In a previous sermon*, our pastor identified 5 aspects of “actual” manliness (contrasted with some counter-examples that he started with). Taken all at once, this list can be a little intimidating, and it seems a lot easier to just overlook it entirely than to try and change into this “super-man” overnight. (I suspect that the same would apply to godly women, who strive for God’s ideal for themselves, as well.)
Let’s be realistic, though: I don’t know too many guys who can honestly say that they have mastered all of these, and I know that I personally have a long way to go. In a situation like this, a good place to start is to consider our strengths. So, let’s ask ourselves, which of these do each of us excel at the most, today?
- Spiritual Leader
Then, rather than taking on all of these at once, let’s take one step in the right direction. In the next day or two, can you take one of your strengths, and add just a little more to it?
Maybe, by taking some time to think about what you do each day (rather than just going through the routine), you can do what you already do, just a little bit better. If you are normally encouraging to your wife, take some time to encourage your kids, too. Or, if you feel that you’re a good provider financially, add something else that a member of your family needs, like a hug.
Or, maybe while serving your family in a way that you do pretty well today, you can add to this some other way of being the man of the house. If you already do a good job of being available for your kids, include some conversations about their spiritual journey. Or, if you find it easy to encourage others, serve them by bringing something they need (even a glass of water or a snack), and complement that with some positive words. (Note that I resisted the urge to suggest that you, “complement that with a compliment”…sorry!)
To inspire us to grow in steps (since we’re not likely to transform entirely overnight, and conceding isn’t an option), read Judges 16:22, talking about Samson after he had been deceived by Delilah and captured by the Philistines:
However, the hair of his head began to grow again after it was shaved off.
Judges 16:22 NASB
(Or, read chapters 13-16 of the book of Judges, if you’re interested in the entire story.) While Samson – despite his God-given strength – had fallen short of God’s ideal for how a man should live, his hair grew back a little at a time. While I don’t know if he regained his strength incrementally as his hair grew longer, I think that his time grinding in the prison gave him a chance to re-evaluate his choices. And, when the time was right, God imparted to Samson miraculous strength for a final act of heroism (see Judges 16:28-30).
We may not have to push down a pagan temple, but you and I can learn how to be become more like God’s ideal, one step at a time.
- A version of this devotion originally appeared at fcccanton.com, as a Study Guide called “5 Aspects of Manliness”, for the March 8, 2015 message, “The Role of the Man in a Family”.