The Power of Your Mind When it Comes to Change

When it comes to change, there are a few different ways of seeing it and seeing why we need to change that keeps us stuck:

  • Some of us don’t think we need to change. We aren’t perfect, but we aren’t terrible in our opinion. There is some hidden system known only to us, but that system tells us we aren’t as bad as an employee, child, parent or spouse as other people.
  • We’ve tried to change, and it didn’t work. So, it must not be worth it. Which takes us quickly back to the first spot, we don’t need to change then.
  • I’d change, but I can’t because and we fill in the blank. That could be something from our past, someone in our present. But the other person is keeping us stuck where we are. This is the person who changes jobs and keeps working for a boss that doesn’t see how amazing they are. The problem is, they keep running out of bosses. In this person, they hold others responsible for their problems, their pain. This is the view that the problem is out there. And as long as the problem is out there, I don’t have to change or take responsibility for it.
  • Or, have you ever said or heard someone say, “That’s not me. That’s not who I am. It was just once.” But it wasn’t just once, and most of the time, we are blind to our blind spots.
  • Sometimes we shrug it off. We’ll say things like, “well that’s just how life goes.” We rationalize things as a way to protect ourselves. We often do this if we grew up in a chaotic home or are related to an addict or an alcoholic. Unknowingly, this is a defense mechanism for us and keeps us from having to engage hard parts of our lives.
  • Connected to this is “this is just the way I am.” I’m just loud; I’m just controlling, fearful, I worry about everything. What this does is it gives us a way out. I don’t have to change because this is how I am. What if, that is causing problems in our closest relationships or keeping us from experiencing life.

When it comes to change, we have all kinds of opinions on the possibility of change and how it happens.

What’s fascinating to me is how the bible, psychologists, and neuroscientists say the same thing about change and your brain (the bible just said it first): The brain, your mind is crucial. It is powerful.

Dr. Daniel Amen called America’s most popular psychiatrist, and a neuroscientist says that your brain is involved in everything you do and everything you are, including how you think, feel, act and how well you get along with people. That when your brain works right, you work right. When your brain is troubled, you are more likely to have trouble in life.

 Craig Groeschel said: You cannot have a positive life when you have a negative mind.

Two thousand years ago, the apostle Paul writing in the New Testament said in his letter to the church in Philippi: Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell (or think) on these things. Do what you have learned and received and heard from me, and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

The writer of the book of Hebrews in the NT told us: to pay close attention, pay attention to what you pay attention to. The idea of attention, what we focus on is all over scripture.


As Craig Groeschel says, Your life is always moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts.

It’s the idea that what fires together, stays together. The more you think about anything, no matter what it is, the more your brain gives real estate to that subject. So, and this is key at least for me because I’m not a naturally optimistic person (and let’s be honest, our culture is not optimistic, just turn on social media), but if you repeatedly focus your thoughts on negative experiences (their words hurt me) those negative thoughts get wired more deeply into our brains.

Have you noticed that you recall negative experiences faster and easier than positive ones? It’s called negative bias. We recall negative things; words said to us, negative emotions more quickly and we remember negative experiences longer than positive ones.

It’s why you can remember being left out at school, not picked on the team, what your parent or guidance counselor said in school, the feedback from a boss over a decade ago.

One neuroscientist coined the phrase the survival of the busiest to explain this: that the more we think specific thoughts, both unhealthy and healthy, the more powerful they become.

This is why, the apostle Paul writing in the New Testament said in his letter to the church in Rome said: Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Our mental habits, what we give our attention to, shape our brain, which in turn forms our behaviors.

What Romans 12 is telling us is how we align our minds with our feelings and what God is doing in our lives.

I believe to see the change in our lives; we need to understand the power of our minds and how much they shape our heart and behaviors.

