In light of my article on staying power, I thought it may be beneficial to share some excerpts from a book by Stu Weber (from whom I gained much of my ideas for that post, as I’m sure you’ll see). The title of the book is Tender Warrior, and I would highly recommend it to every man reading this, especially a husband or soon-to-be husband. In fact, I know of a couple women who have read the book and benefited greatly from it as well, so I guess I would recommend it to everyone! I think you’ll find it indispensable.
“Now these are the heads of the mighty men whom David had, who gave him strong support in his kingdom…They took their stand in the midst of the plot and defended it” (1 Chronicles 11:10,14). “In ancient times Homer, Virgil, and even the inspired chronicles of Israel celebrated the deeds of mighty men of valor, who possessed the stamina to fight from sunup to sundown and slay their ten thousands” (World Magazine, 5-22-2004, p. 47). We still need these men.
Wake up Call
How many times can a man hear a wake-up call without waking up? Some men, I suppose, never do. This man almost didn’t. I’ve had two major wake-up calls at two crossroads in my life. Neither was much like the gentle ring of an alarm clock. Both were more akin to the crack of a two-by-four across the back of my skull. But I guess you could say I hit the ‘snooze’ button twice before coming awake. Some fifteen years into my marriage I experienced my second life-changing wake up call, it flashed out of Linda’s eyes. For the first time in all our years together, I saw anger there. Deep anger. Hot anger. It was absolutely clear—there would be some changes in our relationship.
It is so easy to snooze through life, or, what the Bible calls, “drifting away” (Hebrews 2:1); “being dead even while she lives” (1 Timothy 5:6); “held captive by the devil” (2 Timothy 2:26); “living in darkness” (Acts 26:20); or simply being “lost” (Luke 19:10). Even Christians are admonished to “awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11); “so let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:6).
Men Who Have Vision
Looking ahead. Giving direction. Anticipating needs. Defining the destination. What makes a man? First, foremost, and above all else, it is vision. A vision for something larger than himself. As men we often misplace our vision. We focus myopically on houses and cars and stock portfolios and bank accounts and piling up stuff. We imagine status and security in these things, when in fact there is no status or security if you don’t have relationships. Too many guys squander their vision—and then wonder why they lose their families. It’s the all too common downside to superficial definitions of success, and don’t let anyone snow you, nothing makes up for the failure of a family.
The Pillars of Manhood
The Head: Both men and women were given the command to “subdue” the earth, and “rule over” the entire physical creation (Genesis 1:28). The male is the one who is given the primary responsibility to rule. A man rules and leads his family (Genesis 18:19). Husbands are the head of the wife (Ephesians 5:23). It is the male Christian who preaches to both genders (1 Timothy 2:12), and is to preach with all authority (Titus 2:15). It is the male who shepherds the flock, tending, feeding, guiding, and protecting it from the wolves (1 Timothy 3:1-2; 1 Peter 5:1-3).
Initiator: At his core a man is an initiator, one who moves forward, advances toward the horizon, leads. At the core of masculinity is initiation, the provision of direction, security, stability, and connection. Sadly, some men lack this initiative, especially in the realm of providing spiritual, moral, emotional, and financial leadership for their families. A man without initiative is like a compass without a needle or a boat without a rudder.
Warrior: A warrior is a protector. Whether he’s stepping on intruding bugs or checking out the sounds that go ‘bump’ in the night. Whether he’s confronting a habitually abusive Little League coach or shining a flashlight into a spooky basement. Whether he is shoveling snow or helping women and children into the last life boat on the Titanic. Men stand tallest when they are protecting and defending. A warrior is one who possesses high moral standards, and holds to high principles. He is willing to live by them, stand for them, spend himself for them, and if necessary die for them. Ever notice how aloof a man can appear at times? Could it be that the warrior in him is a little out of sync? (1 Timothy 1:3; 4:6-7; 5:19-21; 6:12 “Fight the good fight of the faith”; 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline”; 2 Timothy 2:3,9; Titus 1:9).
Teacher: A man is supposed to know things. Like how a car runs. Or the inner workings of a hair dryer. Or the capitol of Nepal. Or how many legs are on a spider. Or how many miles to the next rest stop. Or when the weather will turn. It’s up to him to maintain a working knowledge of why electricity flows, dogs bark, birds migrate, hamsters die, trees lose their leaves, dads lose their hair, and girls down the street “act weird.”
And far more importantly than these subjects, a man is supposed to know God’s will and be able to impart this teaching to his family and others (Psalm 78:3; Ephesians 6:4). More men need to see themselves as “teachers”. Men should be able to teach “life.” Men need to be able to distinguish truth from error (Hebrews 5:12-14), and correct children when they get on the wrong path. They need to have the answers to the common questions of life (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and they need to know how life works. Here was what Phyllis Therous wrote, “Small boys learn to be large men in the presence of large men who care about small boys.”
Friend: Manhood means keeping commitments. He also must have the courage to rebuke when necessary (Proverbs 27:6).
Staying Power: Many men in our culture lack one of the marks of a man, that is, patience, steadfastness, endurance, and forbearance. Have you noticed how badly men run in our culture? One-third of American children are not living with their natural fathers. Over fifteen million kids are growing up in homes without any father. Seventy percent of men in prison grew up without a father. It used to be, “women and children first”, but now it has become “me first”. In contrast, godly men stand by their promises.
When marriage isn’t fun—stay in it.
When parenting is over your head—stay at it.
When work is crushing your spirit—don’t let it beat you.
When the local church is overwhelmed with pettiness—stay by it.
When your children let you down—pick them up.
When you wife goes through a six-month mood swing—live with it.
Real men stay, stay, and stay. The heart of such power is sacrifice (Philippians 2:3-4; Luke 14:26; 9:23; Hebrews 12:1-4; James 1:2-4; 5:8-11), and genuine love for God and the people who need you (1 Corinthians 13:4 “Love is patient… love bear all things, endures all things”). Thus God still needs men who will stop running and take their stand in the midst of the plot and defend it against the Philistines until the sundown.