“Quit you like men” (I Corinthians 16:13 KJV).
“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (I Corinthians 16:13)
Men like challenges. Tough jobs. Big assignments. Things no one else can do. A little danger, some risk, to be pushed beyond their usual boundaries.
Women want a church with nurturing, good healthy relationships. Men want a church that is doing something, making a difference, not protecting the status quo.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Oh, that it were universally true.
The truth is some women are plain spoken and blunt and care little for nurturing and relationships.
The truth is some men prefer to hibernate on the couch and watch endless ball games, to putter around in the yard and drink beer after beer all weekend.
Generalities are difficult. Or, as the saying goes, “All rules have exceptions, including this one.”
Pastors need to know that by awakening the comatose men in the congregation, they run a real risk. