You Know Humility Isn’t Weakness, Right?

I got that little jewel handed to me thing morning. Through what has seemed like a battle that has lingered for decades, I’ve realized lately that I’ve been more focused on me than I would care to admit. I have admitted it, however, and the Lord is peeling it back for me to afford increase in the decrease.

Upon sharing with my wife, Julie, another perspective that Holy Spirit stirred related to pride generally and my pride specifically, she lovingly looked at me and offered, “you know humility isn’t weakness, right?” Seriously, it was so sweet and caring and clearly for my best interests that it was incredibly easy to receive.

First knee-jerk reaction was internally something like, “well of course I do.” Within a split second or two, however, I realized that I have put humility and weakness hand in hand. Weakness isn’t an appealing characteristic for me and I don’t suspect it is for most of us. Men may be particularly adverse to the idea of allowing for weakness.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

By the way; I looked it up . . . “weakness” in that passage means weakness. It means a lack of capacity either in physical terms or in the character of our soul. But that same passage promises perfection and power by way of Christ without the limitations of my body or soul.

Here is what I learned in the past about pride; it isn’t reflective of a strength, but of an insecurity. Pride is self-promotion and the only time that is necessary is when we don’t feel promoted otherwise. So humility is actually a strength as it reflects the realization that, in Christ, we are perfected and empowered. Julie is right; humility isn’t weakness; it is actually strength. The security of knowing your limitations invites the grace of Jesus.

Today I choose to be strong and admit that I am weak. I choose to rest more in His grace than I do in my ability. I welcome His power where my efforts are otherwise limited. You’re invited.

The Power of One

man and woman

Sometimes it’s good to do something a little different. The contrast provides fresh insight into why you have been doing the things you do and context for how those things fit in the bigger picture. Recently I took a trip that was different from the trips I am used to taking and the contrast and context were refreshing.

I am accustomed to men’s ministry events where I have the honor of serving men as they seek the heart of God. Recently, I was a part of a team which included my wife that served a similar event except that it was a ladies’ event. So about 40 women and 5 men got on a bus and headed out to draw closer to Him. The male/female interaction was guarded and orderly and the power of the dual voice was evident. In the five days that we were gone, a few very broad and general things that impressed me:

  • The hurt that many women have been subjected to at the hands of men is beyond what most men typically consider. For some of these ladies, it’s a wonder they aren’t curled up in the corner somewhere given what they’ve experienced.
  • The healing that is needed is powerfully delivered through the male voice when it is presented in a healthy, humble and redemptive manner.
  • I was reminded of the feminine nature of God. He is “He” and “Father” and “Son” so we can get caught in a mindset of believing that “she” is something different from His nature. She’s not.
  • Men generally tend to want to skip or suppress the emotions of an experience. That’s an unhealthy processing that fails to inform the reason they want to lean on. Women generally embrace the emotions of the experience and can sometimes be prone to not choosing to submit those emotions to the reasoning they are intended to inform. Neither is healthy and the was we can compliment each other is to call out the strengths in the other while encouraging healthy processing in the blind spots.
  • The dual voice is a powerful picture of the fullness of God. When working in concert/unity, there are possibilities for impact that exceed the limitations of a single gender presentation.
  • Male leaders in the church don’t need to be effeminate to connect with women; they are fully capable, willing and even hungry for input from the masculine voice when it is offered with the appropriate empathy.

Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

Plenty of Guides But Where Are The Dads?

Corps_of_Guides_(Infantry_&_Cavalry)_-_Richard_Simkin

We are working from a deficit and even in the areas where it appears that the deficit is being filled, the deficit remains in disguise. The deficit is the need for fathers. There is not an appreciation for the value of a father, and what appreciation there is dwindles by influence of a broken society. The problem compounds as generations are raised up with no dads. The results in society are catastrophic and even within the church the impact is significant. While the impact in society may be so enormous that there is not a plan that could successfully address it, the solution resides among the community of believers that call Jesus “Lord.”

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:15, “For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers.”

So, since the time of Paul in the early church, there have been plenty of “guides.” The original meaning of the word for “guides” is defined as tutors or guardian of boys. These guides were men entrusted with oversight of boys that would instruct them in their upbringing by accompanying them everywhere to supervise their morals. They taught the boys right and wrong.

That word which is used to describe the tutors or guides is also translated in other areas as “schoolmaster” in reference to the law. That is, the law is referred to as a “schoolmaster” which guides students by imposition of boundaries with enforcement of rules. The schoolmaster acts as a guide and the law plays that role, as well.

We can’t please God with keeping the law, however, but only by faith (Hebrews 11:6). It’s not the presence or adherence to the guide’s direction which we ultimately need, but it’s the few fathers that Paul refers to which brings value to sons. The countless guides are always limited to correction versus a standard of conduct. All they can do is discipline according to the behaviors they observe. The teaching is performance based.

The deficit is not in a lack of guides that want to correct behaviors, but in the lack of fathers that want to invest in lives. The correction of others based in an interpretation of the law versus their behaviors is easy. Fathering is not.

The guide must only observe and correct, while the father’s role is to impart from an originating perspective. It’s an originator of a legacy, not simply a guardian of conduct. It’s an investment of life on life to raise up others that will invest in the same way. It’s life-giving and multiplying to transform sons into fathers in a way that a schoolmaster is not equipped or expected. It’s the same role that God wants to play for each of us and we are invited to emulate in our relationships.

