A Model of Biblical Masculinity – Expanded

Hello friends, if you were around about a year ago, perhaps you saw me post something titled “A Model of Biblical Masculinity.”  One of the real burdens on my heart these days is manhood, especially Biblical Manhood.  I was excited to see David Murray announce the launch of his Christian Man Academy.  I also felt it was a good time to start sharing some more on what I’ve written on this topic.  So, below is a slight revision of last March’s post, and I’ll be expanding on some aspect of this model every few days.  So, enjoy!

A Model of Biblical Masculinity

At our church, we host a quarterly time for men to get together and pursue God’s vision for Biblical masculinity, so I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic.  I wanted to share a little “model” with you that is my attempt to capture, in visual form what Biblical masculinity looks like, as well as some description (as short as I could bring myself to it) of how it all functions together.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

A MODEL OF MASCULINITY

I’m a visual learner. I love charts, graphs, maps, and funny cartoon clippings. I also am a big-picture person. I struggle with details, but if you can give me a compelling overview, then I can begin to dig into the details in a way that keeps me from getting overwhelmed. So, when I began to ask, “what makes a good man” I quickly found myself trying to create some type of visual aid that would help me understand the big picture. Out of that, came the above Model.

While we could say much about the different pieces of this Model, I want to show how they all fit together here.

CORE IDENTITY OF WORSHIP

The Model consists of a core identity; namely, living in a loving relationship with the one, true God as a worshipper – one who delights in, who enjoys fellowship with the Triune God.

At the heart of every real man must be a heart of worship towards God. Not just any god will do, however, because we will become like what we worship. So, if the god I worship created mankind because he needed them (ancient Greek gods for instance), then I will become a needy, self-serving man who demands that others exist to fulfill me. If I worship a god who created mankind, but now keeps his distance (the god of Islam, deism), I will be a detached man who produces something (perhaps work, a child, a family) but then stands apart from it as if it must now continue without me. If I believe creation comes from an accident (new-age spiritualism, most forms of evolutionary theory, Gnosticism), then it doesn’t matter how I live. In this view, the fact that I’m a man is an accident any way. Finally, if I believe that creation isn’t a reality (Buddhism, Hinduism), but is a mirage, a façade, then my life isn’t real either, so the best thing I can do is ignore reality and spend my days seeking nirvana – whatever self-actualization plan I prefer. I will check out on my responsibilities because I don’t really believe in reality.

However, if I believe in the God of Christianity, the Triune God, who is real, who created with intentionality, who created not out of need but out of love, who created and then didn’t run away but remains active in the world, who takes all responsibility for what has been, what is, and what will be, and if I’ve been made in His image – to do his works, think his thoughts, and represent Him in the world – that makes all the difference. At the heart of every real man is a delight in the God who made him and all things. If that is missing, nothing else in the Model will work.

3 SECONDARY ROLES FLOW OUT OF WORSHIP

There are 3 other roles that every man must fulfill, represented by the outer circles of the Model. Every man must be a Shepherd, Soldier, and Sage. The core characteristics for these roles are Love, Courage, and Wisdom respectively. Certainly, each man will gravitate towards one of these roles more than another, but he is called to develop in and live out of all three.

And all three need to be tethered to Worship. Because God’s Wisdom, God’s Courage, and God’s Love are completely different from the world’s wisdom, courage, and love. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:25, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” If we start from any point other than the God of Scripture, we are hopeless. Our best love, courage, and wisdom, conjured up somewhere other than from the power of God, are faulty, weak, and foolish. And so to move out from that place spells doom. Soldiers will become dictators, Shepherds will love sporadically or with sappy sentimentality, and Sages will use their wisdom for their own good or for no one’s.

FIDELITY TO GOD’S COMMUNAL LOVE, KINGDOM MISSION, AND DIVINE TRUTH

In fact, these three roles are really responses to God. They exist because God exists and is who he says he is. God is love. That is the core of who he is, and so as those made in his image, we too are called to love (Shepherd). He is community, the Trinity, and so we were created to love in community. The Shepherd role reflects the appropriate response (relational fidelity) to God’s communal love.

So too, God is King of a Kingdom, and he is on a mission to establish that Kingdom. As citizens of that Kingdom and co-heirs with Christ, we are drafted into the Kingdom mission. We are His vice-regents. The Soldier role reflects the appropriate response (missional fidelity) to God’s Kingdom mandate.

Finally, God is true. Though every man be found a liar, he will be found true. And he not only knows the truth, but knows what to do with it, so he is also all-wise. His wisdom makes even the wisest man look like a fool. And so, He has given the Spirit of God to each of us, in short, he has given us the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:12-16). The Sage role reflects the appropriate response (theological fidelity) to the truth of God.

THE BALANCE OF THE 3 SECONDARY ROLES

Not only must they flow out of the heart of a worship, but these three roles also help balance each other. For instance, a Soldier who doesn’t use wisdom (Sage) will lose the battle, and one who doesn’t love (Shepherd) might win the wrong battle or win the right battle wrongly, believing that the ends justify the means. Similarly, a Shepherd who allows love to trump truth (Sage) has actually departed from real love. And a Shepherd, busy loving, who forgets his mission (Soldier) leads the sheep into danger or away from true blessing. Finally, a Sage who loves knowledge and wisdom, but forgets to employ that wisdom for the good of God’s people (Shepherd) and for his Kingdom (Soldier), fails. All three need each other.

