Jul 232014

The Greatest Threat to Your Marriage

The boundary you are most tempted to ignore is the one you most need to observe.

Every marriage needs firm guardrails to protect the relationship. Without specific plans, clear boundaries, and general operating procedures, an individual leaves themselves open to a significant moral failure which will either greatly hinder the relationship or completely destroy it. (See: No Wonder You Don’t Love Each Other)

There are no exceptions. It’s not a guy issue or something a few people need to consider. It is a universal rule—every married person needs physical and emotional boundaries with people of the opposite sex.

A foolish person simply hopes they will have the will power to withstand every temptation which comes their way. A wise person knows their will power is limited and will put boundaries in place to lessen the number of temptations they face so that their strength is in full supply when they face temptation.

Happily married people have firm guardrails and they stick to them. (See: Spicing Up Married Sex By Learning from the Adulterer)

The greatest threat to your marriage is the moment you are tempted to ignore a normally respected boundary.

Your spouse has open access to your text messages, but there is one message you decide to delete.

You never have a meal with a person of the opposite sex, but this one time you want to make an exception.

You never lie to your spouse about where you are or who you are with, but on this occasion you are tempted to do so.

Wisdom creates boundaries but it also lives by them. The moment you are tempted to violate a normally held boundary with a person of the opposite sex, you should recognize the temptation, withstand it, and be on guard with that person.

Danger lies not in the place in which you think there is the most temptation, but in the place you are most likely to let down your guard. Physical and emotional affairs have far less to do with a specific person and far more to do with foolish decision-making and putting ourselves in places in which we are likely to succumb to temptation. (See: You Will Have an Affair If…)

Guardrails only work if they are lived by consistently and with great diligence. Our hearts are so deceptive that if we ever let down our guard, we will do so with the person or in the situation that we most need it.

With all the couples I have seen go through the chaos of an affair, I’ve never had a single person tell me, “I always knew I would do this.” Rare is the case in which a person plans on having an affair. Who in their right mind would cause such pain to their spouse, family, and community which an affair causes?

People do not have affairs in their right mind. They do so out of deception. They are lured into adultery and they make poor decisions without any consideration of the real consequences. What begins as a minor bending of normal rules or a simple exception to the usual operating procedures can lead to the destruction of one’s family, reputation, and life. (See: Three Myths About Adultery)

Show me the place (or the person with whom) you are not being diligent with your thoughts, actions, or attitudes and I’ll show you the place (or the person) which is the greatest threat to your marriage.

Talk with your spouse about which boundaries you both will live by as a couple, and then live by those boundaries.

What is a useful boundary you have with people of the opposite sex?

 

For more, see:

The Warning Sign of a Bad Marriage You Might Miss

What Your Husband Wants From You in Bed

I do

Jul 222014

Always Attend the Funeral

On a regular basis I stand before a grieving family, beside a casket, and speak about life and death. As I do, I’m always reminded I could be just 72 hours away from either sitting on the front row or lying in the casket.

We are all going to die. It’s a truth we know, but one we rarely realize. We live in denial of our mortality, in part, as a defense mechanism. The frailty of life could lead to great despair. To avoid the despair, we often live in denial.

Yet neither despair or denial are useful. While we shouldn’t live in a constant state of depression from the possibility of our death, we should live with an extreme awareness that our lives are temporary and our time is finite. (See: Read This Before You Die)

This is one of the benefits of regularly officiating funerals. While I could live in denial of the frailty of my life, I would have to work hard to do so. Because I regularly officiate funerals, I am regularly reminded of the frailty of life.

And it makes me a better pastor. It reminds me what is truly important. It puts into context the frustrations of life. It challenges me to fight for only those things which are truly important. It educates me on the pains and sorrows which are being endured by so many people.

But it doesn’t just help me do my job; hopefully it helps me become a better husband, father, and person.

