Serve The King- Live for a Greater Reward
Stay Humble- Think of Yourself Less
Stand Strong- Don't Give In
Speak Out- Speak the Truth in Love
Step Up- Be a Man of Action
Set The Stage- The Big Picture, The Problem
All right. Where are we? Week five. In week four we were going through five attributes of godly men. Let me pray, and we're going to get going. Father, we thank you for a chance to gather this morning with friends, men who want to be reminded along with me of what it is you intend us to be. We know we cannot be that unless you help our hard hearts see what otherwise we cannot see. You are a good and patient God, and we're thankful for that.
I pray you'd redeem our time together this morning, that we would spur each other on to love and good deeds. We know, Father, that's only going to happen when we get a better glimpse of who you are. We love you, and we thank you. Teach us this morning. Speak to us, Lord. Your servant is listening. Amen.
The way I ended that prayer is one of my favorite things about my friend Kyle Kaigler, who actually spoke here this weekend. Kyle said that's one of the ways he starts almost every day. Either on his knees, or when he opens his Bible up and his journal, he has a number of different things he reminds himself of. I love that little phrase. He always just says, "Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening."
All of us would love to be the kind of men who God strongly supports. We have quoted here a small handful of verses, in a disproportionate amount, of all the other Scripture that's in God's Word over the 20 years we've been gathering as men and women here seeking to serve the Lord in this city. Specifically, when I'm with men, there are a small number of verses we have always shared. They all go with the topic we're talking about this morning. We are talking about a biblical view of manhood.
These are things, as I sat down as a man who wanted to do everything I could to get out of the way and help my sons think through what it was the Lord wanted them to be when they fulfilled their calling as men… What's a man going to be? The Scripture says in 1 Corinthians, chapter 16:13-14, we are to, "Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love." So, what does it mean to act like a man? That's what we're doing in this study.
There are a couple of verses, as I said, I've always thought about. I want to be the kind of man who God strongly supports, because if God is for me, who can be against me? I love the statement, "God plus one is the majority." Always is. "Some men will trust in horses and chariots, but the victory is the Lord's."
I always believed, when I came to know who God was, that if I just aligned myself with him, he was going to allow me to do what he wanted me to do as his man. That didn't mean it would work out the way I wanted it to, but it would mean I would have accomplished what the God, who makes men and uses men, wants me to accomplish, which is really all we should ask that we can do.
One of those verses is in 2 Chronicles 16:9, which says, "For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His." It makes you wonder what kind of man God strongly supports. The answer, I've already given you. Everything else is just fluff. It's the kind of person who says, "Your servant is listening."
There are verses that flow off our tongue a lot. One of them is Proverbs 3:5-6, which says, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart…" Then we go, "…and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight," and we usually quote it very quickly. At least I do.
When you think about how it starts, that the kind of person the Lord is going to strongly support is the person who says, "I'm going to trust in you with all my heart," which means I'm not going to lean on my own understanding, which means I'm not going to act like I'm the compendium of all wisdom.
Men, we have a tendency to always want to do that, because we somehow think if we act like we are not an expert at any given moment, if we're not impressive at any given moment, somehow our manhood moves away from us. I will say this. It is typically true that the men we respect the most are men who don't live as if they're self-infatuated. I love the statement that when a man forgets himself, he usually does something everybody else remembers.
Let's have a little fun here before I get too started. There was a guy who used to write a long time ago for the Miami Herald. Unless you were paying attention to these kinds of things, you would have never heard his name. Some of us who are a little older will remember the name Dave Barry. Do you guys remember Dave Barry? He's a humorist who would write.
This is an article I literally cut out of the paper in November of 1997. So, 22 years ago Dave Barry wrote this. I'm going to have a little fun this morning reading this. He says, "Last July, when a group of Danish researchers announced that men have an average of four billion more brain cells apiece than women, a lot of us guys decided to celebrate this affirmation of our superior intelligence by spending a couple of months drinking beer and throwing furniture off the tops of buildings to see what happened to it.
But now we return to find that many women have been ridiculing the Danish discovery. These women have been saying that, OK, maybe males have more brain cells, but it doesn't matter, because males never use their brains to think about anything besides sex." Then he goes on to make some hilarious little comment about some supposed cockpit conversation as a plane was going down.