Tuesday Mind Dump…

  • Easter week.
  • A busy but amazing week in the life of a pastor and church.
  • I feel like we are flying into Easter week.
  • Judah’s birthday was this past week.
  • Can’t believe we’ve had him in our family for almost six years now.
  • If you’ve been a pastor at your church for any length of time, you know the ebbs and flows of seasons in the life of your church. The same thing happens in a business.
  • You have high seasons, hard seasons, seasons of unity and disunity — seasons of clarity and seasons where things are muddy and unclear.
  • Right now is one of my favorite seasons ever in the life of our church.
  • The unity of our team, everyone working in their area of giftedness, the clarity of our spiritual formation track and growth track is amazing (and working!).
  • We just finished our series #RelationshipGoals, and the response was overwhelming.
  • So many people took their next steps to work on their most important relationships.
  • I had a couple who has been married for almost 50 years tell me they learned something new every week!
  • I can’t wait for this weekend as we walk through the Stations of the Cross on Friday and kick off a brand new series on the book of Colossians on Sunday called Mastermind.
  • I’m also looking forward to having a couple of weeks off from preaching soon.
  • I’m heading into week 11 which is way past my normal rhythm and length of time preaching.
  • So pray for your preacher!
  • You don’t want to skip church this week; you’ll miss something.
  • Have a great week!

What You Miss when You Skip Church

People skip church for all kinds of reasons. You wake up Sunday morning, and you’re tired, the kids are sick or cranky, your kid is on a sports team, you have work or errands to do.

The list goes on.

One of my favorite reasons given to me for why people skip church is: I didn’t think the message applied to me.

I’ve heard this a bunch of times on a host of different topics.

What lays underneath this are two important, and powerful lies.

The first, there are parts of the Bible that do not apply to me.

Now, this person wouldn’t say this outright. They would probably say that the Bible is God’s word and inspired. They would even say it is applicable. But when we say, “I won’t go to church today because I don’t think the topic (giving, evangelism, community, marriage, sex) applies to me and where I am.

Does it apply to them as much as the person next to them? Maybe not. But it shows what we think of the Bible when we say that. It puts us over the Bible and God when we say, “God, there’s a page in here that I don’t need to know about, it isn’t relevant to my life.”

Now again, when this person says I’m not coming to church, for this reason, they wouldn’t tell you this, but this is what they are saying.

The second, my presence at church doesn’t matter.

The church is a body, community, a family. When one is missing, an important piece is missing.

In our digital age, we have lost the power of our presence in people’s lives, and we’ve lost the power of their presence in our lives.

Whenever we skip church, we are saying, “There isn’t anyone at church who will need me to be there, and I don’t need any of those people today.”

Both are strong ideas, but they also tell us something.

The reality is, we can’t make it throughout the week without a community encouraging us forward. We need people to challenge us, help us change, support and inspire us, and help propel us forward. Even if that is only through a smile, a hug or a nod.

We’ve grown so accustomed in our life to thinking every experience has to be about us or an immediate benefit to us. Often, we don’t see the most significant things in our life until later. We also, don’t know what we do for other people til down the road.

Our presence in people’s lives is the same.

So yes, you won’t go to hell if you skip church.

But you will miss something powerful in your life. And so will your church.

12 Ways to Keep the Passion Alive in Your Marriage

Keep the passion alive in your marriage

I came across this list in Daniel Akin’s book God on Sex: The Creator’s Ideas about Love, Intimacy, and Marriage and thought it was beneficial. Use this list as a way to evaluate where you are as a couple when it comes to passion for each other. What are you doing well? What 1 or 2 things could you improve?

