Kraig Lowell Pullam

My thoughts. My reflections. My journey…. On pastoring, preaching, leading & learning.

Archive for the category “Marriage”

The Entitlement Cure

 
I’ve just finished reading John Townsend’s book “The Entitlement Cure”. After hearing and reading several stellar reviews, along with seeing the intriguing title, I wanted this book in hand. And while the subtitle sparked my interest more than the title, I knew I needed to read it…amid my difficulty in reading all things Townsend. I don’t know what it is; but I’ve always found the writings of John Townsend a chore and bore…to the extent of having to play music in the background not to fall asleep. Admittedly, I realize this is an unfair criticism; and something I would hate for anyone to say about my writing. After all, Townsend is a well-respected author and the co-mastermind behind New York Time’s bestselling “How People Grow”, a book I have used during my days of Christian Education in our Book Club. The fact is…Townsend is not a wordsmith. But getting beyond the style, there is substance couched in “The Entitlement Cure.” Therefore, I wouldn’t 1) Discard this book as irrelevant 2) Misdiagnose this book as a prompt of any political propaganda 3) Write off this volume as being unworthy of investment. 
“The Entitlement Cure” addresses a prevailing problem that now infiltrates every vital organ in relational life as we’ve come to know it. Whether it is in the church, marriage, home-life, work-environment…Townsend asserts that we are all infected by the disease of entitlement. In fact, entitlement is a byproduct (well, he shows how it pre-dates human creation) of man’s fall in the Garden of Eden. Townsend contends that entitlement is the belief that “….I am exempt from responsibility and I am owed special treatment…”, and that the problems in human society stem from this crippling disposition. In this volume, the author not only analyzes, but also speaks to both the culprit and enablers of the entitled on how to jettison this attitude of being special, being owed, refusing to take responsibility and blaming others.

Hitting at the core of the book, I realized I actually love Townsend’s style of writing! Addressing the relational patterns that drive entitlement (Chapter 2), he gives the practical markers of how we often feed the entitlement monster and thereby foster attitudes of entitlement (example: praising what takes no effort; praising what is required; praising what is not based on reality; etcetera). Unfolding five principles that can restore the problem ALL of us have with entitlement (some more than others.) While all five principles are of notable mention, I do think one of the components outlined by Townsend is how denial, perfectionism and narcissism attribute to the pressure, stress and emptiness that accompany their intended. Entitlement limits our good and our growth, according to the author. I do agree! 

One of the very central themes in this volume is Townsend’s description of feeling deserving to taking responsibility. He says that there is a right way to deserve and there is a wrong way to deserve; and explains how responsibility is not only right, but the practical ways to assume responsibility (Chapter 8). One of the things I like is Townsend’s conventional use of what he calls “NHT”. In short, this means “Next Hard Thing.” Townsend argues that our NHT is the choice we all need to make that moves us beyond the difficulty. In a real sense, what separates the good from the great, the best from all things average…is the ability and willingness to move past the proverbial areas of discomfort. According to the author, this requires 1) Carving out time 2) Going against the flow of life 3) Going against other’s expectations 4) Starting a ground zero (ie – “at the bottom”), etc. In this recourse, there are two (2) specific dynamics I would like to spotlight here in conclusion. One is saying when you are wrong (Chapter 13) and facing the pain that gets you somewhere (Chapter 14). I think that these two chapters and dynamics are key to understanding Townsend’s entire point. 

In summary, I would suggest this as a read for anyone who is looking to practically stop being an enabler to those who are highly entitled; and as a practical guide to taming the entitled monster who lives inside of us all. I give the book two thumbs up; and a 9 on a scale of 1 to 10. I would also suggest this as a great read for parents, couples and church leaders. 

 

My Thoughts

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It has been some time since I’ve last blogged.  Four months to be exact!  Since blogging back in April, my world and our world have not failed to keep on moving.

  • More unarmed minorities have been killed by law enforcement officers.
  • Crimes against those who protect us have tragically resulted.
  • Gay marriage has become the law of the land, getting its stamp of approval from the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that same-sex partners have a constitutional right to marry, sweeping away state bans on gay unions and extending marriage equality nationwide.
  • Bruce Jenner has become Caitlyn Jenner.
  • Floyd Mayweather defeats Manny Pacquiao.
  • Bobbi Kristina, the only daughter of Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston together, has died.
  • Kermit & Miss Piggy have broken up. (I can’t make this up!)
  • Ashley Madison (a Canada-based website who promised discreet encounters to those in committed relationships) broke their promise and were hacked! (note: Ed Stetzer predicts that 400 pastors will resign this coming Sunday because their names surfaced in the hack)
  • Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are running for POTUS!

On a personal note, I have just been taking some time away from blogging.  To be perfectly honest, I have no excuses.  Yes, I have growing sons who’ve consumed my Summer, preparations for making my printed publication a reality (long overdue), attempts to begin Ph.D. work (now halted), 15 year anniversary trip with my wife (check), the list goes on and on.  But I am discovering excuses are relative and they are inexcusable.