When we are unaware of our mortality, we lose the context of our lives. Issues which lack importance can seem important. Actions and activities which should be the most important in our lives can be seen as insignificant. (For two funny looks at a funeral read: Ashes to Ashes and And After the Funeral She Hit Him in the Nuts)

Show me someone living in denial of their mortality and I’ll show you someone who is incapable of identifying what has real value.

For this reason, you should always attend the funeral.

When a friend, loved one, acquaintance, co-worker, or neighbor dies, you should always attend the funeral.

Not only is it respectful of the dead and shows support for the family, but it also serves as a reminder to you that you are not immortal.

Without being reminded we will get so wrapped up into our day-to-day lives that we will forget the truth about humanity—our lives are fleeting. Left to ourselves, we will never face the deep truths of life. The issue of the day will trump the issue of life and we will live in a constant state of denial.

I routinely see it. A person lives for decades unaware of the common-sense truth that one day he will die. Then suddenly, through a tragedy, diagnosis or illness, he is shaken to the core. He is unprepared because he hasn’t regularly dealt with his own frailty. (See: How Some Soar Through Suffering)

We need reminders. While those reminders can come in several forms, attending funerals is one of the best.

As we watch a person’s life in pictures, hear of their successes and failures, see their grieving family, and interact with their hurting friends, we are reminded that death is a universal experience. It will challenge us to consider our priorities and passions. Are we doing what is important? Are we loving what should be loved? Are we living our lives in such a way that we will have very few regrets when life ends?

These questions do not get asked unless we are reminded of the brevity of life. (See: I Almost Died Rear-ending a Hearse)

It is tempting to skip a funeral. We live lives with too many demands and expectations. Skipping a funeral buys us an hour we often cannot afford to lose. However, when we skip a funeral we might gain an hour, but we lose a perspective which only the experience of grief can bring.

Funerals offer two important reminders:

1. They remind us of the sweetness of life. It’s easy to take life for granted. Attending a funeral can awaken our senses to the simple beauties of our everyday lives—the love of a spouse or child, the kindness of a friend, the beauty of a sunny day, the satisfaction of a job well done, etc. Eulogies, funeral sermons, and pictures rarely recount the topics which often dominate our normal days. Instead, they focus on many of the things which we take for granted. Death calls attention to what is truly important in life. Seeing it in another person’s life can help us realize it in our own lives.

2. They remind us of the vanity of life. We often give value to the wrong things. Attending a funeral can remind us that money, houses, and other possessions do not really matter. They cannot save us from tragedy and they do not bring a true sense of identity or meaning. They remind us of things we often overvalue; job titles, 401k balances, win/loss records, and a variety of other issues which get our focus in everyday life do not seem nearly as important as someone lies  in a casket.

Funeral attendance is declining in many cultures. In the days of old, entire towns would shut down when a person died. Today, many friends and some family do not even take off an hour to show their respects. Not only does this disrespect the dead and their grieving families, but it also has a profound influence on our lives. When we remove ourselves from death and grief, we are often deceived into thinking it will not impact us.

 

Jul 212014

Three Things Every Employee Should Do

I’m unaware of any good boss who would debate the following advice. It is a universal way to experience success at work, further your career, find value and purpose in what you are doing, and garner respect from those for whom you work.

If you will do the following three things over and over again, there will be no limit on your career.

1. Identify a problem.

2. Determine a solution.

3. Offer to take responsibility for the implementation of your solution.

When repeated, those three steps produce an invaluable employee. (See: Work and Rest)

The problem is that few employees ever move past step one.

Anybody can identify a problem. You probably have a whole list of problems you have identified about your work, boss, co-workers, family, children, community, church, country, and every other group or organization in your life. Problems are everywhere and it does not require any skill or training to identify them.

Sadly, most people believe problem identification is a gift. They think it is the service they can best offer to those around them. They foolishly believe no one sees the problems like they do and by simply naming the problems they have contributed all they need to contribute. (See: The Devil Doesn’t Need an Advocate)

This is the root cause of many employee/employer frustrations. The employee believes they have identified the problems which the employer should fix. The employer believes the employee is stating the obvious and is unwilling to do what really matters.

