If I can identify the closest with one age group in this series, this blog is it. I don’t know exactly the point at which a man becomes a “career and family” man. Is it when he marries? Is it when he starts his first job? Has his first kid? Buys his first house? Opens his first retirement account?….Honestly, I probably entered this phase when I got married at the tender age of 24 because at that moment, I became a “they”. The Johnsons. Derek and Corrie. And from there, I only started to grow into this role and am still growing in it, believe me. One day at a time sweet Jesus!
No matter if you’re young and still in high school or college or if you are in the retirement years, there is still a lot that is applicable here. Those two segments bookend this discussion. But it is this middle section, the years of actively working, raising a family, and providing that are the bulk and majority of a man’s life. These are the years we invest the most into simply because we spend 30-40 years (give or take) in this stage. If I consider I had my first child at 29 and when my last child graduates, I’ll be 60, I understand these years to be the years of primary importance as it relates to family. Lord willing I make it; I’m only about 1/3 of the way through! Pray for me…and I’ll pray for you too.
Often in the day to day grind of life, it is easy to lose our focus and have a hard time discovering our purpose throughout this season. Just like last week, a lot of life happens here and going from newly married to knocking on the door of grandfatherhood is quite a span. In the midst of this time, we have to keep coming back to what really matters. We have to avoid distractions and things that can draw us off-course, especially as we lead younger ones who follow in our footsteps. The words of Proverbs 14:12 come to mind: There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. We must find the way that is right not just the way that seems right. Today is about framing our lives in that context, knowing that the Bible has a lot to say on this very topic. Let’s go!
1. Life is about more than building your castle
And he said, I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” Luke 12:18,19
In Luke 12, Jesus tells the Parable of the Rich Fool; a story of a man who, like us today, simply wants to get to the stage of being content. And who doesn’t want that in their life if they are completely honest? To have enough wealth to get to the point where we can put up our feet, relax, and coast for awhile. Sounds nice. But Jesus calls this man’s attitude foolish and selfish. It’s a stumbling block that keeps this man from true inheritance in Christ alone: But God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” Luke 12:20 When life is all about building our castle and storing up treasure for tomorrow, we are no better off than the rich fool who only lived for himself. When he died, his treasure and all he had gained were of no value.
When we live a lifestyle that is within our means, un-extravagant, and generous towards others, God gets all the glory. As men, we want to provide good things for our families and there’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself. But there is a point at which we have to reconcile ourselves before God and consider if what we are living for is simply worldly or other worldly. Our mindsets shift as we think in terms of building His kingdom vs. building our own kingdom. How are we investing our time, talent, and resources? For a more in-depth discussion, check out the Living Generously Part 1 and Part 2 blogs.
2. Be a servant—model Christ
For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. John 13:15
After Jesus washed His disciple’s feet, He made a point to tell them this was a practice they should model. In one sense, it meant simply washing one another’s feet. But there was also a larger, more profound application. Let me explain. When as men, we take on roles of service (primarily in the home, but at work as well), we are doing something the world does not know how to comprehend. A man’s role is often seen as being a hard-charger, a leader, and an achiever. Nothing wrong in any of that and I’m not bashing those attributes at all. But what if we were equally as passionate about getting low and taking a humble position so someone else can be raised up? Is that not one of the most manliest things we can do? If Christ did it, I want to be manly like my Savior.
When you are quick to apologize to your child for an ill-word spoken out of turn, you wash their feet. When you do the laundry, take out the trash, and clean up the kitchen, you wash your wife’s feet. When you make sure someone else at work gets special recognition before the boss for a job well-done, you wash their feet. Do you see the trend here? It’s a humbling thing and it may look like weakness at first. But remember, Jesus’ meekness as a servant was not weakness (see blog "Overflowing With Gentleness"). He put others before Himself in way that ultimately the Father was honored and glorified. When we model Christ in this way to our family and co-workers, God gets all the glory. And the world needs more of these kind of men!
3. Model what true love & sexuality looks like
I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman. Job 31:1
I do not care what age group you fall into, a man will struggle with lust his entire life. But with that struggle comes the opportunity to speak into the lives of younger men because of what we have learned. It brings the opportunity to model what love looks like; one man, one woman for life. It brings the opportunity to model Christ’s love for His church (the Bride) in the home as we love our wives in a similar fashion. It brings the opportunity to say, even with our mistakes in relationships or in purity, we can point to a better way. The Bible serves as the ultimate authority and even Job in his advanced age makes a covenant to say lust will have no place in his heart.
For the young men in last week’s blog, there is constant pressure to conform to what society and popular culture say on this topic. “If it feels good, do it” is the over-arching sentiment of the day and it is destructive to say the least. A married man fully committed to his God, his wife, and his family is one of the most dangerous men on the planet. Dangerous because he stands against all that Satan seeks to destroy. When we don’t look at women just as sexual objects and glorify the god of lust and passion, we make a statement that raises a higher standard. God’s design for relationships was forever tainted in the garden, but we have the ability through Jesus to seek redemption in the areas of love and sex. Godly men live by these high standards and model them for the generations to come.
As I close out today’s blog I have a couple challenges for men in this category. One is for the man who considers all of this and says “Gee, I’m not anywhere close to where I need to be here.” That’s ok. We are all works in progress and no one is perfect. My challenge for you is to find accountability. What is the issue you struggle with? If it’s lust, find a mature believer who can ask tough questions and help you find freedom. If it’s being a servant to your family, find a man who you admire in this area and pattern yourself after him in Christ. Whatever the short coming you feel you have, find someone who causes you to aspire to be a better man.
The other challenge is for some solid men here to find younger men to mentor in these areas. Perhaps it's someone in your church or at your job who is a believer. Start by grabbing a cup of coffee. Don’t pry into their life but at the same time, build a relationship of trust. And from there, model Christ in these areas to that younger man. Let him see your life, your family, your ups/downs, warts and all. Through that, let him see Jesus. We so desperately need men who are willing to mentor and “father” the next generation coming up. There are many who are fatherless, but yet are in the faith. They need to see Christ with skin on. Please pray about this and see who God might lead you to.
I hope you’ve been blessed by this message today and as always, I want to hear from you. I love you guys and I love walking the journey with you.
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Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:15-17
Other blogs in this series:
Raising The Standard: Becoming Men After God's Own Heart (Intro)
Choosing The Right Path: To The Young & Single Man