An old friend of our family, the late George O. McCalep, would commit an hour each day to just write.  He would sometimes find himself unclear on the direction of his writing matter…but he would write unencumbered by any distractions.

I love to write.  My biggest obstacles are procrastination, writer’s block and wanting things to be perfect.  The more I live, the more I am convinced that God gives many of us with limited ability more ALONG the WAY than He does before we start.  So that is my renewed commitment….to just start writing!

I am now 37 years of age!  Going into five years of pastoring the Mt. Salem Church, 15 years of marriage, my eldest son on the brink of being a teenager, approaching 22 years of preaching….I’ve seriously been evaluating where I am in ministry; and where God is taking me.  I can honestly say that I’ve viewed people’s attempts to see what’s next of what God has in store ahead, sometimes, as vain and narcissistic.  But the older I become, the more I realize it is necessary; and something I’ve actually been doing all of my life.  I don’t have time to waste!  It is my prayer that God grants me many years of life… But I am more interested in making my life count.  My focus is to leave my mark, and be as much of an original as I can, rather than a cheap imitation of someone else’s life, ministry and legacy.  That is where I am!  That is my focus!

Currently, I have been preaching through the Psalms.  At the beginning of the Summer with Psalm 1, I am now on Psalm 8.  My focus is to complete Psalm 8 in the morning, and then move forward.  What began as our “Summer in Psalms” may continue for a while.  I’m enjoying the challenge and the luxury of some predictability in my preaching preparation.  I love leaving one verse and going to the next.  In ways, for me, it is much easier but also more of a challenge.  I love it!

I am praying for every Pastor who leads God’s people; and every proclaimer who shares God’s Word faithfully, consistently and accurately.  This is no small endeavor.  Leaders are being attacked.  I’m not necessarily referring to those leaders who were hacked.  But good men and women who are just trying to serve the Lord, love their families, do right by God and His people….they are being attacked; and they are discouraged.  My prayers are with them, as well as those who are guilty of failing and falling.  I pray we never fail to realize that Shepherds BLEED, and healers are often WOUNDED.

May God faithfully reveal His grace and strength to them and all who need His care!

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Grateful for Fourteen Years Together…humbly praying for many More!

IMG_3415Today is D’Ani & I’s 14th Wedding anniversary!

1998 was a difficult time for me.  I found myself in an unusual place.  Due to my own bad decisions, left to deal with a ‘broken heart’, I heard the Devil laughing at me.  After going through a 5-year, on again/off again, relationship, dealing with one disappointment after another; and left to try and pick up the pieces, deal with public humiliation and embarrassment and the pain of betrayal, somewhere I gave up on God and on love.  Yes, I was not perfect.  Did I enter into a relationship that God revealed, time after time, the person was not the one He had for me?  Yes again!  But there was still pain, nonetheless.  Eventually, in those coming months, somehow, I moved on and I let it go.  It was rocky at first; and I thought I could never breathe again.  In fact, I pleaded with God to ‘make it work’.

He would not!  

He said no!

And when I wouldn’t take no for an answer, He made things so clear to me that what I thought I wanted, didn’t want me; and I really didn’t want that relationship as much as I thought I did.

And still….I heard the Devil laughing at me!

During that time, I went through such a dry period in life and ministry.  I wasn’t called on much to preach at many places during early 1999, it seemed.  Everything got so quiet.  I was alone.  I didn’t realize until later, I was alone “with God.”  I remember going to hear one of my preaching mentors speak in the Dallas area, and he asked me if I was okay, because I had lost quite a bit of weight; and he thought I was sick.  I was probably depressed and didn’t know it.  I found myself in Arlington, Texas both ashamed and alone.  The only wisdom I could come up with was to improve myself.  This is the period where I learned how to awake every morning at 4am and pray for an hour.  I began to journal and rediscovered my love for studying God’s Word.

Interestingly, through the course of that year and following, I found a refreshing place in my relationship with Christ.  I had recovered the joy of my salvation in Him.  But one thing had not changed – I was done with love.  Admittedly, I was never the guy who dated one girl to the next.  I never was the person to just hang out with a girl for the fun.  If I didn’t see her potentially being my wife or wife material, I got bored very quickly.  Inherently, I still wanted a wife.  BUT….I just knew I could never trust again, and especially love as innocently and vulnerably as I once did.  Maybe I was ‘damaged goods.’

But THEN….something happened!  I saw a girl that struck my eye.  I had seen her ocassionally, singing in the choir where my Uncle Lloyd Pastored in Denton, Texas.  But…I wasn’t the kind of guy to go to church looking for a hookup; and while I thought she was ‘cute’, I looked and moved on.  But one day, I worked up enough nerve to ask my cousin Constance, and a few other people about her.  Constance told me her name was ‘D’Ani’.  When I heard her name, I fell over!   It was the most beautiful name I had ever heard; or so I thought!  Then, I was informed that one of my older cousins had tried to talk to her, and was unsuccessful.  This sort of discouraged me, because he was smoother and cooler than me, and was admired by many young ladies.  So I blew it off for a while!  Someone else had told me they had heard that she was pretty serious with a guy she had been dating since high school in Houston.  So, I just knew I didn’t have any chance whatsoever.  I have always been pretty laid back and shy when it came to approaching a person of the opposite sex in my single days; so these were simply inquiries.