Step one is easy.

Step two is more difficult. (See: Never Try to Prove Yourself)

Identifying a solution is the difference between being useful or useless. Rare is the case in which an employer needs another person on staff to simply point out problems. By themselves, any good boss can identify enough problems to keep everyone busy.

While problems are obvious, solutions are hidden. They require observation, discernment, the ability to look past the obvious, and critical thinking. Solutions require us to combine our experience, understanding, knowledge, and wisdom. For many people, determining a solution is such hard work, they give up.

Yet for those who are willing to do the work, they will always have a place to work. Solutions are hard and having people who can find solutions is a valuable resource for any employer.

Step two is difficult, but valuable. (See: How to Determine What to Do–at Work, in Marriage, and in Life)

However, step three is what sets apart great employees from everyone else.

Finding a problem is easy. Identifying a solution is difficult. Being willing to take responsibility for the implementation of a solution is brave.

For every ten employees who identify a problem, only one of them is willing to do the work to find a solution. But for every ten employees who do the work to find a solution, only one of them is brave enough to take responsibility for implementing the idea.

Responsibility is something we naturally refrain from taking. It is too risky. As long as all we do is sit back and name problems, when a problem is fixed we can say “I told you so.” When a solution fails, we can claim “It’s not our fault.” (See: You Always Have an Excuse)

Taking responsibility requires courage. We are putting ourselves in the firing line. If things don’t work, the problem identifiers will point to us as the problem.

Implementing solutions guarantees failure. No one succeeds with every idea. If problems were easily solved, we wouldn’t have so many problems. Few people have the courage necessary to fail, yet good employers want employees who have such courage.

I would far rather have an employee who regularly tries and fails than one who never attempts anything.

Having the courage to take responsibility for implementing a solution garners the respect by true leaders. While bad companies and bad leaders may scapegoat those who do step three, good companies and good bosses will reward them.

There are three basic steps to becoming an extraordinary employee and the good news is that nearly every person is already 33% of the way to becoming such an employee. You already identify problems. Now determine a solution and offer to take responsibility for implementing the solution.

Jul 182014

Thank You (and a Funny Friday Flashback)

All I can say is “thank you.” Those two words are radically inadequate. They are the same words I say when someone passes me the ketchup or moves their leg so I can pass by them in an aisle. Yet these are the only two words I have.

Thank you, Jenny, for being my wife.

Today is Jenny’s birthday. I won’t tell you the number since that is not my story to tell. I can tell you that I am 36 and she’s not much older. Having said that, I can also tell you I may not live to be her age.

Regular readers of these articles know Jenny as their best friend. For 410 posts over the past 16 months, Jenny has edited every word. She has read over 325,000 words and made them better. Without her, many of these articles would be unreadable. (And after she reads this post, she will open her laptop and correct the errors in this post.)

She has done this task five nights a week for 80 weeks with the hopes of bettering marriages, assisting parents, and encouraging faith. Everything you need to know about Jenny can be defined in her work with this website:

  • She unselfishly serves on a daily basis.
  • She expects no credit.
  • She serves people she has never met as though she is serving her best friends.

For that, I say thank you. And Happy Birthday.

In honor of Jenny, here are the top five Funny Friday posts which involve Jenny. She is the one who encouraged me to write the Funny Friday posts which I did for most of 2013 until I ran out of funny material. But these are some of my favorites:

1. The Preacher’s Wife: Being the wife of a preacher is an odd gig. Jenny does it well, but one time she made me think she might consider murdering me.

2. A Small Fire, a Can of Gasoline, and a Test of my Manhood: I nearly killed myself the month before the birth of our first child, but I felt like a man doing it.

3. On George Straight, A First Kiss, and Seminary Women: How many people are willing to write about their first kiss? You won’t believe what song was playing when that kiss occurred.

4. Bad Sax and Things Never to Tell Your Son: “Ask your father,” is rarely a good answer when your son asks “what is bad sax?”