  1. Work at it. A lifetime of love and romance takes effort. Few things in life are as complicated as building and maintaining an intimate, passionate relationship. You need to work on it regularly to get through those trying periods that require extra work.
  2. Think team. When making important decisions, such as whether to work overtime or accept a transfer or promotion, ask yourself this question: What will the choice I am making do to the people I love? Talk with your mate and family. Make “we” decisions that will have the most positive impact on your marriage and your family.
  3. Be protective. Guard and separate your marriage and your family from the rest of the world. This might mean refusing to work on certain days or nights. You might turn down relatives and friends who want more of you than you have the time, energy, or wisdom to give. You might even have to say no to your children to protect time with your spouse. The kids won’t suffer if this is done occasionally and not continuously. It will be beneficial for everyone!
  4. Accept that good and not perfect is okay when it comes to your mate. No one is perfect other than Jesus! You married a real person who will make real mistakes. However, never be content with bad. Always aim high, but settle for good!
  5. Share your thoughts and feelings. We have seen this one over and over. Unless you consistently communicate, signaling to your spouse where you are and getting a recognizable message in return, you will lose each other along the way. Create or protect communication-generating rituals. No matter how busy you may be, make time for each other. For example, take a night off each week, go for a walk together regularly, go out to breakfast if you can’t have dinner alone, or sit together for 30 minutes each evening just talking, without any other distractions.
  6. Manage anger and especially contempt better. Try to break the cycle in which hostile, cynical, contemptuous attitudes fuel unpleasant emotions, leading to negative behaviors that stress each other out and create more tension. Recognize that anger signals frustration of some underlying issue. Avoid igniting feelings of anger with the judgment that you are being mistreated. Watch your non-verbal signals, such as your tone of voice, hand and arm gestures, facial expressions, and body movements. Remain seated, don’t stand or march around the room. Deal with one issue at a time. Don’t let your anger about one thing lead you into showering the other with a cascade of problems. If different topics surface during your conflict, note them to address later. Try to notice subtle signs that anger or irritation is building. If you are harboring these feelings, express them before they grow too much and lead to an angry outburst. Keep focused on the problem, not persons. Don’t turn a relatively manageable problem into a catastrophe. Emphasize where you agree.
  7. Declare your devotion to each other again and again. True long-range intimacy requires repeated affirmations of commitment to your spouse. Remember: love is in both what you say and in how you act. Buy flowers. Do the dishes and take out the trash without being asked. Give an unsolicited back or foot rub. Committed couples protect the boundaries around their relationship. Share secrets more than with any circle of friends and relatives.
  8. Give each other permission to change. Pay attention. If you aren’t learning something new about each other every week or two, you just aren’t observing closely enough. You are focusing on other things more than one another. Bored couples fail to update how they view each other. They act as though the roles they assigned and assumed early in the relationship will remain forever comfortable. Remain constantly abreast of each other’s dreams, fears, goals, disappointments, hopes, regrets, wishes, and fantasies. People continue to trust those people who know them best and who love and accept them.
  9. Have fun together. Human beings usually fall in love with the ones who make them laugh, who make them feel good on the inside. They stay in love with those who make them feel safe enough to come out to play. Keep delighting a priority. Put your creative energy into making yourselves joyful and producing a relationship that regularly feels like recess.
  10. Make yourself trustworthy. People come to trust the ones who affirm them. They learn to distrust those who act as if a relationship were a continual competition over who is right and who gets their way. Always work as if each of you has thoughts, impressions, and preferences that make sense, even if your opinions or needs differ. Realize your spouse’s perceptions will always contain at least some truth, maybe more than yours, and validate those truths before adding your perspective to the discussion.
  11. Forgive and forget. Don’t be too hard on each other. If your passion and love are to survive, you must learn how to forgive. Ephesians 4:32 must always be front and center. You and your spouse regularly need to wipe the slate clean so that anger doesn’t build and resentment fester. Holding on to hurts and hostility will block real intimacy. It will only assure that no matter how hard you otherwise work at it, your relationship will not grow. Do what you can to heal the wounds in a relationship, even if you did not cause them. Be compassionate about the fact that neither of you intended to hurt the other as you set out on this journey.
  12. Cherish and applaud. One of the most fundamental ingredients in the intimacy formula is cherishing each other. You need to celebrate each other’s presence. If you don’t give your spouse admiration, applause, appreciation, acknowledgment, the benefit of the doubt, encouragement, and the message that you are happy to be there with them now, where will they receive those gifts? Be generous. Be gracious. One of the most painful mistakes a couple can make is the failure to notice their own mate’s heroics. These small acts of unselfishness include taking out the trash, doing the laundry, mowing the lawn, driving the carpool, preparing the taxes, keeping track of birthdays, calling the repairman, and cleaning the bathroom, as well as hundreds of other routine labors. People are amazingly resilient if they know that they are appreciated. Work hard at noticing and celebrating daily acts of heroism by your mate.

Friday Five

What a week. Tomorrow is mine and Katie’s anniversary. Hard to believe 17 years have flown by!

Wednesday, I took my three oldest kids to see Switchfoot and Colony House. Easily a top 10 show and I’ve seen a lot.

The day before, a friend texted me and said, “I have a ticket for the VIP experience and can’t use it, do you want it?” Yes! So we got to meet Switchfoot!

They were super nice and my kids barely talked. Although Gavin did say, “Dad, these guys are your age.” I’m hoping that’s good.

