Men Have Vision
What is a man? Brian Tome, pastor of Crossroads Church, talks about the qualities that make men unique. Tome recalls his youth and the irresponsibility that marked much of it. Tome explains that a man has a vision for his life while a boy lives day to day.
About the Guest
Brian Tome talks about the qualities that make men unique. Tome recalls his youth and the irresponsibility that marked much of it. Tome explains that a man has a vision for his life while a boy lives day to day.
Men Have Vision
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, May 2nd. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson, and I'm Bob Lepine.
Pastor Brian Tome joins us today and says if we want to know what the Bible has to say about masculinity, there are better places to look than at the example of someone like Samson. We’ll talk more about that today; stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us.
We’re talking about a subject this week that—you shared a little bit, already, Ann, that you have some mixed emotions about calling men to manhood and the implications of that for wives and for moms and for single women in our culture.
Ann: I think every woman resonates with this. It stirs in them, “Yes, this is right, this sounds good.” But there’s another part of us, as women, that we’ve had to step into that role as protector, as provider, because maybe a man hasn’t or hasn’t been there. So women have had to become strong in this culture. To hear this, I’ve realized that I have some of that in me, that I have a protective shell around me that’s had to be strong because maybe in the past I haven’t had someone there to protect me.
Dave: You know what, Bob? I have to jump in, because I know where this comes from. I’ve been married to this woman for a long time; it’s been awesome. Part of her strength—and she’s a very strong woman, and I know strong women and she’s at the top, which is awesome—but I think part of what Ann is feeling right now is, she was married to a passive boy, me, for almost a decade, I think. Even as I read through what a man is through Scripture, I started realizing, “I’m not a man yet, and I’m 25, 28 years old.” That’s why this conversation’s so critical. I was that guy. So I know—some of that’s just—
Ann: That’s funny, honey; I wasn’t even thinking of you, but—
Dave: I know. But I’m sitting here thinking, “That’s part of what she’s feeling; she had to be strong because her man wasn’t.”
I think the beauty that we get about today is I became a man. She was part of the process, she watched it. But when we got married, I thought I was a man, like so many do, and I wasn’t.
Bob: So, as we have this conversation—and we’re going to introduce our guest here in just a minute, but—Ann, do you think wives and moms, single women, want men to step up and reassert themselves as men and say, “I’ll protect you,” or do they want men to go, “You’re a capable woman; you can protect yourself”?
Ann: I think women long for men to be beside them in the battle. I think women feel like we are in the battle, and we’ve been battling, sometimes, alone, and we want men there, because men are strong, and they carry a peace that we don’t carry, which is beautiful.
So I think every woman listening is like, “I want that,” but there’s also another part of them that thinks, “Will my husband ever become that, or will—” you know, “I’m a single mom. Will my son ever experience a man that will pull that out of him?” So that longing is absolutely there.
Bob: We’re talking about what makes a man a man this week, and Dave, we have your friend Brian Tome joining us. Brian, welcome back to FamilyLife Today.
Brian: Thank you, great to be here.
Bob: Brian his a pastor from Cincinnati, Ohio at Crossroads Church—
Dave: And I’ll tell you, Bob (he’s too humble to tell you this), it’s one of the fastest-growing churches in the country.
Bob: A lot of people coming to Crossroads.
Dave: As a fellow pastor in ministry, it’s such a joy to watch what God’s done in you, Brian, and through you. You’re a model for us. I mean, you started after us. It’s like the student, you know, and we’re the teacher, and it’s like the student has gone way beyond the teacher; it’s pretty cool.
Bob: Brian, as you sat down to write this book, The Five Marks of a Man, this was after a lot of years of processing this on your own and then presenting this to the congregation of Crossroads and then helping them grapple with these concepts. Was this because of your own lack of understanding about your own masculinity?
