What keeps us from being “better men”?
That question has to be asked! Why are men not “better” than we are are at being leaders, husbands, fathers and friends?
The Bible contains an incredible challenge to men. The challenge is an example – Jesus Christ. The Perfect One. Amazingly, we are called to be like him. It was Paul who said, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” Simple, but simply impossible, too.
We need help. In the “Better Man” blog series, we’ll be looking at the immeasurable and sufficient Help we have in Christ. The Apostle said this:
“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14
In this, we find reasons we’re NOT better men:
1) We are not alert to the wars around us. In case you didn’t notice, you’re in war. The battle for your mind, your words, your character, your actions, your time, focus and energy is a real war. It’s fought on the battlefield of work, church, community, and home – and most of us are unaware just how far from Christ we are in this battle. Be alert!
2) We lose consistency in our time with God and become detached. That line that says, “stand firm in the faith?” That’s about being consistent with your time in prayer, in the Word, and in spiritual disciplines. Like a soldier who never trains, we’re poor soldiers in the spiritual battle without spiritual discipline. If I’m not training, I’m setting my self up to fail as a man.
3) We don’t grow from immaturity to maturity and act like men. It’s pretty common to hear today that some men are still just boys. The “act like men” phrase has to do with your actions. Where do you spend your time, energy and passion? Is it manly? Or more like a boy? Don’t get me wrong – we should have fun, but fun with perspective. Act like men! Focus on what counts!
4) We’re too weak to resist temptation and sin. The “be strong” phrase is convicting! The idea is to be progressing from weakness to strength – again, like a soldier or an athlete, so that when temptation comes, we don’t give in.
5) Instead of acting in love, our actions are often selfish. “Let all that you do be done in love” is a huge admonition. Would your wife say you do that well? Your children? Those around you? When I’m not acting in love, the culprit is always SELF. That’s why I have to die to self daily – and so do you.
The good news? The “better man” you need to be is Christ. He’s Present. He’s Powerful. He’s indwelling every true believer. He’s available.
Ultimately, the way to be “better” is not by trying harder, or learning any “growth secrets” in life. We’re better when set aside our old self, and put on the new man that Christ Jesus provides in His power. Through salvation and the daily walk of faith and obedience, we become more and more like that Perfect Man.
Men are confused. In our culture, it’s self-inflicted wound. But even deeper, it’s a sin-inflicted wound. Adam was confused about his role, too.
Because men are confused, we often try to find ‘our own way’ to express manhood. It usually comes out pretty weird. Or worse, damaging to everyone around us. There’s a better way.
When I was 19 years old, a verse of Scripture was ingrained into my mind that has remained there since that time. It stands out today as a reminder that we can know what men are to be like, and we can act like men.
“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Cor. 16:13-14
As a young man, I wondered what this verse meant and how it would help me move toward mature manhood. Today, after being in that journey for a while, I want other men to know these truths. These words of the Apostle Paul make me want to be a better man. The example of Christ leads me to say to Him, “You make me want to be a better man. But I need Your help.”
Ed Stetzer has a great take on the phrase “act like men.” “Despite accepted cultural norms, acting like men doesn’t mean being macho, arrogant, overbearing, rude, or harsh. That’s immaturity and sin. Men are to love and serve through controlled strength. The power of godly men is wrought through the redemptive work of Christ in our hearts and lives. To be a man in our world– a biblical man– will look different than much of what passes for manhood in the world and even in contemporary Christian cultural expressions.”
If you’re in the DFW area, you can join us in the teaching series, “Challenges of Biblical Manhood” that we’ll be doing each Tuesday morning at 6:30 am and Wednesday evening at 6:30 pm at First Euless (beginning September 9).
If you’re not nearby, be sure to catch and share my “Better Man” blog series. Desire to be a better man.
My story is recurring, like a dream that never ends.
I often find myself in crowded places, like airports, sporting events, and on the extremely rare occasion – a mall. I drive on crowded highways next to people who are rushing in the same general physical direction I’m headed.
Problem is…most are headed in a very different direction spiritually. Most are lost, and I can’t tell them about life. I can’t stop the car next to me to share Christ on the side of the highway. I can’t interrupt people rushing toward their gate in the airport. I can’t stand on a stool in the mall and preach to crowds that run quickly the other way when someone actually does that. (I once experienced a subway ride in NYC, where a smelly man in a trench coat pulled out his Bible and started preaching loudly as the car emptied. That didn’t work out well.)
In my recurring story, the answer to the dilemma of how to share with the world who is unaware of a loving, saving Christ comes to me every time. For years, I had no answer to my burden. I just shared with those who’d let me share. But now I know the answer. In fact, this answer burns within me.
