Biblical Manhood: Practical Suggestions for Moving Forward
The biblical manhood series that I have been working on since the beginning of the blog comes to a conclusion in this post. I don’t have any jaw dropping critiques that will likely cause major disagreement; at least, I sure hope I don’t. In my last post, I laid out some points that I think are important for under shepherds to consider as they help men become more biblical men. I argued that changing economic realities will shape pastoral ministry in ways that are currently unfathomable. Today, I want to address those being shepherded and a few brief practical things that can be done to pursue biblical manhood. My aim is to provide men in their 20’s with a practical framework for moving forward in the pursuit of being a biblical man. I will outline three key suggestions.
Finding an Older Mentor
One of the best things that any young man can do is to find an older mentor in their church. He doesn’t have to have gray hair on his head, though that certainly would not be a bad thing. This allows you an opportunity to come under the care of an older man who can teach you the ways of biblical manhood. As such, he must be a man that you respect and is respected in your congregation for his walk with the Lord. This is, after all, the model that Jesus used to train his own disciples. It should be a mentoring relationship where you do life together. In other words, this mentoring should consist of more than a bi-weekly meeting. Perhaps the most important thing to look for when seeking out a mentor, is finding a man who has a pastoral heart. I strongly believe that one area where the biblical manhood movement falls short is a virtual homogenizing of all men’s callings. The man who disciples you should be curious about God’s calling on your life and call you to live as a man within that calling. Biblical principles are good but misapplied biblical principles are beyond bad. The last thing anyone needs is to be mentored by a Zophar, Eliphaz or Bildad (Job’s three friends). Something that is overwhelmingly clear in the book of Job is that his friends are theologically brilliant and yet they are, in the words of Job, “miserable comforters” (Job 16:2). The friends made the mistake of thinking that certain truths/principles applied to Job’s situation when they actually did not. Find a man who knows your situation and knows your calling and can give you applications that are unique to you.
Seeking to Sacrifice
As I argued in my fourth post, the calling for young men to sacrifice for the sake of the gospel is noticeably absent in the biblical manhood literature. I am all too familiar with the confusion that comes from reading a book like Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper or Radical by David Platt and then being told that I need to buy a house, have some kids and open a savings account. Don’t get me wrong. I am not opposed to the latter at all. I plan on doing all that myself. It is traffic that Jesus’ language of sacrifice is largely missing from the biblical manhood literature. When Jesus says, “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple,” (Luke 14:33) he is not talking to super Christians. He is talking to all Christians. More directly, he is also talking to young men. Perhaps you shouldn’t buy that house. Maybe you should move in to a dangerous low income neighborhood despite the fact that you work in the financial district and make really good money. All this to say, you should build the motif of sacrifice into your life. This is part of the calling to follow Christ. And in conjunction with the first point, you should seek a mentor who has a life marked out by sacrifice.
Becoming a Reader/Reading the Biblical Manhood Movement
For as much as I have harped on problems that I see in the biblical manhood movement over the past month and a half, there is much value to be gained from reading what many of the men in the movement have to say. A great place to start is Al Mohler’s, From Boy to Man—Marks of Manhood. Dr. Mohler does a great job of laying out biblical principles of manhood that can be practiced and applied by men in a diversity of life callings. Sure, the applications may look different, but the principles are sound. There is much to be gleaned from these writings and it can make for great conversation with a mentor. In addition to reading the biblical manhood literature, it is a good thing for men to become readers. Most of the well developed biblical men that I know are all marked out by something similar… They all read. Rather than watching yet another college football game on Saturday, turn off the tube and pick up a book. This will enable you to become a thoughtful and critical thinker about your faith, culture and much more.