He always would take, in the midst of these little stories, facts that were really out there in the news, and he would write these humorous looks that would kind of teach us something as we would laugh. He's talking about the fact that men have more brain cells than women, in terms of some of this study. He says, "You know sometimes women don't understand why men are quiet or why men do the things they do." He says, "It's because we're thinking."
This is really funny. This is why I want to get to this, because as guys sometimes we think we have to always have all the understanding in the world in order to impress other men. He tells this story about a guy who, in July of 1997… This is a true story. It was a publicized incident. A couple from Kenilworth, New Jersey left their house (an elderly couple) to drive to a doctor's office that was 2.8 miles away with the man, of course, driving.
It says, "They were located more than 24 hours later, after having driven an estimated 800 miles through an estimated three states." They couldn't find this elderly couple. Where were they? They were supposed to drive less than three miles to go to the doctor's appointment. Then 24 hours later, 800 miles farther down the road, three states away, they found this couple. He says, "According to the Associated Press story, the man 'refused to ask directions during the entire trip.'"
I love this about Dave Barry. He said, "Of course you women are laughing about this. For years you have made fun of us men for refusing to ask directions. But did it ever occur to you that we have a REASON? Did it ever occur to you that, with our four billion extra brain cells, we might be thinking about something that YOU DON'T KNOW??
That something is this: Under the Rules of Guy Conduct, if you're a guy driving a car, and you don't know how to get where you're going, and you pull over to ask another guy, and he DOES know, then he is legally entitled to TAKE YOUR WOMAN! Yes! He can lean through the window and grab her! That's what the elderly Kenilworth, N.J., guy was trying to prevent, and YOU WOMEN LAUGHED AT HIM!" He was just trying to protect his wife.
That story is completely irrelevant today because we all have GPS on our iPhones. The younger generation is going "What? Why do you ever ask anybody for directions? I ask Siri." Those of us who knew before, you can remember. You'd get in the car… I can remember if you wanted to ask somebody for directions, you had to pull into a gas station (which is what we used to do), and ask the guy who was there, "Hey, do you know how to get somewhere?" You'd always feel like you were just somehow a failure and less than that man.
That's a silly old outdated, almost irrelevant illustration, except for that thing inside of us that we don't ever want to say, "Help." It's called pride. The Scripture says God is opposed to the prideful, but he gives grace to the humble. You want to know what kind of man the Lord strongly supports? The answer is a humble man.
When I was writing down what it was, for my kids, to think about what it meant to be a godly man, I said one of the things, along with stepping up and being willing to speak out and to stand strong, is in the midst of these… These aren't necessarily all prioritized, but they're just things that are true of godly men when I look in Scripture. They stay humble. You remain vigilant against pride. You get the log out of your eye. I'll talk about that in a moment.
I really think this the best definition of humility I've ever seen: "Don't think less of yourself, just think of yourself less." Almost every time I'm in trouble, it's because I'm thinking of myself more. It's because I'm not trusting in the Lord. It's because I'm trying to exalt Todd. It's our job to humble ourselves, and it's God's job to exalt us. That's what it says.
"Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time." If we try and do God's job, which is to exalt ourselves, then God will do ours, which is to make us humble. One of the things that great men are is humble men. They clothe themselves in humility. That's what it says in the Scripture.
Right there before those verses I quoted in 1 Peter, chapter 5, where it says, "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God…" before that, it says, "You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders…" In other words, understand that there may be some guys who have lived here a little bit longer than you.
Maybe, hopefully, those men specifically have been individuals who have said, "Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening." They've lived life long enough to know when they say, "Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening," it goes well with them. They haven't just given lip service to Proverbs, chapter 3, verses 5-6. They've lived as if God is the one in whom they should trust. It says to learn from these men.
One of the things I've said here a lot, too, is I always… You know, at the little elementary school our kids went to, the mascot was the Panthers. They had this thing called the Positive Panther Award they would give out to the kid in the classroom who was the most positive Panther all month long.
No Wagner kid ever got it, but I always thought if I went back to first grade for a month, I think I would have won the Positive Panther Award. I think I would have been in that classroom, and I would have understood… First of all, I would have read at least on a sixth-grade level, if I could go back right now. My teacher would be impressed, like "We have to put this kid in the gifted and talented track. Todd is reading better than every other first-grader in the class."
