LUP020 – Victory Over Online Lust: Ben Lawrence, Part 1

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Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll hear in Episode 20:

  • Update:
    • Coffee with a coach.
    • Responses to Resources for Missionaries.
    • How I’m hiring help
  • Encouragement: The internet is practically essential for ministry and effective communication in today’s world. Unfortunately, many experiences available on the internet can become significant stumbling blocks. You’ll hear part one of how one man worked to overcome the stranglehold of internet-based lust.
  • Tech. Tip: If you’re sending a single email to multiple people and you’re not using an email manager product or formal mailing list system, you might be leaking your supporters’ email addresses and causing others some embarrassment. Find out how to protect your supporters even when you send a mail without an email manager.

Resources mentioned in this episode

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Update

Ever since I launched Edify Hub a couple of years ago, I knew I needed to get consistent advice. I’ve never run a business of my own before, and I have a lot to learn. I’ve been told that one of the secrets to success is to get the best business coach you can afford. If you can’t afford a professional business coach, then find a friend or mentor who can meet with you regularly to encourage you and hold you accountable for making progress.

Hmmm.  Kinda sounds like the same advice I hear people give to missionaries.

Missionary work can be a lot like entrepreneurial work. It can often feel isolating. There can feel like a great burden on your shoulders to drive to success with what feels like a huge project — a God-sized project even. And especially in pioneering work, there can be a lot of trial and a lot of error.

A podcast like this one can be a source of regular encouragement to you in your ministry, and I hope it is! But a podcast doesn’t give you a listening ear. It can’t give you feedback.

It’s important to have someone you can talk to. Someone you can talk to and be completely vulnerable, sharing all of your challenges, trials, and failures without fear of losing financial support. Maybe someone who isn’t a supporter. Someone you can share your wild, hare-brained ideas with – someone who can give you feedback on which of those might work, or how you can adjust them to make them work, without thinking you’ve lost your mind when you share them.

Well, for the last few weeks, I’ve been meeting with just such a friend and mentor. Every Friday, we’ve met at 7am to talk about life, business, technology, and ministry. He is a professional business coach with experience in foreign missions. He gives me great advice from a business and ministry perspective, and I share with him what I’m learning in technology and social media.

More importantly, we end each session with a concrete and detailed set of action steps to take before we meet again. Today I’ll share with you a few concrete steps that have come out of those Friday morning meetings.

  1. We agreed that I needed to promote my Resources For Missionaries page in order to make progress toward my goal of encouraging every Christian in gospel ministry. Concrete action steps included making a list of mission boards I wanted to share it with, finding the best contact information, composing an introductory email, and scheduling that email to be sent to each contact. This has already had notable results. Several mission boards have replied and shared those resources with their missionaries, and I’ve seen a remarkable increase in website activity from those mission boards.
  2. We agreed that I needed to hire out more of the mundane activities I’ve been doing so that I can focus on the aspects of ministry that only I can do. I’ve found a developer in Malaysia to help with the visual aspects of some new parts of the Edify Hub website I’m working. And, I’m very close to hiring someone to edit all of the interview portions of the Lift Up podcast. I mentioned fiverr.com a couple of episodes ago. At fiverr, the workers define what they will do, and you decide if you want what they offer. I needed something different. I’m using Upwork.com to find people to do the work that I need done. I write up a job description before I go to bed, and by the time I get up in the morning, I have a dozen or more applicants from around the world with proposals to help. I’ll interview them on Skype or my messaging them, and I’ll choose a worker.
  3. We agreed that we both want to get better at memorizing the Bible. We used to do it regularly, and we’ve slacked off a bit. So we’ve challenged each other to memorize the first 12 verses of Colossians by the end of March, with a goal of eventually having the entire book of Colossians memorized.

And maybe one of the most important things about our meeting together is that we now each have someone to believe in us – to encourage us. I look forward to my regular Friday morning coffee with my coach. And even though I always walk away with work to do, I know that this friendship is making a huge impact on my personal, business, and spiritual growth.

Encouragement

Ben Lawrence, Accountable2You
Ben Lawrence, Accountable2You

Some have suggested that access to the internet is a basic human right. It certainly has become a nearly indispensable part of our culture and ministry. Now that I think about it, I can’t think of anything that Edify Hub offers to help missionaries that isn’t in some way dependent on the internet.

At the same time, there’s a lot on the internet that we really don’t want to get involved in. And sometimes, curiosity while we were young or weak may have led us to develop some habits that are very hard to break. Internet-fed lust is a relatively new problem, becoming a possibility only within the last 25 years, and growing only as access to the internet grows.

So, what if you’re one of the many Christians who finds internet-driven lust a challenge to resist? Is there a tool or a formula or a program you can attend that will erase pictures from your memory or destroy that fleshly desire to indulge?

Well, unfortunately, I don’t know of one.

But that doesn’t mean we’re completely without help.

My guest today faced the same challenges we were just talking about. And although part of his solution did involve building a tool that can be a significant help in the area of online lust, his path to victory began with a realization of the utter sinfulness of sin.

I’m excited to welcome to the show today the founder and creator of Accountable2You, married for 17 years and the father of 6 kids, Ben Lawrence.

“I wanted accountability so bad, and I couldn’t get it.”
Ben Lawrence

This was not the cry of someone who just wants to avoid the feeling of guilt. Here’s a guy who hated the sin of lust. Well, most of the time, at least. He just wanted something to provide a bit of strength in those moments of weakness. A connection to another person who would know of his struggles and help provide some accountability.

