For as far back as I can remember, I’ve worried too much about what others think of me. Sometimes when I walk into a room, I think all eyes look at me, and all people think about me. I believe they judge what I wear, what I look like, and what kind of mood I’m in. This all comes before I even open my mouth. I worry too much about what others see in me.
Once my mouth opens, I shift gears to worrying about what I say. Will I say the right or the wrong thing? And not only did I say the right things, but did I say them in the right way? Will I talk too much or too little? Then the comparison starts as I think everyone else says something better than me. I worry so much about what others think about me.
Call me neurotic, but many of you know exactly what I’m talking about. No, I don’t always live this way, and you don’t always operate like this either. But, way too often, you and I care too much about what others think.
A few years ago, my friend Rob captured this struggle well in describing his sin patterns. He confessed he struggled with the sin of worshipping his reputation.
Earlier this week, I received an appropriate, but critical comment on a blog post I wrote. Later that day, I was (lovingly) challenged a few times in a meeting (for good reason). I left work that day with my head low, sulking, strongly disliking myself, and hating my reputation. And, I cared too much about what others thought of me.
I no longer want to worship my reputation.
When I think rightly, I realize all that matters is what God says about me. As much as the applause of man (and woman) seems to matter, I find comfort when I remember verses like the following:
- Psalm 139:13-14 – “For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made. Your works are wondrous, and I know this very well.”
- Romans 5:8 – “But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
- 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – “Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body.”
- Galatians 1:10 – “For am I now trying to persuade people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
These verses remind me that I am made by God – He created me. He purchased me at a high price – the price of His Son – even while in the midst of my rebellion and sin. And, my aim in life is to worship God – not my reputation. He is pleased with me because of Jesus.
When I left work, I got in my car and prayed. I recited scripture to myself and reminded myself of what’s true and right.
I write this post for a few reasons:
- First, I just want to confess that sometimes I worry way too much what you think of me. I don’t want to live in fear of you!
- Second, if you, like me, worship your reputation, I want you to know a few ways to deal with this sin struggle.
6 Steps to Take When You Worship Your Reputation
- Pray. Ask God for help. James 1:5 says, “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God – who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly – and it will be given to him.” God wants to help you in your struggle! Don’t box Him out. Ask for help.
- Remind yourself of Truth. I’m so thankful God’s Word is so readily available to us! We can read a Bible, open up an app on our phone, memorize scripture, listen to sermons, and so much more. When I struggle in this area, I turn to God’s Word. I soak in Truth from Him, rather than the lies the world tells me and the lies I tell myself.
- Confess to others. When I struggle with this, I invite others in to my dysfunction. I share with my wife and my friends. I bring my issues into the light instead of isolating and hide them in the dark. Be specific, speak it out loud, and don’t wait too long to share. Sometimes even saying it out loud helps me realize the insanity of my thoughts.
- Believe the best instead of assuming the worst. If someone says something that sets you off into a tailspin, you might need to ask them to clarify what they said and what they meant by it. Often I make things up in my head and it leads me to worry too much about what they think.
- Ask a friend for help. As I left my office, I ran into my friend Rick. He could tell I was out of sorts and gave me a big hug. I felt like I would cry in his arms. I’m so thankful for God’s people and the ways they help us when we struggle. Sometimes we’re afraid to invite others in. One of the greatest gifts we have in life is the body of Christ and God’s people. Don’t be afraid to invite others in when you worship your reputation.
- Address your sin. We have an amazing ministry through Watermark Community Church called re:generation. re:gen is a Biblically-based, 12-step discipleship ministry for healing, recovery, and freedom from any struggle. Check out re:gen and address your sin (Whatever it is! Reputation worship, people-pleasing, porn, anger, eating issues, addictions, and so much more).
- Do you, like me, worship your reputation? If so, what does this look like for you?
- What do you do when you find yourself in the midst of this struggle? What can you share with other readers so we can learn from you?
As a dad to four boys (ages 12, 12, 10, and 8), I’m always on the lookout for good books to help me parent better. I also look for books to read with my boys to help them navigate some of the challenges in front of them. I especially look for books that will help them think rightly about relationships, purity, and how to treat women. One of my biggest hopes is for their stories to look very different than my story of growing up.
I looked at porn for the first time when I was 7 or 8 years old. By the time I was a student in high school, I was full-on addicted to porn, and for many years, it just about ruined my life. As a result, I developed a distorted view of women, relationships, sex, and marriage. Again, I want my boys to live a different story.
