Six Characteristics of Godly Men in the Workplace (from Timothy 2:3-7)

Last week, I identified six characteristics of godly men from 2 Timothy 2:1-2. This week, we go through the next four verses, which I notice seem to be related to our calling as “good soldiers of Jesus Christ.” So I took a look at these verses, and identified six characteristics of godly men in the workplace. But first, let’s take a look at the verses.

3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. 7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

  1. Godly men are empathetic towards their colleagues. Verse 3 reads, share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. The difference between sympathy and empathy is the former involves feeling pity, and the latter involves putting oneself in the shoes of another. No man is an island, and we go through life with brothers in the faith. If someone is suffering, we can’t simply let them be; we understand their situation, share their pain, and help them overcome it, so that by their testimony, others may come to know Christ.
  2. Godly men are focused. Verse 4 reads, No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. Whatever it is we were called to do as a career, we are called to do it with excellence, as if we were working for God (refer to Col. 3:23). So when it’s time for work, we would do best to focus on the work, and give our employers our full attention.  This verse uses a military example: soldiers getting distracted by non-military things can spell the difference between life and death; because God put us where we are, it is our responsibility to focus on that job, and therefore please God who gave it to us, as well as those on earth who were chosen by God to lead us.
  3. Godly men play by the rules. Verse 5 reads, an athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. We cannot expect to receive recognition if we cheat our way to the top. Godly men are called to follow the rules and set good examples for others.
  4. Godly men are industrious. Verse 6 reads, it is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. The hard-working farmer deserves his share of the harvest because he invested quality time and effort into preparing it. We, likewise, would do best to also work conscientiously and with passion in our places of work, and expect by grace to receive what is justly due us.
  5. Godly men are just. In the same breath, Paul writes in verse 6 that  the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. I  understand this to also imply that godly men will also stand up to ensure those who deserve what they should be getting, in fact, get it.
  6. Godly men are thoughtful. Paul, in the last verse from this week’s selection, suggests we think about what we’ve just learned. He writes,  Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. We can trust that God will reveal to us what He is trying to say in His Word if we don’t understand it right away.

These are six characteristics I’ve observed from four verses; I hope this was helpful to you. Did you see anything I may have missed? Want to share any positive experiences that have helped you grow in your walk as a Christian man in the workplace? Please share them in the Comments!

Six Characteristics of Godly Men (from 2 Timothy 2:1-2)

Going through 2 Timothy, I was struck by the two opening verses of the second chapter. Verses one through thirteen are titled “A Good Soldier of Jesus Christ,” and I was under the impression that this would be behavior or attitudes that God’s mighty men would (have to) possess.

The letters of Paul to Timothy are so fantastic because they’re written by a godly man who knows his spiritual brother and friend so well. There’s an intimacy to it that allows Christian men who are equally connected to other men in the church, to receive the wise lessons taught in it.

It opens with these two verses:

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men,[a] who will be able to teach others also. – 2 Timothy 2:1-2

What rich verses! As I thought about them more, I identified the following attitudes or behaviors that I think Paul is encouraging godly men to have as they fight the good fight:

  1. They know they are members of the family of God. The first four words of the verse are “You then, my child.” As Paul writes this, he calls Timothy his child. As the man who led Timothy to his faith in Christ, Paul is like a spiritual father to him, but he also plays a mentoring role to Timothy’s growth in the faith. When we come into the family of God, all the men in our spiritual family become brothers, and the wiser, more experienced ones take on a mentoring role, and it can be lifesaving to know that there are godly men we can run to, in times of trouble.
  2. They are humble. The next portion of the verse reads, “be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” While the verse clearly tells us to be strong–that’s number three on this list–it also tells us to BE strengthened BY THE GRACE. The world will tell us that physical strength comes from within, that we get strong by working out and pumping iron and all that. The strength referred to in this verse, for me, is an inner strength that serves us just as powerfully. The Bible tells us that God’s grace is abundant, and ultimately, He is our source of strength. To me, it indicates that godly men are humble because they acknowledge their strength comes from God, and they are willing to be strengthened.
  3. They are strong. Men who rely on the grace of God for strength know that this grace never runs out and is always available. When our source of strength is infinite, there is a strength and courage that permeates every area of our lives. After all, “he gives strength to the weary and increases the power to the weak.” (Isaiah 40:29)
  4. They are open to instruction. Verse 2 opens with “…and what you have heard from me…” This indicates that Timothy heard godly instruction from Paul, which tells us he actively sought to listen and learn from Paul. A mark of a true man is when he learns from the wisdom of others.
  5. They keep the company of other godly men. The next portion reads, “in the presence of many witnesses…” This tells us that Timothy wasn’t alone in listening to Paul; he was with other godly men who also heard and benefited from instruction. The Christian walk cannot be done in a vacuum; we are all called to spiritual unity, accountability, and brotherhood in the body of Christ, and it is both a responsibility and a challenge to build relationships with other godly men in the church. But, as we see, not only in the verse, but two thousand years later, the church is still very much alive, thanks to the familial relationships that are built over time in the church.
  6. They are open to teaching others. The rest of the verse reads, “entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” It isn’t enough for us to attend church; we need to be engaged, and engage others as well. If there is a shortage of godly men in church, it isn’t because God hasn’t provided the men! Godly men also establish other men in the faith. By faith, we can build godly men in the church to lead: we identify, instruct, impart and intern these future leaders.

