Craig Groeschel, founding pastor of megachurch, LifeChurch.tv, and co-creator of the popular YouVersion Bible App, writes about the need for men to "man up" and embrace their roles as leaders in his new book Fight: Winning the Battles That Matter Most, while explaining how every man is equipped with the strength and tools to overcome life's battles.
Groeschel uses the Biblical story of Samson throughout Fight as an example to convey what he says are three elements today's man deals with often: pride, lust, and entitlement. He also emphasizes that these are the downfalls that hinder a man from fulfilling his purpose as a true warrior while focusing on the positive power of fighting a righteous battle.
An edited transcript of Craig Groeschel's interview with The Christian Post is below:
CP: The premise of your book is about being a warrior and knowing when and how to fight as a man. In short, why is it important for men to take on a warrior spirit?
Groeschel: Unfortunately, too many men now are becoming passive and giving up and giving in too soon on things that really matter most. In our church today, we see men who don't put up a fight for their marriage and simply walk away, they aren't fighting for their children or to be free from addiction and I believe God has created us with a heart of a warrior to fight and win these battles. When we take a passive stance in spirit, then we can't do what we were created to do. It's my hope that God will use this book to inspire men to man up and get in the game and stand up for the things that matter most.
CP: What are some of the weapons that God has equipped men with to become warriors?
Groeschel: There are spiritual weapons that we have. God's word is in fact called a sword, we could also pray and as men that's sometimes harder to do for whatever reason but we can learn to fight on our knees in prayer, that's the strongest place we can fight. Sometimes, the strongest thing you can do and the best weapon you can have is to show unconditional love to someone and to apologize and ask for forgiveness when we've wronged someone, that's a weapon and I'm hoping men will embrace that.
CP: You write that the three most critical areas of a man's life are his marriage, children and the state of his own heart. Is it possible for a man to have all these in check and in balance simultaneously?
Groeschel: It's always a challenge for us to stay on the right track, there's temptation all around, all the time. But yes, I absolutely believe that if we're putting God first then these things can be in balance. Most men would be shocked at the greatness that's in them and if they're serving God, they're capable of doing much more for His glory than they can imagine.
CP: Throughout the book, you refer to Samson in the Bible, and you say that most men are like him because God has given them special strengths to advance His kingdom. How are men nowadays similar to him?
Groeschel: The three things that I see most men deal with that Samson fell into again and again are the problems of lust, entitlement and pride. Samson battled with the spirit of lust, the 'I want it' and entitlement, the 'I deserve it' and pride which is the 'I can handle it.'
I don't know any men that are really honest that would say being distracted from God with a lustful heart has led them to temptation multiple times in their lives. The spirit of entitlement makes it really easy to justify certain behaviors and sin because we say, 'I've worked really hard and I deserve a break here, it's just one little thing, it's not a big deal' and we can rationalize sin very easily that way. Pride is probably the biggest problem of all because it keeps us in all the other ones, we just have a hard time opening up because we don't like to show weakness.
In the book, I talk about you are only as strong as you are honest and that's a line that resonates with a lot of men because oftentimes, we're not honest about our weaknesses.
CP: Lust is a real and potential danger to men but you say that lust isn't all sexual. Is this an issue that men can battle to overcome?
Groeschel: We can lust for material things, we can lust for power or wealth and I think as men we are very capable of all those things. We could talk about all that as one category or as sexual lust as a separate category. Can a man completely overcome those desires? I think as long as we're in a human body, we're going to be vulnerable to temptation and weakness. At the same time, there is a state of purity in Christ that most men don't believe is possible. That doesn't mean that you won't ever have a weak moment or be distracted but I do think your mind can be renewed from the memories, images or some desires and there can be a state of purity that is much better than most men think is possible. You can be a man of God and the same way you can overcome other sins and temptations, I believe His power can help you overcome this one.
CP: Why is it that some of today's men have taken a passive approach to their responsibilities as leaders and what can the church do to help rise a generation of men who are warriors and active leaders in all aspects of their lives?
Groeschel: To start, we have to encourage men to be leaders in the church because in most churches, the women are far more involved than men. We need to create roles and inspire men to lead and I believe that will overflow in to becoming leaders in the home.
Moms tend to do the grunt of investing in their children and we have to be involved in the lives of our children and our sons. I think we have a hard time doing this on our own because we have to intentionally build friendships with other men because I believe in a collective community of warriors rising the next generation.
CP: Why do most men take failure personally? How does this affect his will to fight?
Groeschel: As men, we tend to find value in accomplishments. Identity is often wrapped up in what we've done, what we're doing and how much we have and when a man fails at something, we tend to internalize it deeply and we think, 'I'm worthless, I have no hope,' but I'm trying to help men see that failure is an event, not a person.
CP: There's a passage in your book directed towards women, who might be inclined to read the book as well, where you say, "The man you want isn't the guy who wins tough-guy fights but the man who knows his weakness and fights in God's strength. He won't be perfect. But God will be perfecting him." What do you mean by that?
Groeschel: Sometimes women, unintentionally, in trying to help their men, can actually discourage them. When I first got married to Amy, I would try to do something and I wouldn't do it in the way she wanted me to do it and so she would say, 'you're such a man,' at first I thought it was a compliment but then I realized she wasn't happy with me. Finally, she came to a point where she said she realized she was trying to get me to do something that I wasn't created to do and we had a meaningful conversation in which she said, 'I embrace you as the man God created you to be' and she started believing in me, seeing the things I could do and that gave me strength and confidence. Now, if I'm having a hard time outside the home, if I know that my wife, who knows me best, believes in me most, it gives me a strength to fight, fight, fight.
CP: Speaking of women, what can wives do to ensure their husband reaches his full potential in Christ?
Groeschel: One surprise about the book is that women are also reading it and they feel encouraged to get behind their men and believe in them and build them. That's how they can have the person they've always wanted, it's not going to come by telling him who they are not, it's going to come by telling him who God created him to be.
Groeschel has also derived a reading plan from his new book for the Bible App devotional section.