Brian: Yes, it was my personal needing to prove to the world myself that I was a man, and I didn’t even know how to do that, didn’t even know what a man was. I didn’t want other males to go down the same barren road with no answers that I had gone through, just trying to prove and feel like we were men. That led me to deeper study and reflection, to try to help my son and give him a better start than I had.
A verse that I think is really important for us is First Corinthians 16, verses 13 to 14. Let me read it to you. It says this: “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”
Now, this is a great verse, and I think the five marks are all hinted at in here. First of all, “act like men,” is in the plural. Men are team players; boys are individual MVPs. That’s one of the marks.
It also talks here about being watchful, being watchful about having a vision. A man has a vision; a boy lives day-to-day, doesn’t have anything he’s living for.
“Stand firm in the faith.” What is faith? Faith is something that you can’t entirely prove; that’s why it’s called faith. You stand firm in it, and whenever there’s something you can’t entirely prove, you will be in the minority. Men take a minority position; boys always have to be in the majority.
“Let all that you do…” There’s a sense of love that happens there, and we do this by working. You do when you work. Men work; boys don’t want to work. All boys want to do is play.
And it is to be done in love. This happens—the greatest act of love was Jesus dying on a cross. What did He do on a cross for us? He protected us from having to pay for our sins forever. Men are protectors; boys are predators.
So I think that these five marks come up again and again; in every male that we all admire, they’re all at least alluded to here in this passage, and every Bible hero at his best, when you see them, they have these five marks.
Bob: So, let’s take some time going through these and just unpacking them for guys. You said that a boy lives day-to-day, a man has a longer-term vision. Just explain that a little bit.
Brian: Well, let’s use my own loser life for a moment if we could. [Laughter]
I was in college for seven years, and I didn’t train to be a doctor. Seven years! Seven years to get a four-year degree. That’s part of what happens when your parents value education and they pay for your college. I would drop classes because I didn’t want to go to the final, and have to repeat Accounting I again. I took Accounting I three times! Three times. I had a sterling 2.25 GPA in high school. Do you know why I did those things that I’m really embarrassed by? It’s because I didn’t have a vision.
My son one time was upset about the homework he was doing, and he said, “This is stupid. I don’t know what I’m doing this. I’m never going to have to use this.” I looked at him and said, “Yes, you’re right, you’re never going to have to use that.” He looked at me like he had me busted. He was like, “Well, then why am I doing this?”
I said, “You’re not necessarily going to use geometry, but what you’re doing right now is you’re getting a sheepskin that’s going to open up opportunities to you in the future.”
No one told me that. No one told me—I didn’t like school, I didn’t see what the point of it was. I didn’t have a vision. School’s all about a vision. I’m going to do something I don’t want to do today so I can have a better tomorrow.
Dave: So Brian, if I’m a 12, 13, 14-year-old boy and I come to you as a spiritual man in my life, or a pastor, coach—you name it—and I say, “Give me the long game. I don’t know what it is. What is a vision I should have? What’s a vision a man has?” A boy doesn’t have it, a man does. What is it?
Brian: Whatever your vision is right now, it’s probably going to change, but you need to have something right now that’s going to help you endure difficulty tomorrow. For some of us, it’s a simple vision of, “I’m going to get through school,” and then we get another vision. Others of us—I’ve talked with one guy that said, “My vision is going to be, I’m going to be the first person in my family who will never have a divorce.” That’s a vision.
We’re not talking here about, “We’re going to revolutionize the tech world and start the next Apple.” Maybe you want to, and maybe you can do that; that’s great. We’re just talking about something in your mind that’s going to take time to get there and gives you reason for why you’re going through difficulty right now.
Ann: So it’s goals. It’s setting short- and long-term goals that will affect your life in the future.
Brian: Yes, though I’ve never set a goal in my life, so…
Ann: What’s a vision? Why that word?