I think I would have never pushed to get in the front of the line when we went to lunch. I think I know now they'll never run out of cookies. I would have known the cookies some mom brought to our classroom on any particular day probably weren't going to be the best cookies in the world anyway, so if there were just two cookies left and there were three of us, I would always let those other two kids have those two cookies. My teacher would have marveled. It would have been like there was another adult in the classroom.
If I went to first grade today, I think I could excel as a Positive Panther. I think I could even get in the back of the room and go, "Okay, guys. Look, I won it three months in a row. I'm going to tell you, here's the secret. Here's what you should do. You want to get a Positive Panther Award? Here's how you should roll." My buddies and I in the back of the classroom, if they listen to me and learn my ways as a 55-year-old in first grade, they would probably also win a Positive Panther Award.
As I thought about that, like I could kill first grade because I'm 40 years ahead of those guys, or whatever the right age number is. More than that, right? No. Do the math. I wasn't 15 in first grade either. Subtract another nine. But I just thought, "You know, here I am," and that's what you do as a father all the time. You look at your 10-year-old kid, your 16-year-old kid. I look at my 23-year-old kids. I go, "Man, will you listen to me? I don't know everything, but I have three decades ahead of you. Here are some things I've learned."
It's interesting, right? We all know. We've heard the statement that there's something about a kid that they think their dad learned so much in those years between 18 and 23. Right? They start to listen to you differently. All of us have been through it. From 13 to 18, we're like, "Man, the old man doesn't get it. No one has ever had these feelings I've had. No one has ever had this energy and this passion, this change-the-world mindset."
If we would just listen to the elders around us, clothe ourselves in humility, and be subject to wise men, specifically. Not because they're older in age, but because the elder here are godly men. If that's certainly true between me and a first-grader, me and a 13-year-old or 15-year-old son, how much more true is it of me and an eternally perfect heavenly Father? Do you think you can kill it as a 55-year-old? I do too. Yet, every day my resistance to him is infinitely more, comparatively, than my 15-year-old's resistance to me. God just wants to help me.
That's why it says here in 1 Peter, chapter 5, "Listen, you younger men. Listen to these wiser, older men who have learned a few things." "…and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility…" Put on humility. It says it right there in the definition I quoted. It doesn't mean think less of yourself. It means think of yourself less. It's not low self-esteem. It's just low self-preoccupation.
It's being the kind of guy who says, "Look, Lord, I believe you have my best interests in mind, and I'm going to listen to you." Let's talk about a few things that are certainly true if you want to be an individual… Humility really is the prince of all virtues. You won't be any other thing God wants you to be if you're not this one thing.
I think about what Jesus said when there was a bit of a controversy going on because there was this guy named John the Baptist who was in prison. John the Baptist, who had been saying before, "I'm not worthy to untie the sandals of this man Jesus," was all of a sudden being persecuted. He was in prison.
He was like, "Man, this isn't working out the way I thought it was going to work out." He sends some disciples to go and ask Jesus himself, "Hey, are you the Messiah? Did I get it right? I was doing the best I could. I was pretty sure you're the guy, but this doesn't look like you're the guy because of where I am."
Jesus responds to them in Matthew, chapter 11. This is what it says in verses 7 through 11. "As these men were going away…" They were going back to tell John the Baptist that Jesus said, "You tell him he got it right." This is what Jesus said about John the Baptist. "Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, 'What did you go out into the wilderness to see?'""Why did you guys go follow him, this guy who just sent a question to me?"
" [Did you go out to see] a reed shaken by the wind?""No. You went out and saw somebody who stood strong." That's one of the places that, when I was thinking about what a godly man is… You're going to hear what Jesus says about John the Baptist in a moment. Godly men stand firm. They are not reeds shaken by the wind. We are not blown here and there by every wind or wave of doctrine, by the cultural zeitgeists, by the ideas of the age. These are men who know what truth is, know who their God is, know they are there to serve him, and they stand firm. They stay strong.
He says, "But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing?" This guy wasn't about his own comfort. He says, "Those who wear soft clothing are in kings' palaces! But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, 'BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY BEFORE YOU.'"
Then he says this amazing verse. You want to study John the Baptist because of this verse, Matthew 11:11. He says, "Truly I say to you, among those born of women…" This is God incarnate, and he says of all the guys ever born of a woman, "…there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist!" Wow.
