"The Bible instructs us to ""act like men"". But what does that mean? In a culture where men are portrayed as either macho buffoons or passive pushovers, how is a Christian man supposed to act? Todd discusses this question, and explains what it means to be a confident Christian man."
The Real Men's Club - Vol. 1, Week 5
The Real Men's Club - Vol. 1, Week 4
The Real Men's Club - Vol. 1, Week 3
The Real Men's Club - Vol. 1, Week 2
The Real Men's Club - Vol. 1, Week 1
We're really glad y'all are with us this morning and are grateful you have entrusted us with the first hour of your day. Hopefully you have a good meal in your belly. We're going to take a look at what the truth about men is, and the things that influence us and that create confusion and problems in our lives, that pull us back from being the men we want to be.
Here's the deal. Men have a lot of criticism that's been directed at them. That criticism that has been directed at them has brought about confusion. There are a lot of things that have brought about that specific confusion. I want to kind of frame this for you. We are commanded, we are told, it is our Creator's desire that we act like men, but when you ask a group of guys what it means to act like a man, individuals cannot answer that question anymore with the same confidence they used to be able to answer it. They're not really sure.
There are a lot of stereotypes that are out there. One of them is the macho idea, and another is this weak, emasculated guy who doesn't want to step on anybody's toes or be an abusive leader. They're kind of passive because they want to make sure they don't do anything that's going to rile up society, make somebody too upset, or offend their wives.
Guys are struggling to try and figure out…What is it I'm supposed to be? If, in fact, I am implored to act like a man, who am I? What does that mean? I want to read you an email we received. We've been interacting with some guys, and this is typical. I want to let you know this. This isn't theory we're dealing with. I'll pick up right here. This is what this gentleman says to us in this email very recently.
"I count you as a good friend, and we spent a significant amount of time together. I want to share with you what is going on." Because this guy just disappeared. He said, "During this time you've seen much change in my life. You've also seen inconsistency in my life. While I made efforts and strides in areas, I've come to realize I have failed in many areas in my life." He writes, "Over the past several years and much self-evaluation, I feel very empty and unsuccessful, for lack of a better word."
I want to share with you. This is a guy who was involved with us in a key way. Last time we gathered, at the beginning of this calendar year, he was one of the gentlemen who would have greeted you when you walked in. He goes on to say, "Call it a mid-life crisis or whatever, but the realization is that I could easily spend life alone with no one to care for, no one to care for me, not only in a relationship but financially. All this rolled into one has basically paralyzed me from handling responsibilities.
While I am confident that I have much to offer a spouse and an employer, I see opportunities go by, and I'm not on board. I guess you could say I'm afraid the last ship is sailing out of the harbor, and I am not going to get it. I am trying my darndest to grasp and cling onto the hope I have and climb out of this hole." He goes on to say, "I don't know really where to go or how to do it. Would you help me?"
Here's a guy who is struggling with what it means to be a man, especially, "A guy in my life stage, where I'm at, higher into my 30s, moving into my 40s. I don't look like I think I should look. I think to act like a man means you get a woman. I think to act like a man means you have kids, to act like a man means you have house, you have a job. In this city, it means you've accomplished a certain level of success."
There are two basic confusion extremes that are out there among guys. One, as I said already, is kind of the emasculated man. A passive man. A weak man. A guy who doesn't want to be a bad boy. Then there's the other extreme. The guy who want to impress others, show his strength, and show his ability to control the world, maybe through possessions, maybe through appearance, maybe through financial success.
One guy doesn't want to be a bad boy. The other wants to convince the world he's a badass, basically. Guys tend to swing back and forth between these two extremes, wondering which one it is to really be a man: Somebody who doesn't offend folks, or somebody who all he does is kind of strut around trying to impress people with his strength and with his possessions.
My dad is in town this weekend, and so he's here with me this morning. For 20 years my dad was an official in the NFL, and because of that he was asked to speak at a lot of different places at times. I can remember I went with him one time to hear him share. I think it was at a local Kiwanis Club talking to a group of men. He used this illustration, and as I was lying in bed last night thinking about getting started, it reminded me of one of the two misunderstandings of what it means to be a man. The story went like this:
There were these three bulls that were hanging out that live on this one particular ranch. They heard the farmer talking about his dissatisfaction with the production that was coming from the cattle, basically the yield that was coming there. He said he was going to bring in another bull, a champion bull, a blue-ribbon bull. These three bulls start talking. "I don't know who that guy thinks he is or who this bull thinks he is that we're moving in here, but the grass is not as plentiful as it used to be. If he thinks he's getting some of my grass, he's got another think coming to him."
