The Charge Toward Manhood
About the Guest
Knowing what to do and doing what you know are two different things. Rick Phillips, Dennis Rainey, Dan Allender, Tim Kimmel, and Robert Lewis each give a charge to see and pursue God's best as a godly man.
Knowing what to do and doing what you know are two different things. Rick Phillips, Dennis Rainey, Dan Allender, Tim Kimmel, and Robert Lewis each give a charge to see and pursue God’s best as a godly man.
Bob: If you want your life to be pleasing to God, you need to be a person with convictions. Tim Kimmel says that should be a hallmark of every godly man.
Tim: Let me define a conviction for you—I define a conviction as what you’re willing to die for. Now I don’t think we should have a long list of convictions—if that’s the way we’re defining it—because life is precious. Life is not something that you flippantly give up for anything. But the problem with most people out there is not that their list is too long—it’s that there’s nothing on it. You know, they don’t want to inconvenience themselves. But I think we do have to have convictions—and when you challenge men to convictions they come through.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, October 20th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Would your friends, your children, your wife describe you as a man of deep convictions? We’ll spend time thinking about that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition.
One of the things we’ve been doing this year is spending a little time reflecting on the last quarter-century—because a quarter-century’s a long time. We’ve been doing this for a long time, haven’t we?
Bob: Time flies when you’re having fun. [Laughter] And it drags sometimes.
Bob: There have been those days.
Dennis: Yes, there have been. No doubt about it. We just want to say thanks to the listeners—first of all for listening and applying what we share here. We try to bring you the truth from the blueprints of Scripture to apply to your relationship with God, your spouse, your kids, and beyond that to your world. I think it’s been a healthy 25 years, Bob. We’ve learned a few things as we’ve been mentored by the guests we’ve had here on FamilyLife Today, and I look at the lineup today.
Just tell them who’s going to be on here.
Bob: We’re hearing from people who have been guests with us over the last quarter-century, and we’re just going back and kind of reflecting on some of the profound things folks had to say, like Rick Philips and Dan Allender and Tim Kimmel and Robert Lewis. So we’re going to hear from some guys who understand what masculinity—
Dennis: You left me off the list!
Bob: I left you off because we hear from you every day!
Dennis: I’m just glad I made the list!
Bob: When Rick Philips was here, we were talking about—and what we’re talking about this week is the whole issue of masculinity and understand what it is that God has designed us for as men—that’s been a theme we’ve come back to over and over again—and Rick Philips, who’s a pastor in South Carolina, wrote a book called The Masculine Mandate, and he explained that there are a lot of young men today who just aren’t sure what they’re supposed to do or be as men.
Rick: I’m reading a sports magazine and I read a story—it was actually ESPN, the magazine, and they’re telling the story of Brian Deegan. Do you guys know who Brian Deegan is?
Rick: He is the Michael Jordan of Moto X. This is that x-game sport where they flip the motorcycles and do all those terrifying things. He forms a Moto X group called “The Metal Militia.” It’s all Nazi tattoos and it’s mayhem and violence. Well, three things happened in Brian Deegan’s life. One is he’s filming a commercial and he’s doing this death-defying leap, and he crashes, and virtually kills himself. His handlebars go through several organs, he loses as much blood as you can lose and still live.
Prior to that he’d gotten his girlfriend pregnant, and she had gone home, and when she was home to have the baby, her friends took her to an evangelical church. Sure enough, they weren’t mean people who were judgmental. They loved her, they led her to Christ. So when Deegan is injured, he goes to be with his girlfriend, and she takes him to church.
And he comes to faith in Jesus Christ. So that combination of events happens—and by the time I read this article this hooligan hero of the Moto X scene has become a Christian. Boy, isn’t the new birth wonderful? Because he comes back with a great boldness, and this ESPN magazine tells the story of him doing Bible studies in the Metal Militia and leading them to Christ one by one.
Then the interview concludes with them saying to him, “What’s going on in your life now?” Here’s where I’m going, because he has this little baby girl, now—in his lap—and he says, “Dude, now I have to figure out how to be a man,” or words to that effect. “I have to be a father—I have to be a man that she’ll look up to.”
I thought to myself, “This guy needs biblical instruction.” How many guys are there like this, who need biblical truth coming out of all the confusion of our culture for what men—and a guy like this, Nazi tattoos, drunkenness, drugs, women, and all that.
He’s a believer in Christ now, and here’s the question: Will the Bible give a clear, simple, powerful answer to the question, “Dude, how do I become a man?”
Bob: Again, that’s Rick Philips, and a great story, huh?