He says something there right after that that would encourage us all. He says, " Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." In other words, "As great a man as John the Baptist was, he's not righteous enough to enter into the presence of God." Let me tell you this, guys. One of the things we are never called to do is to put together a résumé we can be proud of, proud enough to submit it to God and say, "Here you go. Your servant listened to your voice and did what you said. If that ain't good enough, well, that's all I got."
No. We want to be individuals who, when we show up, we know we could never be great enough. Even if we were a reed not shaken by the wind and a prophet and tried to do everything we could to point people to Jesus, there is going to be plenty in us that is not what Jesus says we should be, which is called sin, which separates us from God.
What he's saying is, "Listen. In terms of men who are great, John the Baptist is setting the mark, but even the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." In other words, the righteousness that clothes you with Christ is always going to make you more in God's eyes than any righteous things you can attain to. It should create in you a deep humility.
I'm going to tell you a little bit about why I think Jesus said this about John the Baptist. Part of it is just sovereignty. It is that God chose him to be the one who, as he says there in verse 10, was written about, who was the messenger who was going to prepare the way for Jesus. It's a good note for me that if you're a guy who does everything you can to point others to Christ and not make yourself the point, that's a good step toward greatness.
I love that about John the Baptist. He said, "I am not the point. I am the pointer." That really is true of all of us. Lest I forget it, I really think what made John so great is when his disciples came to him and said, "Hey, a lot of guys are leaving us, and they're starting to follow Jesus. Jesus is actually baptizing people himself. You're John the Baptist. That's just Jesus the carpenter, and he's baptizing. He's taking your position."
John responds to his disciples, and he says, "He must increase, but I must decrease." That's John, chapter 3, verse 30. I think doing what God created you to do and being a person who constantly says, "I must decrease. He must increase…" That's a verse that isn't in terms of renown. That's a verse that's good for us in terms of how we live. I can't tell you how many times John 3:30 crosses my heart every day when I'm trying to trust in the Lord with all my heart, when I'm trying to lean less on my own understanding, when I'm trying to decrease that he might increase.
Do you remember what Jesus said, that even the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he? It's just appropriate as we're talking about humility, guys. I want the gospel to be very clear when we're talking about what it means to be a man, because God makes great men. The only way great men are going to be great, the only way the glory is going to be restored… Right?
I said it at the very beginning, "…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Whenever we live in a way that's inconsistent with what God designed for us, what God intends to rest on us as image-bearers is diminished. We become less of the men God wants us to be, and we look a little bit more like hell than heaven. It's a little bit more horrifying for those who are under our leadership.
Humility starts with knowing who we are. There's a story Jesus told in Luke, chapter 18, that really harkens itself to this idea that the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than any righteousness men can attain to. I love the statement, "Saints agree they are sinners. Only sinners think they're saints."
Jesus tells a story about that in Luke 18. He says, "And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt." Here it comes. "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: 'God, I thank You that I am not like other people…'" Have you ever thought that?
He goes on to say not just who those other people are, but the things the man does that he thinks makes him righteous. Then, in verse 13, there was one of these other people who was not far from him, "…standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!'"
Then Jesus says these amazing words: "I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted." Do you see that idea showing up a few times in Scripture? Yeah, because I need to keep reading it. It's our job to humble ourselves. It's God's job to exalt us. If we try and do God's job, he will do ours.
Men, let me say this to you. You can't stay humble if you haven't become humble. Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It's thinking of yourself less. It's not low self-esteem. It's low self-preoccupation. It's having a right estimate of self. When it comes to the righteousness of God, we all need to know we fall short. Every single one of us. We need to realize who God is and what he has done for us.
Do you want to know what kind of man God strongly supports? You can find it in Isaiah, chapter 66. You're going to see how this whole conversation we're having this morning is going to keep looping around to the same idea. Remember how I started? "God, speak to us. Your servant is listening. I want to stop and ask you for directions, and I want the world to know."
By the way, some of you guys have women who you are living with, specifically married to, who have been in Bible Study Fellowship for years. You're just totally intimidated. You have no idea how to be the spiritual leader in your home. You've never memorized Scripture. We know for a fact there are a number of you who, the very first time you've ever memorized Scripture has been in these last few weeks that we're in here. We're glad you're here. We're glad you're here.