A few years ago, my paths crossed with a guy named Barrett Johnson. Barrett, along with his wife Jennifer, started a ministry for families called Info For Families to help equip and resource regular people from Imperfect & Normal Families Only (INFO). Their ministry creates books, videos, and curricula to help young couples and to help parents best lead their kids.
Barrett just released a book called The Young Man’s Guide to Awesomeness: How to Guard Your Heart, Get the Girl and Save the World. I read an advanced copy and just ordered two copies for my twins for us to read together this summer. He’s excited about this book, and he should be! A few things I like about this book, and then I want you to hear directly from Barrett:
- Each chapter includes a story from the life of David, some action items, and great discussion questions.
- Straight talk to guys – he doesn’t shy away from tough topics like porn or masturbation.
- Bonus videos through a QR code that go along with each chapter.
- A challenge in each chapter of how to be different than the patterns of the world.
- Johnson deals with the heart issues, not just the behaviors.
10 Unpopular Truths You Must Teach Your Teenage Son, by Barrett Johnson
My boys are quickly becoming men. Sadly, I have to confess that I haven’t always known how to help them grow up. The culture they are living in certainly hasn’t helped. This means that I have to talk to them about a few unpopular truths.
This list of 10 things has served as the outline for my new book, “The Young Man’s Guide to Awesomeness: How to Guard Your Heart, Get the Girl, and Save the World.” It has been designed to help teenage guys like yours start thinking about what matters in their lives. It’s also the perfect way to “tee up” these important conversations with the young man in your life.
Here are some of the unpopular truths that your son needs to know:
1. The choices he makes now have the power to set the course for the rest of his life.
He can’t afford to make the “I’m just a teenager” excuse. He needs to know that his life has already started and that the trajectory of his life is being set right now.
2. Porn is just as addictive as any drug.
Most every man wants to look, but the internet has provided your son’s generation with unlimited accessibility. That’s why 60% of our teenage guys are now addicted.
3. Masturbation is a habit that has the power to undermine his future marriage.
Our guys need to know that sex is best when it is given, not when it is taken. Young men who have a habit of masturbation are training their bodies and brains to be selfish. And selfishness gets in the way of just about everything in marriage.
4. He probably doesn’t need a girlfriend just yet.
Most teen romantic relationships are characterized by selfishness and sexual temptation. If the relationship is not going to help him to be more of what God wants him to be, then he’s probably not ready.
5. Sexual activity should be saved for marriage.
He knows the big reasons why his sexuality is precious and worth guarding. (Hint: it has nothing to do with pregnancy or STDs.)
6. Practicing the long-lost art of chivalrous manhood will set him apart.
Most guys in our world are consumers of girls. He needs to learn how to be a young man who guards, protects, and honors the women in his life.
7. God’s plan for your son’s life might involve doing difficult things.
Instead of filling his days with video game adventures and entertainment, he needs to discover the calling that God has for his life. It might be hard, but it will be good.
8. Walking with God is the most important thing for him to learn.
Through his life, he will hear plenty of voices telling him what’s important. Only One voice truly matters. That’s why it’s so important for him to know God personally.
9. He’s going to screw up sometimes. And that’s okay.
Too many of our young men believe that when they blow it, God is mad at them. So they distance themselves further from Him. Your son desperately needs to know that God offers forgiveness and a fresh start. Every time.
10. Life is short and he can’t afford to waste his life.
He may not have it all figured out yet (who of us does?) but your son can start getting his life moving in the right direction now.
Start Teaching Your Son These Things
If one or more of these truths resonates with you, you’re not alone. In our work with families, we often hear the frustration of parents who want to train their teenagers to not just blend in with their peers. They want to call their young men to a higher standard. We talk to dads who want to have these “talks” but who feel ill-equipped to do so. They don’t know where to begin.
These very themes (and many more like them) make up the bulk of “The Young Man’s Guide to Awesomeness.” We created a book that guys would want to read and that would open up some meaningful conversations between parents and their kids.
If you are looking for a way to introduce these “unpopular truths” to your son, then we invite you to put “The Young Man’s Guide to Awesomeness” into his hands and see what happens.
You can find it on Amazon and at www.INFOforFamilies.com today!
Barrett Johnson is the founder of I.N.F.O. for Families, a ministry designed to help “Imperfect & Normal Families Only.” (That’s basically everybody.) The husband to Jenifer and the father of five kids, he is committed to helping young men live awesome lives and to successfully navigate our hyper-sexualized culture. Find out more at www.INFOforFamilies.com.