So that was my week.

Oh and this past Sunday was so cool at our church. We’re in the middle of a series called #RelationshipGoals. This past Sunday, the topic was on women and what wives do and instead of me telling wives what to do, I interviewed 3 women in our church. It was awesome. If you want to watch it, you can see it here.

Now, onto my Friday Five:

Favorite book:

Last week I read Eternity Is Now in Session: A Radical Rediscovery of What Jesus Really Taught about Salvation, Eternity, and Getting to the Good Place by John Ortberg and was really challenged by it. One of the things I loved about it was how well it followed the discipleship path that our church has. 

Favorite podcast:

This podcast interview that Carey Nieuwhof did with Kadi Cole on women in leadership at churches was incredible. This is something we have been rethinking at our church and making some changes and I loved what Kadi had to say. Pastors, this is a great podcast to discuss with some female leaders in your church and make sure you listen. The network that I am a part of needs more of this and needs to get better at this.

Favorite blog posts:

I’m a dad of middle schoolers and soon to be middle schoolers so this article about the 3 pressures that a middle school boy is facing was incredibly helpful for me.

Are you about to have the talk with your kids? Putting it off? I know it’s uncomfortable, but here’s a helpful thing to keep in mind.

And last: I am always on the lookout for great books and I love the lists that Brian Dodd puts together for leaders. Here’s his list for the spring. I’ve read some of these but have added the others to my list. Charles Stone’s book is a must-read and Atomic Habits is my favorite book of the year so far (my kids are reading it now).

The 3 Things at the Root of Most of our Marriage Problems & Hangups

A few weeks ago I was speaking at a conference, and I mentioned that I’m not a very good counselor. I said, “typically, you have one of three problems, and the faster I can figure it out, the faster we’ll move forward.”

I’ve said this numerous times in other settings.

But something different happened on this day.

Someone raised their hand during the Q&A and asked what those three things were?


  1. Your family of origin.
  2. Being comfortable in your own skin.
  3. Resentment and bitterness about how your life has turned out.

Is it that simple? I think so, and I’ll explain in a moment.

But I believe, almost every time I sit in a counseling situation, any argument I have with my wife, co-worker, child, parent or friend, it comes back to this. Addictions go back to this, hurt feelings go back to this, and missed opportunities come back to this.

Take the first, your family of origin. We underestimate the power of this one. We think we grew up in this kind of family (frugal, wealthy, shouting, alcoholic, the list goes on) and we believe it has little to do with our lives. This family determines so much about our lives, our marriage, career, how we handle money and the way we parent.

I grew up in a family that didn’t talk about emotions a lot or processes them. So guess what I don’t like to do? Talk about feelings and emotions. I don’t even want to cry in front of people (one of the things I’m working on with a counselor).

The second one is being comfortable in your own skin. This is the comparison game we have played our whole lives. Often, we will look at someone else’s marriage, career or talents and be jealous.

Often, what gets us stuck, particularly in our career, marriage or leadership is not being comfortable with who we are. We aren’t skinny enough, strong enough, smart enough, _____ enough. And we stop.

Which leads us the last one is resentment and bitterness about how your life has turned out. All of us have hopes and dreams for our lives and the future. What we struggle with is handling when they don’t play out like we thought or it doesn’t feel how we expected it to feel. Often, it won’t be as amazing as we expected it. We planned to be further up the career ladder, we expected to have kids by now or that they would be different than they are or that our spouse would be different or that we would be married by this age.

At this point, if we aren’t careful, the reason we are stuck is everyone else’s fault. We come up with all kinds of reasons as to why we’ve been overlooked, left behind or why we can’t get past an addiction or let go of something. But, very rarely is it our fault. Now, the reality is, where your life ends up is dependent on other people and they have an impact on it. But we also have a hande in those choices (i.e., where we go to school, where we work, how we invest our money, who we marry). As well, we have a choice in how we will respond to what someone else does. That is within our power to control.

Which is why Your life becomes the total of your choices.

You might think, this sounds too simplistic. It might be, but if you look at any struggle you are having right now in your career or a relationship, my hunch is you will find one of these three things underneath it.

7 Healthy Ways to Fight in Marriage

Relationships are hard work whether that is at work, home, the PTA, the baseball field.

