The following article is one of a four part series. This series was originally a paper written for a course on leadership. I have since taken it and divided it into four shorter pieces. The title, “4 Marks of a Man,” is intended in a similar manner to that of 9 Marks of a Healthy Church, the book by Mark Dever. Dever has clearly stated that those 9 marks are not the only necessities for church health. They are not “THE 9 marks” or “THE ONLY 9 marks.” In the same way, here are 4 marks of a man. They are not THE ONLY 4 marks but men would do well to commit to at least these 4. This first article in the series is the longest of the 4. It has an interesting introduction and presents the first of the four marks.
For those who are not familiar with this site: the three co-authors write from the premise that God created us as male. What does it mean to be a man, specifically a Christian man?
Dave is a typical American male. He and his wife, Diane, have been married for twelve years. They met and started dating in college. They have three outstanding children, two boys and a girl, ages ten, nine and seven. For their entire married life they have talked about going to the Grand Canyon. Finally, for Dave’s fortieth birthday, they decided to make their dream a reality. They read and researched and prepared for months. This was going to be most wonderful trip they had ever taken as a family. The morning of their ten hour road trip everything is loaded into the car, all the bags are packed, and everyone loads into the mini-van. This will be the “trip of a lifetime!” However, just ten minutes down the road, Dave unexpectedly turns into the parking lot of a local strip club. Diane, comfortably settled in her captain’s chair with a book, suddenly realizes the type of establishment that sits before her and her young children, uncomfortably asks, “What’s going on honey?”
Dave, sheepishly and somewhat perturbed by the question, responds, “I’m sorry. This is just a quick errand. I’ve been here before and I only need about 20 minutes before we get going. I’ll be right back.” He proceeds to exit the car and enter the club.
The previous scenario is intentionally designed to leave the reader asking, “What in the world is going on?!” The sad reality is that many American men, many Christian men, are leading their families in a parallel fashion, they just are not so blatant about it. In Matthew 5.27-28 Jesus explains the heart-issue behind adultery and raises the standard for sexual purity. He explains, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (ESV). Joshua Harris summarizes the previous verses in the title of his book, Sex Isn’t The Problem, Lust Is. Jesus equates the sin of lust and adultery. Herein lies the problem: “50% of all Christian men and 20% of all Christian women say they are addicted to pornography” (Covenant Eyes, n.d.). Half of all Christian men admit they are addicted to pornography, not “look occasionally” but addicted! In other words, half of all Christian married men are serial adulterers. Men need to wake up and stop repeating the sins of their fathers.
Deuteronomy 6 is clear that men are to teach and train their children (and grandchildren – verse 2) in the ways of the Lord. Proverbs 22.6 explains, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” The problem is that many fathers are not consciously training their sons rather they are passively teaching that pornography is permissible.
John Maxwell defines leadership simply as influence. “Leadership is influence. That’s it. Nothing more; nothing less” (Maxwell, 1993, p. 1). The task of trying to define leadership brings with it a host of questions: who is leading whom? Where are they trying to lead? Does the definition need to make room for bad leadership? Maxwell’s definition encompasses all those questions. No matter who is leading, no matter where, or how, leadership is simply influencing someone else. A poor leader may influence someone in a negative way. A good leader will influence someone in a positive way. The following article will begin to help men understand what it means to lead. In a very simple and practical way, the following series will provide four simple steps to help men lead their homes.
Genesis 3 is a fascinating glimpse into a classic scenario involving men. Genesis 3 is known as “The Fall of Man” since Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, disobey God by eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil after He had previously told them not to eat of that tree or else they would die (see Genesis 2.16-17). The first six verses of chapter three explain a scene where a serpent, The Devil, questions God’s command. The serpent speaks directly to Eve while Adam remains silent. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” Adam demonstrated passivity during the whole exchange. Why did he allow the serpent to question Eve? Why did Adam not step in and answer? Rather than being passive, Adam should have led his wife by addressing the serpent and saying, “God said we cannot eat of this tree. Therefore, please leave us. We will not be eating from this tree. Eve, let us go.”
Robert Lewis explains, “For some reason, men of every age become passive when it comes to initiating…action in their homes, with their families, and in their communities. Why? The reason is found in the biblical headwaters of Genesis” (Lewis, Raising A Modern Day Knight, 1997, p. 51). A good leader is not passive. He must know when to act (see Steve Farrar’s Point Man: How A Man Can Lead His Family). In fact, a good leader may not always know exactly what to do in a given situation. However, a man who wants to be a good leader is not passive.
Lewis continues, “Initiative is the essence of manhood. Nothing comes to the man who is passive, except failure. Men are not meant to be spectators…on the other hand, the disengaged man, whether single or married, will settle for diluted, bland maleness. Life happens to him; he doesn’t happen to life. His expectations are low. And so are his achievements” (p. 104).
1 Corinthians 16.13 reads, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” [emphasis mine]. A man recognizes that if he is prone to passivity, he must take a proactive approach in his actions. He must look to do the right thing, the activity that will allow him to flourish for Godly purposes. Lewis suggests that men should reject passivity. Indeed, let us not be remembered for our inaction but for our righteous deeds. Reject passivity and be men of action.