Today I share a few books I recently read and/or reviewed. I love to read and I hope you do as well. I’m trying to not just read and consume books for my selfish benefit, but hope to share some great books with others so that you too might benefit from some of the good stuff out there!
1. Befriend: Create Belonging in an Age of Judgment, Isolation, and Fear, by Scott Sauls.
- Scott Sauls is the Senior Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, TN. I’m so glad I came across both this book and Sauls himself. While I don’t know him personally, I’ve been impacted by his preaching and writing through his sermons, blog, and now the book Befriend.
- Befriend is a thoughtful guide to relationships, all across the spectrum. Sauls encourages the development and growth of all types of relationships, from family members to social outcasts, to those with different political views, to sexual minorities, and just about everything in between.
- The book is a collection of 20 different essays and includes authentic stories, key scriptures, and discussion questions.
- Who should read this book? Honestly, any follower of Christ would benefit from the reading of this book. It would be a great book for community groups to read and discuss together.
- The bottom line is that Sauls encourages the reader to love and befriend like Christ. Can you say challenging?!?! Be the city on a hill that Jesus encourages His followers to become (see Matthew 5:13-16).
2. Messy Beautiful Friendship: Finding and Nurturing Deep and Lasting Relationships, by Christine Hoover.
- I reviewed this book as a part of Christine’s launch team (of which I was the only male member!). Christine and I have many mutual friends from her years as a student in that university that shall not be named in College Station, TX. She’s a gifted writer and communicator and a pastor’s wife in Charlottesville, VA.
- Friendships change over the years, and Hoover explores how and why we need to push through the messiness of relationships to develop and grow our friendships. Push through your fears, take the initiative, be a great host (“There you are!” and not “Here I am!”), and be vulnerable. Hoover gets practical as she addresses how you can be a good friend by listening to others and by heeding the counsel of friends.
- One of the aspects of the book I appreciate is how biblical and Christ-centered Christine is in her writing as she takes a biblical worldview to relationships and friendships. She does a good job of being authentic and biblical.
- The book contains some great discussion questions in the back of the book, as well as lessons on friendship and wisdom from the bible on friendship.
- Who should read this book? While anyone would benefit from wisdom and counsel on friendships, the target audience for this book is women and would be a great read for a group of female friends to read together. Hoover also speaks from the unique perspective of a pastor’s wife, so any wives of men in ministry would benefit.
- The bottom line is that friendship is a by-product of people being more concerned with others than ourselves and that even in all their messiness, friendships can be one of the most beautiful parts of life.
3. Think Again: Relief From the Burden of Introspection, by Jared Mellinger.
- Man, I needed this book. I read it in a time of minor trial and temptation when I needed to hear the truths Mellinger shares. I struggle with a tendency to think too much about things. And, I overthink feedback others give me (especially if they’re in a position of authority over me). I can be overly critical of myself, and I struggle with insecurity and comparison.
- At times I struggled to stay connected to this book, but I did push through and I’m glad I did. Mellinger writes, “The antidote to excessive introspection is not to completely forget myself, but to look more to the Lord Jesus Christ, which leads to thinking rightly – and less often – about myself.”
- The book is Biblical through and through, and each chapter ends with good reflection and discussion questions.
- Who should read this? Those of us who tend to be hypersensitive, overly critical of ourselves, overly consumed by ourselves, insecure, or riddled with comparison to others.
- His bottom line message: When you’re tempted to keep your eyes on yourself, Think Again, and shift your gaze to Jesus.
- What are you currently reading? Any books you’ve read that would be worth sharing with others?
Happy Mother’s Day. I always hate living so far away from you, but it’s even tougher on days like today. From all six of us in Texas: We love you, miss you, and wish you a Happy Mother’s (Grandmother’s) Day!
A few years ago I wrote a tribute to Mic called Five Lessons Learned From My Step-Dad. In that post, I shared five things I learned from him over the years. In honor of Mother’s Day, it’s only fair (and right) for me now to share a few lessons I’ve learned from you over the past 44 years. While it’s hard to share only five things, I’ll limit this post to five Lessons I learned from you so I can be consistent with dad’s tribute:
1. Beauty can grow out of adversity. If others get the chance to meet you, I want them to ask you to share your story with them. You’re one of 10 children born to my grandparents, and you were born in modern-day Jerusalem in 1945. Due to literal wars being fought in the city, my grandparents (your parents) were forced to flee from your home for fear of getting captured or killed. You ran from home to home and finally migrated to Canada, where you grew up.
I know life wasn’t easy for you for so many reasons. Language barriers, financial challenges, and growing up in a large family were just a few of the many trials you faced. But, you loved each other and shared many unforgettable memories around the dinner table, in your home, and in the community. I love watching you and your siblings interact all these years down the road. It’s a beauty that’s born out of the adversity you faced.
2. The Value of Fun and Laughter. You know how to laugh and have fun. When I look at my boys, I know where they get their sense of humor and fun. You’re playful, like to laugh, and in spite of the many challenges you’ve faced, your smile goes ear to ear. I love watching you interact with Duncan: the ways you play games together on your iPad, talk about the books you’re reading, and snuggle up together on the couch when you come visit us. You buy them games like Mashball and Spikeball because you enjoy watching them have fun.
As I think back on our home life growing up, you created so many moments of fun and laughter. Even after dad passed away, you knew how to make Chris and me laugh. Thank you, Mom.
3. How to be a Selfless Spouse. I’ve shared about this one before on my blog. You loved Mic in the great times and in the trying times. Anyone can love their spouse when life is good and the world is marked by “better, richer, and health.” It takes a special spouse to love when married life is marked by “for worse, in poorer, and in sickness.” Yet, you loved Mic no matter what, all the way up to his last days.
You showed me what marriage should look like. Even though I’m a marriage pastor who helps others, you taught me more valuable lessons than I’ve ever read in a book or taught from a pulpit. Thank you for modeling Christ’s love for us in the way you cared for and loved Mic. I wasn’t old enough to remember how you loved Dad when he passed away when I was six, but I’m confident you loved him in the same, selfless way.
4. How to roll up your sleeves and do what you need to do. Dad died when he was 39 years old. I was six and Chris was three years old. You raised us as a single parent for almost four years, not to mention the two years prior to dad passing away when he was not able to help much. You did what you needed to do, and you sacrificed and worked hard.
For years, as a single parent, you raised us, parented us, and provided an income. If you didn’t, we wouldn’t eat or have the money to pay bills. Those were some hard years after dad passed away. You are so strong. I remember so many of the sacrifices you made for our family, as well as all the ways you still made us laugh.
I’ve never been a single parent, but I know it’s a 24-hour/day, thankless job. Thank you for the sacrifices you made for Chris and me. You are my hero.
5. How to navigate blended family life. I know from working with many blended families, that stepfamily life can be extremely challenging. Between ex-spouses, co-parenting issues, and different expectations, most blended families struggle in many ways. You excel in this area, by the ways you love and care for Mic’s three children. You treat them like they’re your own, value your relationship with them, and include them in all that you do. Chris and I have a great relationship with all three of them, largely because of the ways you’ve built a relationship with them.
I love you, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day!
I know for many of you, memories of mom might bring up pain, hurt, and brokenness. I grieve for you and see challenges all around me in marriage ministry with families of origin. If this is your story, please read my friend Elizabeth’s post: It’s Mother’s Day… Go Ahead and Cry. Her words will bring you comfort and remind you that you’re not alone.
- What letter would you write to your mom? How would you encourage her? What are some of the lessons you’ve learned from your mom?
- Enjoy a great video from Igniter Media & RT Creative – Mom!
- If you feel so inclined, write something on Facebook, Instagram, or on your own blog and include the hashtag: #dearmom17 (Thank you for the challenge, Tim Challies!).
What did I learn from my second annual reader survey?
A few months back, I posted my second annual scottkedersha.com reader survey. 168 people finished the survey and provided some encouraging and helpful feedback on this site. I created the survey to learn more about the average reader and to get feedback on what people like, don’t like, and want more (or less) of in the future.
I won’t give you all the details, but I’ve compiled the highlights and some next steps below. In no way am I ‘boasting’ in what I share, but simply summarizing the feedback I received. I was encouraged in many ways.
- Reader Demographics:
- Gender: 56% female, 44% male
- Age: The highest % age demographic is 25-32 year-olds, followed closely by 33-40 year-olds. The average reader is slightly younger this year than from last year’s survey.
- Relationship Status: The highest percentage of readers are married (80%). The percentage of seriously dating and engaged couples is almost twice as many as from last year’s survey (19%).
- Kids/No Kids: Around 60% of the readers have children (down from 72% last year). The highest percentage have children in the elementary and infant/toddler stage of life.
