As I sit here contemplating Men’s Ministry today in my church and in America in general, I find myself focusing on a few disturbing realities that have come forth from recent studies and messages I have heard: Where have the men of God gone?
Specifically, one can look to society and see that all things “manly” are becoming more and more distorted. Follow me for a moment: Society paints the modern American male as one of many things, 1) A super over the top bravado adrenalin junky , 2) A modern renaissance man of emotions and feelings, or 3) A lost boy who never grew up and is content pretending he doesn’t have to, and the list goes on I am sure. Don’t believe me? Just watch a few hours of night time television and tell me what you find, I bet bottom dollar I can boil 99% of the characters down to one of the categories. Now that said, so what?
Well, for starters I find it rather difficult to find a man of God mentioned in scripture that firmly fits only into one of the categories above. Are there men in the bible that do, you bet, but I may argue that those men were not the models of biblical manhood that God was seeking to point out. Rather, God and His Word does provide a cross section of amazing men of God that are anything, but typical, especially by today’s societal standards here in America. In fact, these men are rare breeds that tend to pull from all categories, but above all else do so for the sake of God’s Kingdom. These men are physically strong, mentally tough, emotionally caring, God fearing, and God serving men!
But what have we become in the church? Do you think you live up to the standard of the bible of a “biblical man”? As we look to our pews and seats these days we see fewer and fewer men in general. Society has done a number on the image of the church, for church for many men has been painted as a sign of weakness or something those who are not any of the above do to fill voids in their lives. Even worse society continues to attempt to mold men and women into something of it’s own design rather than that of the design God had for us. These are the lies the enemy has weaved for decades and the American church is now left looking for it’s men.
To further the point Ben Mandrell Pastor of Storyline Fellowship in Denver, CO recently went one step further to ask the more troubling question of, “Where have all the Jonathan’s Gone?” In other words, where are all the physically strong, mentally tough, emotionally caring, God fearing, and God serving men that we as followers of Christ have been called to be?(Source: Ben Mandrell – Biblical Manhood – 1 Samuel 14 from Southeastern Seminary on Vimeo.)
Ben takes a story from the Old Testament in 1 Samuel 14 that focuses on Jonathan. Jonathan was a son of Saul and served in his great army. But being a man of God, and frankly simply being a man, he sought his armor-bearer and went off alone to take on a camp of Philistines near by. In this action Jonathan had not told his father of his intentions and literally went on his way alone, but in the faith of God that victory would be for the Lord that day. In his risk and in his faith, Jonathan inspired his armor-bearer and the people through actions. Jonathan took a risk for God and God was glorified.
So what is the point and what did Pastor Mandrell bring forth? The point is this: 1) Men were created different than women. One can go back to Genesis and look to the creation ordinance of Adam and see that He was given specific tasks that varied from Eve. This is by God’s design and therefore it has purpose. 2) We need to take more risks for God. If Jonathan had not taken the risk he took in faith, the victory would not have been won. In this action we see all the bravado of man, but also that of a faithful heart in the Lord. Real men aren’t simple men of childish bravado, but that of faith, courage, and responsibility. In Christ all things are possible and the men of the bible show us this image of manhood. It’s time that we in the church dig back into our bibles and start living in our lives the way men like Jonathan did and stand up and take risks in faith.
God created us this way men, when are we going to start acting like it? When will the Jonathan’s step up and take a risk for the kingdom?
A good friend, and professor of mine, Dr. Chuck Lawless has been an incredible influence in my life since starting at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary over a year ago. One of the largest impacts provided was his outlook on mentorship and how how it should engage my life as a Christian. Now certainly plenty of people in secular society, but also in our churches, have uttered the words that, “everyone needs a mentor,: and that is all fine, well, and good. However, what many don’t usually say is what this mentor looks like, what the relationship truly looks like, and honestly how you go about finding one. These types of questions can be the things of nightmares for introverts and extroverts alike.
That said, I wanted to share a simple blog post from Dr. Lawless from today’s ThomRainer.com blog entitled: “Why Everybody Needs a Mentor and How to Find One.” See it’s not that scary after all, in fact the solution is provided in under 1000 words. (Okay, to be fair it is more complicated than that, but this is as good a launching pad into the topic as any.)
Specifically, I just wanted to take a moment to focus on some of the primary principles from Dr. Lawless on the “Why” question as it truly impacted my life:
- It’s biblical – Take a moment and think to yourself of the number of examples we have from scripture that point to a relationship where two individuals are living and learning together. The concept is not of our own making, but rather that the examples are right before us in God’s revelation. We’ve all heard that mentorship is important, but let’s take a moment as believers and focus on why it truly is important.
- We’re created to be in relationship with others – I have constantly been reminded in my life that God has not created us with the intention that we fold into ourselves when faced with life, but in fact quite the opposite is true. Though there will always be a time for introspection, living the Christian life is a team sport and that requires other Christians to share and grow in the experience. Sure every business would have you believe that success or money is the motivation, but truth is we were made this way and for a reason.
- Experience is a great teacher – How many times did you have to do something growing up to learn whether or not to do it again? (Granted, some experiences may vary..) The point here is that we learn from doing, from living, and when in relationship with others we can also learn from one another’s experiences.
- People are God’s gift to us – Central to Dr. Lawless’ concept is the simple reality of people living life together. As it states in Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” This “life-on-life” mentorship/discipleship is how Jesus brought along those who followed Him and what better example could we have than that? People matter and it is the ability to learn from one another that can make us stronger.
I don’t want to steal all of the thunder from Dr. Lawless, but take a moment and check out his blog today and also pick up a copy of his study: Mentor: How Along the Way Discipleship Will Change Your Life . This study and focus on biblical mentorship/discipleship has changed my outlook on how to approach the topic and provides a very practical foundation for just about any believer, no matter where they currently are in their walk.
Over a year ago I entered full-time ministry/study in order to obtain my Master of Divinity. I went from working full-time for the Federal Government 60 hours a week to working 60+ hours a week for God. In this transition much has happened and many blessings have occurred. God is Good!
However, during this time I let a lot of things slide to the side and grew out of touch with the many people and areas of my life that are still large portions of who I am today. To this end, I have updated and will continue to use this website as a way to stay in touch, continue to pontificate on random things of interest (SMEM, CHSOCM, Church Tech, Technology, Sermons, Podcasts, etc.)
Stay tuned or catch up on some of my musings or just reach out to say hello.
Our youth recently took it upon themselves to challenge Lead Pastor Shan Towns and myself to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Well, Pastor Shan and I are not exactly the “simple” types so we took the challenge to the next level while also taking this moment to educate people on the importance of doing their homework before giving to charities.