God’s Model for Manhood

About 20 years ago, Weldon Hardenbrook wrote a book called Missing From Action: The Vanishing Manhood in America. It describes four kinds of men prevalent in our culture.

The first is the Macho Maniac, guys like Dirty Harry and Rambo. These guys deny all their feelings, ignore the law, never complain, and never apologize. They take anything they want and bully people in the process.

He calls the second the Great Pretender. This is the Archie Bunker type of guy. He builds up his self worth by constantly belittling everyone else – particularly his wife. He rules over his family with an iron fist even as everyone else ridicules him behind his back. He's frightened by the world, so he keeps everyone at arm's length by his constant caustic talk.

He calls the third model the World Class Wimp, like Dagwood Bumstead. He is so inept that he's constantly outwitted by his children, his wife, and even his dog. Nobody takes him serious. He's a bumbling idiot. His motto is "Blessed are the passive for they shall avoid conflict at all costs."

The fourth wrong model is the Gender Blender. These guys don't even pretend to be masculine.

Pastor, there's a lot of confusion out there about what it means to be a man. These four models are everywhere in our culture – and they're in our churches as well. It's our job to help men understand what the Bible teaches about true manhood. The Bible's view of manhood can be summarized by these five characteristics: compassion, consistency, cooperation, commitment, and courage.

1. Compassion: God is looking for men who put relationships before results and people before profits. He gives us Timothy as an example. Paul says this of Timothy in Philippians 2:20 (NIV): "I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare." Timothy put relationships before results.

This is not natural for me. It's my nature to focus on results, not relationships. Most of the men in our churches are like that. We're results-oriented. Often women tend to be more relationship-oriented than men. As men, we need to work on this. People last; profits don't.

Did you know the average father in your church spends less than two minutes a day with his children in serious conversation? They can't build relationships like that. Our job as pastors is to help the men of our churches build these relationships.

2. Consistency: God is looking for men who aren't afraid to be different from the surrounding culture. That's what I mean by consistency. They put character before conformity; what they do is consistent with what they say.

We had a man at Saddleback who served as vice president of a company. He was being pressured to do things that were clearly unethical. He wouldn't do it and was fired because of his ethical stand. Yet a year later he was back at the company as its president. God rewarded his efforts.

God wants the men of our churches to be like that – men of character. We must constantly check whether our private life is consistent with our public image. If it's not, we better change it. God doesn't want men to live Jekyl and Hyde lives.

3. Cooperation: God is looking for men who put cooperation before competition. Paul was one of the most gifted men in the history of the church. Yet he realized that we accomplish more when we work together. If you really want to make an impact with your life, you need to cooperate with others. You don't become a Lone Ranger.

The men whom God uses work together. That's why it has been so important at Saddleback for us to band men together in small groups. The men of our churches can do more together. Snowflakes are pretty fragile, but if enough of them stick together they can stop traffic. That's true with us. By myself I can't do a lot. By yourself you can't do a lot. But together we can make an impact.

4. Commitment: God is also looking for men who put the cause of Christ before comfort. Honestly, most men do just the opposite. They'll say, "I'll live for the Lord when it's convenient. I'll go to church as long as there's not a good game on today."

But James says, "In the same way, faith by itself – that does nothing – is dead" (James 2:7 NCV). God wants men who are committed to doing his work in the world – not just living for themselves.

5. Courage: God is looking for men who put courage in service before security. He wants men who take risks for God's kingdom. In Philippians 2:29-30 (HCSB) Paul says, "Therefore, welcome him in the Lord with all joy and hold men like him in honor, because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up what was lacking in your ministry to me."

Scripture says we're to honor men like that, those who put service before security. The word in this passage for "risk" is literally a gambling term. It means "hazarding." It's the same word used in a crapshoot, staking everything on the roll of the dice. Paul says that's what this guy did for Christ.

We need to develop that kind of commitment in the men of our churches. God wants men with enough of a commitment to risk their time, their reputation, and their finances. Jesus says in Mark 8:35, "Only those who give their lives away for my sake and the sake of the good news will ever know what it means to really live." We have many bored, frustrated, unfulfilled men in our churches. Why? They've lost the spirit of adventure. They have nothing significant to live for. Pastor, Jesus wants to offer those men something to live for – him. Life is more than just career and recreation. God never meant for us to use all our time and energy just on that.

I've long said that men are the greatest sleeping giant in the church. If you can waken that giant in your congregation and build compassion, consistency, cooperation, commitment, and courage, your community will never be the same.

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Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose-Driven Life and The Purpose-Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for ministers. Copyright 2005 Pastors.com, Inc. Used with permission. All rights reserved.