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Topics: Leadership, Manhood, Ministry

The Measure of a Man

January 31, 2013

By Brandon Smith

I recently read David Murrow’s thought-provoking book Why Men Hate Going to Church. Murrow argues that there are three distinctions regarding men in the majority of Western churches:

  1. Men tend to attend less than women.
  2. Men tend to be less committed to the church.
  3. Men who do attend church tend to be passive spectators.

Let’s be clear, this certainly does not describe every Christian man or every church. The church that I serve does not have this problem at all. We are blessed with an overwhelming number of men who are wholly committed members that step out and take risks for Jesus. That said, in my years of experience with local churches, Murrow’s conclusions ring true. What to do?

Common Leadership

All Christian men, pastors and laymen alike, will be called by God to be responsible for praying, providing, and caring for their family (Gen. 2:15-20; Eph. 5:22-33, 6:4; 1 Tim. 5:8; Col. 3:19; 1 Pet. 3:7). Spiritual leadership of the home is a momentous task. But does the responsibility of non-vocational church members stop there?

No, it does not. Men who are not pastors or elders still need to be leaders in the church. They can assume what Bill Peel calls functional leadership in the church rather than official leadership. This is not to say that aspiring to a pastoral office is unimportant. In fact, Paul tells Timothy that seeking formal leadership is a noble task (1 Tim. 3:1). What I am saying, however, is that assuming the role of leader-by-example is nonetheless an extremely important duty both inside the church and beyond. One that the majority of men will be called to undertake.

Our example matters greatly.

What Does This Look Like?

The aforementioned list of passages concerning praying, providing, and caring for family is a great place to start taking initiative. The cultural swing we are witnessing in America today (fatherlessness, abortion, women in combat, sexual promiscuity, etc.) require that men love their families well and give an example to the world around them. Though sin is present and Satan is deceiving our culture daily, men taking responsibility in all areas of life is a powerful way of redeeming the decay of the American family, culture, and church.

Our culture needs to see men being gentle with their wives and children when they are frustrated, protecting their family from danger, openly having eyes for only one woman, forgiving their neighbor after a quarrel, working hard when their boss is unappreciative, holding doors for strangers, tipping well in restaurants, fixing an elderly lady’s fence, and a million other things. Men consistently, on a day-to-day basis, can show Christlike character to others in a world riddled by lies of what manhood, and particularly Christian men, should be.

As men lead in every area of life, they inevitably carry this example into the church both personally and through the legacy left to their sons. When a man comes to visit the church, or a younger man in the youth group is watching, there is an opportunity to see a man, a real man, loving and serving Christ and his church in a real way. And perhaps, just perhaps, that man will carry the torch into a new generation of Christian men.

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