- Wed Nov 15, 2017
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Holiday cheer can be hard to muster when there’s chaos in the air; with more tasks and less time, ‘tis the season that puts a squeeze on our emotions, priorities and finances. Some men paint on a grin and roll through the routine with low expectations. Others face demons from the past, broken families, pressures and circumstances that bring up pain. For many, it’s not survival of the fittest; it’s just a matter of survival.
Holidays can be so much more. Allow me to tweak your perspective this year, starting with T-Day.
Typically, we go into Thanksgiving with hunger in mind, an appetite for turkey, stuffing, all the fix-ins and a football game, all in the name of gratefulness -- just like the pilgrims celebrated the harvest, right?
I have heard the expression “He carried the mantle of leadership well” my whole life. Privately, I always wondered, “What is a mantle exactly?” Is it a masculine baton you receive, carry, and then hand off? Who gives this to a man? Or, is it a male candle? My wife says it’s that shelf over the fireplace. A herd of praying mantises maybe? A mantle. Lacking the true scoop, it’s not surprising to discover my idea of a mantle was both off and somewhat on. A mantle, I discovered, is nothing more than something that covers or surrounds something else. The fuzz covering the horns of a male deer, for example, is called it’s “mantle” because it completely encapsulates the actual horn until it wears off. Key words: covers and surrounds. To be sure, a deer was not the first image of leadership that popped into my head but the idea driving it in my man-brain was spot on. So let’s complete this round trip: men carrying a mantle of leadership.
- Tue Sep 26, 2017
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Whether God’s man likes it or not, we live in “glass houses,” meaning people are watching our behavior to see if we live consistent with our words, beliefs and reputations. A little Google search will lead you to find several “Christian” men giving our faith a bad name because they were involved in scandals and doing mental and theological gymnastics to justify what they were doing with the Bible. Evil loves that kind of self deception and encourages it.
Just like in war where you learn from the classic strategic blunders in history so your side doesn’t repeat them, I think there’s a lesson here for God’s man. It’s this: God’s plan to have Jesus sacrificed on the cross for our sin and rise again sets you and me “free” from sin. But just like a prisoner who has his sentence commuted must learn to live as a free man and not return to his old life so must God’s man. We too have to learn how to live in our spiritual freedom.
If a prisoner has not been ‘rehabilitated’ (or know how to live like a free man), then he will be tempted to make bad decisions, reunite with old friends, re-engage in old habits, and ultimately cause even more damage to himself and loved ones. He may, in fact, prefer to end up back to jail, where there’s safety in the boundaries, parameters and limited freedom.
Most pastors dream of having a strong and vibrant men’s community that is driving the mission and vision of their local churches. This dream rarely becomes a reality because there is no compelling vision for men that is articulated, visible and connected to a meaningful process in the church context.
The idea that a man should just show up and give his best energy and expression just because the church asks is presumptuous and deflating to a man. Without a clear vision that makes sense to him, we orphan our best potential leaders to the culture where there is a clear, albeit unhealthy, vision ready and waiting for him. Then we wonder why most of our best men choose to remain affiliated versus activated in the local church.
It is because we haven’t painted the target! No end game. No goals. No pathway. No larger meaning.
Summertime means fun time.
For kids, school’s out, free time is in.
For families, special memories, trips and other adventures will be made.
For men, the juggling act continues keeping the balls at work in the air, while mixing in some time away from the office for some time with the family.
For Satan, summer breaks provide ample opportunity to ramp up temptation, distraction, flirtation, and ultimately destruction.
For many churches, regular meetings press the pause button and men’s groups take a summer break…Wait…