By the grace of God, some of us have been activated by the kindness of God to begin to pursue him a little bit earlier than you. If we are God's men, we're not going to look at you and go, "What have you been doing?" We're going to say, "Welcome, men. Welcome to the corner of the first-grade classroom. It's called earth. Let us tell you what we've learned from our Father. We want you to start to get a little Positive Panther world going in your family, so listen. We're not better than you. We're just one beggar telling another beggar where we found bread at the feet of our King. We're so glad you're here."
We've been listening, some of us, a little bit longer, and so that's why you're to be subject to those who are a little older in the faith than you. All of us have to continually clothe ourselves in humility. Men, do you want to be a great spiritual leader in your family? You don't have to know more Bible than your wife. You don't have to go five years ahead of her in Bible Study Fellowship.
This is spiritual leadership: "I'm not really sure what God would have us do in this moment, but I'm not going to move until I am sure. Sweetie, let's seek God's face together, and when we're done praying… I'm going to lead us right now. 'God, I'm a chump. I'm a man. I'm insecure. I want to always act like I'm competent, but Lord, there's no more competent man than a man who seeks you.
Will you help me to deal with this crisis, this debt, this sickness, this anger between us, this disfunction? Would you help me begin to see what I have going on that's making it hard for my family to follow me? Lord, tell me what a man in my spot would do, so I can be the man who you want in this spot.'" That's a spiritual leader. He'll look at his wife, and he'll say, "Sweetie, do you have any idea, in all your Bible Study Fellowship studying, in all your Watermark women's Bible studies, do you have any idea what Scriptures are relevant to us?"
Let's widen the circle. Let's get men and women who won't tell us what they think but will counsel us biblically. Let's live authentically. Let's clothe ourselves in humility and say, "Hey, as I look at my home, as a man who wants the mark of God to be on it, I'm not sure I see the mark of God on it. Can you help us bring more of Jesus in?" That's a spiritual leader. He says, "We're not going anywhere until we know what God wants us to do." You don't need any information. All you need is humility. Then you just listen. This is what it says in Isaiah 66:
"Thus says the LORD, 'Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me?'""I don't need anything from you." "'And where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being,' declares the LORD.""Do you want to worship me?" Here's what he says. "But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word."
Another prophet, Micah, chapter 6, verse 8. He says, "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" Do you know why we love justice and do kindness? Because that's what God has men who tremble at his Word do. Men who are humble are always just, not self-serving. They're always filled with agape chesed, lovingkindness of God. That's all he requires.
"Hey, Jesus. There are a lot of laws. What's the greatest commandment?" "You know what the greatest commandment is? Know I'm your loving Father and seek me. Just listen to me, son, and I will strongly support you. By the way, if you listen to me, guess what you're going to do? You're going to love your neighbor as yourself. On these two laws…love God, love others…hang all the laws and all the prophets. They're all derivatives of that." This is not brain surgery, men. It is constant self-mortification.
Jesus says, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me." Guys, I am asking you to die. It takes a humble man to say, "It's no longer about me. This is not my MO. This is not my world. This is God's world, and I am his servant." You want to be a man God strongly supports? Then, every chance the rest of the day, go, "I must decrease. You must increase. I have no idea what to do."
Call the guys in your Summer Group. Text. "Guys, I'm stuck. How would you handle this? I just lost my job. I just got somebody promoted over me who I think has been backstabbing. What do I do?" God has that covered every time. "What do I do? Pray for me." If I don't put on humility, I'm going to put on my flesh. When I put on my flesh, it's not going to go well.
Humble men are vigilant against pride. They get the log out of their eye. They don't think less of themselves. They think of themselves less. I will tell you, humble men are men whoexperience richness, which, by the grace of God, I'm experiencing. Last year, in June of 2018, I did a series called How to Be Rich. Do you remember that series? I don't know if you do, but go back and listen to it. I just said, "Man, I am rich."
The reason I am rich… I'm not talking about material prosperity. If I told you how much resource I had, it would probably scare you and sound irresponsible. I'm rich because of Proverbs, chapter 22, verse 4, which says, "The reward of humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, honor and life." Circle up with me in the back of this little first-grade life classroom that we only get to live once.