Obviously, it’s no big spoiler to tell you that he ended up creating the very software he needed. And if you want to sign up for this kind of accountability software for yourself – even without hearing the rest of the story – if you sign up through the link in the show notes, Edify Hub will earn a commission to help keep things running around here, and it won’t increase your price at all. And if you want to save some money, you can use the coupon code edifyhub when you sign up, and you’ll get your first month absolutely free.

I started out with the same kind of search that Ben did, trying and rejecting other attempts until I finally found Accountable2You. Now it’s what I recommend. Only after I was using it for a while did I actually get to meet Ben and hear his story. We see Accountable2You now as an amazing product that works so well. But it had to start somewhere.

Be sure to come back next week to hear how Ben took this huge disappointment and turned it into the solution that it has become for so many of us who invest in technology to connect us to those who will help us stay strong against internet lust.

Tech. Tip

I get them all the time: missionary prayer letters with a huge list of email addresses in the To: or Cc: field. When that happens, I get to see everyone else that this missionary is corresponding with – along with their direct, personal contact information. Many people really don’t like having their email address spread around, and one of the last things you’d want to do as a missionary is to annoy one of your supporters.

Possibly just as bad, I have a habit of clicking “Reply All” when I respond to emails. So do lots of other people. So many times we’re involved in these email “group conversations” and “Reply All” is the only way to make sure we don’t leave anyone out. Unfortunately, that habit sometimes has people writing personal messages intended for just the missionary, but they end up sending it to everybody else that got the original email.

How can you prevent these two different kinds of embarrassing situations?

Well, first you could choose to use an email manager like MailChimp to send a separate email directly to each person in the group. It’s free for anything most missionaries would need, and I have a free series of tutorial articles on how to set up MailChimp for Missionaries.

But there are only certain kinds of emails you can send with MailChimp, and you can only send them if you can demonstrate that you already have permission to send email to each recipient. That’s not always the case when you’re sending out an email to all of your supporters.

If you can’t use an email manager, there’s another option. You can use the Bcc: field of your email client. You’re probably familiar with the Cc: field. The To: field is where you put the addresses of those you’re, well, those you’re addressing with the email. The Cc: field is where you put the addresses of everybody else that should get a copy of it. Cc: used to stand for carbon copy, and now it’s been changed to mean computer copy. The Bcc: field is a lot like the Cc: field, except it’s a “blind” carbon copy, or a “blind” computer copy. The addresses you put here will get a copy of the email, but none of the other recipients will know that they got it.

If you’re sending out an email to a group of people that know each other and work together as a group, then using the Cc: field is just fine. And if someone replies to all, it’s not a big deal. But if you’re sending an email to all of your supporters, where your relationships with them may be the only thing they have in common, then it’s time to use the Bcc: field.

There’s just one problem. That Bcc: field can be pretty hard to find on some email clients. On today’s tech. tip, I’ll explain where to find it on some of the most common email clients.

  • Gmail on the web: In the compose window, there are two links in the upper right: Cc and Bcc. Clicking Bcc will open up the field for you to type in all of your blind email addresses.
  • Gmail app on Android:  When you start composing a new email, there’s a little down arrow all the way on the right of the row with the To: address entry field. Tap that arrow and the Cc: and Bcc: fields will appear.
  • Gmail app or Apple Mail on iOS: In the new email window here, look for a link labeled Cc/Bcc. Gmail has it to the right of the To:, and Apple Mail has it below the To: field. Click that link to open up the fields for Cc: and Bcc: addresses.
  • Apple Mail Bcc
    Bcc in Apple Mail

    Apple Mail for Mac: If you’re on the Mac and you use the built-in Apple mail, you might see the Bcc: field, or you might not. If you don’t you’ll need to turn it on, then it will keep it there in the future. To turn on the Bcc: field, look in the very top title bar of the compose mail window. Right next to the little close, minimize, and maximize traffic light circles are two buttons. The first one looks like a folded paper airplane, and that’s what you click to send the mail. The second one looks like a list of options. Clicking that button opens up a little menu where you can turn on or off certain options. One of those options is the Bcc: Address Field. When you check that option, the Bcc: field becomes available.

  • Microsoft Outlook for Windows: When you start to write a new email in Outlook, you’ll see a To: field and a Cc: field, but no Bcc: field. It’s never there when you first start writing. In Outlook, you have to click something that doesn’t look like what you want in order to get where you want to be. The labels for the To: and Cc: fields are actually buttons. Click one of those. Either one – it doesn’t matter. When you do, a new window opens up where you can search through your contacts for the people you want to address. In that window, besides the list of contacts, you’ll also see three input fields at the bottom. The last one is for the Bcc: addresses. When you first open up this window and you haven’t searched for a contact yet, the labels in front of those fields will look disabled. Appearances are deceiving. You can either search for contacts, select them, and click the Bcc button (which will then be enabled), or you can simply start typing email addresses in the input field next to the Bcc button, even if it’s disabled.

Closing

Today, you’ve learned how use the Bcc field in your email client to avoid embarrassment in sending too much information to too many people.

You’ve also met Ben Lawrence, founder and creator of Accountable2You, as he began the story of his journey to victory over internet lust. If you’re not already subscribed to the Lift Up podcast using iTunes or your favorite podcast player app, be sure to do that so you don’t miss the rest of this conversation.

Finally, you heard about the results I’ve seen with Edify Hub after I started regular weekly meetings with a friend, mentor and coach.

Take Action

What about you? Do you have someone in your life – someone in addition to your spouse if you have one – someone who can encourage you, push you, stretch you? Or maybe someone who can hold you accountable in the area of online lust using a reporting tool like Accountable2You. Or can you invest in someone else’s life to be a friend, mentor, or coach to them? When you do, you can honor Hebrews 12:12 and lift them up today.

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