But the more I survey culture.. I get a growing concern that we are losing the intentional mechanisms for training men.
Some would applaud this trend. There has always been an undercurrent to blend the lines of gender distinctions and end any effort to discriminate or stereotype based on whether someone is male or female.
I am a dad of three beautiful and successful daughters. I am glad that women in our society have the right to fully participate in opportunities. I grieve when I see examples of the mistreatment or
marginalization of someone because they are female.
But I equally grieve that there are some in our culture wants to suppress what it means to be masculine and feminine.
I desire for a culture where women have great opportunities to work and serve- but I also want them to flourish as women. These are God given qualities that were pronounced 'good' before the fall of man in Genesis 3.
I also desire for our culture to have real men.
Our homes, our government, our churches are suffering from a lack of authentic manhood.
When I say 'authentic manhood' I am looking toward a Biblical model of what a man is supposed to be, Our culture does not define manhood very well... it is not sexual prowess, domination, power, wealth, leisure, or status. When we promote these values as 'being a man' - all we are really producing is a lazy brute.. incapable of doing anything other than harm and destruction.
And no wonder there would be those who would want that removed from society! Too often our newspaper headlines are full of tragic tales of a male who reacts with no guiding principle except testosterone.
Men have to be trained....
And they have to be trained as men....
What would be some of the traits that should accompany a GODLY MAN?
If you read Genesis carefully, you see that Adam was right in the middle of the tragedy of the fall. I see failure in Adam in many ways. He was irresponsible in the proper view of the tree in the middle of the garden. If you remember Eve told the serpent “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die."' (Genesis 3:2-3 ESV)
But God never said - 'Don't touch it'. Some of this has to be Adam's responsibility, because the Lord gave the prohibition to him.
But Adam's greatest failure was not irresponsibility or participation in sin, even though he was guilty in both counts.
Adam's greatest sin was his passivity. When Even eats the fruit and then gives it to Adam... she didn't have to go hunt him down...Adam was right there... passively watching the whole thing .. and never intervened in what was right.
Being a man means that we have to be active..engaging.. initiating... and even intervening to stand up for righteousness and goodness.
When men reject their responsibility to lead... everyone suffers!
COURAGEOUS.... not fearful
About 10 years ago, I was challenged by a fried to confront my fears. I wanted to punch him in the head! Me? Afraid?
Sadly, with the Lord's tough work in my life.. I had to face the reality... I lived with A LOT OF FEAR.. and I still fight it to this day!
Courage is not the absence of fear... courage is facing fear.. courage is not being paralyzed by fear.
Our young men live in a world of unprecedented mocking and 'razzing'. The nature of humor, entertainment, and the platform of social media has pressured most young people to want to stay right in the middle of a status quo mass.
I wrote on this issue earlier (July, 2013) in a post called 'Spotlight Anxiety"-
The sad result of this pressure is to keep our young men in bondage. They are afraid of being singled out, so they live in shadows of mediocrity. We have to teach a courage that comes from a proper view of those who would seek to cause harm and we need to teach young men to learn to trust God when those pressures come.
I don't think we will ever rid the world of mockers... so the main war is to teach men to live in a way that ignores what the losers say.
This courage produces great freedom and energy....We are free to be what God has made us to be!
SUBMISSION TO GOD AND AUTHORITY... not a law unto himself
I was reading through the books of Kings and Chronicles and I noticed a pattern... good kings sought the will of the Lord...evil kings just did whatever they wanted to.
An authentic man, learns to live boldly and courageously WITHIN the boundaries of God's will, natural law, and God-ordained authority.
In my role as Dean of Students- my greatest concern with underage tobacco use, underage drinking, stealing, or reckless driving is the total disregard for law that young men are apt to demonstrate. All of these activities have inherent danger... and often, many who do these things never suffer immediate consequences... but I grow sad that there is not even a hint of a pause to obey the law of the land!
I think of the end of the Book of Judges: the very last verse!
In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25 ESV)
We have to be proactive in teaching OBEDIENCE and RESPECT for authority. Too often parents are guilty of tearing down authority in front of their children. We need to respect parental and civil authority. We need to hold up laws and those who are in roles of authority.
Some of the entertainment aimed at kids is a smear campaign or satire at authority figures.
How many sit-coms take shots at fatherhood? I am appalled at programing aimed at young children that show weak parents who are the butt of jokes and mockery!
IDENTIFIED WITH CHRIST..... not a soldier of Satan
There is NO NEUTRAL GROUND in this world. Jesus drew a plain line. You are identified with Christ or you are in submission to Satan. The Bible leaves no room in the middle. You either serve the Lamb or the Dragon. You are a citizen of heaven- the spiritual Jerusalem OR you have allegiances to the City of man- the spiritual Babylon.
Your father is God or you are a son of Satan.
And because the kingdoms are in conflict- you get the wrath of your opposition.