I'm telling you there is, by the kindness of God, life indeed that I've experienced. There is a sense of honor because of the way I have conducted myself as I have said, "Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening." I haven't done it perfectly, man. Every time I don't, it's painful for my family, for me, and for those who are around me. But I can tell you, by and large, the heavy direction of my life has been to humbly say, "I'm going to trust you, not me. I'm going to decrease. You're going to increase. More Jesus. Less Todd." I can tell you that principle in Proverbs 22:4 is true.
Humble men follow their Lord. They don't just give lip service to a Savior. Can I tell you why you're not experiencing the life God wants for you? Because you've maybe done what the guy in Luke 18 did. You've gone, "You know what? Only saints agree they're sinners. I'm a sinner. Jesus is my Savior," but you're not humble. You're humble enough to admit you're ruining your life, and you don't live the way God wants you to live. You'll take Jesus as a Savior, but you don't realize Jesus doesn't just offer himself as a Savior.
He is Lord and Savior, and you can't have 50 percent of him. The problem with America and churches is we have a lot of guys who have even finally shown up at church, have realized they need a Savior, but they don't realize their Savior is Lord. Humble men follow their Lord and don't just give lip service to their Savior.
Guys, do you tremble at his Word? Do you know he is a King? Are you convinced of who Jesus is and not just who you are? It's good that you've been broken. It's good that you've been humbled. It's good that you know you're not perfect. But do you know who he is? Are you acting like you know who he is? Humble men don't just follow their Lord and not give lip service to their Savior…
Humble men see their faults more than others' failures. I'll do this really quickly because I'm just trying to get you guys started in your conversation. I've had so many guys come to me over the years who go, "Would you tell my wife? She doesn't know what the word submit means. This woman doesn't respect me. She doesn't follow me." How many times do we do that? Right? We come in, and we go, "Man, we have a problem in our relationship. If she would just act differently, we wouldn't have a problem in the relationship."
It's not just with women. It's with one another. It's why it's written right there in our little definition of humility that we get the log out of our own eye. We're vigilant against pride. We own 100 percent of our 2 percent. Frankly, it's usually 100 percent of our 98 percent. I tell guys all the time, "Man, listen. Let me tell you why she won't submit to you. Probably, you're not submitting to the Father."
I've never seen a woman, ever seen a woman, come into my office and go, "I'm leaving this guy. He does nothing but clothe himself in humility. This guy? He does nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind he is always considering me as more important than himself. You want me to follow this guy? This guy who pours himself out as a drink offering for me? Who cherishes me and honors me? This guy who serves me and treats me like a queen? You want me to treat the guy who treats me like a queen like a king? You're out of your mind."
I've never seen it. Never seen it. I've never seen a woman come in and go, "Yeah, he does all those things, but I drive a Buick. You want me to serve that guy?" No. Men, I've had all kinds of women in really nice cars and really big houses look at me and go, "Hey…" Now she has a responsibility too, but I'm talking to men. They see their faults more than others' failures, and all they do is seek more of Jesus.
Humble men follow their Lord and don't just give lip service to a Savior. Humble men see their faults more than others' failures. It's why Psalm 141, verse 5, is one of the key verses in this. "Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me…" That's why we're here as guys. We're going, "Hey, our job is to help men be men. We are on a team." The team is God's men on earth.
When there are guys who aren't playing ball the way you are supposed to play ball, as we try and go out and represent our King, it's our job to lovingly go and say, "Hey, I think you could excel still more here." "It is oil upon the head; do not let my head refuse it…" the Scripture says. Proverbs 12:1 says, "Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid." That's a verse for men.
"Well, I'm not really sure I understand that, Todd." Yes, you do. God says you're stupid. Literally the word stupid come from the Latin stupidus. It's really one of those words. You put an us on the end. It's a Latin word, and it literally means numbskull. Right? Like, "Bro, if you don't take the admonishment of men and let the righteous smite you in kindness, you have a thick, numb, frozen head. You're stupid." You don't need to go to seminary to understand Proverbs 12:1. Humble men see their faults more than others' failures.
Lastly (I'll let you guys go after this) is they serve, and they don't mind being treated like servants. That's what humble men do. They don't expect to be treated like a king when they call themselves servants. Right? The true test of being a great servant is when you're treated like one, you don't resent it.
I'll close with this story. There is so much more I would love to do if I had some time, but I'll close with this story that's really kind of marked my life. I pray you would be encouraged by it in some ways. It was a story about when I was a young man. I was in leadership at a place called Kanakuk. It was a night off. I got back, and the whole camp was over there in one little room. As can often happen in the Ozarks, a huge storm came blowing in.