5. On Faking Communion and a Prescription to Drink: Jenny once faked communion and I was appalled. Who fakes communion?

Enjoy the look back on Funny Friday. If you see any grammatical mistakes, let Jenny know. But if you do, also wish her a happy birthday.

Jul 172014

Jesus, Leadership, and the Courage to Serve

It’s easier to do nothing. Fold your arms and judge. Turn your head and ignore. Critique others about what they should be doing or what you would do if you were to actually do something. It’s the easier way.

But it’s not the way of Jesus. (See: What No One Ever Tells You About Being a Leader)

There is a temptation toward apathy by a large number of followers of Jesus when it comes to the great issues of our time. They’ve seen the failure of government and politics. They are skeptical of institutions and organizations. They don’t have the nirvana dreams of their parents, believing they can change the world. They don’t have the blind faith of their grandparents who believed in the power of power.

They doubt everything, trust no one, and are tempted to do nothing.

But it’s a temptation we must confront.

Now is not the time to grow apathetic. It is not the time for good people to do nothing. It is not the time to hope someone else makes a difference with the problems of this world. (See: 7 Leadership Lessons from Gus Malzahn)

I get the apathy. I’m tempted toward it as well:

The problems are complex. Nearly every local problem is linked to larger issues. What chance to do we have to solve problems when a local drug issue is actually a minor plot line in a global struggle of gangs, violence, and money?

The people number in the multitudes. We can help a person, but most issues we face impact thousands if not millions of people. It’s nearly impossible to make a dent on any major issue.

So many before us have failed. What makes us think that we are any different?

The only thing which might outnumber the hurting are the critics who attack anyone trying to help. Action will always receive criticism. It’s not for the faint of heart.

The reasons not to be involved are numerous, yet there is one thing which keeps me involved. There is one reason why the criticism is worth it, why I state my opinion, why I take my water gun into the fire and do what I can. The one reason is Jesus.

While the problems are numerous and overwhelming with little hope that we can greatly change many things, the call we have from the life of Jesus is to serve. So a believer is to serve. (See: A Secret About Today That Could Change Everything)

We can’t be apathetic because Jesus was never apathetic.

We can’t be the sideline critic, because Jesus chose to get into the game.

We can’t say the problems are too big or the hurting are too many, because God is bigger and knows each of the hurting by name.

Faith demands that we have the courage to serve. It doesn’t demand that we hold positions of leadership. It doesn’t demand that everyone serves in the same way. It doesn’t require every believer to be passionate about the exact same issue. We are to take our God-given skills, passions, and experiences, find an issue and start trying to make this world better. (See: Every Successful Person I Know Does This)

Our faith keeps us from being deceived into believing it is all on us. It prevents us from believing we are earning God’s love or forgiveness. It gives us a sense of gratitude even in the midst of the struggle. But it causes us to serve.

It causes us to ignore the critics. We might even appreciate the critics. Jesus had them. He promised us we would have them as well. Show me someone who isn’t being criticized from every side and I’ll show you someone who probably isn’t doing any meaningful work.

It causes us to ignore the doubts. We know we can’t solve problems on our own, but we aren’t called to solve problems. We are called to be involved in what God is doing in this world—to walk alongside the suffering, the outcast, the lonely, and the hurting.

It causes us to ignore the failures. What we consider a failure, God might consider a success. We never know the true impact of our work. We don’t judge our actions solely based on what we see because we know God is doing far more than we can imagine.

I don’t know what causes a person without faith to endure the hardships of leadership. I admire their strength and stamina even as I disagree with their worldview. Yet I do know what causes a follower of Jesus to strive in the midst of leadership—it is Jesus himself. Because of what he has done and continues to do, those of us who are his followers will continue to have the courage to serve, lead, and be involved in making this world a better place. (See: Who Wants to Be a Leader)

Are you tempted toward apathy? Follow Jesus.

Are you overwhelmed by the problems? Look toward Jesus.

Are you tired of the critics? Listen to Jesus.

He has not called us to the sidelines. He has called us to be engaged in his activity in this world.

