In last week’s post, I wrote about the first two principles of Christian manhood as developed by Robert Lewis; there are two more. Here are the four principles:
- A real Christian man rejects passivity
- A real Christian man accepts responsibility
- A real Christian man leads courageously
- A real Christian man expects the greater reward
It has always taken courage to be a leader, and that has probably never been truer than it is today. At the heart of leading is something contrary to the way most Americans think, and that is servant leadership. The Lord Jesus Christ modeled servanthood for us, and that is how we are to lead. My wife says that any Christian wife is happy to be led by a husband who leads as a servant. Obvious examples include a husband who helps around the house and who spends time with the kids. I think another aspect of leading courageously is thinking outside the box. Here are some examples of courageous servant leadership. Some are from my own life, and some are from the lives of other men.
- A man has a job offer that would mean a substantial salary raise, but it would also require moving his family to a place where they know nobody. After consulting with his wife and kids, he decides to reject the offer because no one wants to move and because he realizes that the only reason to have considered it anyway is more money.
- Christmas is approaching, and a man and his wife know a struggling single mom with three kids. As the couple are talking with the single mom, the man glances questioningly at his wife, and she nods her head. The man tells the single mom that he and his wife would like to buy Christmas presents for her and her kids. She breaks down in grateful tears.
- A man and his wife have the desire to introduce their kids to another specific culture, so he decides to use his connections to get a summer contract working in that country even though it will be a money-losing proposition because of transportation costs. He and his family spend the summer there, and the kids are so enraptured that the family does the same thing three years later.
- A man’s wife cheats on him, and they get divorced. The man gets custody of their two kids, and a few years later he starts seeing someone. After receiving counsel from other men, he decides not to pursue a possible second marriage until his kids are grown.
The fourth principle of Christian manhood, expecting the greater reward, is the one that I initially had trouble wrapping my mind around. Then I realized that it has to do with motivation for the other three. In other words, as a Christian man, the fundamental reason that I strive to reject passivity, accept responsibility, and lead courageously is that I expect the greater reward, which is God’s reward. I want His approval more than anyone’s. I remember a time when my wife had arranged for herself, our kids, and another mom and her kids to take a day trip, and I just didn’t feel like going. Thus, my initial answer was “No,” and my wife was OK with it. However, I sensed that the Holy Spirit was not OK with it, so I decided to go. Sometime during the course of the day trip (which I enjoyed!), I felt God’s smile; in other words, I had decided to do what He wanted, and I got the reward.
In his book Raising a Modern-Day Knight, Robert Lewis writes about the power of ceremony. Right after my son graduated from high school, a friend of mine and I decided to hold a manhood ceremony for my son and his, who had also just graduated from high school. We invited some close friends, and all of us older men welcomed these two young men into the circle of manhood. Each of us said something about manhood that we had prepared ahead of time, and each “new man” received a certificate of manhood. This ceremony was at least as meaningful to us older men as it was to the two young men.
When my son was in high school (this was before the manhood ceremony), there was an incident that in our family lore is known as “the stove trays whodunit.” My wife noticed that the stove trays had been washed, and she asked me if I had done it; nope. Then she asked my daughter; nope. Our son was not home at that moment, but it was obvious he was the “culprit.” My wife said, “The men in this family are awesome!” Later I told my son about what she had said, and he smiled from ear to ear.
I don’t tell these stories to boast; my family can tell you that I am far from being a perfect man! The same is true of my son. However, if a man lives by these principles of manhood, he will receive great blessings, both in this life and the next.