THE INTERWOVEN BEAUTY OF THE 3 SECONDARY ROLES

And when they are working together, we see beautiful and critical activities flowing out, illustrated by the 3 outer rectangles. When courage (Soldier) and love (Shepherd) combine, the result is service – sacrificial, humble service to God, His Church, and humanity. When love (Shepherd) and wisdom (Sage) combine, the result is cultivation – that is, space for the things that make life beautiful and bountiful, from poetry to farming to government that is just. Finally, when courage (Solider) and wisdom (Sage) combine, the result is Christ-like leadership, resulting in the people of God wisely and boldly fulfilling their purpose.

This is just an overview.  I will seek to unpack these primary and secondary pieces in the days ahead, so stay tuned!

 

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Exhausted, Anxious, and Depressed – Thoughts on why we feel how we feel

Hello friends, this is a little bit different than most of my posts.  But over the last few years, thoughts have been crystallizing around this question:  Why are we so tired? Anxious? Depressed? Overwhelmed as a society?  I don’t want to oversimplify any individual experience, but I want to try and put my finger on some reasons why collectively, we are moving towards being a burned out and overwhelmed society.

For a moment, imagine that you are alive in the year 1900.  Certainly, it had it’s own challenges, but you would not experience the following:

  • If there were a hurricane/tsunami/earthquake/etc. in another part of the world, you wouldn’t ever hear about it.  If you did, it would be long after any sort of response from your part of the world could be a part of the recovery.
  • You wouldn’t have any idea what career sculpting is.  You wouldn’t be worried from day to day if there were an open job that used  your strengthfinders, enneagram, or MBTI results more fully.  You’d already know pretty much everything you’d need to do the job you have, which is the job that you’ll likely end your career with.
  • Similarly, you would not encounter a new endless call to personal development.  Whether further education, certification, or equipping…you’d likely never be invited to consider any of it.  Why?  Because you are already sufficient for the time that you live in.
  • Finally: if you were a woman (and we could write a similar line for men), you would not be bombarded every second of every day with a whole host of things that collectively call you to be the omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent Messiah.  Likely, your mother would have taught you all that really is to know about being a good woman, and you’d spend the rest of you life living out of that competency instilled in you early on.  Perhaps it included a career, family, education, but maybe not.  You would know what a woman was and that you were one.

Instead, you live in 2019, and here’s the reality:

  • Not only do you hear REAL TIME reports about disasters in every country on the planet, you are expected to personally care and do something about it.  And if you don’t, you are then labeled many unflattering things.  And, you can’t just pick one or two areas to care about…no, you must be omni-concerned.  On Facebook, I saw someone post “50% of Syrians are now displaced…half the country is without a home. This breaks my heart”   The first response to this heartfelt post was this: “What about the millions of babies who have been aborted in this country!”  Both are worthwhile concerns.  How did a refugee crisis become the enemy of unborn children?!?!  But, our culture of over-care and over-engage means you have to crusade for any and every injustice.
  • In today’s marketplace, you’re told that you better keep an eye out for a chance to move up and move on.  Don’t settle in.  Don’t get comfortable and competent.  Keep climbing the ladder which is really more like a spider web these days with myriad ways to go.  Career change isn’t just possible, but expected, encouraged.  Oh, and btw, you should care about your career more that you do AND you should make sure that your career doesn’t interfere with your self-actualization either.  Finally, make sure that your little job in Mena, Arkansas (for instance) isn’t affecting the economy in Mali, Latvia, or Indonesia.
  • YOU are the problem.  You are being crushed under the weight of being a better you.  Why?  Because, according to some, the you that you already are is not up to the task of living in this globalize, fast paced society…or so you’re told.  We’ve been convinced that working hard at a job that produces something that society needs and provides for my family is selling out.  We’re preached a self-god gospel: the world NEEDS YOU, your unique, one of a kind contribution to the planet.  They forget to tell you that discovering this will often be harder than actually just holding down a good job, and in the end, you’re wasted from the effort.
  • I ache for women today.  From healthy eating, to career building, to child-rearing, to love making, to beauty and weight and passion and hobbies and home making and blogging and leading and self-fulfillment, you are deluged with all of this in 2019.  Not just that it’s available, but that you must master all of it…for yourself, your family, your neighbors, your local school, and the random stranger.  Be WONDER WOMAN!

So, why are we the way we are – brittle, fragile, and exhausted?  I think a lot of it has to do with expectations.  I think a lot of it has to do with being in a world, now, that is real time and global and not knowing how to live.  And the call to do more, care more, give more, and be more is nonstop.  We haven’t learned to think globally but act/live locally.  The call from society is demonic.  It’s calling you to try and replace God, to be the Messiah, to save the world, and look good doing it.  It’s a lie from the pit of Hell.  The Sabbath was made for man.  Man’s limitations, his finiteness, is a gift from God.  We can never do enough, control enough.  Not as individuals or as society.  We NEED God.  We have to close our eyes, fall asleep, and trust that He’s in control.

One last caveat, some of the things about, if selectively and meaningfully engaged, are good things.  Let’s pray for the suffering, that’s good, but then let’s trust them to God.  When it makes sense for us to involve ourselves in some of the good causes out there, steward your life well.  Personally, I like personal development, but it can be an idol.

If you’re looking to move deeper into this whole topic, Reset by David Murray has been helpful for me.  It’s less about personal development and more about stewarding the life God has given you.