Jul 162014

The First Step to Solving a Marital Problem

The first moments of the first meeting with a couple experiencing marital problems is always interesting.

When they arrive, I welcome them into my office and as I shut the door, they have three options on where to sit. My office has two chairs on opposite sides of the room and a couch against the wall. (See: Why Nobel Peace Prize Winners Get Divorced)

The preferred seating is for the couple to sit on the couch and I sit in one of the chairs. This allows me to look at them both with great ease as we have the conversation. Whenever I see a couple that has an issue with an aging parent or a struggling teenager, they always sit on the couch, close together, ready to tackle the problem.

But when the issue is a marital issue, the seating arrangement is not always predictable.

If they do sit on the couch, they might each hug the armrest on opposing ends. If the man has had an affair, the wife will quickly put a pillow between herself and her husband. If the wife has cheated, the man might cross his legs away from his wife.

In many situations, one spouse will quickly move toward a chair. While the husband is expecting them to both sit on the couch, the wife will sit in a chair, leaving him confused as to where to sit.

In the worst situations, neither of them sit on the couch. The each grab a chair and I sit down on the couch. In those situations, before a question is even asked, I know what the problem is.

Notice in the first scenario, when a couple is seated side-by-side with nothing between them, their posture defines their perspective. There is a problem and they are united in wanting to attack the problem.

Yet in every other seating scenario there is also a problem, but instead of being united in attacking the problem, it is probable that one or both spouses see the problem not as an issue but as a person. They think the problem is their spouse. And in many situations, they are primed to attack their spouse. (See: The Number One Cause of Divorce)

The first step in solving marital problems is to see the problem as an issue and not a person. It’s to take your spouse out of your line of sight for attack and to place an issue in their place.

When a couple views the problem as an issue and not a person (specifically each other) progress can be made. Opinions are open. Ears are ready to listen. Hearts can be changed. A plan can be formed and possible solutions tried.

Yet for as long as one or both spouses see the other person as the problem, progress is impossible. It’s not possible because one or both spouses will feel under attack, and when we are under attack we guard ourselves and attack others. If I feel you are attacking me, I will not listen, change, consider your opinion, repent, show humility, understand your point, or give you anything you might want.

If you are attacking me, you are desiring my harm, so for my own best interest, I must guard myself against you. (See: The Most Frustrating Moment of Marriage)

But, if you aren’t attacking me and do desire to attack an issue which I see as a problem, everything changes. Instead of viewing you as an enemy, I will see you as a friend. Every word or action will be seen as something for my good and not my harm. I will be open to listen, learn, understand, compromise, and change. If the problem is bad enough, I will do whatever it takes to attack the problem and anyone who is willing to stand beside me in that process is my friend.

If you desire to solve a marital problem, the first step is to position yourself side-by-side with your spouse and view the problem as an issue which you both desire to solve. For as long as you view the other as the problem, they will likely see you as the same. Whenever you view your spouse as a partner, they might look at you the same way. (See: 6 Common Mistakes When Fighting)

Everyone needs a partner in solving life’s problems. Marriage should be the guarantee that we will never face anything alone. Sadly, the one with whom we are called to fight with, we often find ourselves fighting against. Stop viewing your spouse as the problem. See them as a partner to solve the issue which is causing the problem.

For more, see:

Two Steps to Solving 90% of Relationship Problems

Why Some Relationships Succeed and Others Fail

first step

Jul 152014

How I Determine Success

The temptation is to define success based on popularity. If a lot of people like you, you must have done something right.

In some ways, it’s a true thought.

Getting attention is not easy. Those who are able to gain an audience have accomplished something millions of others have tried and failed to do. (See: What Jerry Seinfeld Knows About Success)

Yet popularity is fickle. To base success solely on popularity is a dangerous game. Crowds can come and go. Public opinion can change in seconds. If fame defines success, few are famous and even fewer of us would really desire to be successful.

There is more to success than popularity. (See: Success Is More Than One Shining Moment)

How should success be defined?

As a communicator, success is difficult to determine.

