A man is a portrait of what has been invested in him, said Crawford Loritts, pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Ga., said at Desiring God ministry's annual conference today.
The theme of the conference, held at the Minneapolis Conference Center, was "God, Manhood & Ministry – Building Men for the Body of Christ." Prominent evangelical pastor John Piper is hosting the event, and speakers are exploring the role of manhood in ministry and culture.
Loritts preached in Minneapolis shortly after participating in The Elephant Room conference last week. At this conference though, he spoke about something much more personal: his own father.
"A man only knows he's a man when a significant role model or his father tells him so," he told those in both the live and online audiences. "Manhood is imprinted."
He told fellow pastors that in order to imprint their own sons they have to "get up close and personal with [their] boys, they have to smell your cologne. They have to hear your heartbeat. Often you have to stay in their faces."
He used an example from his own childhood of how his father left an impression on him. When he was 12 years old, his father asked him to help with a painting job. Loritts said he tried to get out of it by asking his mother to let him go out and play instead.
When his father found out he told Loritt's mother, "That boy one day is going to have to be somebody's father, somebody's husband, and that boy is going to learn today that he has to do the things he doesn't feel like doing, but has to do. Son, you take your hindparts upstairs and paint till I tell you to stop."
When his father said this, Loritts said it was a defining moment in his life. "He was pulling me out of impulse behavior. He was calling me up to a vision, he knew it was time for me to make a transition," he said.
Loritts spoke about four major themes of transition in a man's life: childhood, adolescence, manhood, and patriarch. He expressed concern that in today's culture there is a dissolving of patriarchs.
Being a patriarch involves living for a time you can't see. Loritts told pastors, "I think the immediacy of our thinking and the disproportionate passion for relevance is going to inject embalming fluid into the character and integrity of the next generation."
Because living for the future isn't a priority anymore, Loritts said he thinks "we are witnessing the wholesale feminization of men," and that some of the theological approaches among evangelicals toward men is handicapping the next generation "by teaching them they can't live beyond their felt needs."
The important thing is to not think in terms of the immediate payoff, but rather to focus on priorities that never change. "Out of integrity comes your inheritance," he told the audience. Long term struggles form strength, and out of that strength comes discipline, which Loritts said is tied in to the idea of manhood.
"Being a man and being a father allows the spirit of God to govern you," he told those listening. The spiritual life is "not a string of insights and formulas, it's the power of God that guides us."
The conference kicked off Monday with a message from Pastor Doug Wilson of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho. John Piper, Darren Patrick, and Ramez Atallah are also speaking throughout the three-day event. All the talks can be seen via a live webcast at www.desiringgod.org.