These are six characteristics I’ve observed from these two verses. I hope this was helpful to you. Did you see anything I may have missed? Want to share any positive experiences that have helped you grow in your walk as a Christian man? Please share them in the Comments!

Deen Family Strategic Planning 2018

At the end of every year, I bring my family together for a family strategic planning meeting. As I wrote more extensively about in this blog post, family strategic planning sets direction, helps manage family resources, and sets family members up for success.

26170236_10156104720323573_7933505914530801455_o This is why we take the time to go out of town, recharge and relax, before heading into a meeting that allows us to revisit what we’ve done in the past and where we plan to go, moving forward. Ideally, the goals set at the strategic family planning meeting are then followed up at monthly family meetings that allow family members to discuss issues and incidents that are important to then, celebrate the wins, learn from the losses, and plan adequately for the future.

This year, however, was a little different. The family voiced out that the core values that we identified–godliness, respect, integrity, perseverance, and excellence–seemed to be driven by performance, and left little room for grace.

“Let’s do a little design thinking,” Catherine, my wife, suggested, “and revisit the core values.”

I was initially hesitant–my vision of core values saw them as values that would stand the test of time, rather like La Salle’s Religio, Mores et Cultura–but the feedback that it was high-pressure and performance-driven could not be ignored. So Caths led us in a Design Thinking exercise that gave us the opportunity to write down different values that were important to each of us. We then categorized them together into groups of similar intention, and grace, God-centered, joy, respect, and excellence were the values that stood out.

26111911_10156107279288573_7766162826156376487_nWe then wordsmithed these values into more tangible content that seemed more relatable and achievable, and these are the results.

In 2018, the Deen family will endeavor to live out:

– Grace-Filled Living
– A God-Centered Lifestyle
– A Joyful Disposition
– Respect in All Relationships
– The Pursuit of Excellence

RESOURCES! If you’d like to try strategic planning for your family, here’s a sample family strategic planning template (in Excel format) that you can use, and  here’s a sample family meeting template that you can use for your monthly meetings. Just replace the section on Family Values with your own, or feel free to adapt ours to suit your family’s needs. Happy new year from the Deens!

Three Things Your Children Will Learn Best From You

Yesterday, my sister-in-law and my niece rode with us to school. Before we left our home, my kids prayed, as they always do. My son prayed for  the safety of his mother, who was away on business, while my daughter prayed for the family’s day ahead. My sister-in-law prayed for our father-in-law, who is in the hospital sick. Her daughter, who I’m sure loves to pray but was probably shy that day to pray with others, agreed with us, and it set the tone for the day ahead.

My wife and I work very strategically and intentionally to create a culture of prayer in our home, because we acknowledge that an active prayer life is one of the best weapons in every Christian’s arsenal, so to speak. But this is only one of many things that parents can influence on their children. While they can always learn this outside the home, there is something very powerful about the example and vision-casting that a parent brings into a child’s life. Here are three areas you can really impact on your kids:

  1. Character and Values. A Christian can present all kinds of exteriors to the world, but only one’s spouse, children, and God Himself knows the full extent of a person’s character.  We could be the sweetest, kindest people in the eyes of the world, but behind our closed doors and four walls, our kids and spouses know who we really are. Your values will reflect on your child, and if you speak good values, like godliness, respect, integrity, perseverance, and excellence, you are equipping your child with great tools for the future.
  2. Prayer. I always notice that people tend to pray like the people who discipled them. The same applies in the family setting. If your children see you praying, they will pray. How you pray, how often you pray, and the quality of your prayers will influence how they pray. I am so humbled yet proud of my 12-year-old Nathan, who is a veritable prayer warrior. Ever since he was a boy, both he and his sister have been encouraged to pray, but this young man does not hesitate to pray for people, especially in the areas of provision and healing. (I myself love to pray for people’s healing, so I think that may have rubbed off on him. But he’s such a provision prayer warrior!)
  3. Love. A recent study showed that arguing parents impair their children’s development. Likewise, another study showed that parental warmth is crucial to a child’s well-being. I think it’s safe to say that children who grow up in a home where the parents clearly love and are  intentionally affectionate with each other (especially if expressed in all love languages–physical touch, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, and quality time) will want to create a similar home environment for their spouses and family.

