Written by Dave Carl, Family Ministry Pastor at Stonebriar Community Church
Part 5 – The Challenge, Pursuit of a Godly Man
Leading up to Father’s Day, we want to have an honest conversation about what it means to be a man in today’s world. Even more than that, we want to talk about what it means to be a godly man. Rather than feeling like a fraud this Father’s Day, let’s challenge ourselves to stop hiding in the shadows and jump with both feet into the pursuit of something different, something special, something that will change our families for generations.
I know a secret about you. You are a mess. Me too. We are all messes. We all have stuff from our past that sets us up to have instinctive reactions to stuff that make no sense. We all have fears and hurts that make decisions for us, often without our even being aware of the source. We all want stuff that will make us feel better and more whole, but because we are a mess and we are typically rather self-deluded, we often choose stuff that makes us more unstable, more ashamed, and more chaotic—all the while thinking it will help. Aren’t you glad you are reading this encouraging note today? It is not fun to hear stuff like this, but truth acted on wisely can be very healing.
Even in our Evangelical churches, our national identity of the strong individualist continues to plague us. We have pastors who live in isolation, church staff who are being crushed by sin but will not ask for help, and congregations who, like all of us, are a mess but will not let anyone know. We choose these paths because culturally we have a persistent belief that If I were doing well, I would not need anyone to help me, let alone know what is in my soul. But since we are truthfully a mess, the only option we have is to lie about how we are doing and act hypocritically. And this is all happening within the walls of a church! There is an option. It will feel like it’s from another planet but here it goes… We make a commitment to never do life alone. I suspect this makes you feel uncomfortable. It does for me. There are two options: Live alone and without healing, or choose to live authentically and vulnerably with safe people. If you have them, you are ready to begin sorting through your fears and hurts as God brings them to the surface. What does this kind of relationship look like? Something like this:
- You have a few mature men in your life who…
- know your greatest weakness.
- know your greatest fears.
- know your strengths.
- and are committed to your growth and maturity.
- You have invited a safe and wise mentor to speak into your life to give you correction when needed.
- You are a mentor to two or three other guys too.
This kind of relationship is not a luxury. Remember, we are all a mess. We will do stupid things, and yet we think that they are smart, even noble. Because we are self-deluded, we will defend stupid things all day long unless we have a guy in our life who can step in and tell us—well, that we are being dumb.
Here is an example.
My wife is feeling abandoned. I’m giving all my attention to stuff at church/work/other people who need help, and she tells me that she feels like everyone is more important than her. Well because I am predisposed to believing that I am a failure, all I hear from her is that “I am a failure.” Because of this, I feel attacked, and I KNOW she is trying to hurt me and get me to do something that is different from what I have been doing. I justifiably (in my self-deluded mind) get angry and pull away from my wife until she comes to her senses and realizes that I am in fact a great guy who needs encouragement not criticism.
Because I have sought out wise and godly men in my life, I tell this story to my friend/mentor at breakfast. He listens patiently, thinks a moment or two, then tells me:
“Perhaps your wife was missing you. You have been gone a lot lately doin’ good stuff, (he knows this because I told him all this at previous breakfasts) but she’s been left at home taking care of stuff without you. Maybe a date night is in order. Your wife wants to spend time with you, and that is exactly what you want her to want so… instead of getting angry with her and trying to make her feel bad – maybe you should go home and thank her for wanting to be with you.”
BAM!! I would NEVER have come up with that on my own. To be honest, when a guy speaks truth like this to me, I often want to punch him in the pie hole. Sometimes it takes a couple of minutes, and sometimes it takes a few days, before I quit being defensive. The more time I spend with a guy like this, the more I trust him and the sooner I listen and accept his advice. A man who lives without a wise friend is a fool.
What if you don’t have a friend like this? How do you find one? I suggest you hunt one down like a thirsty man hunts for water in the desert. Pray to find him. Try out a guy or two. If it doesn’t work out – look somewhere else. Do not give up. I can guarantee you there are guys out there looking for a guy like you to help them out too. This is the good stuff of church—there are guys there who are probably interested in God and becoming more like Jesus. If not, find another church. Healing and wholeness is available, but only if you are ready and willing to take a risk and find the right guy(s). Don’t do life alone.
Dave Carl is the Family Ministry Pastor at Stonebriar Community Church and is responsible for the ministry focusing on children birth through high school graduation and the parents who love them. With a ministry philosophy based on Luke 10:27, his primary focus is to give parents the skills to raise kids who truly love Jesus and want to serve others. Dave has a passion for ministering to families in crisis in our community. He has spent several years pouring into fathers and husbands and helping them learn that they need community, were designed to guard and protect, and that they really can be the spiritual leaders of their family.
Dave and his wife of 30 plus years, Cathy, have two adult children and one in high school and recently became grandparents for the first time. They are completely in love with this new member of their family. Dave is an avid woodworker and loves to write. He sees all stories in the form of pictures, and he would love to connect with you!