Tag Archives: Influence

Can parents lead their children to be effective and influential Christians?

A family praying and reading the Bible
A family praying and reading the Bible

I’m not going to surprise any of my regular readers by stating that I believe that fathers should lead their children to pursue advanced degrees and to reach high positions of influence. I think it is the man’s job to survey the world, to decide where the battles are being fought, to encourage his children to be the best in every academic discipline, to push them to take on difficult practical tasks, to assess their strengths and weaknesses as they progress (not their likes and dislikes), and to push them towards success in areas where the battles are being fought and where they have talent.

So, for example, if I had a child, here are some areas I would steer him/her toward:

  • cosmology, to study the Big Bang and fine-tuning arguments
  • software engineering, to make tons of money and not have to conform to teacher’s expectations
  • philosophy, because that’s what William Lane Craig, Jay Richards and Stephen C. Meyer did
  • New Testament, because that’s what Gary Habermas, N.T. Wright, and Ben Witherington did
  • economics, as long as they went to Hillsdale/Grove City, then George Mason, because they could go on to politics
  • law, as long as they went to Hillsdale/Grove City, then George Mason, because they could go on to politics
  • biochemistry, because intelligent design is all bound up with the origin of life chemistry – but this is risky
  • paleontology, because the Cambrian explosion is an excellent apologetic argument – but this is very risky
  • dentist, because you can make a ton of money, and it’s not regulated
  • veterinarian, because you can make a ton of money, and it’s not regulated
  • mathematics professor, because you can influence children, but not be turfed out for your religion/politics
  • medical physics, you can make a ton of money and no risk of being discriminated against
  • bioinformatics, combine software engineering and biochemistry – but this is somewhat risky
  • social scientist working on social issues like marriage and parenting and social policy, but this is pretty risky

I want to lead my future children towards academic excellence and effective professions where they can exert an influence. I would do this by using things like rules, standards, accountability, and moral boundaries. I would teach my children to learn to sacrifice their happiness to love God more effectively. I would encourage them to take risks, work hard, be enterprising, and to earn and save money.

I’ve been practicing all of this over the years on my male and female friends. I encourage them to go back to school, get advanced degrees, bring in good speakers to church and universities, show debates, read good apologetics and economics books, earn and save money, etc. The consensus view , among men and women who I’ve challenged, is that all this hard work is not much fun, but that they loved the feeling of being confident in their faith, and that they loved having a worldview that was comprehensive – integrating science, politics, history, economics, philosophy, foreign policy, etc. And they felt that it made them feel closer to God because they liked having the experience of defending him.

Although the leading seems to work really well on friends, but as soon as you try it on girl friends, some of them get really mad. And they don’t think that it’s a good parenting style either. Some Christian women say that children should do whatever they feel like doing, that every vocation is as effective as any other, and that children will rebel against high expectations and hard work, and become atheists. And worst of all, some women think that children need to be protected from the expectations, boundaries and standards of their own fathers. For a Christian man thinking about having a family, the thought that his children will not amount to anything is his worst nightmare. Women need to not only be comfortable with men leading the family through goal-directed parenting, but they need to encourage the men to be leaders.

So some women think that male parenting is bad for children, and doesn’t work to produce effect Christian kids.

But is it true?

Well consider two children of famous Christian apologists.

First, Lee Strobel’s son:

Kyle Strobel is a speaker, writer, and a practitioner of spiritual formation and community transformation. His main focus is on discipleship, spiritual formation, and creating a community of disciples who do the same. He has done masters work in Philosophy of Religion as well as New Testament. After doing further masters work in Spiritual Formation, Kyle has started his Ph.D in theology at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland in order to help integrate the often divorced spheres of theology and spirituality.

Kyle has focused his ministry on developing and equipping people to live a Jesus way of life, which is also the subtitle to his book Metamorpha: Jesus as a way of life(Baker, April 2007). Kyle and his wife Kelli live in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Second, Josh McDowell’s son:

Head of the Bible Department at Capistrano Valley Christian Schools, where he teaches the courses on Philosophy, Theology, and Apologetics. He graduated summa cum laude from Talbot Theological Seminary with a double Master’s degree in Theology and Philosophy. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in Apologetics and Worldview Studies from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Sean received the “Educator of the Year” for San Juan Capistrano, California in 2008. His apologetics training was awarded Exemplary Status by the Association of Christian Schools International. Sean is listed among the top 100 apologists.

