Hi there.

Hi there. My name is Frank. In-depth one-on-one ministry to men is what this website is encouraging you to do. Here are my recent posts.  Please see the Contents page to learn what is here. Also, see the About Me and  Mission pages.

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How to pray for somebody.

What prayer is

Pray is a request to divinity or some higher authority for issues beyond your control. You do not pray for what you can do or control. How to pray is for things outside our abilities.

How to pray as seen in the New Testament

I recently when through all the New Testament passages on prayer. Especially those in the epistles. And I was reminded again of the old saying, “Prayer is not  getting our desires done in heaven, but getting heaven’s will accomplished on earth.”

I found no example or command to pray for John Doe’s gout (James 5 is not an exception). Nor relief from disasters, natural or otherwise.

Things prayed about in New Testament scripture are spiritual. Especially the salvation of unbelievers and the continuation or expansion of ministry for believers.  There are some prayers for relief from spiritual discouragement primarily when persecuted. In summary, pray for things that will bring others to Jesus or help others grow in Christ-likeness.

How to pray for somebody

So instead of praying forJohn Doe’s gout what do we pray for or with him? We pray for his coming to faith in Jesus. When he comes to that point, we then pray for effectiveness and expansion of his service (ministry) to others.

We do not pray for God to bless someone. He is very good at doing that without our reminding Him. It is something God longs to do. We do not pray for God to bless us, again He wants to do that. We do not pray for God to bless other people for the same reason. Benedictions can be a problem. An exception to this was in the Old Testament when the priest serves as an intermediary for conveying God’s blessing on people. As believers today we are indwelt by God and so have no need priest to bless us. We are all believer priests with direct access to God.

Now, look at this discussion of I Thess. 4:14.

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Active Listening

There is so much to say about active listening, on how the other guy knows we are truly listening. I will need several entries on this topic.

Active listening starts with your total attention focused on the other person.

If at all possible sit directly in front of him. Be close enough that you do not miss his non-verbal expressions. The good news is that he will also be able to read yours. What he sees in your body language allows you to communicate a lot with having to take up “air time.” Speaking focuses attention on you and away from him which is terrible. You are here for him!

Also, sit where you cannot be distracted by a TV or other activity in the area. He can feel it each time glance away. He makes him think you have lost interest in what he is saying. Or are disapproving of what he just communicated. Do not look at your watch or have it propped up in front of you. It means that your focus on him is not complete.

Keep other thoughts out of your mind. Especially on how you will respond to what he just said. That little pause when you switch speakers is long enough to do that. Also, the next words out of his mouth often change what you were planning to say. Maybe even reversing it.

Active listening involves your ears and brain.

Process everything he says. Do not it go in one ear and out the other. Keep asking yourself questions about what he just said. For example: Why did it he express it that way? What is the real meaning of that figure of speech?

In time he will become more direct with his statements. When he is hinting around, you know there is something more profound involved.

Active listening sometimes involves “non-words” on your part.

You can show that you are following what he is saying with little noises like “um,” “ah”,  “oh,” “wow,” etc. Now be sure it fits what he just said. Do not say “ah” or “wow” when he in tears says his companion dog just got killed by a speeding truck. At that point, you want to hug him and cry with him.

Make sure you are not interrupting his train of thought.

Active listening involves your facial expressions.

For most of these come naturally. Do not force or suppress such expressions.  Smiles and frowns communicate a lot. They must match what he just said. Remember you are here to show brotherly love and acceptance. Do not let your face convey hate or rejection. If there is some problem, you want to seek loving restoration.

Your face can signal that you have a question. Be careful with this one.

Active listening involves other non-verbal communication.

What you do with your hands can say a lot. For example, both hands behind your neck can indicate rejection.  Bringing your hands towards your body is a signal for him to say more on this topic. Pointing your feet away from him and towards the door would mean you are ready to leave this meeting. These are just a few; there are many others.

Active listening may involve asking some gentle questions.

These rare gentle questions are excellent. For example, if your friend just mentioned his grandmother, you might ask on which side of the family. This question shows that you want to get the story straight.

These short little concrete questions requiring a one or two-word answer are excellent. Avoid anything complicated that may get your friend off his current train of thought.

 

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How long does a meeting last?

My Usual meeting length.

One hour is, to me, a short meeting length. Two to four hours are usually more productive than one-hour meetings. Dealing with heart level items takes a lot of time. My sessions occasionally go 6+ hours. Assuming you asked a very open-ended conversation starter then followed that up with the suggestions in this other entry. It will take more than an hour.

Also be sure that you are actively listening to him alone. No other thoughts than his words are in your mind while you are together.

Again he needs to articulate how he feels at items in his life today. Have to put thoughts and feelings into words make them evident in the speaker’s mind and heart.

