Growing up as I did in an intensely competitive environment presented opportunities, challenges and questions for me and my friends. For everyone in school, there was extreme competition to get the best grades and to excel in sports. Most of this was driven by parents. Then there was intense effort to get into the best colleges. For most of us, competing well was our insurance policy for getting a good job and for the prestige, recognition and ultimately the power our culture had defined as necessary for males. In my time as a young man growing up, such achievements were associated with manliness, strength, and courage – that ultimately translated into self-worth. I worked at it and was caught up in it. What I didn’t understand was the hollow side of power and achievement.
What Culture has Done
Today, the cultural pendulum has swung the other way to the extreme. Men who behave in any of the ways that could be considered stereotypically male are often viewed as toxic. Furthermore, men who have achieved an unusually high measure of power, success or influence are at risk for being blamed for the misfortunes of less fortunate people. “Power corrupts,” as the old saying goes. So, what are men supposed to do?
For believers, you would think it would be easy. We have the Truth of God’s Word as our handbook for life. Scripture uses powerful illustrations as it shows us the fallen state of all mankind while at the same time painting a clear picture of the character of God and His relentless love for us. Yet despite all the instruction from our Creator, so often we still fail to lead and serve responsibly and with compassion and Christ-likeness. In order to lead and serve responsibly, we need to be fully engaged with what the handbook says.
Not Much has Changed Over Time
Sadly, there are distinct and timeless patterns of the abuse or misuse of power that emerge over and over, and most often among men. They are selfishness and greed, failure to lead and take responsibility, poor self-control, failure to provide and protect, and finally, prideful arrogance. These are all too often the trademarks of power. The most prominent abuses of power are by men in the spotlight of the media or of history. The digital age dramatically accelerates and amplifies this behavior. Financial abuse, sexual abuse, modern slavery, political corruption and street and domestic violence are in the limelight all the time.
The price to individuals, families and society is enormous when men are disengaged from scripture and the pattern it lays out for them. Those who lack Christ-focused role models are lost in this life and lost into eternity. They are least likely to understand the equation of power (worldly manliness) and a path toward hurt and destruction for themselves and others. Their pain and loss will multiply and will manifest as pain and loss in others for generations.
What Must We Do?
Men can make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others, but it must start with us in our own homes and it must start today! We must honestly come to grips with our need to be restored and transformed through Christ. To achieve that requires humility, from humility can come an entirely new perspective on power and strength, and how God would have each of us use what He has given us.
- The humble man understands he is broken and needs the redemptive power of God.
- The humble man recognizes that whatever power and strength he may have believed was his, really comes from his Creator.
- He is confident in his own skin because he knows he is God’s creation.
- His counsel is the Holy Redeemer and not the worldly people around him.
- The humble man understands the power of healthy relationships, choosing to listen and engaging people gently.
- He is courageous enough to stand steadfastly for truth and righteousness.
From humility must come obedience to how the Holy Spirit will direct us in difficult situations. And from that obedience and the direction He provides can come the beginning of restoration and transformation to reconcile with others and to understand who God truly wants us to be. Only then will we be able to shed the pride, arrogance, selfishness, greed or insecurity that can masquerade as power.
What might a new perspective on power look like for men? Perhaps it is as simple as a new level of self-confidence that will neutralize the tendency to be overly sensitive or self-defensive with others? Perhaps it is a conscious decision to not exercise power or authority in a given situation where we have a choice and there exists potentially a better outcome? Might it be a new role as peacemaker or an untried approach to a challenging coworker or family member? Will our renewed understanding of Christ’s power in us be an encouragement for us to put His power to work for Him every day and not for ourselves? When we are certain our own house and family are in order, should we be sharing the Gospel, mentoring and discipling others for His purpose and for His glory, right where we are today? Let’s boldly accept the challenge to do exactly that!
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. (1 Corinthians 6:14)
If you desire to be the man God created you to be, please join us for the Men’s Breakfast! The event will be held on Saturday, September 28 from 8:00 – 10:00am at Friendship Church, Shakopee Campus. The speaker will be the Family Ministry Pastor Nathan Miller. For more information, visit friendshipmn.org/breakfastTopics: Culture, Men, Power