Devotional

By Linwood Trott

 

Carl Sandburg, when addressing the United States Congress, said that Abraham Lincoln was a man of “velvet steel” - truly a good image for the Christian to borrow, for true manliness does not exclude tenderness. 

1 Corinthians 16:13 says, “Keep your eyes opened, develop a mature faith, act like men, not children.” It was a call to courageous manliness at an hour when mature leadership was needed.

The crisis of good leadership facing many organization and civic bodies is one we, the Church, have had a hand in creating. The feminization of masculinity has resulted in softness without strength, bluster rather than bravery, and caricatures without character. We, in a good intentioned desire, have created an atmosphere to curb the active, loud, and curious “boyness” of boys. “Be nice,” we say, which being interpreted means being calm, reserved and quiet like many of the little girls. In my experience, we have valued the cooperative nature of the calm and quiet. As a former teacher, I understand the value of the calm and quiet, but is that good for everyone? What are little boys made of? (Snakes) and snails and puppy dog tails sounds kind of loud and messy to me. For those who step up and step in there will always be critics and detractors. Please remember there are no significant monuments for critics. 

Taking the starch out of masculinity results in the abdication of responsibility to someone else and the need for strong women to step up and step in when others won’t.

Thank God for strong women. Many boys grow up today without a good strong masculine role model. The Church should be, and in my experience is, a place where Biblical masculinity is observable and valued. The greatest example of masculinity I can point to is the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Many see Him as a meek and mild victim of unreasonable expectations and misunderstanding. While the word meek, if properly understood, is accurate, the picture created by “mild” places His solid firmness outside the frame. The same One who took all the abuse and pain without retaliation was also the One who told Peter to “Get out,” …if Jesus did not wash his feet. A Jesus that puts welts on Jewish merchants to chase them away from their merchandise makes some uncomfortable. A Jesus who stands in a boat and tells the storm to “Shut up!” (TSV) leaves some wondering if we read the same Bible. And yet the quality of His controlled strength cannot be denied. 

The Bible has many examples of true manliness particularly the Old Testament prophets. In a series on Elisha, I am seeing how to handle the bombastic bullies, the privileged celebrities and the crushed pauper. The same man who sends a servant to speak to a celebrity outside his front door walks beside a poor student who has an unsolvable problem.

What I am proposing is that we men seek a balance between the milk toast and the maniac. Be the proper blend of firmness and compassion. To be unbalanced is to do a disservice to God, to cheat our loved ones, and to shortchange ourselves.   

Manliness needs to be balanced with love, lest leadership become dictatorship. Paul has expounded the value and virtues of love in 1 Corinthians 13. Masculinity is not at odds with any of those characteristics.

Though Scripture does not speak well of wolves, observations and studies have shown some praiseworthy qualities of alpha wolves. They are surprisingly selfless and gentle. Leading by serving is one of the great characteristics that has been observed. We will explore more about these interesting creations of God in future devotional thoughts. May God bless you and yours as you seek to do His will.