2/19/2015 3:00:00 PM
I am blessed to have three strong women in my immediate family: my mother, Mrs. Ellen Parsley: my wife, Joni; and our daughter, Ashton. All of them are incredibly gifted for ministry, and they enrich my life more than I could ever hope to express in words. I’m a better man and a better minister of the Gospel because of the influence each of them has brought to my life.
But there are things my mother, my wife and my daughter should not be expected to do, or even attempt, because they are not men. Your Bible says that God created us male and female, clearly implying that He intended each gender to fulfill different functions. If we were all intended to be interchangeable, why did He bother to create two radically different types of humans?
That is expressly not to say that a man’s role is less important than a woman’s – far from it! But Christian men in particular should ignore the feminist lie that there is no functional difference between men and women, and intentionally fulfill the role for their families that God intended.
Earlier this week I had the great privilege of speaking to the men at our Columbus campus, and I was struck by how my remarks about godly manhood resonated with men of all ages – from first-semester Valor Christian College
students to retired men in their 70s and 80s. Perhaps that’s because we live in a nation where the government has put the feminist lie into policy – creating incentives for women to bear children who become dependent on government programs and disincentives for the fathers who helped create those children to support and raise them. Our popular culture today tells men that it’s manly to produce children, to abuse those they should protect, to break marital vows through adultery and to replace intimacy with their wives with pornography. What’s unmanly, in the culture’s eyes, is to be responsible for the leadership of a family. Just look at today’s television programs – is there a single one that presents a positive role model of a man taking loving leadership of his household? I’ll spare you the time; no, there isn’t.
I love the quote attributed to the author Walt Whitman, “We convince by our presence.” The comedian and filmmaker Woody Allen expressed something similar with his oft-quoted line “80 percent of success is showing up.” Men, you don’t have to be superpowered or especially bright or insightful or wise to make a real difference in the lives of the people you influence. Just be there
. Come to recitals, games, practices. Spend time with your wives and children when you are at home, rather than retreating to your den or your favorite chair in front of the flat-screen television. And – you knew this was coming, didn’t you? – take your family to church. Let them see you reading the Bible, praying, discipling your loved ones. If you’re there for your family, I believe that goes a long way toward making up for any imperfections in what happens when you are there.
I’m a man who spends a lot of time traveling – up to 150 nights a year. But when Ashton was in high school, playing volleyball, cheerleading at basketball games and playing softball, I prioritized being there to see her. And I missed one game of hers in four years, and that occurred due to circumstances beyond my control. I know you’re busy, men, but you can do something similar for your wife and children. It just takes the commitment to do so.
I also enjoy sports and the outdoors, but that doesn’t make me more “manly” than someone who prefers music and the visual arts and doesn’t know, or care, how to fix a car or build a shed. To my mind, what makes a man isn’t a set of pastimes (which are often used as escapes from one’s responsibilities), but the willingness to subordinate his own desires for a greater cause, such as God, family or nation.
Any male can sacrifice others for his own pleasure and self-esteem. It takes a godly man to be able to love others enough to sacrifice his own desires for their welfare.
I was blessed to have a wonderful father in my life, a man whose counsel and support I relied upon until his promotion to heaven last year. I know that some men who are reading this weren’t as fortunate. And at the risk of sounding harsh, if that’s true of you please stop waiting on an older, wiser man to swoop down upon you and impart the secrets of life to you! That may happen, but while you’re waiting for it to happen you’ll miss opportunities to fulfill the role of a godly man in the lives of others right now! And while you may not fulfill that role perfectly because of a lack of preparation, what Walt Whitman and Woody Allen have suggested will prove true for you – you’ll be far ahead of the game just by being there for the people you love.
My brother, do you want to be a real man? Decide to love something or someone more than you love yourself – I’d suggest the people you live with who already depend on you, or would like to be able to depend on you. Then make those things or those people the aim of your sacrifice.
- February 19, 2015