Dennis: It really is. I was thinking back to when the doctor placed our firstborn, Ashley, into my arms, and I began to ask the question, “What do you do with this?” You know, “What does this mean?” I didn’t have the foggiest idea how she, along with her other three sisters and two brothers, would assist Barbara in helping me find out how to become a man and finish the process of growing up.
Bob: Well, and trying to embrace and understand our masculinity apart from Christ, that’s a challenge when we know Christ—
Dennis: It’s still a challenge.
Bob: It’s still a challenge, but now we have a frame of reference; don’t we?
Dennis: We do—and we have the Scriptures that can give us those wheel alignments and adjustments in our lives and point out to us when we’ve stepped over the line, which men do occasionally.
Bob: You talked about this. In fact, it’s one of the things you’ve talked about many times on FamilyLife Today—the steps to manhood that you outlined in your book Stepping Up. Just run through those five steps.
Dennis: Well, the first one is boyhood, and it’s where we start out, obviously. That becomes the next step of adolescence. Then you step away from boyhood and adolescence and turn your back on them and step up to manhood, but there are two other steps, Bob, where I believe the real payoff is.
The next one is the mentor step. That’s where you take responsibility for impacting another young man’s life in terms of what you’ve learned about Jesus Christ. Then the final step—which is patriarch—which is the influence step without having to have the authority in your life that maybe you had in the earlier years. It’s the payoff step, and I think men lose sight of a vision for manhood today because they don’t have the sight of becoming a patriarch someday—
—that can be a gentle, gracious, loving, firm believer in Jesus Christ, guiding the next generation.
Bob: As you talk about those five steps, one of the things you’ve said over the years is that a lot of guys find themselves stuck between one step and another, and we’re going to hear you talking about that from a message that you gave a number of years ago. I think this is really profound.
Dennis: Now I have to confess to you that for the first few years of our marriage I would have to say I straddled these two steps. I was not fully turning and facing upward toward the next step. I would have to say I was part teenager and part man. Part teenager in that I wanted my way—part teenager in still being passive—not caring for my wife’s needs, but being lazy on Saturday. You’ve heard me describe myself as a giant amoeba on Saturday.
Turning on the TV, watching the game of the week, feeling like that was my right as a “man.”
I believe our churches and our ministries are full of young men who are just like I was. They are young men who have one foot on adolescence and one foot on manhood, and they have not turned from the lust, the selfishness, the passivity, the rebellion of the teenage years to become what God called them to be.
When I was sharing this material, a guy who runs Asher Auto Salvage—his name is Pod Buoy—Pod came to me and he said, “Two times this week, Dennis, I stepped up from being a teenager to being a man.” He said, “Can you believe it? I’m 63 years old and I’m still struggling with being an adolescent.” And he grinned.
One of the men—when we led Men’s Fraternity—one of the mornings came and stood on this adolescent step, and he said, “For a number of years I treated my wife like she was a possession, yet ultimately ended in a divorce with two sons who were left in the wake of that divorce.” He said, “But God has convicted me of my selfishness and my sin,” and he said, “Tomorrow night we’re getting remarried, and I’m stepping up to not only become a man, but I’m also stepping up to something greater,” and I’ll share that with you in a minute.
I think just having those three steps outlined for men today provide incredible direction. But the last two steps I believe are the crowning glory for men, and if we can lock our radar on these things and if we can begin to get them firmly in our mind that this is our call.
That guy who said he had been a teenager was remarrying his wife, they were going to get remarried, they were moving back in, said, “I’m stepping up to become the mentor my boys need me to be to help them step to maturity.” He had this biggest grin on his face. About 35, 36 years old, and it was like, “Finally, I understand what I’m supposed to do as a man.”
Bob: Well again, that’s Dennis Rainey talking about moving beyond adolescence into manhood—and that’s not a one-time event. That’s a daily decision, isn’t it?
Dennis: It really is, and it’s turning your back on the foolishness of boyhood and adolescence and it’s embracing what God’s called you to be—whether it’s a husband, a father, a grandfather, or just be the man He’s called you to be in the assignment He has for you today—but in all things being obedient to Jesus Christ.
Bob: We’ve had a chance to dialogue with a lot of guys about what it means for a man to be a man.
One of the men we talked to about this is our friend Dr. Dan Allender, and he had an interesting perspective on what’s at the heart of masculinity. Here’s our conversation with Dan.
Dennis: What would you say is the essence of true, biblical, God-created manhood?
