Manhood & Mister Rogers

I obviously did not know Mister Rogers personally. But by all accounts, it seems like he was a meek, kind, compassionate, and humble man.

I wonder if men’s ministries in our churches would accept him as a leader.

Over Thanksgiving break, I went to see A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood with Jamie and her family. Personally, I loved it.

Back at OBU, I had the opportunity to be a part of leading the men’s ministry on campus for several years. While in Phoenix, I sat in on a men’s ministry. I’ve read many books on the topic. It’s something I’m passionate about.

And with all of these experiences and lessons learned, I think that we need more men in our churches like Mister Rogers.

There’s a passage in Colossians that I came across that has me thinking more and more along those lines. At this point in the letter, Paul is encouraging the followers of Jesus at Colosse to put their sin to death, replacing those sinful behaviors with that which is in accordance with Christlikeness. He says this:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. – Colossians 3:12-14

So, in summary, according to Paul a follower of Jesus (men included) should be:

  • compassionate
  • kind
  • humble
  • meek
  • patient
  • forgiving
  • loving

Somewhere along the way, in American churches, strength and courage, bravado and bravery have taken the lead when it comes to what men should be like. I wrestle with that a lot, because those things wouldn’t exactly be on my epitaph.

I know a ton of godly men, in my church, in my community, and in my past. Men who have and are pouring into me. This is obviously not an indictment against all men everywhere.

I just want to push back against the idea that a godly man must be aggressive, strong, boisterous, etc. I would in fact make the argument that the godly man should look more like the list above. And I will tell you from firsthand experience that the men who have been the most impactful in my life have some or all of those characteristics.

I have nothing at all against hunting or home improvement. But if I’m being real candid I have felt some (possibly self-induced) feelings of being ‘less than’ at different times in my life for not enjoying the prototypical male activities. I have wrestled with the way that God designed me to be, the gifts He’s given me.

I used to be an extremely loud, obnoxious, flirtatious, annoying, braggadocios, vulgar turd. As I’ve grown closer to the Lord, He has been pulling me away from those things. Well, maybe not the obnoxious part (as I wear a sequin-infested, dinosaur Christmas sweater while typing this).

I want to invest in younger men (something that both my full-time job as a pastor and part-time job with FCA allows me to do, praise God), and show them that manhood isn’t obscene and vulgar and loud. Manhood is service, meekness (the characteristic some say is ‘wussifying’ masculinity in our country), and humility. I want them to get that a lot earlier than I did.

I’ve read, listened to, and heard from men that masculinity is mostly strength and courage. But I’ve also seen many of these same men fall from grace. Hard. Private sexual sins and vulgarities and obscenities are ripped into the light. Anger and misogyny and domineering behaviors uncovered.

Why is it that so many men who have talked about manhood have had great public charisma and strength but little Christlikeness in private? Could it be because we’ve been teaching men the wrong things?

Have we focused so much on the man’s role in leading the family that we have forgot to talk about serving the family? Have we focused so much on outward strength that we’ve missed inward fruits of the Spirit?

Have we allowed Braveheart, Gladiator, and Saving Private Ryan to outshine Christ?

This past semester at the church I work at, we walked through the book of 1 Samuel with our youth and children. Jonathan leaps off the page.

Here you have a man who singlehandedly wins a battle for the people of God. Talk about strength and courage. These are not bad things. But he also was willing to relinquish his genetic right to the throne, giving it to David instead. Not only that, he wept over David, cherished his relationship with David, and saved him again and again. Here’s a man who had strength and courage, but that wasn’t all. He also was an empathetic, compassionate, humble, and kind man.

What a great example of what I personally believe manhood should look like.

I have another great example.

My dad.

My dad is strong. My dad is brave. My dad is courageous.

But my dad is also humble. My dad is kind. My dad is a servant.

And all the time, I mean all the time, he tells me one simple phrase. It’s not “be loud and proud”. It’s not “be rude and crude”. It’s not even “work hard and go hunt”.

It’s this.

“Be God’s man.”

And I want to tell younger men the same thing.

Be God’s man. 

Be a servant. Be someone who helps others in need. I’m not good at this one, but I’m working on it.

Be compassionate. When I see men tear up, I don’t think “what a pansy”. I think, “what a Christlike heart”.

Be kind. Sexism, sarcasm, rudeness and crudeness are not the way of Jesus. Be kind.

Be humble. You’re not all that and a bag of chips.

Be meek. Again, our culture doesn’t really like men like this. But Jesus was meek and gentle. Strength is not violent and aggressive. Strength is gentle.

Be patient. This world doesn’t revolve around you.

Be forgiving.

Be loving. Are you known for your jump shot, your wit, your looks, your intelligence, or your loving nature? Are you known more for the power of the Spirit (public life) or the fruit of the Spirit (private life)?

I think the world needs more men like Mr. Rogers.

I think the world needs more men like Jesus.

In His Name,

Nate Roach

 

No copyright infringement is intended in using this picture of Mister Rogers

 

 

Good Ol’ Boys

Today my heart is broken.

My heart is broken for what passes today as a Biblical man.

My heart is broken for what is going on in the Southern Baptist Convention.

My heart is broken for what is going on in our leadership.

My heart is just plain broken.