The times suggested for a psychological counseling session are not applicable nor enough. You are not a psychologist nor is this “counseling.” You are building a personal relationship with a spiritual brother.  It is a bond often more profound than physical brotherhood. Note Jesus’ reaction to his physical half-brothers in Matthew 12:46-50. Also Matthew 19:28-30. Jesus puts spiritual brothers ahead of the closest physical relationships.

If possible have an open-ended meeting length

Try to leave your meeting length unspecified. You can schedule some for an hour or more after you usual meeting time. When it is time for that meeting, just tell your brother you have another meeting. Guys never seem to mind. And you have not cut his time short. If he has another meeting or has to get back to work then never complain. Immediately schedule the next meeting. Thank him for his time. And get out of there. If you have to use your phone or a GPS to set, do not do that where he can see you. You don’t want him to wonder if he has detained you. He needs to know that he has all your time he needs.

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Conversation starter for one-on-one men’s meetings.

The heart of each meeting is a time of one-on-one, soul to soul discussion. So what is a good conversation starter to get a man to talk about this? There may be some discussion about what to order for lunch. Or maybe the project you are going to do together today. Or even the weather today.

But when it gets to the heart of the meeting, you want a straightforward question. Never something like the opening line of a  speech or sermon. Err to asking that question too soon. So you do not bog down in nonessentials. 

The center of each meeting is lovingly getting to the heart of the other person.

 Possible Conversation Starters

  • “Well, what’s been going on with Joe?” this is a good opener in almost any situation. You can use it to open every meeting. No one gets tired of it.
  • “Whats been going on with Joe since we last met?” Good for someone you talked in depth with a little while ago.
  • “Tell me about Joe.” Good line if you have never met one-on-one before.

What a conversation starter should do.

  • Get the focus on the other person
  • Get him to talk about what is in his heart. His current concerns or joys.  Remember He Needs to Talk.
  • Use his preferred name.
  • Be VERY open-ended.

What conversation starter should NOT do.

  • Suggest a topic. If Joe told you in advance what he wanted, it might have changed.
  • Pull the focus toward yourself.
  • Indicate your opinion on ANYTHING. Especially politics, sports teams, and theology.

 

What if he asks you first?

Answer him with the same depth and sincerity that expect from him. Admitting that you too have issues is healthy. It often strengthens the relationship.  Now immediately flip the question back on him! And next time you take the lead.

Here is a blog post that suggests 125 conversation starters. However, I found NONE of them that opens up the way for an in-depth ministry.  And meaningful personal ministry to others is the heart of being a follower of Jesus. John 13:34-35.

This medical article has a suggestion in Table 1. I will talk more about that and its meeting outline in another post.

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Pre-Meeting Reminder

Shortly before you meet someone, send him a Pre-Meeting Reminder Message

Each meeting gives you three contacts with your Brother.

  1. First, a message confirming the meeting in the next eight to 18 hours.
  2. The actual meeting. And scheduling the next meeting.
  3. The post-meeting thankyou message eight to 24 hours later.

Why this time frame?

You want to give him time to get your message. He also may have a conflict so will need to reschedule. If you do it any earlier, he may get distracted and forget your meeting.

These timings assume you are using cell phone text messaging or a voice call/message. You may need to allow more time if you have to use email. You need to know how your Brother usually responds.

Pre-meeting reminder Elements

It is a personal note tailored to the upcoming visit. Never used an automated canned message or have some assistant write the words. You are building a personal relationship.
  1. Greet him using his preferred name. If you accidentally send it to the wrong person his guy will probably let you know so you can correct it.
  2. Tell him you are looking forward to seeing him.
  3. Remind him of the time a location.
  4. Again allude to your positive anticipation.

And here are a few do not’s

  • Please do not remind him of anything he promised to do between meetings. Your message is enough of a prompt.
  • Don’t mention anything you plan to give him or do for him. You may learn at the meeting your plan is not best for him now.
  • Also, don’t repeat any gossip you have heard related to him. You are building a positive connection with him. Sharing gossip weakens relationships. Remember you are helping him develop positive relationships with others. Even positive reports are a problem. He may wonder if you also talk to other about him.
  • Do not ask him to confirm. Just sending him a message does that. If he can not make then, he will let you know. A no-show that tells you a lot about him.  Asking him to respond seems like you do not trust him.

Pre-meeting Reminder Message examples

  • Hey Joe. I am sure looking forward to seeing you tomorrow, same time usual place.  Frank.
  • Tom, Sure looking forward to seeing you tomorrow. I have us meeting at the Polar Bear Cafe at 1234 North Antarctic Blvd. for lunch at 11:30.   Meet you there. 🙂 Frank.

Here is an outside source that warns about using the word “just” in reminder messages.