Choose Jesus and experience the wrath of Satan.
Choose Satan and receive the Wrath of God.
Whose wrath do you choose?
Are you sure if you died tonight you would go to heaven? Is there ANY question more important than that?
RESPONSIBILITY, INTEGRITY, AND MORALITY
We HAVE to teach, discipline, and positively reinforce that real men are responsible, honest, and morally upright!
Of these...nothing is sadder to me than the erosion of honesty in our culture!
When I have a young man in my office for an mistake... I am often encouraged by the honesty that I see. If a young man looks me in the eye and says, 'Yes sir, I did it, and I am sorry I did it.", I have no doubt that this will be a positive experience in the long run.
But sometimes I have those who will lie and deny until they die. And inside I am supremely concerned that this young man is on a path to future calamity!
Once a person loses their integrity.. is anything left?
I immediately leave the circumstances of behavior.. and begin working with a student about being honest... it is way more important than any rules infraction!
Proverbs 22:1 A good name is to be more desired than great wealth,
At the same time- we cannot let up in holding high standards of decency and morality. It matters... language matters.... sexual purity matters... regard for law matters.... learning to control anger matters.... now we treat the weak or marginalized matters.... service and citizenship matters.....
A WORKER..... not lazy
This trend worries me to death! I am not finding young men who really know how to work! I am seeing the impact of our leisure and comforts in devastating results.
Technology has great applications.... but it has eroded productivity in my opinion. We live in a world where ...if young people are entertained.... if they are stimulated.... if they are having fun... if there is instant gratification..- they engage...
but any old fashioned... buckle down, bring your lunch pail and work clothes, push for delayed gratification is getting more rare every year!
Men are created to work and build. Work is good.. yes, it now has a curse attached to it.. there are 'thorns' in all employments... but how can the Kingdom of God be built unless there is a work force to do it?
Who is willing to roll up their sleeves and do the hard things?
Too many young people are growing up with only buttons to push.......
And as soon as it gets hard, they hit the re-set button.
As a coach, I am finding more and more athletes who only want to play games and do not understand the need for off season training and practice.
We must do all we can to not enable laziness. We have to let young people struggle and learn to succeed in labor!
PERSEVERES IN ADVERSITY...... not a quitter
Coach Bryant's most consistent message to his players was ...NEVER QUIT.
He said the first time you do it is hard.... but it gets easier and easier...until it becomes a permanent condition... you have become a quitter!
I am writing a series of devotions from the Book of Revelation. In his letter to the 7 churches, Jesus admonished 5 of the 7 churches with serious sin. But NO WHERE in those letters do you find Jesus telling the believers in that church to leave and find a better church.
Our society consistently sends a message that encourages us to leave when the going gets hard.
This doesn't mean there aren't times to leave a situation... but we need to always do it with counsel and principle...not just because we are unhappy or struggling.
PROTECTS THE WEAK.... FIGHTS EVIL
Paul Coughlin, a nationally known consultant in the area of bullying, mentions the great need to rally 'bully protectors' in the theater of school bullying and harassment. A group of students who are willing to stand up and speak out in non-violent, but sincere messages have more power to protect the bullied than any school administrator may have.
The greatest victories in the areas of substance abuse, the left behind, the bullied, and the neglected are students who are engaged and willing to help.
We all know the famous quote:
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.Edmund Burke
I'm calling on school officials, parents, coaches, social workers, and ministers to do we can to call and support young heroes who stand up and protect the weak.
We HAVE TO BE HONEST with them and explain there will be push back and conflict...but getting persecuted for righteousness sake is a virtue- moral courage can change the world!
HOW AND WHERE DO YOU TRAIN?
First of all, we need to live as men. Nothing is more important that an example. We cannot teach what we do not know.
This means confessing our failures, repenting, standing up and calling out errors in gentleness, compassion, but at the same time UNWAVERING in what is right and what is wrong.
Anyone of influence needs to take time and educate, teach, correct, discipline, and positively reinforce traits of manhood to young boys and young men.
We need to let boys struggle! And we need to coach the through the fire. We need to be patient with failure and unrelenting in our standards. If we expect more... we will get it!
My encouragement to coaches of young men to think about being more INTENTIONAL about addressing specific issues of leadership and manhood.
I also call out to fathers to be more intentional about building qualities of Biblical manhood in your son's lives.
Finally, we must defend the institutions that have proven to be successful in bringing up young men with leadership and character. Satan would love to pull down the Boy Scouts, Upward Basketball, Church ministries, Boy's Clubs, and many other efforts to train young boys to becoming men.
If there is a coach in your community who is doing it right- hold that man up regardless of the record.
Left high those who are getting muddy in the front lines of this war for the heart and soul of our young people.
And we need to speak out against forces that erode the moral foundations... why lend our money to things that , though they entertain, are working against what we desire?
All of us need to pray for and look for opportunities to help in this area... our society DESPERATELY needs it!