What about you? What are some things that you feel children can learn best from their parents?

Three Things to Do When Your Child Disrespects You

A few weeks ago, I had a situation with one of my children. Upon the child’s arrival from school, the child’s grandmother suggested a haircut from the neighborhood stylist, which the child refused to do. My wife was home but very sick at the time, so she had no energy to get up and address the disrespect; it was actually disappointing that the child showed no concern for the sick mother. I resolved to deal with the disobedience when I got home, but when I arrived, the child was already asleep, so I couldn’t deal with the situation.

bible_rod_discipline_childrenI got my own version a few hours later though, when the child woke me up at 1AM because the child awoke and couldn’t go back to sleep. The scandalous shouting match that followed did not wake up anyone, thank goodness, but I certainly gave this child a piece of my mind for the events of that day.

As Christian parents, we set the example for our children in godliness, respect, integrity, perseverance, and excellence, and we set the boundaries and rules for them so they, in turn, grow up to become disciplined, independent Christian adults. However, it’s inevitable that every parent will experience a situation where their child disrespects their authority and pushes their buttons just right. So what is the Christian parent to do?

Disrespect is ultimately disobedience, which necessitates discipline. It’s important for parents to present a united front, especially if their natural discipline styles are different. Otherwise, the children will run to the more forgiving parent, while the other parent comes across as an angry monster.

My wife and I are united in three things when it comes to dealing with our children’s attitudes towards respect and obedience.

1. Instruct with the heart and deal with the heart. Every disciplining situation is a chance for a parent to speak his heart to his child. As you address your child, remember this is a learning opportunity for your child. Proverbs 15:5 says, “A fool despises his father’s instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is prudent.” This is even more important to remember if you feel your child is willfully disregarding your advice or discipline.

No parent intentionally gives his children bad advice, and, on occasion, a child’s disobedience may not be because he intends to disobey but because the boundaries weren’t set or instructions weren’t clear. End of effort, it must be clear the child knew what he did was wrong.

2. Provide discipline that speaks to the child. There are consequences to negative behavior, not just so the child will learn not to do it again, but so they’ll understand how the world works. A home in which there is no justice is raising a child with blurred moral boundaries.

When it comes to discipline, I believe in the concept of “hit them where it hurts.” (This doesn’t necessarily mean the rod, although I have, on occasion, spanked my children when they were younger, and applying Tip No.3 afterward.) If you balk at spanking, you can still provide discipline in other ways. For us, we know our children hold something of value, and we apply discipline by addressing what they hold valuable. For example, my son is a techie, so discipline for him involves grounding from video games; my daughter loves her Shopkins, so discipline for her may involve the temporary withholding of Shopkins benefits.

I do want to also say, though, that it is not enough to (temporarily) remove the object of value; we need to fill the void that it creates. It is important to provide an alternative activity or item that will give the child time to reflect on what they did. For my son, I’ll ask him to clean the room (with me, because I enjoy that); for my daughter, I’ll have her read a few chapters from a book, which we will discuss afterward.

3. Restore. After every disciplining effort, it is essential for the parent to make time to sit down with the child and process the disciplining effort. Make a deliberate effort to speak to the child in their love language, and reassure him that there is forgiveness and grace for him. The child needs to know that you will continue to love him despite what he did, and you always will.

What about you? What are some things you do when you deal with your disrespectful child?

Image taken from here. No copyright infringement intended.

Three Skills You Can Help Your Kid Improve on This Summer

Most summers, some kids tend to vegetate while their parents pretty much allow them to run wild and free. While there’s nothing essentially wrong with that–some might beg to disagree even with that flippant statement–I would like my kids’ summers to count. A few days ago, I wrote about three things Christian dads can do with their kids this summer. In this blog entry, I’ve identified the following skills that I personally am helping my 11-year-old son improve this summer.