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Post-Meeting Thankyou Message

Did you schedule your next meeting as your left each other? Now, within eight to 24 hours, say thank you for his time.  Cell phone text messages work best for a post-meeting thankyou. If that is not possible, try email or kill a tree and use the postal service.

Why this time frame?

If you wait a while, then your message becomes another contact. It reminds your brother of what you discussed. It may help him follow through on actionable items. Waiting a while helps him know you care about the relationship, that you think about and pray for him when you are not together.

Each meeting gives you three contact with your Brother.

  1. First, a message confirming the meeting eight to 18 hours in advance.
  2. The actual meeting.
  3. Now, the post-meeting thankyou message eight to 24 hours later.

But shouldn’t he say thank you?

Well, he may. But do not expect him to say it. You, the older guy, should say it first. Your thanking him is a model for him. You are helping him learn how he should bless others.

After all, you may have asked him to help you with a task or project. Hence you need to thank him!

Just remember, you are to treat him as a peer.

What if he says Thank You first?

My experience is that it does not happen often. If the younger man does, then mention it in your thank your message.

Thank you Elements

It has to be a personal note tailored to this visit. Never used a canned message or have some assistant write the words. You are building a personal relationship.
  1. Greet him using his preferred name
  2. Express gratitude for his time.
  3. Thank him for some personal detail he shared with you. The thanks will help him to relax and deal with this issue. It will also encourage him to be open to deepening the relationship.
  4. When he helps with a project of yours, express your gratitude.
  5. If he gave you something, then tell him how you will use it.
  6. If he bought your meal or snack, then be sure to thank him for it again.
  7. Mention the date, time and place of your next meeting together. This review will help make sure it is on both calendars!

Don’t mention

  • Anything you gave him or did for him!
  • Any negative information he shared. It is often gossip. You are helping him build positive relationships.

 Post-meeting Thankyou Message examples

  • Hey Joe. Thanks for our meeting today. I enjoyed hearing about your promotion at work. Congratulations. I am praying that your ministry to your son will be accepted. See you next week, same time and place.
  • Tom, it was so good to meet with you yesterday. I am praising the Lord that you have an increasing ministry in the Village. Thanks for my lunch salad. I am looking for to seeing you again on the 19th of next month. I will meet you at the same time at your gate just like yesterday.

Here is an outside resource that may help you with the elements of a simple thank you message.

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Schedule the Next Meeting Immediately

Near the end of each session is the best time to schedule the next meeting.

How to schedule the next meeting

Pull out your calendar and say “When do you want to get together again?” He will probably get his out too. Let him make a suggestion first. (Do not steal control at this point!) If at all possible take it. If you cannot, they say why but do not reveal personal details. Say “Sorry I have a conflict. When else might work?

When I am going to be out of town several months, I still set up a meeting. Maybe just a pre-meeting contact about ten days before. (That is a subject for a later post.)

Integrity when you schedule the next meeting

Always honor previous meeting commitments. If you do not, you have made your self a liar to the first person.  Do not promise to move some other appointment to make one with this guy. That is making distinctions, and that is not a Christian thing to do! (Gal  3:28; James 2:1-9) Let God control those things. You are serving Him to let God control your calendar. When I have tried to rearrange things, it as usually been a great mistake.

Your tool to schedule the next meeting.

By the way, smart-phone calendars work best. They are always up-to-date. Be sure to hit “save” after you enter something.  Second, best is a pocket calendar unless of course, you have your computer with you. If you are not using the phone, then be sure very sure you update your “real” calendar. And if you are meeting several guys today, make sure you do not create a conflict.

Occasionally someone for logistical reason needs a delay. If so, then make a date you will contact that person. But be very careful. That is an easy way to lose contact with someone. That just happened to me today😔.

I have only had one negative response in the past 5 or so years. That was a person who had an entrenched odd theological position. He was trying to drum up support for it.

In the after session text contact mention the agreed time and location. (There will be another post of after meeting “thank you” messages.)  Rehearsing the date will help ensure it is on the other guy’s calendar too.

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Bridge Cultural Gaps

We all have to bridge cultural gaps. Sometimes they are small other times gigantic. Please see this 2-minute video right now.

My first attempts.

My first cross-cultural jolt was when I spend a few days in Cairo Egypt. The streets we cluttered with shiny new Mercedes Benz cars and buses. As well as beasts of burden carrying heavy loads and pulling carts. But also people were carrying huge loads and even pulling ox carts.

The next major jolt came many years later in Hatti. Only this time I began attempting to bridge some of the gaps. Here my focus was on spiritual as well as the economic differences.  When I got home, I recognized that working in corporate America was for me a waste. It was not having a positive spiritual impact on others. And I had just had the thrill of seeing lots of it.