Brian: Well, just goal—I think goal does tell us, you know, “By this date, I’m supposed to have this many of that.” I’m okay with that; I’m not saying we shouldn’t do that. But there has to be a burn, there has to be an internal burn that just says, “That’s where I’m going. I’m going to go through this briar patch here because that fuzzy thing—I think that’s a mountaintop over there—I’m going to go to that, and therefore I’m going to go through the briar patch.”
Bob: Well, and I would suggest to you here, too, that one of the differences between a man and a boy is a boy can have a vision where he’s thinking, “This is the goal, this is what I’m aspiring to,” but at the end of it, it’s—I’m doing it for me. I’m doing it for my own self-satisfaction, for my own benefit. I’m not thinking of others, and I’m not thinking of the glory of God in the midst of this; I’m just doing this because when I get there, when I have the toy, I want the Ferrari, or I want the Condor, or I want this. You’re still a boy if you have a vision but it’s all about you.
Brian: Very insightful, I would like to just be one of rare people that says here right now, it’s crazy how many of us think of Samson as a Bible hero. Samson is not a Bible hero. He is a boy. He is an utter boy. Everything is done for him; his sexual urges, his grooming habits. At the end of his life, he said, before he pushed over those pillars, he says, “Let me take vengeance for me,” is basically what he says. It’s not about the glory of God, it’s not about the reputation of Israel; it’s about him.
So yes, a boy can have some vision that sounds great about starting a new .com, but one of the marks of a man is a man who’s a team player; a boy plays for MVPs. So, a vision must have others engaged and the recipients, or else you’re being a boy.
Dave: So, when is a moment in your life where you have rejected, overcome passivity as a boy and taken a courageous stand or move to be a man?
Brian: The ones in the book I talk about were taking a stand to help those in generational poverty in the city of Cincinnati and having people in our church upset that we had bought property, and they thought it was going to hurt their property values, and seeing people picket our church. I mean, that was a minority position; took a stand. Took a stand—
Bob: Oh, wait. Generational poverty—what were you doing there?
Brian: We built a center called the Citylink Center; it was a ten-million-dollar facility that we built, and then we funded a million dollars a year ongoing, and we brought a bunch of social services into one house so those in poverty wouldn’t have to go all over the city; there’d be a one-stop shop to help them and mentor them to wholeness.
Bob: Was it fearful for you to step out and say, “Let’s do this”?
Brian: Well, yes; for one, where’s the ten million dollars going to come from? Where’s that going to come from?
Bob: There is that.
Brian: Second, when you have picketers out front picketing your church, that’s not a fun time.
Brian: But was being a minority, taking a stand.
How will I parent my kids is another one. I took my daughter and my son to a Reds game. They were seven and five. They’re seven and five, we’re at a Cincinnati Reds game. I gave them some money; I said, “I want you to go back and I want you to get me a Coke and a hot dog; get yourself anything you want, too.”
They looked at me like, “What?” I said, “Just walk up this aisle, go back up the aisle, go there and stand in line.”
Bob: Seven and five.
Brian: Seven and five. Now, if we were in the Bronx I don’t know if I would have, but Cincinnati in 1997 was pretty serene. So they took off, and they came back with that hot dog and that Coke, and I’ll tell you what, they grew that day.
The stuff that I would do to my kids, people judged me all the time. You have to get used to taking a stand, you have to get used to being in the minority position, because where the majority’s going is not that good, and the fruit isn’t that sweet.
Dave: It is interesting; you have a vision for boys to become men, for girls to become women; I mean, that’s part of it in this minority position as well. It’s interesting, in the section in the book about taking the minority position, you get into the whole thing of integrity as well. So, how does that play out? As you’re raising these kids, and even you and me as a man, how do we live with wholeness?
Brian: Well, it starts with us. I’ll just do my latest confession—this is just a morning, honestly, this morning repentance.
Bob: Like, today?
Brian: Yes, today; literally this morning.
Bob: Okay. Alright.