The other bull says, "You know what? There's not a ton of stall space around here when we get driven inside, so if he thinks he's going to share some of my stall space, he's got another think coming to him." The third guy goes, "Well, hey. Grass. Stall space. There are only so many heifers. If he thinks he's getting some of the heifers that have been my responsibility, he's got another think coming to him."
About two or three weeks passed and, all of a sudden, this semi pulls up. It's kind of shaking when it stops. The back gate goes flying open, and there is the biggest bull they have ever seen. Even as three bulls, they go, "Oh my gosh, he fills up the entire back of the semi. We came in the back of a pickup on a trailer. This brother has 18 wheels!" Snot is coming out of his nose. He walks off the trailer, shakes. He gets on the ground, and those three bulls are out there to greet him.
They're standing there together, and the one bull says, "You know what? It has rained a lot these last three weeks. Grass is starting to come in. It's probably enough for that guy to graze right there alongside of me." The second guy gets out there, and he says, "You know what? Because there hadn't been a lot of grass before that, I don't know about you guys, but I feel like I've lost some weight. I don't need as much stall space as I used to use. He's welcome to come on in."
The third guy walks straight out there, gets about 50 yards in front of him. He lowers his head, starts scratching the dirt, snorting, and doing everything he can. His two buddies go, "Are you crazy? That brother is going to kill you. Would you get back here? You can't fight him." The guy kind of leans back and goes, "Fight him? I just want to make sure he knows I'm a bull." I don't blame him. So many of us, we're kind of like that.
We go, "I just want to make sure the world knows I'm a bull. I don't know what to do, really, but I have to make sure the world knows that's what I am." What I want to talk about today are some of the reasons we are in a state of confusion. I'm going to give you a little bit of historical background. Not long. I'm going to walk you through the solution to the problem that has been created by the world we live in today.
Over the next five weeks, we're going to give you these solutions in full. We'll knock them off one at a time. It takes a courageous man to face them in order to allow us to achieve once again all the Lord wants us to achieve and become the man our Creator wanted us to be. Here we go. The problem is men really don't know what it means to act like a man. That doesn't mean all of you. It just means generally in our society. There are a number of reasons for this.
1 . Our society. Some of it has to do with our society. Let me explain that. When you think about what's out there and what makes a guy feel like a guy, or what Wall Street suggests if you're a guy you will be, you'll see it like it's the truth about men: We ain't wrong. We ain't sorry, and we're probably going to do it again. We'd rather work on cars and pick guitars than work on the problems in our lives. All we want to talk about is s-e-x.
We are creatures of our appetites, and we're going to live to satisfy them. We will use our strength and our freedom to advance our own cause. That's one idea, the world's view that is out there. You'll catch it sometimes in movies. The John Wayne. The Clint Eastwood. The Braveheart. The Lance Armstrong. The Donald Trump. All these images society puts before you…the world's idea, Hollywood's idea…of what a man is.
Also, societally, many of us have been around places of worship, houses of faith, or churches. Churches have done a terrible job of communicating what it means to be a man. Many times in the recent weeks, I have seen way too many churches that don't look at men and say, "You are valuable to us. We want to unleash you to be all you were created to be for the good of this community and the world we are in to make a difference."
Every single one of us is uniquely shaped by God as a man to make a difference. When we pull back from that, there is (as you will see in a little bit) chaos, confusion, hopelessness, and despair. What too many times churches want men to do is just to show up, shut up, pay up, and be polite. Don't embarrass us too much in the community. We kind of push men toward this inactivity, weak passivity, and to kind of validate us by showing up and keeping the lights on.
I'm going to show you that is not at all the idea and the picture the Scripture has for what men should be. I took one little section, 2 Timothy, chapter 2, verses 1-7. This is the same guy who wrote to the Corinthian church, "Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong." This is what he says right here. Watch the difference between what he is calling men to be and what you've experienced in most churches before.
He says right here, "You therefore, my son, be strong…" I put in there that he wants you to be a leader and a protector. If you bail, if you're weak, there will be consequences. "…in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men…" You be a reproducer. You be a multiplier. You be a bull. It's up to you to bring forth strength and multiply yourself out. "…who will be able to teach others also."
Not only that guys, but I expect you as a leader to, "Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus." You be a warrior of a cause that is greater than you. You see, this is starting to resonate more with who you are, how you're shaped, and how you're created. "All right. I get to lead. I get to influence. I get to multiply. I get to bring forth a heritage. I get to war against that which wants to defeat all that is good." You can see it goes on.
He uses a different metaphor in a minute. He says, "Also if anyone competes as an athlete…" A competitor. One who strives to win. "…he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules." You compete well, men. Then he goes on to say, "The hard-working farmer…" The provider. The one who sustains others through his effort. "…ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops."