I originally wrote this a couple days ago, but I had to sit on it and think, allow my righteous anger to dissipate a little. I feel confident now that this is what I need to say.

Let’s start with the two catastrophic events that have taken place this month that have got me thinking about manhood in the first place.

First off, the Houston Chronicle released an article recently documenting over 700 cases of sexual misconduct perpetrated by male pastors and volunteers in the Southern Baptist Convention over the last twenty years.

Seven.

Hundred.

Several dozen of these cases were swept under the rug, and the offending male leadership are still in positions of authority.

Secondly, last Wednesday, James MacDonald was fired for a litany of immoral behaviors. There is an audio recording of him saying immensely vulgar and obscene things about others in Christian leadership, and he has been accused of financial embezzlement and sexual misconduct as well.

Sadly enough, James MacDonald has written a Bible study entitled “Act Like Men”, one that I have used in a men’s ministry at OBU, as well as one that I’ve walked through with my father.

My heart is broken.

For change to come about, we need healthy practices of accountability in our churches. I’ve been thrilled to see the response from J.D. Greear regarding the horrors of all this sexual misconduct, in which he advocated for security measures and the full weight of the law in response to allegations that are made.

I thank God for such a response.

But, if history proves itself true, I’m afraid we will only hear of more moral failures among men of God in coming months.

So how do we combat this?

I believe we need to fundamentally change what we teach men about what it means to be a man of God.

This sadly is not the response of many people. Sadly, my Facebook is often full of posts from people claiming that men are being emasculated, that men are being ostracized, that men are under attack. While there may be some slight validity to this, Biblical manhood is not about machismo, shooting guns, and drinking beers.

Let’s look at what it is like.

Gentle Strength.

If there is one thing I wish men would understand, it’s this. Gentleness, meekness, is strength. Jesus modeled this perfectly (as He modeled everything), as He boldly stood for what is right, endured immense pain and suffering, and yet did the above with gentleness. He wasn’t loud. He wasn’t boisterous. He wasn’t arrogant. He was gentle.

Nor was he a sissy or a pansy.

He taught regularly about how He didn’t come to make peace. But. He also didn’t come to make war through physical bravado.

Gentleness is hard, anger is easier.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. – Matthew 5:5

I fight this all the time. Too often Facebook becomes an extension of my emotions, and I post out of anger instead of taking a deep breath and seeing all sides to every story. Just this week I had to take a post down that was nothing more than me angrily responding to something in my life.

I truly believe that in many communities and churches, men wouldn’t follow Jesus if He were here in the flesh, because they would find him weak. And gentle.

Teachability.

This is where sexism explodes into the conversation. I am not by any means advocating for what is oftentimes in our society a witch hunt for sexists, where every slight offense is drudged up into a violation of equal rights.

However.

I think we would be a bunch of bafoons if we didn’t acknowledge that sexism is oftentimes rampant in our churches and communities.

Sexism is this: If male leadership are the only voices being heeded while wise female leadership is being ignored.

There are women in my community that are wiser than me, smarter than me, and better leaders than me. They teach me what it means to follow Jesus and how to be a better leader myself. I need them in my life. I need their voices.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Galatians 3:28

We have curated men who refuse to listen to any voice, whether it is male or female. We have created and raised up men who think they know best. Yet teachability is a key sign of Biblical manhood.

Submission.

This point and the previous one go hand in hand. Teachability requires humility.

True Biblical manhood includes submission as well.

There should be mutual submission in the home. Husband and wife.

Yes, I believe Scripture spells out that the man is head of the household. But that certainly doesn’t mean the man should be domineering, manipulative, and unwilling to listen.

I go to my wife about a whole lot. When I don’t, things don’t go so well.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. – James 4:7

Men should also submit to King Jesus. Every day. We have men who don’t see Jesus that way. Jesus is for their wife and kids and for when they were children. Jesus blesses their work and home but He’s not their Savior. But you can’t have Him as your Savior if you don’t submit to Him as your Lord.

Holiness.

Cuss it up, drink those beers, watch football, and leave the parenting to your wife (my biggest pet peeve on earth is when I hear that fathers are ‘babysitting’ their own kids). God made you this way.

This is the message of some well-known books on manhood. Books written by Christian men.

What has happened is that we have made holiness not important.

Instead we have ingrained in our men the generational habits of vulgarity, alcoholism, and misogyny. I have been around countless men who break my heart with there consistent obscene talk and the way they’re no different than any man around them while claiming Christ.

There is nothing wrong with beer in moderation.

Nothing wrong with hunting.

Nothing wrong with watching football.

But as a man, what habits do you keep?

We have a country full of men who claim Jesus but open up a Coors Light more often than they open up God’s Word. We have men who know their way around a tool box but they don’t know how to follow Jesus in their day to day life.

They haven’t been taught.

Instead, they’ve been taught to perpetuate the belief that Jesus is for women, and men can be rough around the edges as much as they want.

These four things are what I’m teaching my male students.

These four things are what I’m going to teach my sons.

Gentle strength. Humble submission and teachability. Holiness.

Until we teach men to be true Biblical men, we will hear more and more moral failures.

Our churches don’t need “God and country” good ol’ boys, they need Biblical men.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach