Nothing in nature is a flat line. It’s either moving up or down.
That goes for your life too. Your overall trajectory is either heading closer to the image of God, or further away.
A new year is a good time to take stock of this. Where have you been, what went well, what didn’t—and how can you keep that line moving up more and more this year?
Here are some practical tips for doing this.
Firstly, check out our podcast on “Taking Responsibility for Your Life.” It’s on all the major podcast directories, or you can listen here:
At IGTBAM, we emphasize the importance of a man having a “mission” for his life. This is an intentional plan for how you will build God’s kingdom and bring him glory, through all he has given you.
This is not as difficult as it sounds. Focus on where you’re at, and where you want to be at the end of your life. What comes in the middle will fall into place as you take incremental steps towards the end goal. Ask yourself:
- What will my name stand for at the end of my life (Proverbs 22:1)?
- What will it mean to come from or be a part of my household (Proverbs 31)?
- How can I move towards this in some increment of time? Where do I want to be in one, three, and/or five years?
Write out 3–5 goals for the following areas:
Note that a proper goal is something achievable with difficulty. If it’s not difficult, you’re just rubberstamping a holding pattern, or at best making lazy changes. And if it’s not achievable, you’re just dreaming and setting yourself up for failure.
Once you have these goals, do a self-assessment. Ask yourself, Where am I right now in these five areas? Be brutally honest. Then review your answers with a good friend. Ask them, Is this a good self assessment? Adjust as needed.
Once you have done this, you need to fill in the gaps. Ask, What are 1-3 changes I can make in each of these areas to get from where I am to where I want to be?
Again, your objective should be achievable with difficulty. Develop a plan using S.M.A.R.T. goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-based). Review your growth at reasonable intervals. Not every day, but not every other month.
It’s a good idea to go through this process just my yourself, and also with your wife.
As you’re working out your objectives, you may find the following questions helpful:
- What needs to be planned or envisioned?
- What needs to be built or supplied?
- What needs to be guarded or fought for?
- What needs to be torn down or destroyed?
Here are some other questions to help you identify opportunities and pitfalls:
- Where has God gifted me with strength? Wisdom? Workmanship?
- What assets has God gifted me with that I can develop and use?
- Where are the greatest opportunities for being enterprising?
- Who has God gifted into my life that we may labor and build together?
- Who has God placed around me that may support me or cover me even if we aren’t working together?
- What sins am I prone to that will sabotage my efforts?
- Where are the greatest needs for constancy in my life? Readiness?
- What enemies do I need to be wary of?
Something also worth thinking about is how to tie all this together in a way that your household can unite around—even the smaller children.
One way is deciding the top three things you want your household to be be known as standing for. Then develop something like a house motto, vision statement, or even a battle cry if you want to get crazy.
Michael tells his children that Fosters are known for ass-kicking, winning, and doing it for the glory of God.
Bnonn hasn’t gotten very far with this, mostly because he was unable to improve on flagrantly stealing the title of a classic World War II song, “Praise the Lord, and Pass the Ammunition.” But this does illustrate that it can be a work in progress. Something is better than nothing, and you can adjust as you go. You can also flip it around. Bnonn and Smokey want their house to be known for integrity above most other things, so Bnonn often tells his sons, Tennants aren’t liars. Tennants don’t try to fix the truth. They tell it like it is, even when it’s hard. Developing a few such statements on the issues you identify as most important, and working them out into soundbites you can easily repeat, can be helpful for keeping everyone on track.
Responsibility and authority are inextricably linked.
Authority without responsibility is tyranny. Responsibility without authority is slavery.
So it’s important to understand the interrelation of the different spheres of authority and responsibility that you will need to navigate. Especially as these degenerate, as they look like they will continue to do, after a record plummet in 2020.
All authority comes from God. He is sovereign. He is almighty. He reigns over all.
Thus, only God’s authority is absolute and unquestionable.
But God is a God of means. He works out his eternal purposes through providence, in the works of creation. He has delegated His authority to three institutions: the church, the civil magistrate, and the family.
Each of these institutions’ authority is limited to a particular domain. It would be an act of rebellion towards God for one institution to usurp the role given to another. So an institution’s authority is binding to its subjects only inasmuch as it is in accord with God’s Word.
In other words, all authority must, and can, only be lawfully exercised according to the purpose for which God has delegated it.
Think of it this way:
- God has given the keys of the kingdom to the Church.
- God has given the rod to the family.
- God has given the sword to civil magistrate.
The authority of institutions will overlap at certain points, because every person is in some way a subject of each institution. E.g., suppose a 14 year old communicant member of a church steals a dirt bike.
The magistrate will deal with the criminal aspect of the sin. Not the church, nor the family. They are involved, but the sword isn’t given to those institutions.
Yet the elders of his church must now decide if he should be put under church discipline. Maybe he should be suspended from table fellowship, or maybe admonishment will do. Regardless, it will be the church that makes that decision—not the family, nor the magistrate.
And still his father must decide how he will deal with his son’s waywardness. The church or even the magistrate can make recommendations to the father, but what actions he takes are ultimately his decision.
Much trouble comes from institutions neglecting the legitimate authority of other institutions. And much trouble comes from institutions overreaching into domains and responsibilities which God has not given to them.
The natural family isn’t a replacement for the particular church.
The particular church isn’t a replacement for the natural family.
The civil magistrate isn’t a replacement for the particular church or the natural family.
The particular church and the natural family isn’t a replacement for the civil magistrate.
We must not collapse these institutions into each other—but neither can we fully separate what God has made interdependent.
It’s a major error to think of these institutions as series of concentric circles with one having a greater priority over the other. Yet that is how most people today think.
Many hyper-patriachial types absolutize the father’s authority, and make the family central. This subordinates, if not outright rejects, the rightful authority of the church.
But there is always more than one ditch.
Many liberals absolutize the civil magistrate, and in doing so create a religious nanny state that overreaches and interferes both with the family and the church. The state is not central, yet even the majority of Christians today put the state at the center. They would instantly recognize, condemn and rebel against overreach if a father or pastor did it, but they happily accept and defend it if a governor does it.
Still, there are other churches, be they liberal or conservative, which absolutize the authority of the elders and make the spiritual primary in all regards.
It’s not a series of concentric circles, but rather a Venn diagram, with God as sovereign king at the center.
These institutions should not compete with one another. There is symbiotic relationship.
Strong churches mean strong family and a just state.
Strong families will lead to growing churches and seed society with well trained citizens.
And a strong, but not overreaching state will keep the family and church strong by protecting them from criminal elements.
They are supposed to work together.
Now, here’s the rub: each institution will pick up the slack when one or both of the other institutions fail in rightly exercising authority over their given domain. This is something like the Law of Conservation of Energy, which states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; only transferred or changed from one form to another.
Authority is the same; it can only be transferred or changed, never destroyed.
If the family fails to fulfill its duties, then the church or state will be moved to step in and meet those needs…and vice versa. We’ve had decades of the family and church abdicating their responsibilities. And the government saw an opportunity to step in and gobble up all that authority which God had delegated for those responsibilities.
This is ultimately how we have gotten a nanny state, and why so few people now recognize overreach as overreach.
Doing something about it starts with the heads of household and churches knowing the duties of the state, knowing their own duties, and taking back what was delegated to them.
The duties of the state are to punish evil and praise good.
The duties of the family are to be fruitful and raise up godly seed in the discipline and nurture of the Lord.
The duties of the church are to be the pillar and buttress of the truth through discipling the nations in the Word and sacraments.
Know your place, have a vision for what it looks like, plan to make that vision a reality—and do not give it up to anyone who wishes to unlawfully take it from you. The man who stands with God cannot be outnumbered.
From Tyrannus Hall: #
Much of modern marketing is not about selling products, but selling an identity. There is no shortage of products on the market that sell in the “masculinity” niche. Clueless bastards spend money on products that they think will make them more of a man. Marketers are happy to take their money in exchange for providing the illusion. But manhood is not something you can buy.
Brothers, avoid the trap of surface level macho-bravado by being the real thing.
And obviously not all “manly” products are bad, just be aware of who is trying to pander to you as a niche market.
If you’re looking for men who can help you with figuring out your goals, share their wisdom and experience, and keep you on course, Tyrannus Hall may be for you:
Read and share this email on the web: #
Talk again next week,
Bnonn & Michael