I think I know how a speech went after I deliver it, but what is the feeling of the crowd? Will they take the action steps I proposed? Do they have a changed heart based on what I shared?

Writing is sometimes easier to gauge. Metrics are present to reveal how many people shared an article, retweeted it, or left a comment.

However, in both speaking and writing, I do not gauge success based on the number of positive comments or responses. I do not define it in response to Facebook shares or page views.

Success should not be determined based on the number of people who respond to a communication, but the specific people who respond.

When I wrote the article An Ever Changing Grief, it did not get an overwhelming number of shares or views. In comparison to other articles, some might consider it average. Yet the number of widows, grieving parents, and others who have experienced great sorrow chose to share the article, like it on Facebook, and send an encouraging private message. I knew I had written truth.

I received a good amount of criticism for writing about the N-word in the article “Just Because I Can, Doesn’t Mean I Should” and about racism in the article “What a White Man Knows About Racism.” Some may consider those articles failures, but the few compliments and shares from people who have been hurt by the N-word far outweigh any negative comments or apathy from those who have used the word.

Several people laughed at my article “You Will Have an Affair If…”, but those disagreements were mitigated by a few people who have had an affair and said the article was accurate.

In communicating ideas, a few people define success far more than many people. If someone has the experience which confirms the ideas I am presenting, their voice is far more valuable than someone who has never experienced the situation.

When it comes to defining success, I care more about who agrees with me than how many people agree. (See: Every Successful Person I Know Does This)

As it is with writing and speaking, so it is with life. Success cannot be determined by popularity. Crowds do not define right versus wrong. The world could be for you even though you are a failure or you could be all alone even as you do what is right. The majority does not define success. I would much rather have the support of the right people than the most people.

Do you want success:

In Marriage. Do what marriage counselors and your spouse believe is right, not what a majority of your friends believe is right.

In Parenting. Forgo your child liking you in the moment and determine what is best for them in the long-run.

At Work. Understand your bosses expectations of you and consistently meet them.

Popularity is fun. Commanding crowds is intoxicating. But never confuse masses of people for success. Find the people you respect and do work which they applaud. That is my definition of success.

Jul 142014

Intolerent: Anyone Who Disagrees With Me

A CEO is forced out of his position because he is intolerant.

It sounds reasonable. Our leaders should be held to a higher standard and tolerance is a fair expectation for any CEO.

Yet what was his act of intolerance? He made a political donation toward an issue he believed in—an issue which won the majority vote.

When Brendan Eich was forced out as Mozilla’s CEO, Americans not only did something unAmerican—the firing of someone for a political opinion—but we also revealed the hypocrisy by which we use the words tolerant and intolerant.

The modern definition of intolerance is anyone who has an opinion contrary to mine.

Having a political view is not intolerant. Eich’s viewpoint had no influence on how he treated employees, customers, or friends. There is no evidence his actions or attitudes were unfair to anyone.

Instead, he was labeled intolerant because of an opinion. (See: Everyone Has a Right to Ignore Your Opinion)

But notice the irony: the only intolerance in the story of Brendan Eich was done by those who forced Eich from his job. His opinion was part of the political process and inflicted no harm on anyone involved. But the opinion of others, which forced him from his job, clearly injured Eich.

Intolerance was exemplified by people calling Eich intolerant.

This is the new normal—the most intolerant are often those screaming for tolerance.

To tolerate means to endure something different from us. In the most strict terms, one can only be intolerant if they possess the ability to disallow or restrict the thoughts or actions of another. But in the practical sense, tolerance can also be used to describe someone who doesn’t allow the beliefs or actions of another to change how they treat the other person. So you are being tolerant when you allow me to have an opinion which disagrees with you, without allowing the disagreement to radically change how you interact with me.

