Where are the men who will impact the church with the spirit and character of Jesus?
Ever since Jesus chose His twelve male disciples, men have been vital to the church. God invests authority and strength in men, who are the image and glory of God. [1 Cor 11:7] The roles of men and women fit together in God's plan and complement one another perfectly. [1 Cor 11:11] It is when the men are moving in their divine commission that women are freed to express themselves without fear.
A healthy church should have many such men at its core, leading and serving. Older men will 'father' younger men and train them to put their strength and enthusiasm into God's cause. [1 Tim 1:2] [1 John 2:14]
Room for all types
Today there are magazines specifically devoted to men's issues. Advertising paints a picture of how men should be. Yet much of it is worldly wisdom, not necessarily of Christ. Jesus Himself wasn't some 'macho' pin-up. [Is 53:2] Paul was certainly a dominant type, but outwardly unimpressive, aware of his weaknesses. [2 Cor 10:10] True, godly masculinity doesn't follow today's cultural stereotypes. It is a matter of the heart and character. [1 Sam 16:7]
The Holy Spirit produces the fruit of godly character in all who submit to His work. Men can also help one another by positive input and interaction. "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." [Prov 27:17] There are, however, different soul types. It can cripple a man's confidence to expect him to be what he isn't. Masculinity expresses itself with the unique 'flavour' of each man's soul.
Even so, men should aim to develop certain key qualities, which are generally agreed to be the marks of a 'manly' man.
Qualities to target
- Godly men are free from prejudice. They have a large heart. They can welcome all kinds of people without feeling threatened by those of different race, gender and background. Jesus welcomed women as part of His team; [Luke 8:1-3] yet many men feel threatened by women. A secure, large-hearted man brings great security, because he has addressed his own limitations and has learned to include and serve all. [2 Cor 6:11-13]
- A man gains respect by his ability to endure, to take knocks without crumbling or giving up. This requires control of the emotions, especially the tendency to self-pity. [2 Cor 6:4,5] Many men need soul-healing because their robustness has been undermined. They may have been 'feminised' through unbalanced female influence on their life.
- Godly men are determined to walk in the light. [1 John 1:7] They are accountable. They open their lives to the caring scrutiny of other men. Secretive men will almost certainly become compromised and undermine their own masculinity.
- A true man is not easily intimidated. This does not mean he has no fears, but that he can control and overcome them. In relationships, in conflicts, when there is a need to speak out, masculinity is brave. [Gal 2:11,12] Risk is the hall-mark of the brave heart. [Phil 2:29,30] When a man takes no risks out of fear or pride, faith cannot grow. Courage makes a man optimistic for the future. He is always looking forward with vision, his head held high. [Phil 3:13-16]
- Men should be clear-thinking, not governed by unstable feelings. This quality is vital in church leadership. Mood-swings and changeable emotions bring serious instability if they control a man. Shallow excitement can be as unhelpful as negativity; neither express real faith. True faith is the conviction of things not seen, which a man thinks through, embraces and acts upon. [Heb 11:1,2]
- Even so, men need not be afraid of expressing deep feeling. Jesus and other New Testament men were able to express emotion freely. [John 11:35] [2 Tim 1:4] There is a time to weep and a time to laugh. [Eccles 3:4]
- Real men will enjoy the company of challenging men. They won't mind being rebuked if they need it. [Prov 27:5,6] Men who prefer the company of women, or of males who never 'ruffle their feathers', lose sharpness and become indecisive rather than solution-orientated. It can also indicate inner emotional wounds and self-acceptance problems which need addressing.
- A manly man has initiative and takes a lead. Not all men will be pastoral or prophetic leaders. Yet all can lead in the sense that they personify godly masculinity. Husbands can lead their families; single men can lead in focussed devotion to Jesus. Whatever a man's type of soul -- extrovert, introvert, self-confident, talkative, easy-going, idealistic -- his spirit can be infused with godly masculinity.
Ultimately, it all comes down to the will. Just as God makes sovereign choices and rules in authority within them, so too a man must be willful in choosing to be a ruler, though with the humility of Christ.
So, in a day when many people see the Church as largely for women, let holy men rise up in their spirits and be who God means them to be!