In Praise of Manly Pastors

I recently had a post about some men—mainly pastors—I would recommend other men follow. That prompted the question: Why is masculinity important in a pastor?

Well, there’s a larger theological discussion to be had here. Masculinity is important because excellence is important, and virtue (moral excellence) in a man—of which elders are to be exemplary—is necessarily masculine. Masculinity is important in a pastor because pastoral ministry is, by nature, agonistic, combative, confrontational. It takes courage, grit, fortitude, perseverance.

(Note the header image e.g.—John Calvin barring the Libertines from the Lord’s Table.)

But the simple reason I wanted to point out a few men to be aware of is because, on the practical level, men want to find pastors whom they can follow into battle. It’s that simple. If you’re a wife reading this, you need to understand that while the children’s ministry may be the most important aspect to you for finding a good church, for your husband it will be having a pastor they would follow into battle. They may not consciously word it that way. Perhaps it’s not even the best way to word it. But wives, you should want to go to a church where your husband respects the pastor. The programs, fellowship, coffee, and “atmosphere” may be terrific; but if your husband does not respect your pastor as a man, he won’t last long.

I hope to explain that a little further soon.

The video below is a good example of the need for manly men in the pulpits of America. I don’t link to this video because I endorse Maxwell. I don’t. I disagree with much of his approach and his theological views (including, ironically, his take on masculinity). But he’s hitting a niche precisely because he is accurately pointing out the failing of modern evangelicalism when it comes to masculinity, engaging the world manfully, and, thus, retaining real men in the churches.

This is why we need men like Wilson, Baucham, Cunningham, Conn, Wiley, and others.

In this video, Voddie Baucham explains that one of the primary reasons men aren’t interested in church is because the pastor is not a man they respect and feel they can follow as their leader.

In this article, C.R. Wiley discusses how to get and keep masculine men in the church.

And when we talk about masculine pastors (or men in general), we don’t—or shouldn’t—mean the machismo and posturing that so often is presented as manhood. Alastair Roberts has some helpful thoughts on that in two articles here and here. I’ll leave you with a quote from Wilson’s Future Men. This is essential in our endeavor to not continue losing future men from the church.

Boys should be able to see masculine leadership throughout the life of the church. From the pulpit, to the session of elders, to the choir, boys should be able to see men they respect. They should not see what is too often the case—missing men or silent men just along for the ride. When men go to church simply to sit in the back, they are teaching their boys to do exactly the same thing, if that.

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Podles on Honor

In light of my recent posts on honor, here and here, discussing the nature of honor and the importance of seeking honor for and from God, you may be interested in the talk Lee Podles’ gave at the 2018 Touchstone conference. You have to be a subscriber to Touchstone to access the session right now. But that’s also well worth your while. Here it is: “Honorable Men & the Honor of God: The Centrality of Honor in Masculinity & Christianity.”

I’d also commend to you C.R. Wiley’s session on piety from the same conference.

And to learn even more about the honor culture of the New Testament, why it matters for reading our Bibles, and why it’s a shame we’ve lost so much of that culture and understanding, I highly recommend this fascinating work by David de Silva: Honor, Patronage, Kinship & Purity: Unlocking New Testament Culture.

Learning to be non-androgynous men…

Most Christians—including, unfortunately, many complementarians—speak of men and women as though they are basically interchangeable in every way except with regard to specific formal offices in the church and home. We often act like humans have largely androgynous souls that just happen to get stuffed into gendered bodies. The problems and dangers of that view are myriad, and it comes out in the way pastors and Christian leaders give advice to men—advice that really would be equally as relevant to women.

Where is the gender-specific, real-world, biblical and practical wisdom for men to learn how to cultivate godly masculinity? Where is the biblical doctrine of the household? Where is the fatherly advice that makes men want to be good at being men? Allow me to reiterate a few places to start.

First, I can’t recommend highly enough the project from Michael Foster and Bnonn Tennant called “It’s Good to Be a Man.” Right now, it’s only a Facebook page, but they’re hoping to gain some momentum and start a site to post articles and continue helping men any way they can. I’d love to see them start a podcast. Anyway, even though it’s only a Facebook page right now, I’m telling you these guys are worth following—helpful and real. Set it so that you get notifications everytime they post, and enjoy!

Here’s some more to get you off the ground:

Recommendations for some books, blogs, and podcasts men ought to know about.

Recommendations of some specific men worth following. This is how you really learn and grow—by following men who are already being the kind of men you want to be.


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Federal Husbands and Masculine Responsibility

I’ve been reading Federal Husband, by Doug Wilson. It has been, far and away, one of the best books on being a husband and father I’ve ever read. It’s challenging, insightful, and convicting. Here’s one of my favorite quotes:

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This short book is unlike any other you’ve ever read on godly manhood and marriage. I highly recommend every man, married or single, purchase a copy and take Wilson’s instruction to heart. Get Federal Husband here. Wilson’s wife also has an excellent companion book on being a wife and mother called The Fruit of Her Hands.

Man of the House

In his seminal work, Man of the House, pastor C.R. Wiley explains what it takes to build and manage a sustainable and godly household. Here are just a couple of my favorite quotes.

“One reason there is a crisis of authority in many households is that everyone knows that there is nothing to lose, because nothing is at stake. (Just what is the head of the house in charge of, the television remote control?)… The best way to reinvest household headship with authority is by giving households something worthwhile to do.”

“When buddy-dad befriends his kids he’s actually abdicating fatherhood, at least temporarily. It is usually an unconscious decision, and sometimes he comes to regret it, usually when discipline is called for. Often, that’s when buddy-dad realizes that no one takes him seriously.”

“Perhaps the thing that distinguishes a just man from a tyrant more than anything else is self-mastery… Few things are more terrifying than a strong man who can control everything except himself.”

“Domestic tranquility is best secured through the wide distribution of coercive force—not by giving the officials in charge exclusive right to it. The police should supplement rather than replace household self-defense. And there should always be enough coercive force distributed throughout a community to hold a police force accountable.”

“By separating children from parents, and locating them in age-specific cohorts, public schoolchildren are made to overvalue the opinions of their peers and devalue the convictions of their parents.”

“If you’ve ever said, ‘I don’t want to be a burden to my children’ then you need to get over yourself. If you live so long, you will be a burden, if not to your children, then to the children of other people.”

This book is short, but packed full of wisdom. Buy it, read it, start taking responsibility, and be the man of the house! Get Man of the House here.

Warning Signs for Fatherhood

I’ve been reading Federal Husband, by Doug Wilson. It has been, far and away, one of the best books on being a husband and father I’ve ever read. It’s challenging, insightful, and convicting. In his last chapter, on fatherhood, he says this:

So biblically, a man should know he has a problem and needs to learn God’s standards and grace, when…

his children are routinely disobedient…

his children roll their eyes when he tries to instruct them…

he finds himself making excuses for his children to others…

he is exasperated and frustrated in his children…

his children are whiners…

his children are insecure in their masculine and feminine identity and callings, respectively…

his children are lazy…

his children are miserable because he doesn’t love them through discipline…

Now of course, no parents can say they have perfect children in any of these areas. We are all descended from Adam; there is no getting around it. But if any of these are characteristic of a household, then that home is failing in its covenantal obligations.

This short book is unlike any other you’ve read on godly manhood. I highly recommend that every man, married or single, purchase a copy and take Wilson’s instruction to heart. Get Federal Husband here. Wilson’s wife also has an excellent companion book on being a wife and mother called The Fruit of Her Hands.