In work, we leave one job because of that jerk boss or that obnoxious co-worker, but then, guess what happens at the new job? There’s a problematic person there.

We get married, and it becomes hard, so we wonder what’s wrong. Did I marry the wrong person? Why are they so complicated?

You didn’t marry the wrong person.

Do you know what a difficult marriage tells you? That you’re married.

A few things happen when disagreements and fights happen (maybe you can pick up where they occur in your life):

Some will have trouble with irritation and anger and perhaps nitpicky and critical.

Or have problems with ulterior motives, martyrdom, and manipulation.

Or they may have problems with narcissism, arrogance and being superficial, always keeping things on the surface.

They might have problems with moodiness and massive mood swings, and feeling above the common crowd or the situation.

Or they have problems with human interaction and shyness (so they prefer it on text, email or social media).

Or they doubt your sincerity; get anxious about the stability of the relationship.

Some struggle to keep their commitments in relationships and dislike talking about anything uncomfortable, so they change the subject or make it about something else.

Some struggle to handle their anger or their negative emotions and take responsibility for them.

And some will struggle to say what they need and want.

The reality is all relationships are hard.

The problem in our culture though is that we judge the health of a relationship based off of how easy it is.

But one thing separates healthy couples and healthy people: they know how to fight well.

So what do they do? Seven things:

1. They listen. Most of us are not very good at listening to another person. We are busy dismantling their argument in our head and getting ready to one-up them and win.

This might help you win the argument, but you will destroy the relationship in the process, or at the very least, damage it.

So listen, take a breath and then respond.

2. Fight for oneness. Scripture says that a married couple becomes one. This means when you make decisions when you seek a resolution of an argument you are looking for what will make you one.

Fighting for oneness takes away the power of having “a side.”

Some ways that couples don’t do that is through shaming their spouse publicly or privately, using their kids as leverage or involving another family member.

These all destroy oneness.

The most common place this comes up is the area of making a decision or “breaking a tie.” For Katie and I, we ask ourselves, “what’s the best decision for our us as a couple or our family?” This immediately changes the discussion.

3. Understand how your spouse best communicates. We know that people hear things differently from us or communicate differently, but unhealthy couples don’t apply that to their lives.

Healthy couples know: does my spouse needs space? Do they process things mentally or verbally? Do they need to talk about things right away or later? When is the right time to discuss something?

4. See things from their perspective. Going along with how they communicate, is doing what Brene Brown calls “getting curious” and asking questions.

5. Understand what you’re fighting about. Have you ever argued with someone and then thought, wait, what are we fighting about? It’s more common than you think in relationships.

The other side of this is whether or not you are fighting about what you’re fighting about. Most often, something happens that triggers a memory, a past relationship and we lash out at that, but take it out on the person in front of us. It is essential to know when that is happening.

I heard an older pastor one time say to write down everyone that has ever hurt you. He noted that the list would not be as long as we expect it to be. But that we are making the people in our lives now and in the future pay for what someone did in the past.

Going right along with knowing what you are fighting about is being specific. In tough conversations, be specific about what happened. If we aren’t exact, it makes it harder for people to hear us.

The reason being specific matters is often, we are unaware of how powerful our fears of intimacy and connection are and how powerful those longings of intimacy and connection are.

6. Give grace to your spouse or the other person. Don’t try to win that doesn’t move a relationship forward. Don’t yell or put your hands on them.

According to multiple studies, do you know the number 1 way to build trust in relationships? Asking for help. This is the act of giving grace and being vulnerable in a relationship.

7. Married couples: Connect physically, even if you don’t feel like it.

When you argue in relationships and fight, you are exposed. You are vulnerable. In marriage, connecting at this moment somehow is essential.

This will be harder for a married couple than you think because you feel exposed. The reason this matter is often, we are unaware of how powerful our fears of intimacy and connection are and how powerful those longings of intimacy and connection are.

19 Powerful Quotes from It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way: Finding Unexpected Strength When Disappointments Leave You Shattered

Recently, I read It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way: Finding Unexpected Strength When Disappointments Leave You Shattered and loved it. It is such a powerful book, especially if you are struggling with disappointment, resentment or regrets in life. 

I’ve since recommended this book to countless people, men, and women.