- Geography: Readers from four countries and 18 different states took the survey, with the most coming from Texas (#TexasForever).
- Social Media: The heavy majority of readers hang out on Facebook and Instagram. Third place goes to Pinterest (I do not have a Pinterest account).
- Feedback: I asked for ratings on the different categories of posts: marriage, premarriage, books/book review, Stuff I like Saturdays, parenting and ministry/leadership. By far the highest score goes to the marriage posts, and the lowest to premarriage. The scores were all high, and I was encouraged by the feedback.
- Frequency of posts: 85% said 1-2 times/week is Rust Jight (aka, Just Right), 6% wanted more and 9% said 1 time/week is just right.
- People want to see my wife. They want posts written by Kristen, videos with me and Kristen teaching, and want to hear the female perspective. I loved hearing this feedback over and over. I want to check out Facebook Live, and think this could be a great way for me to include Kristen. I’d love to do a marriage podcast with Kristen, but I don’t see that coming anytime soon.
- One thing you need to know: Kristen’s voice and input are a part of every post I write on this site. She is much more involved than you know even if you don’t see her face. She provides input on everything I do on this site.
- I added two questions this year that provided valuable feedback. I received some incredible feedback/suggestions (many of which will show up in future posts!). The two questions were:
- What’s your #1 challenge in your dating/marriage relationship?
- What would you ask me if you were sitting across the table from me?
- A few common themes showed up over and over and over. Readers want to hear more on the following topics:
- Time management. People want to know how to get it all done.
- Somehow, many of you think Kristen and I have it all together. I’m not sure when I ever communicated we have all of our ducks in a row. We are a HOT MESS at times! I look forward to addressing some of your questions on time management and busyness.
- Related to time management, people want to know how to handle life with lots of chaos and busyness.
- For example, readers want to know how to make time for communication, intimacy, relationships, date nights, and more.
- Lots of questions on community. I haven’t written much on community, so I loved hearing your questions about friendships and community.
- For example, people wanted to know what they should do with their friends, how to use their time, and how to make decisions in the context of community.
- I was encouraged by the questions from single friends on what to look for in a mate, how to pursue each other with purity, and how to involve community in dating relationships.
- Alignment. Readers want to know how to stay aligned with your spouse in parenting, money, and expectations. I believe this is a communication issue, but I appreciate the frequency with which these topics and questions came up.
- The top request on the board is for more on communication and conflict resolution in marriage and relationships.
- I shared this last year, but the feedback this year was very similar. People appreciate how authentic, practical, biblical, and simple (not to be confused with simplistic) I write in my posts. Several commented on how ‘approachable’ I am. I’m grateful to hear this. Sometimes pastors place themselves on pedestals or allow themselves to be placed there. I am the chief sinner. I don’t have to make up stories. I’m a broken human being who needs Jesus. My writing style will not change moving forward.
- I was pleasantly surprised at how many people like book notes, reviews, and suggestions. I thought this would be one area people wanted less of, but it was quite the opposite. In addition, readers appreciate the compilation posts of curated content from across the web (Stuff I Like posts).
- Upcoming Projects: I’m working on a few projects/changes that you will see in the next few weeks:
- I switched over from MailChimp to ConvertKit. That won’t affect anything on your end, but the subscriber emails look different.
- I’m just finished my revised, 2017 Date Night Guide. 2017 brings two different versions: a Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) guide and a national guide for those of you who don’t live in the DFW area.
- I’m writing a short book (think 40-50 pages) for couples and small groups on intimacy. This will be the first product I sell – I need to start recouping all the costs involved in running this blog!
- I have some really exciting news to share with you, very soon I hope!
- Videos. A few people suggested instead of writing all the time to make some short teaching videos. I really like this suggestion and I think I will start this soon. Don’t expect amazing quality, but I think the content will be along the lines of what you typically read from me.
Anything else? If you didn’t take the survey, do you have any feedback, questions, or comments? If so, please feel free to comment below on the blog or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
- Thanks for being a reader on my site. The progress has been slow and steady, more often slow than steady. But, writing has turned out to be one of the most life-giving habits in my life. I love it so much more than I ever would have guessed.
- Thank you to so many of you who have encouraged me, prayed for me, and grown through reading something on here. Several of you said you pray for me, and many thanked me on the survey. This encourages me more than you know.
- And, thanks to Kristen Kedersha. I hit the spouse jackpot and she handles my crazy so well!