My experience in Alaska. I was invited to teach a seminary class. Everyone spoke English, and we all wore about the same clothes. Even the food at school was much the same. So I assumed that most everything was the same. Wrong! Just one example. They asked me to explain Psalm 23. I asked “What in particular about that psalm.” They said, “The whole thing. We know it is important and we quote it at funerals. But we just don’t get it!” The next day I started explaining how and why you tend sheep. The blank faces told me I was not communicating! They agreed with that. At that point, I said, “Taking care of sheep is like taking care of a tiny child. But they never grow up.” With big smiles, they replied, “Oh, ok NOW we get it!”

My suggestions on how to bridge cultural gaps
  1. Realize there is a gap! Think there is one. Most differences are not visible. Just keep all of your senses active including your spiritual insight. You will soon spot some divides.  Remember the iceberg illustration in the video. There is a lot that is not visible.  That hit me big time when I started in Alaska.
  2. Be quiet, Just actively listen to the other person. This article has suggestions.  Also, see my post his need to talk. This kind of attention even includes positive non-verbal expressions and low vocal sounds that show you care.  The same sort of advice applies to using all your senses.
  3. Observe, Notice what they like to do. When others do something differently, see if you can imagine why. Think about it. When they sense you are curious, they may explain why. When all else fails, carefully, respectfully ask an individual who now know.
  4. Participate, Join the people from that culture in their activities. If they survive and you are in good shape so will you. I have a few boundaries. One is I will not permanently mark or disfigure my body. That may block me from having a good relationship with some other culture. Second, I will never worship any god other than the Ultimate Creator God.  A name He gave Himself is Yahweh meaning “I am.” See Exodus 3:14-15. He is the God described by the Apostle Paul to the men of Athens. See Acts 17:22-31.
  5. Ask questions only when necessary. Learn by listening, observing and participating. After doing that for a long time then ask a friend from that culture. Just do not be like the little girl in Kipling’s famous poem.
  6. Touch them. Notice in the video how often the speaker is in, physical, cross-cultural contact. Touch demonstrates personal acceptance and care. I believe there is some energy exchange or spiritual transfer between people when they have physical contact. I often feel it.
  7. Never see yourself as superior to anyone else.  But view others as brothers. If your ways, even spiritual ways, are better your brothers will, in time, adopt yours. If theirs seem better to you, then do not be afraid to try theirs. Feel free to share your ways. They may be better, but each person needs to make that decision without undue pressure.
Now it’s your turn to Bridge Cultural Gaps.

Have an adventure. Step outside your social comfort zone. Enjoy the experience as you bridge cultural gaps. Bridging those differences will mature you and educate you more than you might imagine. It will also help your brothers across the cultural or spiritual divide choose what is best for them.

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He needs to talk

He needs to talk. You need to listen. It is more fun for you that way too.

He needs to talk about 90% of the time. Most men seldom get to talk about his concerns, his hurts, and frustration. Often your most significant service is to just, actively listen to him. That is a profound ministry.

He needs to talk example

Not long ago I sat with a Christian brother for three hours in his apartment. He talked non-stop the whole time. He talked about family issues, personal economic issues, workplace issues, and more.  All I did was look at him, nod on occasion, and make some hopefully well-placed sounds and non-words like Umm, ahh, ouch, etc. Well, there were a few words like “How is …?”, “What is your next step?” We did get some water to drink and relieve ourselves of the same. But that was it!

At that time he had to go to work. So I was getting ready to leave. Then he stopped and looked intently at me. “Thanks so much for listening!! I am feeling a lot better now.” Finally, with a long hug, we were both on our way.

My reflections

My thoughts later that day included:

  • He was sure thankful!
  • I was not bored because I was always busy processing his issues.
  • Nothing overtly spiritual had come up.
  • But I am sure he knew I care about him and his issues.
  • I am sure there was more on his mind or soul that he did not have time to say.
  • He had not wanted to leave.
  • Neither had I.
  • He looks a lot more relaxed now.
  • I felt satisfied.
Some things to notice

First, we had already developed a friendship relationship. He opened up because he knew he could trust me. That is to become transparent. Fully listening without any judgment or critique deepened that transparency. The more he shared, the more he felt free to share. Probably, he was sure I would not criticize him.

Second, my focus on him was undivided. Neither of us took phone calls or text messages. It would be even better if we turned our hand-held devices off. If had to look up something for him, I could power it on then. Better yet tell him what you remember and if necessary correct it later with a text message, email, or phone call.

Third, I felt great. My friend’s gratitude was my reward.  Also rewarded by noticing the release of tension in his voice and body.

In conclusion

Build a friendship. As it matures, your friend with feel free to share his innermost thoughts, fears and feeling with you. As he shares, he will relax. Your listening helps him unscramble his thoughts and see his situation realistically. And you did not have to say anything!

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