Brian: So yes, Brian Tome has boy moments. I live in this place where there’s a bunch of acreage around it, and you’re not allowed to hunt in the acreage. We kind of share the acreage, and you’re not allowed to hunt in it. I’ve never hunted before, but all of a sudden I said, “I want to go hunt something and eat it, and I have this property right behind my house!” So I got this crossbow—
Bob: Did you do this this morning?
Brian: No, I didn’t kill it this morning. I’ve killed and eaten two deer in the last six weeks; pulled them out of the woods, that stuff.
So, a friend of mine, just yesterday, who lives in the same plan, said, “Hey, just tell me how you’re processing doing what’s against the rules.” I said, “Well, that’s a good question. This isn’t the section where there’s the walk-in trails.” That’s what I said.
This morning I was reading—I had my quiet time in Romans 13, and it talks about honoring authorities, not violating your conscience, inviting the wrath of God. God just spoke to me really clearly [about] not honoring the authority of that land, because it shouldn’t be happening.
So I’m emailing an apology, and a repentance email’s going out. Man, that was a boyish move, man. Boys always have an excuse to bend the rules and to violate right and wrong, and right there I had done it.
Dave: Where does a man get the foundation to take a minority position?
Brian: I think we get inspired, Dave, by seeing other people do it. That’s part of why I just confessed that. Not only is confession good for the soul, but maybe someone’s going to listen to that and be inspired by it. I know I’m inspired when I see other people making strong confession and make strong moves. I mean, you talked about Kensington, the church where you cut your teeth and where you served. I would regularly come and just hang around Kensington Church, because I saw aggressive moves that you guys were making. It inspired me.
We need to see that with other men. We just need to be around other people who are lifting our highest level instead of pushing us down and lowering their expectations on us.
Dave: Which leads us further conversation about men needing men to become men.
Bob: That’s something that you’ve needed in your own life, but you’ve been pressing your boys to have those kinds of relationships and the men at your church. You really feel this is a high value for every guy.
Dave: Oh, I’m like Brian in terms of I’m a vigilante on the stage with men. I’m like, “If you’re coming here more than six weeks and you haven’t found some men to do life with…” I’m yelling at them, you know. I’m like, “Come on!” I want to call them out of boyhood to manhood, because we have to. It’s true for women as well, no question, but men so often isolate ourselves, and we don’t become men. We have to aggressively pursue it, go, find the men you need to do life with, and they’re going to change your life.
Ann: And we as women long for our men to be with other men.
Ann: We really want that—
Brian: You feel safe, actually. If your man’s by himself, you feel very vulnerable.
Ann: Yes, exactly. But when he’s surrounded by good men, we push that. We want our husbands to do it. A lot of times they just don’t want to.
Bob: So, if a husband was to say to his wife, “You know, I’m going to get a copy of this book they were talking about on the radio, The Five Marks of a Man, and just get together and with three or four other guys and go through it,” you’re saying a wife would go, “I would love that”?
Ann: Our temptation is that we would be putting it beside the toilet. [Laughter] You know, “Please read this book! Please read it.” Yes.
Bob: But even if the guy’s saying, “That means I’m gone Thursday and you have to put the kids to bed and handle it yourself,” a wife’s going to go, “I want you to have that time doing that”?
Ann: Absolutely. Yes.
Dave: I’ll add this. I’ve been doing life with seven guys for 20 years, my best friends. There is never one time in our marriage where Ann has said, “Don’t spend time with those guys.” She’s pushing me out the door, because she knows I come back a better man, better husband, better dad.
Ann: He’s inspired. You’re right, Brian; he’s inspired by other men doing what God’s called them to do.
Bob: Okay, so, guys who are listening, get a copy of the book The Five Marks of a Man, get together with some other guys, and go through this a chapter at time and have conversations about what’s in this book. Wives who are listening…do they get the book and put it by the toilet, or do they just pray, or what do they do? [Laughter]
Ann: I think that’s up to you guys. What should we do? What would you say?
