from accountability?
  • Do I only go to Christ when all chaos has broken loose?

If you answered yes to any of these, chances are, you have a weed of Self-reliance in your spirit. Just like my grandfather said, only one can be enough to start a complete takeover of your spiritual gifts. Self-Reliance prohibits self-control, joy without limits, patience in others… and the list goes on. Self-Reliance takes Christ out of the situation and focuses more on us being the God of our universe. It can lead to false hope, false beliefs and most importantly, false relationships.

As a Christian man, we are to be Christ-Like. I cannot think of one passage in Scripture where Christ was Self-reliant. In fact, he openly prayed for guidance and gave thanks openly for the miracles God had proven through him. In the garden, Christ went to God the Father for guidance and support before walking to the cross. Of all things, Christ was not self-reliant and neither should we be. If you find yourself battling a spirit of self-reliance, here are a couple of suggestions on how to combat it:

  • Constant, intentional, daily prayer
  • Ask for an accountability partner and be humble and willing enough to listen-you might want to consider asking a fellow Christian Warrior
  • Pray for humility and to be broken
  • Try to listen more than you speak. If you truly have a problem with self-reliance (like I did) this will be torture at times, but will help keep things in check
  • Daily assess how you did and look for ways Christ could have been exalted rather than you exalting yourself.

Gentlemen, Self-reliance can destroy all types of relationships, even marriages if you don’t pluck that weed to its root and quickly. Remember, it only takes one weed of self-reliance to take over. Be the warrior and eliminate the enemy’s chance to destroy from behind the line.

If you liked this post, you might want to check out the others in this series:

Unforgiveness

Self-Reliance

The Lie

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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.