I’ve talked to Greg Koukl, and he is amazingly intense and thoughtful about how he is raising his kids. I asked him this personally. He has a plan. He’s put a lot of thought into it. I’m sure his wife supports him leading the children. Apologists are good at persuading other people, and that is exactly what you do with your friends… and with your children. If you are tough on your friends, and that works, then you can be sure that being tough on the kids will work too.

I was talking to my friend Lindsay the other day, and asking her if she thought that any of her four homeschooled children would grow up to make a difference. Her response was very different than the women who distrust men as leaders. She said “all of them will grow up to be influential Christian conservatives. I’ll see to that.” That answer is music to a Christian man’s ears. There’s nothing a man wants to hear more than that he is leaving someone in charge who respects his desire that his children will make a difference for Christ and his Kingdom. What is the point of working so hard if your wife cannot be trusted to make something happen. Even if Lindsay somehow fails, at least she intends to achieve something.

If I have children in the future, I will have to pull money away from the ministries and scholars and conferences that I like to sponsor. My friends will not be receiving gifts and books and lectures and debates. I will have a lot less time for writing and relationships with atheists and co-worker debates. I’ll have to work for many years more at a boring job to pay for stuff that’s just normal every day stuff. If I have to do all that, then I would like to see that my wife is prepared to raise children, is supportive and understanding of what men do in a family, and focused on serving God effectively. And I would like to see her value the fact that a man has demonstrated his ability to lead by building up his friends over the long-term into effective and influential Christians – by giving them time and money and setting high expectations and monitoring their progress.

Women should not be afraid of men who have a track record of leading other people to be effective and influential. In fact, they should value it.

Nancy Fitzgerald: making a difference for God with students entering college

C.S. Lewis has some words to live by for you
C.S. Lewis has some words to live by for you

About a week ago, I wrote a blog post about a column in Salvo magazine written by Terrell Clemmons, which she entitled “Captive No More: The Thoroughly Rational Conversion of Michael Minot“.

What was exciting about that post was how Minot – a lawyer – was able to put his intellect to work as a Christian after his investigation of the evidence was complete.

I found another article by Terrell in Salvo magazine about another person who did an investigation of Christianity. After becoming a Christian, she also put her intellectual ability to work for her new Boss, and she produced an amazing return.

Terrell tells the story of Nancy, who lost her faith as a child when her two-year-old brother died.  Despite letting go of God, she was a very capable student, had a good marriage and led a comfortable life:

Life went on, but for Nancy, the carefree innocence of youth had died, and the emptiness of Stephen’s crib did not compare to the barrenness in her soul. Days turned into years, and she went on to earn three degrees from Indiana University, no thanks to God, whom she managed fairly well to avoid thinking about.

Until the later years of college, that is. Is there really a God or not? she wondered. And what is my purpose in life? She began asking people from all kinds of backgrounds what they believed. Do you go to church? Why? Do you believe in God? Why? This was not a casual survey. It was a serious attempt to get at the truth about reality. It was the “Christians” she found most interesting. And most disappointing. They would acknowledge that they did believe in God, but when pressed to explain why, not a single one could give a reason that made sense to her. Not. A single. One.

“I was raised that way” or “I find comfort in it” simply would not cut it for her, and so she concluded that the whole Christian thing was either a grand hoax or a contrived crutch for weak people. Well, she was not one to be taken in, and she was certainly no weakling. Therefore, life might as well be about her own success and comfort. She decided she would be a nice atheist/humanist. In the unlikely event that there actually was a real God, he probably graded on a curve, anyway. She’d never killed anyone, and she had volunteered to serve at a church brunch once. Surely she would still get “in.”

She married Ed, a med student training to become a heart surgeon, and by age 32, had all the accoutrements of success and comfort: a nice home in the suburbs, four beautiful children, and a housekeeper and nanny to cover daily chores, leaving her free to play golf and enjoy life to her heart’s content.

She wasn’t able to get any answers to her questions from her friends. They seemed to be Christians for the emotional good it did them, or maybe for the community. They had never bothered to do any investigations of the normal questions that non-Christians ask. So, her atheism persisted.

Until one fine day:

When her youngest child reached six months old, she jumped onto an amateur golf tour and took a skinny little Bible with her to the first tournament in Florida. She started reading in the Book of Genesis and right away saw a God who was angry, who didn’t really like people, and who killed a lot of them, primarily by drowning.

“I’m done,” she said when a couple of friends dropped in and asked her what she was reading. “I can’t believe in this God. Drowning. Drowning. Really?