Dan: I would say the simple phrase: A warrior servant. A man who’s committed to engagement with war—therefore he always leads. He leads to die first. That is the core of what leadership is—it’s the man who’s willing to own the fact that in every problem in his marriage he is the first to own his own log. Even when it’s clear that his wife is wrong in certain matters—his part is to bear the bullet first—and therefore to lead by sacrifice.
Dennis: I hear “initiation” written all over that.
Dan: Oh, it’s a glorious sense of movement; isn’t it? An initiation into the world. He is—in one sense—to trample the world down. That’s what the word “rule and subdue” means.
The idea of subduing that we talked about yesterday is the idea—somehow—of treading down a virgin forest—making a mark by my existence. Now my wife is to follow behind me, but she’s not to sort of toddle behind me—she’s also to be—in one sense—the navigator—the one who brings truth to bear about what it is I’m moving toward. If I don’t have my wife with me, I’m not going to move toward the very end of my life as to what it’s meant to be—and that is a reflection of the relationship of the Trinity. So, bottom line: my wife points me toward relationship—which is the ultimate task I’m to fulfill.
Bob: Again, that’s Dr. Dan Allender. What a great picture of the complementary relationship between men and women and why men—apart from women—can be really dangerous—and why women need men to be men.
Dennis: Yes, and I just thinking of Barbara and how she’d been that in my life.
Speaking the truth to me, encouraging, exhorting, correcting at points—they’re all a part of what I think God has used in my life along with the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit to help me become the man God created me to be.
Bob: Yes, and Dan talked about being the first to take the bullet—being ready to die. There is something about masculinity that calls us to be ready to sacrifice at whatever level we’re called to sacrifice; right?
Dennis: I know a dad who had four daughters, and he had a couple of young men who showed up at his house wanting to date a couple of his daughters. So he said, “I need to have a conversation with you first. You’re going to take my daughters to the prom, so I just want you to know what I expect of you. If a group of terrorists were to break into the place where you’re having your party, I expect you to take a bullet.”
I bet those young men will never, ever forget being called up by a dad to say, “I want you to protect my daughter. Protect her physically, protect her innocence, her dignity—”
Bob: What you’re talking about his convictions and courage, and this is something that our friend Dr. Tim Kimmel talked about when he was a guest on FamilyLife Today—the need for men to be men of conviction.
Tim: Men of honor are men who hold to their convictions. Let me define a conviction for you—I define a conviction as what you’re willing to die for. Now I don’t think we should have a long list of convictions—if that’s the way we’re defining it—because life is precious. Life is not something that you flippantly give up for anything. But the problem with most people out there is not that their list is too long—it’s that there’s nothing on it. You know, they don’t want to inconvenience themselves. But I think we do have to have convictions—and when you challenge men to convictions they come through.
I’ll give you a little laundry list of at least four things that I think are worth giving your life for: our faith, our family, our friends, and our freedom.
I think those are four things that deserve for us to be willing to give our lives for. The Bible says, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
Now, how would we know? How would our wife know? How would our children know that we would give our lives for them without hesitating? Well, it’s simple—are we willing to live for them every day? That’s the litmus test—because for most of us—we’ll never have to give our life; right? Most of us won’t have to give our life for our friends or our freedom or our faith. But are we willing to reprioritize our lives and inconvenience our lives on behalf of these very things and live for them?
When they see that over and over again—that Dad changes his schedule to make sure that he is there when they need him—that we are willing to play hurt and do without for the best interests of someone else—that’s saying that they wouldn’t hesitate if it came down to it.
Bob: Again, that’s Dr. Tim Kimmel. The whole issue of sacrifice is all over what it is for us to be men; right?
Dennis: That’s what I was thinking as he was talking. I was thinking, “How will my wife—how will my children—know if I’ve truly denied myself?” They’re going to see me give up some of my agenda, a good bit of my agenda if not—on some days—all of my agenda, to be able to take care of them and do what needs to be done there. That’s not always convenient, Bob, and it’s not always the natural response of my flesh—to want to give it up.
Bob: Can I tell you how I spent the Labor Day holiday? This was back several months ago. For years I’ve said this—I’ve said, “We should hire somebody to come out and cut off those lower branches on our trees in the back yard.” Mary Ann decided, “No, we shouldn’t hire anybody—we have a ladder, we have a saw, and we have some time on Labor Day weekend.”
So Labor Day weekend was all about cutting branches off trees, and here’s what I thought about it in the middle of it, as I was doing the work—and you know, here I’m griping about it, but I thought, “I should have paid somebody to do this,” and then I thought, “No—you know what? I’m loving my wife.”
Bob: “I’m not cutting limbs down—I’m loving Mary Ann.”