The answer is under our noses. It’s obvious if we’ll stop to look. It’s recorded in the Bible. It’s DOABLE.
The answer is: Train every person in our churches to share the Gospel confidently. Not just a few. Not just leaders. Everyone.
My story has a better ending today. That car next to me in a rush hour traffic jam? That guy will one day have a neighbor who is trained to share the Gospel, and who loves him enough to do it. Those people rushing to their gates in the airport? One day some co-worker or friend who has been equipped to share will lovingly tell them about Christ. The mall? Even they can have someone in their lives who has been equipped and challenged to share their faith.
“Can We Talk?” is not just about you. It’s not about church growth. It’s about the world – and our central mission in this world.
Want to know more? Go to www.firsteuless.com/canwetalk or click on the Resource button of this website.
“The greatest form of praise is the sound of consecrated feet seeking out the lost and helpless.”–Billy Graham
This is an incredible truth. Our praise to God intensifies when we bring others to Him! I love the phrase, “raving fans.” When we are raving fans of the Gospel, what does it compel us to do? We want others to know what WE know about Christ. And to do that well, we must be equipped to do it.
Tony Merida had a great tweet today: “A theology that doesn’t reflect a heartfelt compassion for unbelievers & a deep desire for their salvation is unbiblical. (Rom 9:1-3; 10:1)”
What’s your theology? Do you believe God is concerned about those who’ve never heard the Gospel before, and do you believe God wants us to tell them? That’s my heartfelt and deepest conviction.
All that – for this. Our church will be a church that takes the Gospel to those who haven’t heard…we call this focus,“Can We Talk?”
In 9 days we begin – but we need God’s army to rise up and say, “I believe that. I’ll be part of that team! Here am I; send me!”
I cannot wait to see what God has in store for our church and our community in these coming days – and a big part of it all is our witness. Are you ready to go? Whether you want to register as a trainer – or as one being trained – I encourage you to get online today and let us know.
The details are all there. Join us, and let us know you will!
It’s been a long-asked question that I haven’t always had a ready answer for. I’m going to try today. It’s the question that your people sometimes ask when they say, “How can we pray for you, pastor?”
I love that people believe in prayer, and that they pray for me. More than love, I’m grateful. Even eternally grateful!
However, I’m not sure I’ve always been helpful in answering that question. The Apostle Paul, on the other hand, had a good answer to it. I first read about this take on praying for your pastor in “Sparkling Gems of the New Testament Greek.” It’s an excellent article. Here’s my adaptation:
It’s said that prayer is the best thing you can do for a man. And that praying for someone increases your love for them. I believe it. Do it for both reasons.
“..strive together with me in your prayers for me…” (Rom. 15:30) To strive is to “do battle.” It means to wrestle or agonize together against the enemy. The same way we wrestle over sin or temptation, we’re to battle for our pastors and spiritual leaders against all that would hold them back. We are so much more powerful together. And the spiritual war, as you know, is intense.
“that I may be rescued from those who are disobedient…” (Romans 15:31) Persecution and pressure are real. My pastor friends in India know the importance of this prayer more than I do. Their bodies bear the scars of violent encounters. But we all need this kind of praying on our behalf, no matter where we serve. Pray for boldness and freedom from fear from unbelievers, from government, from those who are enemies of the cross.
“…and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints…” (Romans 15:31b) Every spiritual leader wants to bless, build up and equip the saints. That’s no easy task. It requires supernatural power and anointing. Pray for power, for ability, for authenticity and receptivity.
“…so that I may come to you in joy by the will of God and find refreshing rest in your company.” (Romans 15:32) Sometimes spiritual leaders lose their joy. Joy is lost from personal disappointment, from weariness, from opposition – from sometimes standing alone. Some face broken relationships, abandonment, fractured churches, and the list goes on.
I’ve been blessed in so many ways, but I can tell you of many pastor friends who’ve fought off bitterness, disillusionment and some who have given up hope. They lost their joy. Praying for your spiritual leader or pastor to be able to have and retain the joy of serving Christ is huge.
The last part of that line is the “by the will of God…” portion. Every pastor knows he must be in the middle of the will of God for the Lord to maximize his life. I want that. I want to be so in the middle, that there is no chance of me slipping even the slightest degree out of alignment. Pray that for us as leaders.
There’s more. But this is a start. Begin here, and God may well open the window of your heart and mind to know more specifically how to lift up your pastor!
And…we’re grateful for every prayer, every moment spent asking God to do these things in our lives.
“Many churches try to be attractional – some do it well, most don’t – but the Gospel is not attractional – it’s conversational. Always has been.”