Dave: I’ve read a few books by the toilet—
Bob: Okay. [Laughter] They just wound up there? You went, “How did this book get here?”
Dave: “How did that get there?” My wife knows I spend some time there, so—
Brian: Well, one thing you definitely cannot do as a woman is you cannot make your husband feel like you’re giving him an assignment. I wish we would respond better to challenge from our wives, but we generally don’t, especially in the area of, “You need to be a better man,” because that’s how they’ll interpret this. “Oh, you want me to have this book because I’m really not being a—”
Brian: So you just have to be careful.
Ann: I want to talk about that, too, the next time, because we as women need help in knowing how to do that.
Bob: Alright, we’ll see if we can get a chance to unpack some of that. Right now, let me tell our listeners how they can get a copy of Brian Tome’s book, The Five Marks of a Man: Finding Your Path to Courageous Manhood. We have it on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com, or you can call to order at 1-800-FLTODAY.
In addition to Brian’s book, I want to encourage you to think about getting together with dads and sons this summer. If you have sons who are, I would say, 16 or older, plan 10 nights this summer when you are some of their friends and their friends’ dads could all get together and have a cookout or do something and then sit down and watch each of the ten sessions that are part of the Stepping Up video series for men.
This is a great way for dads to interact with this material, but also for sons to begin to think about, “What does it mean that God made me a man, and how am I supposed to respond to that? How do I embrace biblical masculinity and live that out?”
We have copies of that video series available in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center; you can go online to order the kit that has the workbook and the videos and the copy of Dennis Rainey’s book Stepping Up. Again, the information about how to order is available online at FamilyLifeToday.com. You can also order Brian Tome’s book The Five Marks of a Man. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information, or call 1-800-FLTODAY if we can answer any questions for you or if you’d like to order by phone. 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
You know, Brian talked today about the importance of having a band of brothers, a tribe, a group of guys you get with where you’re—I hate to use the expression, but “doing life together,” right? The President of FamilyLife, David Robbins, is here. You have a group like that, right?
David: I do. I really can’t imagine life without them. We dominoed into each other’s lives spiritually in college, where I saw one of my close friends really start passionately pursuing the Lord, and over time it drew me and there were a few others that dominoed after me into each other’s lives. As we graduated, we just kind of made this pact that “we want to keep this going.”
So, sure enough, every May we get together, and there’s a cost to it. There’s a cost to our wives, there’s a cost to getting there, but it is so worth it. If anything, Meg pushes me out the door, going, “You need this. I see what happens when you come back.”
We’re coming up on our 20th year this year, and you know, we keep it pretty simple. We talk throughout the year on some video calls, but when we get together we simply call it “going around the horn,” and each person gets a turn in the hot seat and has about an hour to really divulge anything good, bad, ugly in their lives. There’s that safety and that vulnerability that’s already established.
So we go there, and I just simply hear the conversation today and just go, if you don’t have that, people want it. Every man wants it. Take the step of faith, take the risk, be the first to initiate; go there.
If you’re the wife of a man, encourage him. Don’t get in the way; push him toward it, especially if those friends intentionally push him towards Jesus.
Bob: How many guys are in your group?
David: We have six of us.
Bob: Okay. That’s about a good size. You wouldn’t want it much bigger than that.
David: You end up just being limited on time to really do to the deep places beneath the surface that you need to go to.
Bob: Yes, that’s good. Thank you, David.
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You can find out more about becoming a legacy partner, or donate, or sign up online at FamilyLifeToday.com, or call if you have any questions or you’d like to take care of things by phone. Call 1-800-FLTODAY; 1-800-358-6329. Thank you for making practical, biblical help and hope available for your neighbors, for your friends, for people all around the world as you support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. We appreciate you so much.
And we hope you can join us back tomorrow, when we’re going to talk about how important it is for our picture of manhood to be understood biblically and not conditioned culturally. Brian Tome will join us again tomorrow; hope you can be here as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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