1. Improve his typing skills. In this digital age, keyboard mastery can make a huge difference. As a child, I remember playing a desktop game featuring a race car that sped up as I typed words into the text field. I credit that game for helping me improve my typing skills, and while I no longer have that game, there is an abundance of games that kids can play. I recommend Fun to Type, which has a variety of games that can help improve the child’s skills over time.

2. Improve his handwriting skills. No offense to him, but my son’s handwriting is atrocious. (Case in point: last night’s homework, he couldn’t read what he wrote himself.) I tend to subscribe to the “practicing with pegs makes perfect” model of education, so I’m requiring my son to do handwriting exercises with quality pegs during weekdays, and to answer the questions to No.3 in cursive, so he practices often.

3. Build vocabulary, critical thinking, and composition skills. I want to encourage Nathan to think critically, learn how to write paragraphs well, and improve his vocabulary. Towards this, I’m making him read a short story or essay daily, and posing some questions to him that he has to answer. These questions are designed to help him think critically about the material and glean the main points behind the text. At the same time, I’m also having him select at least five words from the text that he may not understand, and look up the meanings in the online dictionary (or occasionally, getting them from context in the material).

I understand that it feels like homework, but all the materials put together don’t take up more than an hour of his day. I believe, though, that these will help him improve his performance in the coming school year, so that’s why I’m doing them.

I’m also taking active steps towards encouraging his own likes, so this summer, we’ve gone swimming and camping–which, if you know me, I just don’t do–and we’re also doing some sports like badminton. I want my kids to move around this summer rather than just stay in their bedrooms playing video games, so that’s why I’m actively making moves to participate in these activities.

What about you? Which skills of your kids are you working to improve, and what steps are you taking towards making it happen? :)

Three Things Wives Can Teach Their Husbands About Themselves

A few days ago, before meeting for our couples’ group, I bought two pieces of bread: one with pork floss, the other… with pork floss. (Floss is love. But not the point.) When I got to the second floor, my wife was aghast.

“You can’t eat that.”

“Why not?”

“You’re watching your weight. It’s not good for you. You’re not eating it.”

Grumbling to myself, I set the two pieces of bread aside. (They were promptly eaten, by the way, by another couple in our group.) Inside, I knew she was right. She usually is. And when she isn’t, sometimes, she makes this cute aegyo face where I can’t stay mad at her… but that’s another story.

In a world where media is constantly bombarding us to fulfill our innermost desires and cravings, blessed is the married man whose wife cares so deeply and intimately for him that she will speak up even when it is difficult, to remind him of what is truly important in life. And it isn’t pork floss bread.

You know how people say that wives sometimes know more about their husbands than husbands know about themselves? I think it’s true. Scary true. If you subscribe to the Johari window concept, which is a technique used to help people better understand their relationship with self and others, wives are experts at Window 2, the blind spot. They know things about you that you don’t know about yourself. And it is that reason–among many other reasons–that husbands should appreciate their wives. Because she could use it against you, but she doesn’t.

Our wives can teach us so much about ourselves. Among them are the following things:

1. They can teach us the value of communication and keeping in touch with our emotions. As men, we’re often raised to keep our emotions in check; we believe that men who are “emotional” are weaker, more impulsive, and more subject to failure. Well, several studies have shown that men who don’t suppress their emotions may, in fact, be strong. In the context of marriage, wives can help us learn to express our emotions. (Whether these are expressed in healthy ways, however, is always something to keep in check. Wives aren’t perfect, and if husbands express their emotions in self- or co-destructive ways, it would be wise to seek professional help.)

Also, we know it doesn’t hurt to communicate, and, when done in an unselfish way, it also doesn’t hurt to share. In the course of marriage, husbands can learn how to communicate more effectively with their wives.

2. They can teach us the value of caring for our household. Marriage is a two-way street. In a world where many wives earn more than their husbands, and men’s roles in the household have expanded to be more than just breadwinners, wives teach us why it’s important to come home on time, participate in the goings-on of the household, play an active role in the raising of the children, and set the direction for the family.

In many ways, my wife and I were polar opposites. My wife is an organized, task-oriented go-getter, while I’m a creative free spirit content with letting the wind take me wherever it could carry me. (Which wasn’t very far.) My wife, however, is my biggest champion. She uses her skills–and beauty, but that’s a different story–to help me lead my household in ways that cater to our strengths. Thanks to my wife, I understand my responsibility in leading this family and household, and actively do so.

Husbands and wives are a team, and marriage is a team sport. If you don’t work and play together towards your goal, you both lose.

