I recently had a great talk with an old friend over a couple of glasses of nice single malt. My friend grew up Christian but abhors corporate religion and refuses to go to church because of this, however his wife attends church regularly with their young son. My friend conceded that his wife secretly emulated my wife and I's marriage and I took this as an opening to subtly minister to my friend. I'm a firm believer that relational ministry and setting the example as Christians is by far, the best advertising and form of ministry available. The following is a paraphrased version of the ebb and flow of our conversation, the points we discussed and my opinion on three critical areas in a man's life.
This post is meant for the 10% or those men that desire to be in the 10%.
The 10% being actively engaged, passionately present husbands and fathers. Leaders, Example Setters and Pillars in the Church, Community and Workplace. - The Men among men.
This leads us to the current problem and downfall with some men - Passive Manhood.
Defining the Problem.
I define Passive Manhood as tending not to take an active or dominant role in marriage and family matters.
Paul at Hardcore Christian Men defines it well..."A passive man is one that does not take an active role in decisions or actions. Often this is a person who submits to another person’s will simply because it is easier than figuring out what to do or taking responsibility themselves. It is submission to another out of ease regardless of the consequences. Another view of passive nature is passive aggressiveness. This is the nature of supporting someone to their face while stabbing them in the back. This is the person who will leave a note griping about people using something of theirs and then act like it’s perfectly fine if you use it. Passive aggressive people do everything they can to avoid direct conflict, but stir the fire incessantly anonymously."
Scotch Discussion 3: Passivity and Purpose
Last summer, my kids and I camped and hiked up Mount Rainier. Not all the way to the summit but up to one of the glaciers close to the summit. We spent a week camping, hiking and enjoying the camaraderie. When we reached the top, I presented each of my children with a necklace with an engraved bear tooth to signify our time and their accomplishment.
Near this area is a visitor center and restaurant which can be hiked to or even driven to by car. For those of us that hiked up, the visitor center was a great rest stop to grab some food and warmth as there was a lot of snow still on the mountain last year. For my kids and I, the visitor center was just a stop on the way to the greater goal. The glacier.
For others, hikers and drivers both, after a warm meal and cup of coffee the visitor center became their final destination. Even though many had set their sights on the glacier and even though some of them simply driven up instead of hiking. The visitor center was warm, comfortable and good enough for some.
How many times in our lives have we started out with a goal or destination in mind, climbed 3/4's of the way up the mountain, tasted a little success, then stopped short of our goal at the visitor center? What about in our marriage or spiritual life?
How many of us have been hanging out at the visitor center for quite some time now? How many of us have forgotten the original goal altogether or "modified" our goal to fit our liking and comfort level?
I'm guilty of this passivity and I'm sure I'm not the only one out there who has spent some time hanging out in the visitor center.
Okay I'm a realist, not everyone can be CEO or President of the United States. Sometimes (but in my opinion very few times) we cannot control where we end up in life. Sometimes God leads us to a place or position and we wonder why?
I once heard a great sermon on how God leads us to areas of trial and tribulation in our lives to test us and prepare us for his next great assignment for us. And when we do not step up to the challenge or we fail to learn the lesson God has orchestrated for us, we are almost certain to have to repeat this lesson.
I told my friend this: "If 360° Leadership has taught me anything, it's that it's not about where you are, it's about how you perform and act where you are. Wherever you are in your career, marriage, spiritual life, as a parent, etc. We make the conscience decision daily to either push on to the glacier and the summit or hang out in the visitor center. A lot (and I mean a lot) of good men choose to hang out in the visitor center. The visitor center is comfortable, it's familiar and it requires minimal maintenance and effort on our parts.
But, the visitor center is not where God intended us to be. It's not where our wife's and families need us to be.
We cannot always control where we are in life but we can control our attitude and how we deal with it. In this, we have a choice."
I once heard David Platt talk about a problem involving comfort levels at his church. On Sunday morning, in his church parking lot, are literally hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars worth of automobiles. David's church has a state of the art sound and lighting system and choreographed praise and worship services that rival Hollywood. The multimillion dollar facility boasts a coffee shop and children's area that puts most preschools to shame. With all this, members of the congregation still complain.
In another part of the world, members of a congregation sneak out at night under the cover of darkness and travel for hours and miles from checkpoint to checkpoint receiving the next directions because if anyone finds out they are going to church, they will be killed. After hours and miles of sweat and determination, they show up to a cellar door. In the cellar is damp, cold, cinder block walls with a lone, bare wire light bulb. People are crammed into the cellar and are forced to stand or sit smashed into one another. They sit for hours, listening to the Bible being spoken in their native tongue, knowing that at any moment, they doors could fly open and they could be killed.
What's the point in all this? Why do you need another motivational sermon or speech? You don't, you simply need accountability. Are you going to be the guy who hangs out in the visitor center for the next month, year or decade? Or are you going to be the guy who get's out of his confrot zone and moves on to the summit?
Here's my final words to my friend "Do you think I get up every Sunday and go to church because I like it? Do you think I turn off football and take my daughter shopping at the mall because I think it's fun? I do all these things because when I look at my wife and kids, I have an incredible sense of love and commitment. They deserve the best of me, not whatever is leftover. As a man, I sacrifice of myself to give to my wife and kids because they deserve the best of me, the best God intends for me and nothing less."
I'll leave you with the same words I left my friend with. "When you look at your wife and kids, what do you see? And more importantly, what do they deserve?
-Esse Quam Videri-