As it turned out, the friends were Christians, and better-prepared than the average Christian to give her some direction. Oh no, Genesis is not the place to start, they said. She should read the Book of John.

Oh thank goodness. Yes, John is always the first book to read when you are investigating the Bible. It gives you the theistic framework and a report of a miracle that you can investigate using the ordinary tools of history.

What happened next?

God, she prayed, if this is really true, if Jesus Christ really did what this book says he did, then I will believe and trust that he is God and my own personal Savior. She informed him that under no circumstances would she go to Africa as a missionary, and made a few other stipulations. And she still didn’t actually believe it all yet anyway, but a fire had been lit. Golf could wait. She left the tournament and returned home to her family, anxious to begin researching this God and the Bible.

She started by simply writing out questions she needed answers to—questions about God and about this Christian faith, and she discovered that there was a wealth of evidence to support the reliability of the Bible texts. But what really moved her was the Scriptures’ running total of fulfilled prophecies—general prophecies, yes, but the quantity of specific prophecies fulfilled in Jesus Christ was astounding! There was something supernatural about this, no question.

The whole family ended up becoming Christians, including her four children. That’s already pretty good, but she wasn’t done re-prioritizing her life to account for this new information. Because she could see challenges ahead for her children when they got to college.

More:

About ten years later, as her oldest son was preparing to go to college, she asked him, “So what are you going to do if you get a roommate in college like me?”

“What do you mean, Mom?”

“I used to be an atheist,” she said.

To which he responded, “What is that?”

Nancy was floored. Her own son had no clue about her history, and he was clearly unprepared for the university environment.

She set about organizing all her research material into handouts, rounded up a few of her son’s friends, and held a class with six students. They loved it! She didn’t preach to them, but rather interacted with them, and presented solid material using movie clips and other provocative visuals. From that start, her classes grew year by year, until some 150 kids were showing up weekly, with more being turned away for lack of room.

Nancy’s classes may well have stayed confined to her community had it not been for the intervention of Charles Colson, who got wind of this popular class and hopped a plane for a visit. “Nancy, you’ve got to publish this,” he said. “We’ve got to replicate what you’re doing here across America.” Nancy had reservations about ministries, and she definitely did not want to be a “ministry.” But she agreed with his point that “people have to get smarter about their faith.”

Fortunately, he prevailed, and the result became Anchorsaway Worldview Curriculum. “Because kids need anchor points in place when they go away,” says Nancy.

For the rest, you should click through and read Terrell’s article. You’re not going to believe how much of an impact Nancy was able to have on the people who have the most potential influence – college students and young professionals.

If you like the original article, Terrell Clemmons has many more great ones in Salvo magazine. And she has a web site. I promise you nearly everything she writes is very practical. If you like wisdom, you will enjoy her thinking. I think Christian men in particular will find practical wisdom from her writings. Like Nancy, Terrell is having a big influence as well.

But I can’t end this blog post without something else that Terrell wrote about Nancy that I really liked.

This:

She gets frustrated with churches, many of which are not only not helping young people cultivate a grounded faith, but are resistant to her efforts do so on their behalf. Now a grandmother of ten, she could retire. “But Lord, where else would I rather be?” she asks with a charming smile. “I’d take a half-lap around this property, and then come back here ready to work again.”

Ah, wonderful! I also dislike churches! They are mostly awful, and the fideist pastors will fight you tooth and nail to keep apologetics out, so that their emotion-driven flocks don’t have to worry their pretty little heads about evidence. Who cares about evidence? If we didn’t have people like Nancy fighting those battles, where would we be?

It’s really important that you see people like Nancy who have several degrees and a successful life as valuable. It’s people like her who have the biggest influence. Make sure that when college-student-aged Nancy comes to you with questions, that you have the answers to give her. Because we really need everyone to do their part for the Kingdom. This woman had an influence. And more importantly, she had an influence on her own children, protecting them from the peer pressure they would face from non-Christians at college.

What did Goldman Sachs get in exchange for paying Hillary Clinton $200,000 an hour?

Hillary Clinton look bored about the deaths of 4 Americans who asked for her help
Hillary Clinton look bored about the deaths of 4 Americans who asked for her help

This article is from the Washington Free Beacon.

It says:

Hillary Clinton could not help but laugh Friday when a reporter asked her to release the transcripts from her high-priced Goldman Sachs speeches at a rope line in New Hampshire.

“Will you release the transcript of your paid speeches at Goldman Sachs?” a reporter from the Intercept asked Clinton at a campaign event, referring to the $675,000 she has earned in speaking fees from the bank.

