Warning: this post contains an obvious conclusion, but read on anyway!
I am a 40-something Christian man. I am married, and at the moment I live in Australia (although I usually live in Mexico). I enjoy the cricket, can cook a good steak, and will happily go to the beach. Like most men my age, I think I have an above average ability in most sports—although I am no good with power tools.
But when it comes to living the ‘right’ life of a middle-aged Australian male, I am confused.
I’m confused because, when I watch sport, the advertisements and commentators are constantly telling me who I am. They say:
You are an idiot who carries on as if you are 19, and thinks the key elements of a happy life are (in no particular order) bacon, having fun with your mates, and beer.
You are a hopeless husband, who can’t be trusted to do the grocery shopping, buy clothes for the kids, or articulately express an opinion when it comes to colour, style or appearance.
As a father, you are a joke. Your kids don’t take you seriously.
The limit of your cooking ability is organizing takeaway pizza or burning a sausage.
You can make your own destiny.
Faithfulness in marriage is a sign of weakness; infidelity is the sign of an adventurous spirit.
If I am not a rugged tough guy, then I am a bit of a disappointment.
Your wife will inevitably bring a rapid and definite end to any activities that you might find enjoyable.
Your most comfortable social situation is in a pub.
But when I read the Bible, there is a very different picture. God tells me:
Men and women are created equally in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27).
Men are given a task by God (Gen 2:15).
The man who dwells in the word and ways of God will be blessed (Ps 1).
Men are to instruct and learn (Prov 9:9, 12:15).
A godly man is slow to anger, not quick to defend (Prov 15:18).
We are blessed because God has forgiven our sins (Rom 4:8).
We are members of one body, and serve that body (Rom 12:5; Eph 4).
Our value is found in our identity in Christ (Eph 1:11-14).
We are mature men when we walk like Christ (Eph 4:13).
We are to work so that we can eat and share with those in need (Eph 4:28; 2 Thes 3:10).
We are to love and serve our wives by laying down our lives for them (Eph 5:25).
It is important how we care for our families and our leaders are to be good models of this (1 Tim 3:4, 12).
We are to encourage older men like fathers, and treat older women as mothers and younger women like sisters, in all purity (1 Tim 5:1-2).
We are to flee the things of the world and pursue godly living (1 Tim 6:11).
We are to urge younger men to be self-controlled (Titus 2:6).
Ready for the obvious conclusion? Here it comes.
As Christian men, we must take our lead from God’s word and his desire for a Christian man, not from our sports players and commentators, advertisers, or self-proclaimed life gurus.
But here’s the question: if the conclusion is so obvious (and I think it is), why is it that we as men so often miss the mark? Why is it that we fall into the same old traps of wanting to “be one of the boys” or “prove ourselves” through what we post on Facebook? Why do we feel inadequate when others are travelling overseas and we are not? Why do we feel the need to play the part of the dumb husband when we’re with our wives and her friends? Why do we not step up and lead when there is opportunity? Why do we not model self-control to the next generation of men, and commend it when we see it in them? Why don’t we want to take the time to learn from older, godly men, but rather rush in and do our own thing?
My answer, and maybe yours as well, is that I so often forget who I am in Christ. Thousands of time a day, the world says to me “Be like this! Be like that!”, but never “Live out your life in Christ!”
God’s word will say that to me. Christian brothers will urge that in me. Christian sisters will encourage me in it.
My job is to listen, to pray for steadfastness and strength, to strive, and to be that encouraging voice to others.