You look at those metaphors and those ideas, and that's typically not what you're confronted with when you are around people who are supposed to help you act like men. Guys, I want to tell you something. This is your destiny if you want it. That's what God wants for all of us. It will look different in every one of us, but those are the things you were created for. Those are the roles you are asked to excel in.
In all those things you are not to be some weak, passive, emasculated male or, in your insecurity, try and impress others by your appearance, how you cuss and scratch, and all that other stuff. You're to be a tender warrior. "…act like men, be strong." Then the very next words were, "Let all that you do be done in love." How can a man be both those? That's what we're going to talk about. Here are some of the societal effects that are out there:
There is a little quote by Garrison Keillor, who says, "Years ago, manhood was an opportunity for achievement, and now it is a problem to be overcome." I read one quote as I was looking around at some different stuff. One woman said, "Men are like farts. They are an unpleasant experience we must walk through, and the only good thing that comes about it is we figure out how long we can hold our breath."
Think about that. That's probably not a real happy woman, but I'll tell you why she believes we're like that. That woman, in fact, has actually waited on me before. I didn't know that. Some of y'all go, "I am married to that woman. I didn't know her quote had become that famous." Some of you are around women who make you feel like that, that the only thing you're good for is to see how long they can hold their breath until they escape your oppression.
Society has this idea this view of manhood, and there has been a march over these last decades of people who are saying that manhood is not an opportunity for greatness. Manhood is something to be suppressed, redefined, and transformed. There are a lot of guys who have been affected by that.
The Industrial Revolution changed the society we live in as men. It took us from farms where we worked 12 hours a day with our boys at our side, apprenticing them and shaping them, being a provider and a protector in the family, to driving us out of the home and into the city. There was a societal revolution where there was a confusion of roles.
Now it wasn't, "Men do this. Women do this. This is how they partner together to make greatness in the family and to reproduce strength," but "Listen. We need to go to more of an egalitarian view, that there is a sameness there, and we need to not be so sure what the role of a mother and what the role of a father is."
The post-World War II society was the very first time that men were largely disconnected and driven from their families. They were pushed out of the home and away from their place of primary influence, where they came home defeated and tired. Many times, Mom had run the home while they were gone, and Mom continued to run it when they got back.
Guys started just wanting to sit on the sofa, eat a bag of chips, and watch the NFL and stopped shaping the next generation of men as to what had been. We became nose-to-the-grind defeated individuals. It was all about chasing some significance somewhere else than where we were primarily called to chase it, and it has brought about confusion.
There is a spiritual revolution that went on. Some of the mores that used to direct us and some of the ideas that used to define us were challenged. The Bible is no longer authority. There's no longer truth. Revelation took a back seat to this idea of reason. Marxism. Darwinism. All the other ideas that challenged the stated order came into play. So, there are some societal reasons why this is difficult.
Think about this, guys. Fifty years ago, 19-year-olds were flying B-52s over Germany. Now they're dropping in half-pipes. You start to think about the difference in responsibility, the difference of what it shapes in a man when he's out there the way many of our young men today are being challenged to grow up and be men, and the way three or four generations of young men, for the last 50 years, grew up without that experience to say, "Hey. Step up. Fulfill your role. Protect. Be a man."
2 . A lack of vision. Thomas Carlyle, a Scottish historian, said, "Show me the man you honor, and I will show you what kind of man you are, for it shows me what your ideal of manhood is, and what kind of man you long to be." What is your vision and what is your role model for manhood?
Again, the world is going to promote some. Hollywood is going to promote some. Too many times the places that are to define it with the Book our Creator gave us that we might know who we are aren't doing a good job of communicating it, and so there's a lack of vision. There's a lack of healthy guys who will show you, "That's what a man is." Not passive, not escaping, not leaving his area of responsibility, but dwelling in faithfulness, bringing forth productivity in his land. Not some insecure guy who tries to dominate others to validate who he is. There's a lack of vision.
In Proverbs 29:18, it says, "Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained…" You'll find out that word means they are out of control. When there is no clear understanding of what something should be, men go everywhere. If we now go to reason, it's just, "Who is the loudest voice in the public square?" If it's Gloria Steinem, then this is what men will look like. If it's NBC, then this is what men will look like.
If it's your mom who resents the fact that dad isn't a tender presence in her life who loves and shapes her, and all she does is talk poorly about your father, if your father abandoned you or left you because he was more concerned with what brought him pleasure than shaping and molding you, your vision of what a man should be has been defined by that. That loss in clarity of what a man is, when somebody says, "Act like men," creates confusion.