You don’t have to agree with me, but you do have to respect my right to have an opinion. (See: Opinions Rarely Matter)

It’s possible that the greatest intolerance which is happening today is:

  • the refusal to have an honest debate about real issues
  • labeling an opponent as a bigot without truly understanding their point
  • judging another person’s heart as evil because they disagree with you
  • seeking to inflict personal or professional harm on someone because of an opinion

These are the real examples of intolerance in our society which are getting little attention. This is the intolerance which needs to be extinguished. (See: A Sign of Doubt–Why Your Co-worker Screams His Beliefs)

Consider someone you believe to be intolerant? Are they truly intolerant or do they simply disagree with you?

Jul 112014

How Football Can Protect Women

I believe in second chances.

Some might even critique me as being too liberal regarding forgiveness and more opportunities.

Everyone makes mistakes and without the opportunity to try again, none of us would ever succeed.

At few points in life is this more true than in high school and college. As kids begin the process of becoming adults, major mistakes happen. While their bodies mature quickly, their minds take more time. They have the challenge of making adult decisions without the luxury of having the experience and wisdom that adulthood offers.

Because of this, major mistakes are made and second, third, and fourth chances need to be given. We never need to give up on people.

Yet there is one area in which society would be better if a second chance wasn’t given.

The leaders of college and professional football should have a zero-tolerance policy regarding domestic and sexual abuse.

Football is about strength. In the name of sport, it allows men to display their God-given strength and talent. When used for sport, the power and strength of a man is entertaining. Yet the design of a man is best used to fight and protect that which is important. In God’s design, men are given strength to serve and protect women and children. (See: What a Drunk Girl Deserves)

As a lion cub plays with his siblings and that play helps him learn to hunt, so boys and men play football and that play should help them learn how to serve and protect women and children.

When a man uses his physical strength at the expense of women and children instead of their benefit, he goes against God and nature.

There should be stiff consequences when men use their strength in the wrong way.

One consequence is to never play football again.

The NFL, colleges, and high schools should have a zero-tolerance policy regarding abuse.

Give second chances to someone who tries drugs, does steroids, cheats, or breaks the law; even to the player who abuses animals or assaults another man.

But expel a man the moment he uses his strength to harm a woman or child. (See: This Issue Shames Me More Than Any Other)

This policy wouldn’t stop abuse. Often when a man abuses a woman, he does so without any consideration of the consequences—to the woman, his children, or even himself. Even with this policy, abusers would continue to abuse. But it would send a very loud message that the physical and sexual abuse of women and children is unacceptable.

That’s not the current message being sent by the NFL and college sports. The history of physical or sexual abuse hardly causes teams to pause in recruiting or signing players. In college sports, an assault can actually work out well for the player because it can get them removed from one team and recruited by a better team.

Consider that message. The physical or sexual assault of a woman is being exploited by major universities and professional teams to make money, win games, and build programs. It’s ignored, denied, brushed aside, or put in the same context as a thousand other petty crimes. In some scenarios it is seen as macho or an aspect of masculinity.

This must stop.

Football can send a clear message regarding the importance of women and children with a zero-tolerance policy.

Two considerations:

1. A conviction shouldn’t be necessary. Just because something is clearly wrong doesn’t guarantee the action meets the legal standard of a crime. If a conviction was necessary, it would put too much pressure on a woman not to press charges or testify to what truly happened. If an assault happened, teams should simply refuse to sign the player no matter the legal outcome. (See: Dealing With the Accused and the Accusers in a Small Community)

2. Discernment would be needed. This shouldn’t create an avenue for blackmail by which women could hold power over players with the mere threat of an abuse or assault. Clearly coaches and teams should investigate what has taken place. A simple accusation should not be enough to out a player. While there might be times in which a situation is debated and a player allowed to play because no one is certain what happened, there should also be clear scenarios where a player is unsigned because the evidence is obvious that he used his strength to the detriment of women and children.

I love football. And when it comes to the teams I root for, I’m quick to turn a blind eye to a player’s off-the-field actions because I want my team to win. Yet there is one area in which this must stop. As a society, we must be clear that we will not accept a man hurting a woman or child.

Even abusers deserve a second chance at life, but those second chances should be outside of the limelight and not in the context of football. Decisions have consequences and abusing a woman should have the consequence of costing a man his chance at playing football.