Here are 19 quotes that stood out to me and were powerful:

  • This is how the formula should calculate: hard time plus healing time plus staying faithful to God should equal the exact good outcome we were counting on.
  • We cannot control our outcomes. We cannot formulate how the promises of God will take shape. We will never be able to demand any of the healing from all the hurt to hurry up.
  • Sometimes to get your life back, you have to face the death of what you thought your life would look like.
  • Disappointment. It’s that feeling things should be better than they are. People should be better than they are. Circumstances should be better than they are. Finances should be better than they are. Relationships should be better than they are.
  • If the enemy can isolate us, he can influence us.
  • To deny my feelings any voice is to rob me of being human. But to let my feelings be the only voice will rob my soul of healing perspectives with which God wants to comfort me and carry me forward. My feelings and my faith will almost certainly come into conflict with each other.
  • Disappointment isn’t proof that God is withholding good things from us. Sometimes It’s His way of leading us Home.
  • If I want His promises, I have to trust His process.
  • Feeling the pain is the first step toward healing the pain. The longer we avoid the feeling, the more we delay our healing. We can numb it, ignore it, or pretend it doesn’t exist, but all those options lead to an eventual breakdown, not a breakthrough.
  • The longer we avoid the feeling, the more delay our healing.
  • God longs to help us.
  • Obedience is the daily practice of trusting God.
  • God doesn’t want you or me to suffer. But He will allow it in doses to increase our trust. Our pain and suffering aren’t to hurt us. It’s to save us. To save us from a life where we are self-reliant, self-satisfied, self-absorbed, and set up for the greatest pain of all … separation from God.
  • The enemy uses disappointments to cause so much trouble in an unsettled heart.
  • If we are going to be true to ourselves, we’d better make sure we are true to our most surrendered, healed, and healthy selves, the ones God made us to be.
  • Fear seems to be a close cousin of disappointment. They are related, because we feel them so deeply, they paralyze us so easily, and the pat answers so many Christians try to place on them trip us up. We are desperate to make things easier than they are.
  • If we have a misunderstanding of God, we will most certainly have a wrong understanding of our circumstances.
  • To be human is to be vulnerable. It demands trust in God that’s no joke. Trusting God is the hardest lesson to learn but the most crucial.
  •  Being hurt isn’t the worst thing in the world. It’s the very thing that makes us closer to Jesus and closer to our fellow humans. In a world of differences, we are so very united when we simply cry together.

16 Ways not to Fight with Your Spouse

Every couple fights. Some fight loudly, endlessly. Some fight quietly with silence. Some with slamming doors, some with glares.

When a couple says “We never fight.” What they are saying is, “We don’t have an honest relationship.”

Many couples have no idea how to fight. They might know how to shout and throw down, but they don’t know how to fight productively.

So, don’t believe the myth that there are some couples out there that do not fight. The couples that are healthy are the ones who learn how to fight in a constructive way that moves them forward.

Here are 16 ways to fight (taken from The Book of Romance with some thoughts from me):