Clinton looked directly at the reporter, and after a pause, laughed in his face. She then carried on greeting supporters.

“There’s a lot of controversy over those speeches,” the reporter said. “Secretary?”

Clinton continued to speak over the reporter, drowning him out.

“Hi! So glad to see you!” Clinton said.

“Is that a no?” the reporter persisted.

Clinton ignored his question and repeated a greeting to another supporter.

“I am so happy to see you,” Clinton said.

“Secretary Clinton, will you release the transcript of your Goldman Sachs speeches?” the reporter said again. Clinton ignored him.

Clinton has come under scrutiny for giving high-priced speeches, averaging $225,000 per gig, at big banks such as Goldman Sachs, all the while preaching about income inequality on the campaign trail. She and her husband have made more than $125 million in speaking fees since 2001.

Here is the video where she laughs at the questioner, and then ignores him, even after repeated attempts to get her to be accountable:

You might remember that Clinton often talks about how she is “dead broke”. Is she really “dead broke”?

$300,000 an hour for a speech
$300,000 an hour for a speech

Hillary Clinton’s speech fees

The Weekly Standard reports:

Disclosure forms filed with the Federal Election Commission by Hillary Clinton provide fascinating details of the remarkable money-making machine that is the once-and-possibly-future first couple. Between January 2014 and the filing of the forms on May 15, 2015 (up to and including a speech by Bill Clinton to the American Institute of Architects the day before the filing), the Clintons made about $30 million, approximately $25 million from speeches alone.

Both of the Clintons have given speeches regularly in the 16-month period covered in the filing with rarely more than a few weeks off in between engagements. Often events are crowded together during a period of several days, sometimes with more than one speech on the same day. On a single day last October, Bill and Hillary delivered a total of four speeches, taking home over $1 million. Those four speeches fell in the middle of a three-day blitz that brought in a total of $1,511,000. (Mrs. Clinton edged out her husband $786,000 to $725,000.)

[…]Although the audiences for the Clintons vary widely, the actual content and duration of the speeches is not always revealed. However, a YouTube video of Bill Clinton’s recent speech to the American Institute of Architects, apparently recorded by an attendee, shows that the $250,000 fee paid to Mr. Clinton purchased the group a 23 minute speech, an hourly rate of about $652,000.

On a per-hour basis, she makes more than all of the CEOs of the largest companies. Well, maybe not more than Donald Trump, though. New York values. Actually, Donald Trump donated at least $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation, so maybe he can tell us what people get for giving the Clinton’s exorbitant sums of money.

Donald Trump and his friends, the Clintons
Donald Trump and his friends, the Clintons

Meanwhile, Ted Cruz had to liquidate assets and take out loans against his investments in order to run for Senate. Which of these people is more like you and I?

Is sheltering children a bad thing? What are children for anyway?

Marriage and family
Marriage and family

Lindsay and Doug Harold are Christian super-parents who do recommend sheltering kids. But the way they do it is interesting. Lindsey writes about it on her Lindsay’s Logic blog.

She writes:

People often criticize parents who are careful about what their children watch, listen to, or read or who monitor their friends and influences very carefully. This criticism is very commonly made of homeschooling parents, though it has certainly been applied to others as well. The claim is that these parents are sheltering their children too much and that they won’t know how to deal with the real world when they enter it upon reaching adulthood. Some even claim that sheltered children will be more likely to go crazy with the sudden freedom than children who have grown up exposed to evil things of the world and are used to them.

There seems to be a misunderstanding about what sheltering is and what its purpose is.

There’s a big difference between knowing about evil things that can happen and knowing evil by being steeped in it. It is certainly possible to shelter one’s children too much so that they are ignorant of reality and have no idea how to function in society or how to address the wrong ideas of the world. But that’s very rare. The greater danger is in putting children in the midst of evil before they are prepared (developmentally and spiritually) to handle it. That is by far the more common scenario and the one more likely to result in problems.

You don’t send a soldier into battle until he’s trained, and you don’t send a child into the world until he’s trained either. Children are very vulnerable and need protection until they are prepared to fight evil on their own.

Dina sent me this Gospel Coalition interview with Francis and Lisa Chan, that talked about the importance of training kids to have a specific purpose, too.

It says:

How has parenting seven kids affected your marriage? What’s your biggest piece of advice for fellow parents with respect to their marriages?