Some of you are still probably out there thinking, "I don't really know what I'm supposed to be. I think I'm supposed to make a lot of money and show I'm competent by living in a certain zip code with a certain quality of house with a certain wife who appears this way and kids who act this way." That's kind of what a man is in this city. If he's not in the Dallas Business Journal, I'm not sure you're ever really a man. That lack of vision, that lack of understanding, is creating all kinds of confusion.
Society and lack of clear communication hurts us. Proverbs 22:28 says, "Do not move the ancient boundary which your fathers have set." In other words, there is a reason that for a long time this is what defined manhood well. When you start to jack with those things, move those things, push reason where revelation is, and don't love the truth or, as it says in the verse about a lack of vision in Proverbs 29, if you don't love the law, what is right and true, then it's going to go everywhere. It's going to create problems.
3 . Your dad. The third reason has a lot to do with good old Dad. I'll talk more about this specifically next week. One of the reasons there's so much confusion is so few guys have had men, fathers, who have modeled for them what it means to be a man. Norman Rockwell, 50 years ago, showed in one of his illustrations the problem we have in our country.
One 1959 Saturday Evening Post illustration shows that while there are still some women who, for whatever reason, want to march (at that point) toward this place where they can learn to act like their Creator says they should act, which will give them a sense of right and wrong and destiny, Dad is like, "Look, man. I am whipped after a tough long week. I'm going to kind of slink down in this chair until I can get alone for a little bit." You can see what happens.
There's Mom. Nose in the air. Smug. She's going to play the leader role if dad isn't. The two daughters have caught on to Mom's smugness. Dad's incompetent. He's a weak leader. But there is one who does not just have his eyes straight ahead like it's no big deal: The person who is supposed to become like that man.
He goes, "Women go to church. That's where weak people go." Dad is just kinda sitting there. The little boy is looking at Daddy like, "Is that what I'm supposed to be? Is that my destiny? Is that my future? Why am I doing what the women do?" A lot of it has to do with good old Dad. It has affected a lot of folks.
Let me run a few names by you. Nietzsche. Freud. Stalin. Jean-Paul Sartre. Hitler. Every one of those guys had a dead, absent, or weak father. Every one of them. The list is long and distinguished. As a result of that, because there was nobody to give them definitive modeling, a law about what truly defines manhood…
Nietzsche hated his weak father, his sickly father, who said he was strong because of his faith, frankly. In order to get back in his resentment to his dad, he went to an extreme where he said, "Let me tell you something. There is no God who makes men strong. My dad was weak. My dad abandoned me when I was 4. My dad disappeared. He never provided me with anything. Men are stupid if they think God will provide men with things which will make them strong."
Nietzsche said, "You're stupid to believe in this dead God, because all he does is give you a dead father," and the anger that comes from that. Hitler's daddy abused him. Sartre's daddy, same thing. Right down the list. Stalin. All those guys. A lot of it has to do with Dad. This is why this is a big deal, because:
A. Confused men experience a sense of hopelessness and despair. There's a sense of, "What is this all about? What is this for? Why am I going to live this way? I'm going to have my nose to the grind and just try and make it. I'm going to die of boredom." Henry David Thoreau. He noted this even hundreds of years ago. He said most men "…live lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them." Man.
Have you ever felt like that? "The song is still in me. I don't know where I get to sing. I'm just in this rut of making month to month. I don't really know if this life is all that grand. Where is that abundant life? What's it about?" Confused men live lives of quiet desperation. It's like that email I read you. "I don't know what to do. I think the world is passing me by. I feel like I'm getting ripped off, and so I just want to hole up in my shell over here and hide from people because I feel like a failure. I don't know what to do." I'll tell you what else confused men do:
B. Confused men create a leadership vacuum. A leadership vacuum and major problems. That's true in the home. I read another quote by a woman, probably good friends with the fart chick, who said, "If something has tires or testicles, you're going to have problems with it." Now how is that? That's the view that's out there. "You have tires or testicles, it's just going to cause you problems, so get used to it." They resent that. They resent the Maker of that vehicle.
They try and supply themselves with a different directional course, a different sense of hope, different moorings, because, "Whoever designed this thing that is constantly breaking down on me and not providing me the transportation from where I am in isolation to community and hope and strength and security and protection, I have to find some other vehicle to get me to that place, because I need it." There is a desperate need for individuals to play the role our Creator designed us to play. When men don't do it, it creates a vacuum something else is going to step in and try and fill.
Think of the scene from the Scripture when Moses had just led the people out of bondage and oppression. Moses was at a place where God was revealing to him things that would help the men of Israel define themselves in a way that would be a light to the nations. While Moses was gone, he left Aaron in charge. This is the scene. It says, "Then Moses said to Aaron, 'What did this people do to you, that you have brought such great sin upon them?'"