  1. Never speak rashly. Choose your words carefully. Choose how you say things very carefully. Often, how we say something does more damage than what we say.
  2. Never confront your spouse publicly. I am blown away by how some couples will tear each other down in front of other people. If you are upset with your spouse, no one else needs to know about it or be involved. No one wants to listen to you fight. Doing this will destroy your marriage very quickly.
  3. Never confront your spouse in your children’s presence. This is tough to do because stuff comes up. It is best to fight away from your kids as it can tear at their confidence in your marriage and create uncertainty in their minds. If you do fight in front of your kids (and some couples want to show their kids how to fight) make sure you make up in front of your kids, let them see and know the resolution and talk with them about it. Don’t just assume they know you made up.
  4. Never use your kids in the conflict. A fight between a couple is just that, between a couple. Your kids, friends, parents don’t need to take a side, they don’t even need to be a part of it. Turning your kids against your spouse is disastrous for your marriage, family and your kids.
  5. Never say “never” or “always.” Even if it feels like always, no one does something all the time or never does something. Being very accusatory and will make the other person defensive. Don’t believe me? Try it. They will do everything in their power to think of the one time when they didn’t do it, and then what? Instead, use “When this happens, I feel ___________.” You have just said the same thing without putting them on defense.
  6. Never resort to name calling. If you can’t fight without calling each other names, don’t fight. That will not accomplish anything. The point of every fight is to have a resolution, to finish, to resolve it and battle for oneness. To conclude, you need to push towards that; name calling pushes against that.
  7. Never get historical. The past is the past. Especially if it is something you have talked through, one of you has apologized, and you have resolution on that issue. Let it go. It no longer is allowed to be brought up.
  8. Never stomp out of the room or leave. This will tell your spouse, “You should be afraid that I may leave at any minute.” This does not create confidence to fight well. To fight well, both spouses need to know that the other will stay there and finish. You might need to ask for space to process something but agree to that before leaving the room and decide when you will complete the discussion.
  9. Never raise your voice in anger. Kids listen better when we are calm; our spouses are the same way. When we raise our voice, we go on the offensive. It is like talking to someone in another language; they don’t understand us better just because we are talking louder.
  10. Never bring family members into the discussion unless they are a direct part of the problem being addressed. This is the same as #4. Your mother is not going to help the conversation with your spouse. It is between you and your spouse and you need to learn how to work it out. If a family member does insert themselves in a discussion, you must calmly remove them. The person who should do this most often is the person related. Otherwise, it can create a divide in the marriage. Remember, in marriage; you are creating a new family.
  11. Never win through reasoning or logic and never out-argue. The goal is a fight is not to win. The point is a resolution, a way forward. This is difficult for certain personalities (of which I’m one), but if you are logical and your spouse isn’t (they are more feeling oriented), logic isn’t going to help them see what you see.
  12. Never be condescending. This is the same as #5. The point is not to talk down to someone or put them on defense. Being right does not endear you to your spouse.
  13. Never demean. Do not put your spouse down, ever. Couples do this so often in public it blows me away. We need to be building up our spouses.
  14. Never accuse your spouse with “you” statements. It might be their fault, but that isn’t going to help the situation, you pointing it out. Telling them “You caused this” is not going to all of a sudden make the argument make sense. They already know. Remember the point of a fight, resolution.
  15. Never allow an argument to begin if both of you are overly tired, if one of you is under the influence of chemicals, or if one of you is physically ill. Don’t fight at night; you can’t think clearly and seek resolution if you are drunk, tired, sick. The good idea is to set a time to discuss this when you are calm, not intoxicated or stressed out. You must have the mental and emotional clarity to fight well in marriage.
  16. Never touch your spouse in a harmful manner. You are not a man because you can scare a woman or knock her around. Seriously. If your husband is hitting you, call the cops. If you are hitting your wife. Stop. Or, go and fight a man, someone who will hit back. Seriously. That is never okay.

Many times couples get stuck because they fight. Fighting is normal in a marriage or relationship. You are two sinners trying to move forward.

The couples who are healthy can argue productively.

Friday Five

Happy March madness. Hopefully, your bracket isn’t too destroyed and you’re getting some things done despite the temptation to watch every game!

Each week, I’m on the lookout for new books, recipes, podcasts, blogs, and other exciting things.

So I’m sharing my five favorite things (with 2 extra!) you should check out this weekend.

If you don’t attend Revolution Church, you may not know that we are in the middle of a series called #RelationshipGoals. This past Sunday, my wife Katie and I taught together on the marks of a great marriage. We also did a live Q&A at the end that you can watch here. You can also read some ideas we shared on the idea of a love bank and why that matters in every relationship you have. We based a lot of our sermon on the book His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage by Willard Harley.

Here you go:

Favorite book:

I’m always reading a novel as a way to shut my brain off and take a break and finished up the new gray man novel by Mark Greaney called Mission CriticalThis is one of my favorite novel series right now.

Favorite podcast:

This podcast interview that Carey Nieuwhof did with Drew Powell and Matt Warren on Why Attractional Church is Past Peak, Why It’s Changing and What’s Next for Weekend Services was incredible. So helpful to see how a church is transitioning and reaching new heights.

Favorite blog posts:

Pastor, did you know that You’re Hurting the Female Leaders in Your Church (and You Don’t Know It)? I loved this article and can’t wait to read her book. We’ve been making a lot of changes in our church in this area and I’m excited about the future.

What makes the perfect team? Every leader wants to know this and while this research has appeared in a variety of places, I appreciate how Todd pared this down for us.

This video of a military dad surprising his son at taekwondo is so perfect and will make you cry