A couple years ago I went to a leadership conference with a few friends. The conference was held in a high crime town located in the high desert of Southern California, east of Los Angeles. On one of the mornings I woke up early like I usually do to go walk, pray, and spend 1-1 time with God before the day began. Walking through a back part of town which was equal parts industrial and desert, there were ominous warehouses next to acres of sunbaked dirt speckled with yucca trees and the occasional homeless camp. I was mostly care free and thanking God for how cool the trees looked, until a massive silver pickup started to roll towards me from up the street… my first thought was not of how cool the truck looked but rather “Why the heck is a truck out here at 6am when there is literally nothing but rundown, empty buildings and yucca trees?” I continued to walk but fear and paranoia began to get the best of me. I started imagining being tied up and gagged by the people in the truck. I tried to ignore the thoughts and continue on until the truck flipped a u-turn in the middle of the road and started to slowly follow me. “OH DEAR GOD THIS IS HOW IT HAPPENS! KIDNAPPED AND MURDERED IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA!” As panic set in I began to walk as fast as I could to the main road as the truck paced behind me until it finally drove away as I approached the main road. When I finally got back to the hotel with all my major organs and limbs intact I began to rapidly recount the saga to my friends, expecting shock along with praise to God for sparing my life. My expectations for empathy were dashed as my friends began to mercilessly howl with laughter, teasing me for being so scared! “BRO! You are 6’4”, weigh almost 300lbs and not very pretty… why would anyone want to mess with you!”
When I reflect on my experience in the high desert of Southern California, I realize there was not a shred of courage in me during the situation. Sure, it was unsettling and odd, but not the near death experience I imagined it to be in the moment… and courage was nowhere to be found! While the whole scene played out in my mind, there was not one part where I put up a fight… What was the cause of such cowardice? More importantly, how was I to learn how to have courage in the face of potential danger and opposition?
Too often do men abdicate and shirk their responsibilities as men. The pattern of running in fear has played out in men since Adam was hiding in the bush, guilty and terrified of taking responsibility for his actions. Now our world is filled with thorns and thistles, and our days filled with painful toil to survive and provide. Tiredness, selfishness and apathy have replaced our God given design to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it. When the challenge to say “no” the wrong things and “yes” to the good is too intense, cowardice comes in and slowly eats away at our resolve to act like men and be courageous. At times we attempt to dominate in such a way to serve and protect our own interests, rather than to serve and protect those entrusted to us. What is required now is not for men to walk with puffed up machismo, feigning masculinity with a mask of perversion and detached hubris… what is required now of men is courage. To bravely face each day and decision with courage, not knowing if we have the strength or ability to actuate goodness within the brokenness of our world.
The people in our lives need to see what true bravery and courage truly lived out. Our classmates, coworkers, children and wives are looking to us to demonstrate courage in a world filled with fear. When I first switched to a commission based income and was a self employed realtor, the terror I experienced embarking onto a new career path was palpable. I was in a new part of the country, in a new town, in a new career and in WAY over my head. I had legitimate panic attacks frequently and was overwhelmed with providing for a wife, 4 year old daughter, 2 year old son and new born daughter. In all honesty there were days where the life insurance policy looked way more realistic to provide for my family than me being here could. But that was the path of cowardice, the same path my grandfather took when my father was a young boy. I had to rise up under the pressure. Rather than run from the lion that was chasing me, I engaged the beast with courage and learned how to forge a new path by ripping the lions jaws apart. God gave me strength to rise up and the ability to take courage to do what few men in my life and family tree had yet done.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 tells us to “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” The phrase “act like men” literally translates to “be courageous”. To live out biblical masculinity literally means to be courageous. The author is exhorting the men in Corinth (and in turn men today and those to become men) to act like men by being courageous. Whatever the challenge you face to do good in the world around you, face it with courage!
One thing I know for sure is you cannot do it alone… The courage of one single warrior is not enough to have victory over an army. The opposition and temptation to run and hide is far stronger than one man’s courage. Find a group of men who pursue Biblical masculinity to be honest and vulnerable with. In doing so you will find the camaraderie needed to develop lasting courage. 1 Corinthians 16:13 doesn’t say “act like a man” but instead “act like MEN.” We need each other live out Biblical masculinity in bravery and courage.
We welcome you to join our Men's Breakfast on the first Saturday of each month at 8am. Great home cooked breakfast options and you will be built up and have value added to the calling God has on your life. Learn more at https://www.thebeatchurch.com/men