In his book “The Measure Of A Man” Gene A. Getz writes, “We’re living in a day of instant formulas that supposedly can be applied to everything under the sun from TV dinners to ‘how to get rich’ in three easy lessons. Our ‘push-button’ society and computerized age have conditioned us to think of ‘presto-chango’ solutions to a multitude of problems. When it comes to spiritual maturity, some Christians have also fallen prey to this instantaneous-type thinking.’”
As a pastor/teacher, father, husband, and man that wants to grow in my relationship to Christ, I can identify with Dr. Getz thoughts. For years I read what seemed to be every self-help book on the Christian market, always looking for how to either jump-start my passion for Christ or to jump past certain steps that would promote me to a new level of spirituality as a man of God. Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against self-improvement, self-help books. Under the right condition, I am positive that they can be of great help to a man who is seeking to do the will of God and has a desire to be a better version of Jesus Christ to those around him.
But being a man of God isn’t found in the formula of “read a book”, “do the project”, or “complete the steps outlined in your study guide,” then as Gene Getz says, “presto-chango” instant man of God. If that were the case people would have seen a difference in me after reading my second self-help book, but guess what, that didn’t happen. As a matter of fact, the more I boned up being a better pastor, a better husband, a better father, a better son, my man of God ride looked like a Six Flags adventure. My highs had highs and my lows had lows, and somewhere in the middle of a dip I realized that all the books I was reading were really not working for me because at the root of my problem was…well…me. I know, no surprise, right?
Fast Forward—I have been in ministry over 30 years, married to my loving and adoring wife (ok, a little thick—trying to score points here) for 48 years, and have three sons that remind me too much of me, and then realize when I look in the mirror gray hair is changing into white. I also realize that I am slower in just about every department, from walking to thinking. I still talk fast but I have found that I hit the pause button in the middle of a sentence in order to allow my brain to catch up. OK, that’s a little embarrassing, but don’t worry, an hour later and it’s all forgotten.
Reality Check—There are no quick fix, spiritual tweaking maneuvers a man of God can make in order to become…well, a man of God. I believe being a man of God is first about you and God being on the same page as it relates to His Son Jesus Christ. Have you taken the provision of Christ’s death and bloody sacrifice on the cross at Calvary as an atonement for you sin? You cannot be a man of God without knowing His Son. So, are you born again spiritually? Born from above? If you know Jesus in a personal and intimate way and you have accepted His death to take care of your sin problem (trust me you have a sin problem) then you are one of His children, welcome to the family, you are now on your way to becoming a man of God.
Lots Of Scripture—There are many passages dealing with what a man of God looks like. If you have been a Christian for any amount of time and read your Bible, I am sure you would have come across Scripture that deals specifically with men and their relationship with God. And being careful not to sound like another self-help book I am going to deal with the root of the problem and leave the “How To Quick Fix” writing for some else to deal with.
Primary Problem—Over the many years of ministry I have been a Bible teacher at men’s retreats and conferences and have taught what I believed men need to know to be a man of God. I believe I gave them some good tools to put in their “father tool kit”: how to recognize their flaws as a husband, even a bunch of “how to’s” on keeping your marriage alive and healthy. But at the root of the problem of being man of God is… wait for it… being a man. I know, not too profound, but it is the truth. Men, we are our worst own enemy when it comes to being the man God would have us be. So, if being a man is the primary problem, what’s the solution?
Digging Deeper—Not too long ago my manly ego was put in check by an experience that made me realize I wasn’t what I thought I was and what I thought I was, I wasn’t. I know, it sounds cryptic but let’s just say it had to do with pride and God forced me to take a look at myself—and I didn’t like what I saw.
After a couple of weeks, during my quiet time, reading through the Gospel of Mark, I came across a passage that went to the heart of my man problem. Jesus is speaking to His disciples as He left with them in a boat after His encounter with the Pharisees. They were telling Him to give them a sign from heaven in order to prove He was from God. Of course, Jesus rejected their demand but while in the boat He says to His disciples, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” (Mark 8:15). Being typical men, His disciples “reasoned” that Jesus was actually talking about real bread and the fact that they had none. I won’t go into detail how men sometimes think with their stomach and not their brain, but Jesus goes right to the heart of the issue which is “the heart.”
Jesus goes on to say, “Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember?” (Mark 8:17-18) Now, I cannot say that all men’s hearts are hardened, but speaking from experience, when my heart isn’t pliable, flexible toward God I find myself seeing only what I want to see and hearing only what I want to hear. What is worse, my understanding of who Jesus Christ is and how He affects my life in order to be the man of God He wants me to be is at best distorted. The harder the heart the less I see and hear from God, thus becoming less the man of God and like Peter in (8:33), more mindful of the things of man.
Every Father’s Day we celebrate being fathers and having fathers, or becoming fathers. You might even hear a sermon on the topic of “becoming a good dad”, but at the heart of becoming good father, husband, and son is a soft heart toward God. As men, wanting to be men of God we need to dig deeper…deeper in the heart. If we don’t go to the heart bent, flexible toward God, we will never be that man God wants us to be and all the self-help books on the market will never fix us.
This is Pastor Pat FROM BEHIND THE PEN—wishing you joy in Jesus!