(May this be of some encouragement to you men.)
Our pastor recently announced that he is taking another pastorate. Not attending our church at the time, I didn’t witness firsthand the broken, hurting mess into which he entered, but you should see the work he and his family have done. It is more than commendable, it may be considered somewhat of a miracle. But do you know what thought jarred me when I was pondering his departure? I wonder if whoever takes his place is going to make us feel as safe as he has. “Safe” is such an overused word now that I almost hate to write it, but that is how Pastor Chris makes people feel. One of the first things I heard him say as a pastor is that if he knew of any woman being abused he would go to that man and take care of it. Given his size, I wouldn’t doubt it. In fact, years later, he would mention in one of his sermons that he thought he could take nearly any man he knew–except for maybe my Bob. He wasn’t sure he’d ever want to contend with him 🙂 .
That was one of my lures to Bob. I felt so incredibly protected by him. I didn’t fear the “outside world”; I had my own personal bodyguard. However, a man doesn’t have to be large in size to cause the people around him to feel that way. I’ve met men who look like formidable defenders but I don’t feel safe in their presence. The opposite is true of men who may be smaller but I feel totally covered while in their company. I personally believe that is one of the factors of telling if you are in the presence of a good man: Do you feel safe? Protected? Guarded? His strength is a gift.
There are many different ways to feel safe. The obvious is physical. But what about mental? A good man considers the ideas of others. He can accept the idea and the presenter is strengthened and perhaps a plan is developed to see that idea to fruition. Or if the idea is rejected, a good man does so in such a way that the presenter’s dignity is still in tact and they are encouraged to continue in their quests and pursue their dreams. His consideration is a gift.
There is also emotional safety. Many men that I know grew up believing that men don’t cry. It’s a sign of weakness, or so the uninformed in their lives have taught them. John 11:35 says, “Jesus wept.” You can’t get anymore manly than Jesus. The greatest Man in history wept. A good man can be trusted with your tears and your laughter and he will also trust you with his. The most precious tears I remember my dad sharing is when he was in prayer or when he was apologizing to us over something wrong that he had done.
Did you catch that? My dad cried tears of repentance.
Years ago we had an optometrist and he and his wife yearned for children but couldn’t have any. Miraculously, they conceived. I was so happy for them. I sent a card to them and my note in part was: You have waited for so long for this moment and you are going to want to do everything perfect. Rest assured, you will not. What I recommend to you is that you take your mistakes and failings and treat them as opportunities to apologize and teach your child about the grace, forgiveness, and redemption of our perfect God.
A good man owns his mistakes. He doesn’t blame others for them. He apologizes when wrong and his apology doesn’t include the words, “You made me . . . ” He owns his actions and words. And when others sin against him he gives grace, realizing that he is capable of committing the same sins. His repentance and forgiveness is a gift.
I admire men. There are few things that are more appealing to me than seeing a man hard at work. Whether he’s carrying a briefcase, packing a gun, tossing hay bales, stocking shelves, sweating over the Word, digging dirt, pounding nails, turning a wrench, performing surgery, searching for a cure, whatever. Honest work is honorable. I guess that goes back to the scripture that a man who doesn’t work doesn’t deserve to eat.
There are few things sexier to me than seeing Bob work in his garage. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true (unless he’s grappling with swearing over the tool that slipped and his knuckle got sliced 😉 ). I marvel over Bob’s capacity to fix the many things he has repaired over the course of our marriage. I asked him once, “How do you know how to do all of this stuff?” His answer totally surprised me. “I don’t,” he said, “I wing it.” Well, I testify to you today that he wings it pretty good. Just for the record, the most attractive man ever? The man whose heart is bowed in humility before the LORD. His service to others is a gift.
A good man, out of love for God, family, and country, isn’t afraid to try. Let me rephrase that. Maybe he is afraid, but he does what he does afraid and does it anyway out of love. Remember that phrase from long ago, Do it afraid? I have a quotation tucked in my mind when I feel fear fluttering like so many butterflies in my belly and threatening to close off my throat. The quotation is something like this: At the end of my life, it is not the things that I did do that I will regret so much but the things that I didn’t do. His effort is a gift.
Men, you are pleasing to your Creator. You are good husbands and good fathers. Your life is filled with wonder. All of what you desire is already in you. It is how God made you. Commit to seeing yourselves the way Father God sees you. Cooperate with Holy Spirit in molding you into the men you were created to be. No matter what earthly models you have had, there is no one more concerned or invested in your life than your heavenly Father. I know giving your hearts and hands to the unseen and the unknown is frightening but I encourage you to do it afraid. Do it anyway. Do it for God. Do it for those you love. Do it for yourself. You deserve to give yourself a chance. And not just one chance, but as many chances as you need. You are loved, men. And you are needed in ways and to lengths that you can not imagine. I challenge you to join yourself wholeheartedly to God today and let your adventure begin. This is the greatest gift that you could ever give to God, yourself, and others.
Happy Father’s Day to the man who raised me. I love you Dad!
Happy Father’s Day to the man with whom I share my life and made a family. I love you Robert!
A Happy Father’s Day to all of you dads out there.
Men, rememeber: Do not be consumed with real or perceived failings or mistakes for they are all opportunities for grace, forgiveness, and redemption in God’s hands. What the world needs now, what the world has always needed, is good men. Families, communities, states and nations all need men who will rise up and live out the biblical standard to be the priests, providers, and protectors that God has ordained you to be. Be those men. We need you!