What had happened is there is this idol that had been created. There's this sense now that no man was leading them to trust in that which is anchored in eternity. He kind of caved under the pressures of the people. Moses said, "What did they do to you that made you vacate your key position that was going to be a life and protection to these people? They needed leadership, and you have abandoned your post. How could you let them get this out of control?" That is what Moses is saying.
"Aaron said, 'Do not let the anger of my lord burn; you know the people yourself, that they are prone to evil.'" Moses would have stopped right there and said, "Aaron, that's exactly why you are here. That's why you're a man. That's why you're a leader. That's why there are shepherds for sheep. Don't tell me they're prone to stupidity and evil. If there's not truth, revelation, and a strong sense of direction, people are going to try and figure it out on their own. We knew that. That's why you were there, to make sure they had direction. Why did you abandon your post?"
Aaron continues, "For they said to me, 'Make a god for us who will go before us; for this Moses…'" Who knows what the heck happened to him? "'…the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.' I said to them…" Now look at this. This is a great man right here. "'Whoever has any gold, let them tear it off.' So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf." Isn't that great? Way to step up and take some responsibility right there.
Like I said, my father is here this morning. My father wasn't perfect by any stretch of imagination, but I knew my dad loved me. I saw my dad again and again throughout my life sit me down and say, "Your father just made a mistake." Whether it was with his anger or the way he handled a situation inappropriately, he said, "Let me tell you. Part of being a man is when you blow it, you face people. You stand up. You take account. You say, 'That was mine.' Don't confuse what you just saw as proper or right."
That is one of the greatest gifts my father gave me. He said, "Men aren't perfect. That's why we need a Savior, merciful creator God. But men are men, and when they're called to lead and they don't lead well, they step up and say, 'Hey, let me tell you something. That isn't the picture. Forgive me.'"
Not Aaron. "I don't know what happened. We took the gold, we threw it in the fire, and this calf walked out." Right. Okay. You didn't shape it? You didn't create that yourself? You didn't bow to the pressure of the people? He continues. Watch this. "Now when Moses saw the people were out of control…"
Guess what that is? That's the same word that appears in Proverbs 29, "Where there is no vision, the people…" Perish, some translations say. "…the people are unrestrained…" Because there was no leadership present, society caved. They started to act in ways that were going to bring destruction and hopelessness in their lives. That's the idea.
When there is a lack of leadership, there is hopelessness and despair, and there is a leadership vacuum, which creates major problems. Do you know 90 percent of the violent crimes that take place in this country are committed by men? Do you know our CR groups…? I have a close friend who is leading one of the breakout sessions for women, eight or nine women processing major problems in their lives.
She told me, not even knowing what we were going to do, she said, "I have to tell you something. Every single one of them have something in common. They have a bad relationship with their daddy." Their father was absent or abusive. Every one of them. These women have major issues and problems they're trying to wrestle through to overcome some of that.
Let me say this, and I'm going to say it several times, especially next week. Bad parents are a fact. They are never an excuse. But I'll tell you something. A lot of us, I know a lot of you guys, are trying to get over this hurdle of leadership that was vacant and caused problems in your lives. What I want to offer you right now is if you bear with us and if you become a man, you can overcome that and create for yourself a different destiny. But it takes a man to do it. The problem is men today are in a state of confusion. Let's dive in and see what the solution is. Here we go.
1 . Men have to regain their ability to live confident lives. I want you to watch this video clip with me. It's going to illustrate both of these things. It's going to illustrate the solution, and it's going to illustrate also, at this time, what happens when there is an absence of leadership. What you are going to see is a clip from Easy Company, a group of paratroopers in World War II. Band of Brothers is the documentary that was put together. They interviewed these guys, and then they got people to go ahead and act out what these men experienced.
You are going to see there is a Captain Winters who gives commands to a Lieutenant Dike. He says, "You go take that village. You have to get in there. You take these platoons, and you go. Do not retreat. If you pull back, we will lose it, and men will suffer." You'll find Lieutenant Dike becomes overwhelmed.
There is hopelessness, despair. There is death. There is loss. There are major problems. Finally, Captain Winters, when he realized Dike is absolutely failing, says, "Get me Speirs. Speirs, you go in there and relieve Dike. You get things in order because it is out of control, and we are losing life. This village we as men are to deliver is about to go under." Watch this.
German soldier: Feuer!
Dike: Fall back! Fall back!
Winters: Go forward!
Lipton: Herron, on me!
Male: Fall back!
Dike: Fall back!
Lipton: Hold fast, Second Platoon.
Foley: What are we doing, Lieutenant?
