What’s it take to be a guy these days? A man of men? A godly man? It’s a journey we men never quite finish. But we can progress and be better men than we’ve been. ♦
This weekend over 200 men from throughout Northern California will experience the Wild at Heart Boot Camp at Mount Hermon’s Christian Conference Center in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Don’t misunderstand. It’s not about physical exercise. Instead it’s a spiritual exercise and adventure that all men should experience at some point in life. Boot Camp is based on John Eldredge’s book Wild at Heart and is power-packed with truths of life. Men will go home changed men.
There are many great programs out there for men. Dr. Robert Lewis’ Men’s Fraternity is another. His materials presented in the Authentic Manhood/33 Series is very solid and impactful. It’s quite clear that we men in and out of churches need help. We need to recognize our design, our brokenness, our hiding, our restoration through Christ, the spiritual battle we’re in, and how to be better husbands to our wives and healthy fathers for our children. The good news is that thousands of men worldwide are now learning well how to live as men, authentic men, in full strength, power and joy.
And I’m still learning. I’ll be attending my 11th Boot Camp.
The essence of God is in the spirit of His human creation. He makes us uniquely a man or a woman. Within each is the masculine and feminine heart/spirit of God. It’s our connection point with our God and Creator. Jesus challenges us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and with all your strength” – the full complement of human life itself. In his quote “the glory of God is man fully alive,” Saint Irenaeus (2nd century) captures the richness of man’s (including women) full communion with God when fulfilling what we are each meant to be in His will.
For the sake of men, and for this discussion, what does it really mean to be a male, let alone fully alive? What is it that God has set in the masculine heart? There are universal core desires that are a clue into masculinity itself. Think about it. As young boys we want to be conquerors, heroes, even superheroes. We are certainly more rambunctious and aggressive than our female counterparts. There’s no true gender debate here. As we grow we want to be kings of our destiny or fighting victors who save the day, seek adventure, fortune and fame, and even worthy knights who capture the heart of the beautiful princess. It’s natural, not sexist – don’t miss the point.
In Genesis 2, God gave man a free will, with a greater will than our own to obey. He gave man work to do: to create and cultivate. And He gave man a woman to love: a companion for intimacy and fellowship. Adam, the first man, chose disobedience and passivity. Christ, the “last or second Adam” (2 Corinthians 15:45-47) chose obedience and strength in purpose and resolve. Men all through human history certainly walk in the shadow of one of these two men.
In light of this, the most compelling description I’ve seen of authentic manhood is by Dr. Robert Lewis. There are 4 key essentials:
- Reject Passivity – Adam was passive in the garden (Genesis 3:6); Jesus rejected passivity. He is our model of strength in both mind and willful obedience. “Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” – Philippians 2:5-9).
- Accept Responsibility – Adam failed while Jesus succeeded in the 3 specific responsibilities that were given to him by God. 1) a will to obey – Jesus said “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” – John 4:34; 2) a work to do – “I glorified you (God) on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do” – John 17:4; 3) a woman to love – “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” – Ephesians 5:25.
- Lead Courageously – Adam failed to lead his wife; Jesus led by providing direction, protection, and his life for others. “Follow me” – Matthew 4:19. He said “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” – John 10:11. In Jesus there is a sense of purpose and resolute strength, even in the midst of dark circumstances.
- Invest Eternally – Adam focused on the temporary, choosing what would satisfy him in the moment. Jesus invested in the eternal. He lived it and he taught it. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…” – Matthew 6:19-20. Real men of faith and obedience have the long view of life, not the short one.
Through culture, work, burdens, sin and even religion, men have lost their way, their heart. The world is laden with checked-out men caught up in work, sports, porn, alcohol – pick a vice or add your own. Many don’t even realize how “taken-out” they really are. But there’s hope. Not in religion, but in Christ, who is forgiving, redemptive and restorative. Men are getting the memo. It is the Word, the Truth that sets them free, like captives released to be what was intended – men wholly free and alive fully aligned in heart, soul, mind and strength with their Creator.
Are you an authentic man?
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free…” – Luke 4:18