Children change everything. I am convinced God uses our children to cleanse us from self-centeredness. Babies demand that you move your focus off yourself and onto them. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s only bad when they’re 13 and still believe everyone should drop whatever they’re doing to tend to their needs. It’s hard enough to fight self-centeredness in ourselves, but parents are given the task of training their children to live God-centered lives as well (Deut. 6:4–9).

Our biggest piece of advice would be to view your kids as assets rather than burdens. It used to be that people envied couples with many kids. It meant they had more help on the farm, with the business, around the home, and so on. When people hear we have seven kids now, though, they feel sorry for us! Why is it that for thousands of years children were a blessing, yet in the past few decades we’ve come to view them as burdens? Poor parenting. We raise them to either be burdens or assets. Good parenting involves teaching them to love and serve others rather than expecting to be constantly served. While we will always serve our kids to some degree, we also expect them to serve each other and those around us. Our children have been our biggest assets in ministry. Rather than distracting from kingdom work, they multiply it. Nine servants are better than two.

One of the things that’s scary to me is that if I did get married, my wife might be too soft on the children, and always let them have their way. Women sometimes want to be the child’s friend and not his parent. Men have a different view of children. We want them to be independent and to not starve, and to make a difference for God. So on the one hand, I want to be protective of them and shelter them from things they are not old enough to see, and on the other hand I want them to grow their skills in order to serve God. What a difficult balancing act – I am not sure I understand children well enough to manage it. But, that’s what a wife is for, right? She’s the Director of Child Development.

Are you training your replacement?

I saw this post on Pastor Matt’s blog (H/T Truthbomb Apologetics), in which he talked about how William Lane Craig, the foremost Christian evangelist today, was inspiring a generation of young Christians to study hard subjects and to have an influence.

Pastor Matt then describes his own efforts with the Alliance Defense Fund, where he serves as Director of Development.

He writes:

My primary job is to serve the Christian legal ministry Alliance Defending Freedom.  Other than winning approximately 80% of our cases, we have committed to training the next generation of Christian lawyers (yes, there is such a thing).  Alliance Defending Freedom (or ADF) instituted The Blackstone Legal Fellowship to impact future generations.  We pick the top Christian law students from across the country, train them and place them in a paid internship with attorneys already fighting everyday for life, marriage and religious liberty across the globe.  The results have been tremendous.  After all, think about the impact an Ivy League law student committed to following Christ would have if properly trained in Constitutional law and given real world experience in defending the 1st Amendment? Such students go on to become federal law clerks, U.S Attorneys and federal judges.

The Blackstone program inspired me to think about applying the same to rising Christian apologists.  After all, if we lost significant ground in the culture war because we ceded academia to the left, what would happen if we identified the best and brightest committed Christians studying philosophy or science and helped them to rise to the top of their fields via a training program including internships and networking opportunities?

For example, let’s say a grad student at Houston Baptist University or the Talbot School of Theology has been accepted to study philosophy of science at Cambridge or physics at Cal Tech.  Wouldn’t it make a difference if he or she were given a chance over their summer break to spend time learning about the latest in New Testament studies from N.T. Wright and intelligent design from Stephen Meyer followed by a paid internship with the Discovery Institute or RZIM? Then think of the possibilities of linking all of these men and women through an online network and regular get togethers where they could support one another through prayer and commenting on each others’ writings. The benefits could be not only better writing but friendships that help avoid unnecessary divisions as well as maintaining the momentum Dr. Craig and others have initiated.

I’m definitely a huge fan of the ADF and Blackstone Legal Fellowship, but I have my own plan to train my replacements.

For some time now, I have been getting to know young Christians who want to make a difference for Christ and his Kingdom, and I have been encouraging them. Sometimes, that encouragement means sending money, sometimes it means sending books, sometimes it means sending care and encouragement, sometimes it means picking college courses and sometimes it means helping with homework or technical issues. Sometimes it means listening as they get through a bad break-up or deal with doubts. Sometimes it means giving them advice on courting and marriage. It could mean anything – but the goal is to build them up to have an influence.

I am a single man and have been careful to study difficult subjects and move around as necessary to find good-paying work. That leaves me in a position where I am able to spend my free time caring for these younger Christians as they grow their skills, build their resumes and get their ministries set up. I expect them all to surpass me in their achievements and influence. So although I have been able to escape my upbringing and reach some measure of success, my hope for them is that they will reach even higher than I was able to. But that’s not going to happen unless they have a vision for their lives and are supplied in order to reach their goals.

So, do you have a plan to develop influential and effective Christians who will replace you?