3. They can teach us the value of living for something greater than ourselves. To be honest, I think many men, in their goal-oriented, task-filled workday, prioritize things differently than women. (I know I do. Or did.) Men work towards career success, and are so laser-focused on that goal that they neglect other areas of their lives to make it happen. But, as they say, no one ever lies on their deathbed thinking they should have spent more time at the office.

John Eldredge says men need three things: a battle to fight, a beauty to rescue and an adventure to live. I love that. (Although I initially hated Wild at Heart.) Husbands have the beauty by their side, and they live that adventure together. In the Disney film Up, protagonist Carl is reminded by his wife, Ellie–in a message beyond the grave, ooh, spooky!–that even though their life seemed otherwise ordinary, it was still an adventure, and they lived that adventurous life together.

Wives help draw us out of our Rat Race mentality and remind us of the bigger things at the end of the day. The worship and honor of God. The caring and appreciation of our spouses. The intentional casting of vision into the next generation. The building of legacy.

As I type this, my wife is sleeping beside me. I often wait until the last possible moment to wake her up, because I know how tired she is from the previous day. She takes care of two kids–three, if you include me–but I know that if I don’t, we’ll be late and it could all snowball into a horrific day. She’ll handle it with grace, and I’ll handle it with humor. What an adventure we live.

I know that about us because she taught me that.

Three Things Christian Dads Should Do With Their Kids This Summer

Filipino Christian dad
I took my kids camping!

Ah, summer! Two glorious months of “no more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks!” While some kids probably dream of vegetating in front of their computer or television screens, many of their parents find the summer break a brilliant opportunity to enrich their kids with summer activities and co-curricular classes. Regardless of how your kids are spending the summer, I think we parents can all agree that these are two months containing the potential to help our children step up and be ready for the incoming school year.

Proverbs 22:6 says, “train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” When good skills become habits, we prepare our kids for success. If we want the best for our children, I think we need to actively take steps to prepare them for the best.

For example, if you want your kid to be fit, then arranging for summer sports seems like the logical next move. If you want your son to improve his handwriting, assigning him handwriting work can help him over the course of the summer. If you want your daughter to develop a more organized outlook, then sitting her down and teaching her good study habits over the summer can be a fruitful and rewarding exercise.

You get the idea.

Christian dads, however, need to step up during the summer. Mothers are 200% awesome, but there are certain things that just have a certain “Boom!” when a dad delivers them. If a dad is Christian, his life and example is fueled by faith and powered by the Spirit. Here are three things I think every Christian dad needs to do this summer.

1. Take them out. Never underestimate the power of a “daddy date.” Kids need alone time with their dads. This is an opportunity, not just to connect with a child, but to speak life and strength to them. It is crucial, therefore, that your daddy date be conducted in activities that are enjoyable to the child, and I recommend active involvement. When a dad sets everything aside and spends quality time with his child, it communicates a powerful message of value that, when done consistently over time, will make a deep and long-lasting impact. It’s an investment that promises guaranteed returns.

2. Teach them well. Deuteronomy 11:19 says, “”You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.” While this verse was referring specifically to the commandments of God, fathers can use the summer to teach their kids about important life skills.

You can use the summer to teach them a new skill or sport, or set aside time to mentor them on financial management. You could send them to summer classes, or train them yourself for tasks toward which they may be inclined. You could help them learn about the value of work by enrolling them in summer internships at local restaurants, give them summer allowance opportunities by doing house chores or ladderized skill improvement (using the Internet to learn how to type, or practice one’s handwriting or art skills), or help them volunteer at a local charity. The possibilities are varied, and you only have two months.

3. Tell them your story. The best legacy a Christian father can pass on to his children is the legacy of faith. Psalms 78:4 says, “We will not conceal them from their children, But tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.” A father’s life is his testimony; a father’s whose word is based on God’s Word possesses a rare and unshakeable integrity and faith. This summer, Christian dads, please make it a point to share your testimony with your kids. Let them know how far God has taken you; tell them how He continues to change you for good; speak of grace, humility, forgiveness, and love. To children, Bible stories are beloved and powerful, yet these are stories of people to whom they have no personal connection. I assure you: your personal story and testimony will touch them unlike any Bible story they have read, and the impact you will make when you speak truth into their lives will be substantial.

Regardless of how you spend your summer, my prayer for you Christian dads is that God will multiply your time and that you will use it effectively to speak life to your kids! What about you dads? Any great ideas on how you plan to spend your summer with your kids? :)