Lipton: Why are we stopped?
Dike: Fall back! Fall back!
Luz: Roger, Kidnap. Stand by for Six.
Foley: Lieutenant, what's the plan?
Dike: I don't know. I don't know!
Winters: You'd better get Dike on that radio to me now.
Foley: Lieutenant, what's the plan?
Dike: Foley, you take your men on a flanking mission around the village and attack it from the rear.
Lipton: We cannot stay here. Do you understand me?
Foley: You want First Platoon to go around and attack the village by itself?
Dike: We will provide suppression fire.
Foley: We're going to be kind of alone out there, Lieutenant.
Dike: We will provide suppression fire!
Lipton: Sir, we are sitting ducks here. We have to keep moving.
Winters: Speirs! Get yourself over here. Get out there and relieve Dike and take that attack on in.
Martin: Let's go!
Speirs: I'm taking over. First Sergeant Lipton! What do we got?
Lipton: Sir, most of the company is spread out here. First Platoon tried an end-around, but they're stretched out. They're pinned down by a sniper. I believe he's in the building with the caved-in roof.
Speirs: All right. I want mortars and grenade launchers on that building until it's gone. When it's gone, I want First to go straight in. Forget going around. Everybody else, follow me.
Lipton: Yes, sir.
Foley: Okay. First Platoon, move out! Move out.
Lipton: On your feet, Second Platoon. Move out.
Speirs: Lipton. What do you see, Lipton?
Lipton: Armor and infantry. A lot of infantry.
Speirs: I Company is supposed to be on the other side of the town. Do you see any sign of them?
Lipton: No, sir. Sir, I think they're going to pull back. If we don't connect with I, they're going to slip away.
Speirs: That's right. Wait here.
Luz: What the hell?
Lipton Voiceover: At first, the Germans didn't shoot at him. I think they couldn't quite believe what they were seeing. But that wasn't the really astounding thing. The astounding thing was that after he hooked up with I Company, he came back.
[End of video]
Did you see the hopelessness and despair leave the troops? Did you see the confusion in the leadership vacuum get filled? Did you see the major problems and death and destruction start to go away? Because somebody said, "I will do what a higher authority said is right to do. I will not cave. I will not be weak. I will not flinch in the face of fear and death. I will be secure, face my problems, and be a man. I will be strong." That is a clear picture. When that happens you see, all of a sudden, lives are spared. Hope is given. Men look at each other like, "All right. We have a chance. Let's take this village."
2 . Confidence and confident men who live confident lives are the solution to this problem of confusion. Let me explain this word to you, because I want to make sure you don't leave here with what I would say is the wrong definition of confidence. I'm not talking about self-reliant, cocksure men. That bleeds over to that idea of machoism, that's always trying to, under false pretenses, impress other people. That's not what I'm talking about here.
I'm taking you back to the etymology of the word. Anybody here take enough Latin to remember what the two root words of confidence are? Most of you guys know from Semper Fi, which is short for Semper Fidelis, which means always faithful. The prefix to the root fidelis in confidence means with.
A. A confident man is one who lives with faith. A man who lives by truth. A man who lives by a sense of what is right because he has anchored himself in it. He has seen its fruits. He says, "I will live here. Not with a lack of vision. Not out of control trying to figure out what is right and true, but I will move forward with this as a basis for my reality, and I will pursue it."
In this sense, it was Captain Winters saying, "I told you, this is what must happen. You must keep going forward." Dike said, "I can't. I'm too scared. I'm too insecure. I'm weak in the face of that threat." He said, "Speirs, you get in there, relieve him, and you go be a man." You saw what happened. We need men who will live with faith.
B. A confident man is not a man who is full of himself. Mark that down. He's not a man who is full of himself. He is a man who is full of faith and lives in truth. That is exactly what confidence means at its root. Somebody who understands that word correctly is a man who is confident, is a man who lives with faith that is rooted in truth.
C. A confident man addressed the realities of his past and the responsibilities of his present. Let me explain this to you, because this really is where we're going the next five weeks. A confident man, a man of faith, is not afraid to face the things that are hurting him and have hurt him. Let me give you a quick illustration.
Four weeks ago, I got bit by a brown recluse. I didn't know it when it happened, but this thing happened in my arm that got worse and worse and worse. I did not have truth to deal with it. I had a friend who looked at it and goes, "Brother, that is the worst boil I've ever seen." I thought, "Boil. That's a thing of shame." So, I kind of hid it.