Then one night, at a musical honoring my mom the day before my father’s pastoral anniversary, she was there!  I’ll never forget what she had on, how she looked and how she wore her hair.  And I also just couldn’t resist.  I just HAD to say something to her!  For the first time in my life (and last) I walked up to a young lady without any mediator or filter and I spoke, not just to say hello, but to express my complete adoration for her.  So, after church was over, I walked up to her, and said the dumbest thing I ever said to any woman in my life, “So….is it true you’re engaged?”  I was so nervous I really don’t remember her exact response.  Plus, she seemed to be distracted and surrounded by quite a few people.  Then, it got even worse, much worse.  I said, “Well, I guess I’ll have to settle for second best.”  My mind and memory went blank after that.  My attempts to be cool, smooth or debonair had completely failed.  Then (it gets worse) I WALKED AWAY!!! I did all but run away….like a disappointed kid runs off stage at a talent show when he is embarrassed.  I just knew whatever inkling of hope I may have had to know that girl, that was gone too.  Period!

There are other little details I could mention, but the main detail happened the next day (Sunday) when I was expressing my disappointment and despair to one of my friends, who was an associate minister at her church, where my uncle served as Pastor.  He walked away; and the next thing I knew, before they left, he handed me her email address.  Emails, at that time in 2000, were sort of a big deal.  He said that he would ask for her number for me, but I was too scared! An email was fine.  I had an AOL account at my apartment (remember the ones that would use your phone line?), so I felt comfortable emailing her.

I couldn’t resist.  I left as soon as I could from Corpus Christi to get to Arlington, Texas where I lived to email “pink twirler”.  A day or so later, she emailed me back.  I still have those emails and exchanges somewhere.  Eventually, that week, we talked on the phone….for hours and hours (6, to be exact!).  In time I learned that her own relationship had been going through some serious challenges and transitions.  She was a senior at Texas Womans University; and had been praying for God to show her if that relationship was in His will.  Interestingly, she was so distracted the night of the musical honoring my mom because she had lost her promise ring from him during the service.  She was looking for it everywhere and couldn’t find it.  I promise, I didn’t take it!!!  Those seemed to be red flags for her regarding her relationship with the guy she had been dating.  I could literally tell a hundred stories of how God brought us together; and how God was speaking to me, speaking to her, and speaking to both of us together.  I have absolutely no doubt that D’Ani was tailor made for me.  There was no way I would have even entertained a relationship so serious and so pure during such a time in my life.

We started dating in April of 2000, got engaged in May and married in August of 2000, a few months later.  Sounds crazy, huh?  There are many ways, I can look back and see how someone may have thought we were.  She had graduated from TWU, but hadn’t passed her dental tests.  I didn’t have much of a job, a struggling preacher, and was a junior/senior at Dallas Baptist University.  I had absolutely no resources to support myself, let alone a wife.  But God….  D’Ani and I’s story is laced, through and through, with nothing but the grace, faithfulness and goodness of God.

She is my gift from God.  And all of the things I went through before her coming into my life, made me appreciate her even more.  I am so humbled when I think of what I pleaded with God to do; and that when God said no, I thought He didn’t love me….because He didn’t give me the person I wanted.  But a couple of years later, He gave me MORE than I ever even knew possible for me.  He gave me Dee.  And I could have never asked for a greater gift, after Calvary.  God actually didn’t give me what I thought I wanted BECAUSE He loved me.  He wanted me to have the BEST He created JUST FOR ME.

It is my humble prayer that I will always make her smile, laugh, be proud to say I am her husband and ‘Daddy’ to her boys.  It is my prayer that HE would keep me healthy, strong and able to give my life to making her the happiest woman on earth.  It is also my prayer that if I should go before her in this life, that she would never doubt the love I have ever had for her; that her needs will always be met; and that our sons will love and protect her all of her days.  In the meantime, I want to be her dream maker – whatever she dreams, I am her to make it come true.

Consequently, I did hear the Devil laugh at me in 1998.  But GOD had the final say!!!

And I can honestly say, that because of My Dee, I am the man, pastor, husband and father I am today.  I am no longer a boy, but a man. I am still kind of a struggling preacher, but God has brought me a long way.  Because of her support, I graduated the following year with a Bachelors and later with a Masters.  When I told her I was starting a church in 2005, she was the first to join.  When I told her years later I felt a call to go to a 140 year old struggling congregation that was and hour and a half from our home, she was the first one in the car (before me!).   She has supported me, through it all!  She is the “wind beneath my wings!”

And now….the Devil gets to hear me laugh!

Happy Anniversary Dee…. I love you to the moon, infinity and beyond!  I am praying that the Lord will faithfully give us 14, 25 and 50 more!

Philippians 1:6

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