For Their Benefit

webspinI walked out the front door one recent morning to drive my eleven year old daughter, Olivia, to school. She followed behind me as we headed to the car and as I crossed the front porch to step onto the sidewalk to the driveway, I encountered a significant spider’s web. The spider had apparently been busy the night before this morning and the web was not catching any bugs but it was irritating me.

As I kind of fought it off, I remembered that Olivia was following behind me so I started to tell her to watch out for the spider web. Before the words came out of my mouth, however, I realized that by the time she reached the threshold of the front porch where the web had been, it will be there no more. It couldn’t be since it was all over me.

Driving to the school, I realized that I had just lived out a perfect picture of what my role as the head of my home entailed. It was a snapshot of manhood and headship as follows:

  1. I went ahead and cleared a path, making a way for Olivia to travel.
  2. Where there was an obstacle, I cleared it even at some irritation or discomfort to myself
  3. Because I was out front, Olivia didn’t have to encounter the thing that I did
  4. She didn’t even know what had happened, she didn’t realize the benefit since she didn’t experience the threat

If men will take their place as the head with sacrificial intentions, we will encounter many of the threats posed to our families to their benefit. Our place as the head calls for us to take the hits for their benefit, so that the way is made safe in the path that we have cleared for them.

The natural response of consistent sacrifice for the benefit of another is a desire to trust and submit to the one that makes it safe for us. Submission comes most naturally in the vacuum of a force which makes a way for our benefit. We naturally want to follow where it is safe and beneficial. Coercion and convincing become unnecessary.

We don’t have to announce our sacrifice or glory in our duty, we just have to be consistent in our intentions. Taking our place out front for the benefit of those that have been entrusted to us will put them on display much more than it will us. That’s the whole idea.

One Man at a Time, Nobody Left Behind

mentorAs I talked with a friend this morning about what it’s going to take he concluded that it is going to take men being men in the context that they were intended and designed to be men. We agreed that the ship has sailed on cultural values, norms and beliefs which reflected anything close to True. The results are not fully manifest yet, but lawlessness  and godlessness of a nation historically lead to some form of ruin.

This isn’t a comment so much on the state of a nation as it is the opportunity of an army. There is an army of men that is available to take their place as those in a society that stand up when others want to run and invest where others would only judge. If there will be a turn in the destiny of this nation, it won’t be one which is led by a government, but instead by a Kingdom. It will be life on life where the older invest in the younger and they do so with such grace that their intention can take root despite the apathy of the rising generation.

Men have the unique opportunity, by design, to stand at the head if they are willing to do so via sacrifice and not with any kind of presumption of dominion by way of birthright. From the sacrificial practice of legitimate leadership, there will be a shoulder to shoulder service to younger men as well as to the families they are charged to steward. This type of headship is welcome in a society that never objects to service, only arrogant oppression.

One man at a time stepping into how a royal priest serves with uncommon sacrifice as an advocate for the eternal destinies of their families, friends, communities and domains of society they influence. This royal priesthood will not seek authoritative position, but relational leverage. From relationships which are earned and trustworthy, invitations into the foundation of Truth that works from the inside-out will shape those with ears to hear. The target is not behaviors, but hearts. The results are not the measure, but instead it is the humility to know that it is a larger fight that is beyond human capacity which decides the fate of us all.

One at a time, as a viral movement of responsibility and investment with the no need for glory or reward other than the multiplication that comes with transformation. If we’ll do our part to initiate that even a few times each in the coming days of our manhood, the ripple will be evident in the similar seasons of our sons.

 

 

What Men Want

Celtic WarriorsWhat we feel like doing and what we are capable of doing are two very different things. In fact, what we feel like doing and what we are actually designed to do can oppose one another. We don’t have to be comfortable with something to make it right. The lens of our own preference can lull us into a pattern of idolatry where we rule and reign in our lives. From this self-crafted throne, we can control our experiences to ensure immaturity by avoidance of discomfort.

I’m reading a considerable number of articles lately about why men don’t want to go to church and how we need to tailor church to attract the masculine nature of men. I question the perceived inability for men to work past their masculinity towards a valid pursuit of God in a church setting. A few conclusions in the articles I have read regarding men and church are:

  1. Men don’t want to be relational so any talk of a “personal relationship” should be tempered
  2. Men don’t want to worship, so worship should be tightly controlled in length and content
  3. Men don’t want to be intimate so any talk of intimacy with God should be avoided
  4. Men want to be warriors in an epic battle, so hang out there

I love and believe the imagery and reality of being a warrior in an epic battle and don’t have any inclination towards holding hands and singing “Kumbaya.” At the same time, I have encountered the presence of God and am ruined by His love. The core of my faith is knowing Him as Savior, Father and Friend. I want to fight the battle, but I don’t want to fight it on my own terms or without Him. That would be missing the point.

Men are capable of feeling, receiving and offering love as well as intimacy. It may not be the first stop or most comfortable place for any of us, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need it. Men are also capable of worshiping, whether it be a battle chant or intimate expression of love for a Father that wrecks us with His grace. King David was as manly of a man as there was and He danced with joy for the same God we are invited to dance for.

You know what men want at church or anywhere else, for that matter? They want real. Religion and illusion will be rejected by men as well as women who seek Truth. Real is a pastoral staff that doesn’t elevate themselves to a place of superiority. Real is inviting and allowing for God’s Spirit to move in a way that isn’t on the schedule. Real is practical and Biblical at the same time. Real is full of grace as we see each other beyond just our behaviors. Real is personal, relational, expressive, intimate and meaningful. Real is epic.