Football should be played by men, and real men protect woman and children.

Ask The Question

Next week, the SEC Media Days will be held in Destin. Every coach should be asked to go on record regarding this issue. I’m asking reporters to ask:

Will you refuse to sign any player with a history of domestic or sexual assault?

Every coach should give a definitive answer to this question.

To help raise awareness:

Share this post on Facebook

And Tweet:

Neither will stop abuse, but it will start making clear it should not be accepted in our society.

Jul 102014

Ignore Some of the Things I Say

My grandparents went to bed every night at the same time. Sometimes he was tired and she wasn’t. Sometimes she was tired and he wasn’t. Yet every night, whomever was most tired would wait until the other was ready. When they were both ready for bed, they would go.

I doubt my grandparents ever read a study about bedtimes and marital satisfaction. They probably just lucked into one of the greatest habits of a married couple. Going to bed at the same time is one of the best things a couple can do. It depends the bonds of partnership. It often provides opportunity for a couple to talk with another as they drift off to sleep. Sexual frequency increases when a couple goes to bed at the same time. And going to bed together makes it more likely the couple will get up around the same time which aligns the couple’s schedule making it less likely for the couple to live radically different schedules.

Every expert I know encourages couples to go to bed at the same time. (See: The Most Important Marriage Advice I Could Ever Give)

But Jenny and I don’t.

We do on occasion. We’ve tried to do so every night, but it doesn’t work. Eventually she kicks me out of bed.

As much as we would love to go to bed at the same time, we haven’t found a way to make it work for us. When we go to bed together, I fall asleep quickly and she tosses and turns. When she goes to bed before me, she goes to sleep with great ease. To go to bed together means less sleep for her so she goes to bed and I follow her about twenty minutes later.

It’s not ideal, but at this stage in our lives, it works for us.

So it is with most marital advice. It’s proverbial. It’s generally true for a vast majority of people, but it is not law. There are exceptions.

The difficulty is in determining what advice should we submit to (even though we don’t like it), and what advice we are free to ignore (acknowledging it just isn’t right for us).

Knowing the nature of humanity, we will be quick to ignore the advice we need the most. And we shouldn’t. Yet we can’t be deceived into thinking that following all the marital rules will guarantee a happy marriage. It won’t.

The challenge is for each couple to humbly discern what is the wisest course of action for them. What I advise for most people may not work for you. What others say is a good course of action may not work for me.

Sometimes we have to ignore what others say and do what works for us.

Do you not like what I’ve written about not having a television in the bedroom or never calling another woman beautiful or having sex within 24 hours of your spouse requesting it? Then ignore it. But be careful when you do so.

If you want to ignore sound marital advice, only do so if the following are true:

1. If you are of the same mind: If one spouse agrees with common marital advice and the other does not, then follow the advice. But, if you both agree a piece of advice is not right for you, then feel free to ignore the advice.

2. If you are cautious: When you willfully disregard what many experts say is good advice, do so with a great amount of skepticism. Watch for negative consequences. Observe what takes place. Be quick to change your direction if things do not go as you hope. Test your way. Try it. But do so knowing things might go wrong and if they do go wrong, be quick to admit you were wrong.

3. If you have the approval of someone you respect: I’ve written a few hundred posts about marriage. There are many posts which are negotiable, but there are many that are not. If a couple wanted to ignore some of my advice, I would likely understand their point and be able to advise the best ways to do the opposite of what I have said. But with some principles there is no way I could ever advise someone to ignore what I have written. If you want to ignore common marital advice, find someone you deeply respect and get their opinion. If they agree the issue is negotiable, then negotiate what is best for you. If they believe you are trying to justify a poor decision, then humble yourself and follow the common advice. (See: Love Your Friends, Don’t Listen to Them)

Some truth is universally true. No matter your marriage, it applies to you. Other ideas are proverbial truths which work in most relationships but there are some exceptions. Discern the difference, because you should ignore some of the things I say.

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