What I would do at home at night is I'd get a sewing needle, and I was lancing my arm. I Johnny Rambo'd up. I did. I just sat there. I go, "Okay. This is my moment." I'd take that needle, and I'd stick it in there. Blood would come out and pus. I impressed myself with the fact that I didn't reveal national secrets even though they were torturing me. I played these games. I did. I sat there in my bathroom, looked in the mirror, and went, "Here we go. Ahhhh!"
I kept doing this, but what happened is it kept getting worse. It got worse. Because I'm a dad of small children, and when they get little wounds, whether they're severe or not you have to medicate them, we have a different assortment of Band-Aids. We have Spider-Man Band-Aids. We have Disney princess Band-Aids.
We were out of Spider-Man Band-Aids, and the Band-Aids I have today are not the normal type that looked like our old Band-Aids. This one is almost clear in the middle, and it almost looks like a watch. They're wide in the middle where it's clear, and then they get narrow again at the other end. I took an Ariel Band-Aid and slapped it over this swelling head.
Let me tell you what happened, because I wasn't dealing with the poison that was in my life, the reality of the past that had happened to me. I was out on this Monday on a football field coaching my son. All of a sudden, Ariel's head burst. I noticed the Band-Aid was getting fuller, but I looked down, and I saw pus and blood coming out of the side of Ariel's head.
It started running down my arm. I kind of wiped it off and threw it down, but it got to where I couldn't hide it. Literally. I mean it was all of a sudden just cleansing itself a little bit. I took that Band-Aid off. When I did that, there were a bunch of parents on the sidelines. They go, "Todd, what in the world?" It was gross. I mean, it was really gross.
I go, "I know." I rolled my shirt up and kept trying to coach. I'm telling you. It was nasty. The kids quit playing football. They all looked at it. Parents came over and said, "You have to go to a doctor." My past was exposed on that football field, and my unwillingness to deal with it at that moment.
Let me say that some of you guys, the way you have handled yourself at your son's sporting events because of how you thought a man would be…a man would have a son who did this and accomplished this…some of your past was exposed. Some of your pus and blood came pouring out, and everybody saw it. It was a really difficult thing for everybody. Sons were wounded. Communities were harmed.
Now what happened? I had to go to a friend that night, and we sat on his kitchen table. We cut a hole in my arm that was about three inches long and two inches wide right down to the bicep. He kept saying, "We have to take more." He left that wound open and exposed. Now in three weeks, it's a miracle. I'm telling you. This thing has closed up. It's unbelievable what has happened once the poison was eradicated.
It took some courage to not just deal with it in secret with a sewing needle. I sat there with my friend. He said, "Todd, we have to put you under." His exact words were, "We're fixing to come to Jesus if we deal with that thing." That's what he said. He goes, "I want to put you under some general anesthesia." I said, "I don't want to make you uncomfortable, but can we do it here?" He said, "We'll try." He got that needle out, and he stuck me up with Lidocaine about 15 or 20 times. It hurt like the dickens for him to put that sucker in there. Then we got the scalpel out.
I now hold the record for the most blood and flesh pulled out at his kitchen table. We sat there and did it. Another Johnny Rambo moment. I just kept dreaming, "Okay. I'm not going to give up national secrets. I can endure." When we dealt with this and I had the courage to face it, is when healing came. Guys, what I'm going to ask you to do these next four weeks is stick with us and face these things. I'm going to give them to you quick because we're going to spend weeks on them.
1 . The reality of an absent or abusive dad. You see, that is in your past. If it's not in your past, I promise you you're going to come across a number of men today whom it's in their past. You have to be willing to face it and deal with it. The reality of an absent or abusive dad.
2 . The reality of either an enabling or a dominant mother. It's there. A mom who said, "Hey, you're my little boy. You can do whatever you want. I love you, and I'll provide for you. I'll wait on you hand and foot." Some of you guys have now married, thinking your mom would still be there, except you could sleep with her. That enabling mom who is in your past is keeping you from being the man God wants you to be.
Or you've had a dominant mom who just told you, "Don't be a man. Don't listen to your dad. Your dad is an idiot." That's been part of the wound that's in your life we have to deal with.
3 . The reality of a depraved heart. It's there, and you're not working from a blank slate. We have to deal with that.
4 . The reality of a lack of understanding. In other words, this is that problem of a loss of vision. You don't even know what to pursue and how to pursue it. No one has ever modeled it for you. No one has ever taught it. I want to tell you something. This is the good news. Men, God loves you.
If there is one metaphor that is consistent all through the Scripture, guess what the metaphor is? God the Father. He wants to re-father you. He wants to do it with a sense of strength, discipline, and presence that can bring healing to that poison that's in your life. Some of us have the wound of a lack of understanding. Some of us have to deal with…
5 . The reality of the effects in our lives of isolation. Maybe, like I said, of isolation from a mentor, isolation from a community of guys who will encourage us, isolation from truth. We're going to deal with the reality of the effects of isolation that brings confusion to our lives.