That’s what I tweeted. Here’s why: I’ve noticed that as a church, we could have a huge marketing budget, the pristine location or the “cool” factor going to reach lots of people – but sometimes have very low outreach into neighborhoods and communities to target the people who are actually unsaved. Lots of transfer growth. Little sowing in the fields with seeds of the Gospel. Statistics in American churches will back me up here. We’re barely baptizing our own children in America.
You know what’s wrong with this, right? You know if you have tons of people in your church, you have a huge responsibility to the Lord to help send them to their neighborhoods, schools and communities equipped to share the Gospel. Some are – and I commend them. But if they are not – if they are satisfied with transfer growth – that’s bad stewardship and even disobedience. It doesn’t look anything like the Great Commission or the insistence from Jesus that we go to the fields.
And then there are those churches who try to be LIKE those attractional models, but really can’t compete. They aren’t sowing many seeds either, just moving about busily trying to be like the big guys.
So, what should we be doing? We should be doing what most churches don’t do. We should have leaders who equip their people to share the Gospel in a way that initiates Gospel-centered conversations in their home, their schools and their neighborhoods. ..Simple, authentic conversations where a person can be led to trust Christ.
If you’re a pastor, let me ask you, “What’s your plan? What are you doing to help this happen?” If you don’t have a plan, use ours, but get a plan!
It’s an amazing thing to have a great dad like I have! I’m painfully aware, however, that all don’t have this. But here’s what one looks like:
*He’s THERE. My dad made sure he was at all my important events as a kid. Ball games, the lake, CHURCH, in the hospital when I broke stuff, and watching me work at the jobs HE came up with. BE THIS!
*He’s a RESCUER. I could count on dad to be there when I was in trouble – and I was! He “delivered me from evil” more than a few times. He set me straight A LOT, with patience, not anger. BE THIS!
*He’s an EXAMPLE. My mom and dad carried on in front of me. It was PG, but it was there. I know how to love a woman because he showed me. He was an example in a ton of things, but this comes to mind. He said, “I love you” a lot to his family. BE THIS!
*He’s REAL. I saw my dad cry more than once – for all the right reasons. Spiritual reasons. Disappointment and pain-type reasons. BE THIS!
*He’s DURABLE. I watched him get hit hard in life by some things in ministry, family and personally. He got back up. Every. Single. Time. BE THIS!
*He’s a true FOLLOWER of Christ. Lasting image – my dad on the porch in the mornings with coffee and a Bible in hand. I do that now. BE THIS!
*He’s FOR YOU. Dad always had dreams for me. He wasn’t living through me, so he adjusted often, but he did dream greatness for me – in football (which I eventually left for basketball), in life, in school, in marriage and now in ministry. You need someone to dream with you – to believe in you. He did that. BE THIS!
THERE’S MORE. But if you begin here, you’ll figure out the rest. Get after it, dad.
When I was 14, my father enlisted me to work with a peanut farmer, hoeing peanuts in a hot Oklahoma summer. There were a dozen or so of us working in those fields, with a huge and intimidating foreman keeping us at it. I had never hoed peanuts. I’d never worked in any fields. I had no idea what to do.
I thought maybe that big foreman might show me what to do. So, when I arrived, I asked him, “How do you do this?”
He just looked at me without expression for moment, pointed to the big pile of wooden-handled hoes next to him, then to the field behind us, and said, “Grab a hoe, pick a row. It’s that simple.”
And I did. For weeks. It was the hottest and sometimes the least enjoyable work I’ve ever done. You have stay at it to get those weeds out of there so the peanut crops can grow.
Today, I’m a pastor. When someone asks me how we reach people who’ve never heard the Gospel, I like to use that old line. “Grab a hoe, pick a row – it’s that simple.”
“Grab a hoe.” By that, I mean find the best possible method to share the Gospel that you can find. Teach your people how to do it. Equip them.
“Pick a row.” Where do you send them? What’s the greatest need in your community where they can begin to share? Pick that spot, then go!
“It’s that simple.” Actually, sharing the Gospel is not complicated. It’s just hard work. It takes us out of our comfort zone. But it’s SO IMPORTANT.
If every Christ-follower, and if every church leader would just decide to be a Gospel-sharing follower, we can see the tide turn in our nation toward the God of the Gospel. But we must get into the fields.
Things NEED change. In the kingdom. In the churches.
Otherwise, we keep getting what we’ve BEEN getting.
But the kingdom won’t change until churches do. And churches won’t change until leaders do. That’s why God is in the business of changing, challenging, growing, squeezing, breaking and re-making leaders. Every great move of God is preceded by a leader’s personal transformation.
What does it take to change things?
God is in the business of building leaders. Is he calling you?
Thoughts from John Meador and insights from God's Word.