At every army course I ever attended, my professors have beaten into my head the importance of identifying the problem before making a decision. The most important step before a decision is made, they taught me, is to clearly articulate the problem with all of its facts and assumptions, even if doing so takes the lion’s share of your time.
Several quotes have been thrown around about having one hour to solve a problem. Some are even attributed to the genius Albert Einstein. The idea is usually stated in the following form: “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on determining the solution, I would spend the first fifty-five minutes defining the problem and the next five minutes solving it.” This concept, which is compatible with my military training, is a counter-intuitive proposition. Most people, when confronted with a problem, move immediately into problem-solving mode. However, there is much to be gained from closely considering the actual problem.
So what is your problem today? What are the issues you are struggling with? What are the bad habits that you constantly feel the need to confess? Here is a list of some potential problem areas in your life:
- Addiction to prescription meds or other drugs
- Addiction to video games
- Fantasies/living a secretive life
- Flirting with a woman other than your wife
- Indulgent drinking
- Neglecting family
- Seeking vengeance
- Stealing from employer/government
- Suicidal thoughts
- Viewing pornography
- Withdrawal from family and others
- Other (__________)
This is not a comprehensive list. If you want, you can circle them now. Some men might be embarrassed to outwardly acknowledge one of their problems. What if someone else picked up your list and looked at it? The odds are, though, that with our perception gap, some of the people in our life already know about our struggles and are praying for us.
The evil in us is deeper than we can ever imagine. The issues on the list above are just manifestations of the immense human problem of sin. Those items are abnormal to the life we know we are supposed to have, abnormal to the life that God stands ready to give us power to live. We only solve our dilemma when we look to Christ and model that perfect, charitable life that He lived. He is the pattern by which to live by, hope for, and model to others. Only by living as Christ did can we partly gain—though sometimes unclearly—a life in the human experience of wholeness, freedom, and victory.
If you see your one big problem on the list above, the important thing is to recognize it for what it is. Confess your problem, and ask for strength from God to be sustained without it. Decide to put that sin or struggle away from you, and move forward in faith, investing your time in the force multipliers and modeling the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. Many of us men know what we are supposed to do, but we consciously decide not to do it. Life seems easier when we let things ride, but there are long-term implications for procrastination. Not deciding to address a sin is a decision.
I have dealt with several of the areas listed above. They were indeed problems—sin areas in my life that needed a corrective. A better man should have written this book. But I believe it is our honesty, vulnerability, and transparent integrity that helps lead us out of the pit. Shining light on our problems is the first step.
I wish I could deal with a problem area and then never have to face it again. In fact, I wish spiritual growth was easy. But, as a friend recently reminded me, a blade of grass only grows one day’s length in one day’s time.
Are you ready for life change? Are you ready to make a decision that will positively impact your life and the lives of those around you? Do you want to be a man of integrity? Do you want to be known by others as a man of character? The things we do and say echo in eternity. Life is short. Eternity is long. We hold in our hands a brief opportunity to make a difference in other people’s lives.
The mutineers that Chamberlin led made a decision to fight, and that decision influenced the entire war. Chamberlin’s decision to inspire rather than threaten them influenced their decision. And so on and so on. A decision for godliness will influence your entire life and the lives of those around you. Can you hear those words? If you choose to join us I will be personally very grateful.
The Statesman in you is calling out.
Do you have a stomach for this fight?
Are you ready to decide?
Lt. Charles Causey is an army Chaplain currently stationed as garrison chaplain at Fort Dix in New Jersey. He has created a 40-question integrity assessment that analyzes and places men into one of four types – Sentry, Scout, Salesman, and Statesman. His book Words and Deeds breaks down those types and provides a road map for going from where you are after taking the test to becoming a man of greater integrity. Included is a 6-week bible study for men to dive deeper into the assessment as they become a band of brothers. Take the integrity assessment now or learn more at wordsanddeedsbook.com.