In these huge storms, when they would come in, we would always have to go to the different places and put the flaps down, because it would just flood these places. Specifically, in this one place where the guys would be there were wrestling mats that were very expensive. It was the job of leaders in the camp, whenever these storms would come, to make sure the flaps were down. We put them down every night because storms would come up in the middle of the night.
I get in from a night off, and the whole camp was over in this one spot singing, having a big time, and laughing. It was a storm. It started to really rain. Then it was pouring. I looked, and I saw this one room that was just getting pounded. I ran over there, and I started letting the flaps down. Now the flaps were down, and it was my night off. I thought, "I'm going to go get some of the guys (who worked for me, who were underneath me), and I'm going to say, 'Get your butt over there and clean all that water off of those mats before they're ruined.'"
I started to think about that. I go, "No, they're over there with the kids right now." So, I said, "I'll take care of it." I went, and I got a bucket and a mop. Now when you're dealing with a section that's probably as big as 20 yards by 40 yards, that's a lot of water. Literally, water was all across the inside of this room, and I have one mop and one little mop bucket. I'm in there, and I'm mopping. You can imagine what happens when the storm leaves. It's hot. It's in the summer. It gets really humid in there.
I'm in there, and I'm a little bit like, "Why am I doing this on my night off? Somebody else should be doing this. It's their job." I'm mopping, and I'm dumping. I'm mopping, and I'm squeezing it out. I'm dumping the water, and all this different stuff. Then I hear all of camp let out, and people are walking by.
I'm thinking, "They don't even know I'm in here. They don't even know the flaps weren't down." I started to think, "You know what? It's hot in here anyway. I probably ought to put the flaps up just to get some air blowing through here, which will cool it." As I did that, I realized the reason I wanted the flaps up is because I wanted people to see that I, on my night off, was in there being a servant and not because I wanted air to blow through there. I wanted people to know what I was doing.
I can remember, God said, "Hey, Todd. It might not be a bad idea to put the flaps up to get some air moving in here and maybe to go get some guys when they're done with the kids and have them help you, but I have a question for you. Are you willing to serve me with the flaps down, or do you always want the flaps up so everybody can see what you do for me? I want to know who you are serving, and why you're serving."
That little metaphor has served me well in my life, because I want to tell you something. I believe God is not so unkind as to forget the love which I have shown toward his name, having ministered to, and is still ministering to, the saints, but I want to be a guy who intentionally looks for opportunities to serve with the flaps down.
I'm not the point. I'm the pointer. I don't need people to see what I'm doing. I just need to know what I'm doing is what needs to be done, because I know my King. I know he does not forget kindness which we have shown and love which we have shown toward his name. I'm betting on it.
Men, let's serve with the flaps down. Let's not tell everybody what we're doing all the time, but let's grab other guys to do it with us. Eventually some guys did come in. They did help me clean that thing up, but what God did that night in that storm was just to test me. I need men to reprove me. I need men to help me. I need to clothe myself in humility all the time and be vigilant against pride so I can be his man.
Father, I pray we would be men who would serve with the flaps down, who would clothe ourselves in humility, who would follow our Lord and not just call you our Savior. Help us not to go to a Bible study on Thursday and charge out of here like we can now get after it. I pray throughout the rest of this day we would decrease, and you would increase.
I pray the women and the children in our lives, the coworkers, the employees and employers in our lives, would see us serve and not mind being treated like servants. We're not kings. We want our lives to be so radically others-centered that people go, "What are you doing? Who are you?" and we can say, "Hey, I'm a servant of Christ," and that our lives would point to the fact that we know something they don't know. That is that the reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor, and life.
Lord, help us to experience the richness of life that comes in restoring the glory sin has consumed. We thank you that when we trust in you as our Savior, you clothe us in a righteousness that makes us better than any man who ever lived, but we want to be, among men born of women, great men. We know we will be that when we decrease, and you increase.
Help us to be men who do reprove one another in kindness. Let us be men who don't refuse it when we are reproved. Let it be oil upon our heads that refreshes us and makes us more of who you want us to be. Keep us humble, Lord, for your glory. Let us get the log out of our eye. Let us be vigilant against pride. Let Jesus be our King. In his name we pray, amen.