Again, Dr. Robert Lewis helps us think clearly about what God’s called us to as men, and I think as guys listen to him talk, there’s just something in what he says that every man goes, “That’s right. I feel that. I know that’s true, and that’s how I need to be living.”
Robert: The Bible says that a man and real manhood revolves around just two things. I want to make it as simple as possible. Here are the two things: It revolves around accepting the biblical responsibilities of manhood, and secondly—courageously living these responsibilities out.
First, he was given a will to obey.
In Genesis God gave Adam specific commands to follow. He was not on his own—he was a man under authority.
Secondly, he was a given a woman to love—because the word of God had been given to him—love her, protect her, and share the Scriptures with her.
Thirdly, he was given a work to do. At least it started with the garden. It probably would have gone bigger than that, but that was his first assignment. He had a work that he was gifted for. And finally, he had a world to better. He was told to rule and subdue the whole earth.
So right there in the opening pages of the Scripture—here is God commissioning this first man—that we are like—into the world and telling him, “This is how you can be a real man—by obeying and accepting these four responsibilities.” If I’m going to embrace these—I have to embrace these with passion. They become four points on the compass—every day when I get up, here’s my compass.
And you know what my compass tells me for today?
My compass tells me today that I need to know God’s Word and live it. That’s true north. East is I have a woman that I need to love and lead. Now if I’m a single guy, it’s in my dating life. It doesn’t start just with marriage. I want to set standards in our relationship.
I have a work to do—I don’t know where it’s going to be for you—we all have different gifts, but when I walk into the office I need to work hard and honorably, and create a name for myself. That’s what I told my son. The Proverbs say, “He who works hard will stand before kings.” I have a community to better. There are things beyond my workplace and home that need my gifting, because I’m commissioned to change the world.
Bob: Well again, that’s Dr. Robert Lewis, charging us to be the men God’s called us to be. You have a final charge for guys today?
Dennis: I just was thinking of King David, who charged his son, “Show yourself to be a man.” I think we need more dads to look their sons in the face—eye to eye, chest to chest—and say, “Son, let’s be a man.”
Bob: If the dad’s going to do that he has to step up himself.
Dennis: It means he has to do it as well, Bob.
Bob: That’s right.
Dennis: I do think our words—not used to condemn or shame but to actually invite—invite them to step out of immaturity, foolishness, boyhood, and into the payoff of being who God made you to be. Genesis one makes it clear, “Male and female created He them.” In the image of God He created you—and that means there are some distinct responsibilities for men that a man needs to embrace.
This foolishness today of homogenizing the sexes and blending them together where there are no distinctives of any kind.
I don’t think it celebrates the design of God and how He made men and women different. You can see it physically, and you can also see it in other ways as well in the Scriptures.
Bob: Well, and it does not put us on a healthy trajectory as a culture if we’re seeing manhood and womanhood as interchangeable and gender as fluid.
I’d just encourage guys—if they’ve not read your book Stepping Up—we have copies of the book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. This would be great for you to read a chapter a day—or you can go through this with a group of guys. In fact, the Stepping Up video series would be a great resource for a group of men to go through together, or fathers and teenage sons. We’ve heard from dads who have taken their teenage sons through this material and found it to be a great experience for fathers and sons.
We have the Stepping Up series available here at FamilyLife, as you might expect, and right now we have a special offer where if you’ll buy the workbooks for ten guys, we’ll give you the DVD kit for free, basically.
The information’s available online at FamilyLifeToday.com, or just call and say, “I heard about a special offer on the Stepping Up video series,” and we can give you all the details when you call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, the website, FamilyLifeToday.com—and the number to call for any questions or to order any resources, 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word “TODAY.”
You know, if someone was to ask you, “What is the most pressing issue we’re facing in our culture today?” there’d be a wide variety of answers. Some people would say it’s climate change, some would say racism, some would say it’s global politics. There’d be a lot of people who would say the fundamental, foundation issues in the culture that need to be addressed start at home. What happens inside a home is foundational for every part of what goes on in a culture. In fact, we believe that if you want to see real cultural transformation—that happens one home at a time.
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With that, we hope you have a great weekend! Hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday.
You remember the book that came out 20 years ago called I Kissed Dating Goodbye? Well, on Monday we’re going to have the author, Joshua Harris, join us. He’s now a father with a couple of teenagers, and he’s looking back at what he wrote 20 years ago and asking the question, “Was that mostly helpful, or were there problems with what I wrote?” We’ll have an interesting conversation with Joshua on Monday. Hope you can join us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. Have a great weekend. We will see you Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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