6 . The responsibility of owning our own destiny. That's where we're going to end. We're not going to just talk about problems. We're going to leave here at the end of these next five weeks, and we're going to say, "Men, you have a chance now to reclaim your destiny, to take that village, to be a man, to be a Speirs to your family, your community." Folks, if we, as guys, these hundreds of men, start to say, "We're going to be that," you watch what will happen. Big things will happen.
This is the truth, though. There's an Enemy who doesn't want you to do it. He wants you to be intimidated by the pain it's going to take for you to face this stuff. He doesn't want you to be a man. He wants you to stay either emasculated or macho. He wants you to keep living under these false lies. "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…" But your Father comes that you might "…have life, and have it abundantly." Now watch this.
The Enemy wants to steal your joy. You have an enemy. It's worse than the Germans. He wants to steal your joy. In other words, your abiding sense of dignity and purpose and honor, no matter what your circumstance. He wants to steal that from you, that abiding sense of, "My life counts. No matter how bad my circumstances are, I'm the man for this moment. I was created for such a time as this, in my community, in my family, in wife's life. I will be that man. Though things are hard, I'll have joy because I know I'm doing what I ought to do." He wants to steal that from you.
He wants to kill your hope. He wants to make you think, "Brother, Todd is going to talk about his abusive or absent father up there and the idea, but he doesn't know what it's like to have the abuse I've had. He doesn't know what it's like to have a mom who has railed on Daddy from day one. He doesn't know what it's like to grow up as fatherless, as hopeless, and as directionless as I have."
Satan is going to tell you, "Hey. Let him up there with his nice little platitudes and basic good upbringing tell you how you can face this poison in your life, but you can't face it. You are a special case. You'll never be a man. You've made some choices to act like a woman with another man, so you can't regain that." That's a bunch of crap. I'm going to tell you he wants to convince you that you have no hope.
Finally, he wants to destroy your opportunity. Men, this is what I'm going to tell you. You have an opportunity to live a life of faithfulness, fullness. Gang, these are words I look at and just go, "This inspires me." A life of adventure, of greatness, of strength that is balanced with love, and a life of purpose. You have that. Don't let him convince you you've lost your opportunity.
The Scripture says God created you to be in his image. It's male and female he created, but there's a specific part of maleness God says will represent a certain part of his greatness. This is what God wants you to be as he says, "You live in my image." He wants you to bear his image. This is what I want you to see.
He wants you to be man…this is your destiny…who pursues justice, exemplifies good, lives without regard to self, exhibits gloriousness, exhibits kindness, extends grace, offers forgiveness, remains reliable, establishes security, embodies strength, provides protection, defines integrity, shows mercy, and leads with love.
You bring that home to your wife, and you will see hopelessness and despair slip out the door. You bring that into your community, and you will see the leadership vacuum dissipate and major problems run and hide. Guys, that's where we're going. I hope you journey with me and you have the courage to say, "All right. Let's get the poison out. If it's not poison that's in me, I know other guys I'm going to face who have this poison in their lives. Let me speak to them."
Father, I pray for these men, that they would endure and hang in there. For the next four weeks we're together now from here on out, that we would understand what it means to act like men, that we would stand against the Enemy who wants to steal our joy. He wants to kill our hope. He wants to destroy our opportunity.
He does not want us to have the abundant life, the opportunity manhood represents. He wants to tell us our past is too painful, too difficult to overcome. Society is too far down a certain road. The spiritual revolution and societal revolution have taken us out of our chance and out of our opportunity.
You say, "No." We can restore the years the locusts have eaten, and we can begin to be those men who don't confuse greatness with the crud we hear in songs or what Hollywood puts forth or even what the church in its weakness has represented. We want you to father us. Would you be our mentor? Would you be our daddy? Would you show us what a man is?
Father, may we be confident men. Not cocksure, self-reliant men, but men who walk out of here with faith, with hope, established and anchored in truth, a rock that will not be shaken. May we take the village you have placed us in. It is more important than the villages that were conquered 50 years ago in Germany which give us our freedom today. It's a village which will lead to freedom in the lives of those who are oppressed by the lies society, the advance of reason over revelation, and the absence of other men have brought to a place of despair. Start with us. Let us step up and be men. Amen.
(Fall 2004) There is a different Men's Club in town - a place where men of strength and integrity are willing to face the truth even if it involves pain from present or past troubled relationships or circumstances. At this club there are men who are willing to live their lives with honor. Men who are responding to a noble call. A call to live for a something greater than their own pleasure, prominence or gain.