4 Qualities to Reclaim Manhood

As my 2 boys are well into their teenage years, I have pondered the question, “What does it mean to be a Man?” much consideration.  While I have had many great role models (i.e., my father, grandfathers, youth pastors, etc…), I also have seen that the role and expectations of a man have been changing for decades.  In fact, I truly believe it is more difficult to be a man in this day and age than in anytime in history.

For generations, the role of the man (whether as a father, husband, or others) was relatively clear. Men would protect and provide for their home and family in very tangible ways.  The old black & white television shows defined the value of a man as they reflected the majority of culture.  John Wayne’s characters and the “Leave it to Beaver” shows became the standard for men to live up to.

So, what defines a man today?  Where does a man find role model?  In a day & age when 44% of children are raised in a woman only household*, how does a man know how to be a man?

The greatest place to look is the Bible, for it provides for us the raw truth about men in their victories and their flaws.  We see them in their strength and their weakness.  Over the Summer at the church I pastor, we will be looking at one such man, by the name of Abraham.  Other than Jesus, he may be the most important Biblical character of all of Scripture.  If you would like to follow our journey of God’s interaction with Abraham, you can CLICK HERE!

While the role of men has certainly evolved over the years, I would actually like to propose that the needs “of a man to be a man” have not.  In fact, the need for a man to provide and protect is still predominately present, but may just look different.  Below are 4 Qualities to Reclaim Manhood in which we still provide and protect for our families, and society as a whole.

  1. Dependable Decisions:  The man who is dependable (not infallible) in the decisions he makes for himself and others is a real man.  You will often witness dependable decisions in their financial choices first.  Are they willing to set aside person comforts or thrills for the benefit of the family.  Where to live, if to move, etc… are all part of the decisions that prove a man’s dependability.  Of course, HOW a man makes decisions, becomes just as important as the decisions themselves.  Involve others in the process.
  2. Emotional Stability:  Emotional stability is not the lack of emotions or even the “stuffing-down” of our emotions.  Men who own this quality (which by the way is a choice), have the ability to remain objective amidst emotional situations and conversations.  While we feel the anxiety, stress, and emotional pressure, we choose to keep focused and objective for the betterment of today and tomorrow.
  3. Safe Relationship:  Of course it should go without saying, but a man’s wife and kids should always feel safe around them.  Physically safe, yes, but it is much more.  Is it SAFE to be in relationship with you.  Do you break hearts and promises?  Can they be sure of “who” will show up after work, or are you so moody that everyone has to walk on egg-shells until they see if you had a “good” day?
  4. Moral Fortitude:  A man is only as good as his word.  This sounds like something John Wayne would say.  The definition of “fortitude” is courage in pain or adversity.  It simply means you have the strength of character to do what is right no matter the consequences, or even if anyone would know or not.  You do right because it is right!

The great part of these 4 qualities are even if you have never seen them modeled in a good man in your life, you can start today and CHOOSE to reclaim manhood for you and those in your life.  Not only will you benefit, but everyone around you will be blessed!  It is a blessing to be a man, and a REAL MAN blesses others!

What to do when Facing Set-Backs?

It was the Winter of 1989.  My Sophomore season of High School basketball was coming to an end.  I had been working hard: lifting weights, jump rope, and squats.  Needless to say much of my life revolved around basketball.  The only problem was my knee started to feel “strange”.  Periodically it would lock into place and I would have to “pop” my knee back into position.  At times when I would be playing defense, my knee would give way, and I would stumble.

Jason_Basketball_VFCC

So, on the heals of our season, I had an appointment with an Orthopedic Surgeon named Dr. Sharp (I like that name for a surgeon).  After a few questions, he had me lay on my back and began to manipulate my leg into positions in hope of diagnosing the problem.  He immediately told me with the confidence only surgeons have, “You’ve torn your Interior Meniscus.”  Come to find out this was Orthopedic jargon for my cartilage on the inside of my left knee.

At that age young men think they are indestructible.  A surgery was out of the question.  But soon I found myself under the hand of this Surgeon as he “shaved off” my torn cartilage.  It would the first of a total of 4 surgeries I will have undergone on my knees over my life time (3 on my left knee, 1 on my right) due to later injuries.

Since my goal at this age was to play college basketball, I could have either abandoned my goal, or I could embrace the set-back and make the most of this experience.  Two years later I would have my 2nd surgery and go through this process again right before going to college to play basketball.  Below are a few ways faced a major set back and made the most of a negative experience:

  1. FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE:  When I first learned the news, I was confused and worried.  However, my mind-set soon became one of determination.  I decided that a set-back wasn’t final and I could and would press-through and persevere.  Set-backs can easily discourage.  No matter your set-backs and discouragements, be sure to not allow the negative to dominate your thinking.
  2. WORK THE PROCESS:  I was always systematic in my training.  Now my training would look different.  Three times a week I would visit the Physical Therapist.  He would stretch my leg, have me lift it straight up without weights at first, and teach me to walk with no limp.  I decided I would take no short cuts, and obey the process that was given me by my PT.
  3. LEAN ON YOUR TEAM:  My team would soon consist of my Therapist, my Family and later the guys I’d play back-yard basketball with.  The question you must ask yourself is, “Who in my life can help me move forward?”  Since everyone plays different roles in our lives, understanding how they contribute to your life (as well as you to their life) is an important aspect of friendship, family, and teammates.  No one person is called to provide everything you need.  Draw on the strengths of those God has placed in your life.
  4. EXCEL WHERE YOU CAN:  This became a time where I got real serious about upper-body training.   Instead of being frustrated that I could no longer lift 5 lbs with my left leg (never mind jump-rope, squats, lunges, etc…) I had to focus my energy and training elsewhere.  This same principle I implemented when in my Junior year of college I tore my ACL and missed the whole season (this was my 3rd surgery on my left leg).  It was during this season of recover I was able to gain 15 lbs of muscle (primarily in my upper body) which helped me come back my Senior year of college and become a 1st-Team All American basketball player.

It is important for EVERYONE to remember that our set-backs are not final and they are not fatal.  You can bounce back.  The set-backs you are facing may be something physical like my knees which you have little control over, or they may be other set-backs in relationships, addictions or the decisions of others.  Perhaps your set-back is a failure you have experienced or a sin you have committed.

Don’t allow your failures to define you.  The one decision that is always yours to make is the decision to RISE AGAIN!  Don’t quit, don’t give up.  Get up and keep trying… for it’s not so much what happens to you, but what happens in your that matters!

Does Pentecost Leave the Church?

This coming Sunday is known as Pentecost Sunday on the Church calendar.  Why should you care and does this really matter?  These are legitimate questions, especially when one considers the common perspective that the Pentecostal Experience is only something that at best makes a Sunday morning church service more exciting, or at worst causes things to get weird or uncomfortable.

The problem with much of modern day theology and doctrine on the Pentecostal distinctive of speaking in tongues, words of knowledge, prophecy, the gift of healing, etc… is that we have limited these elements to things that happen in a church service.  But what if the above Pentecostal gifts became something we experienced at home, at work, and in our community.  It is not that the expressions of God’s Spirit should not be seen in a gathering together of believers (aka., church), but that we have limited what God wants to do, and where He can do it.

So my question is this… “DOES PENTECOST LEAVE THE CHURCH?”  What if the gifts of God’s Spirit were a part of your marriage, your work experience, your parenting, or in your classroom?  Imagine if God’s Spirit was most powerful the other 6 days of the week, and Sunday was just the overflow.  What if Pentecost left the church and follow you home!?!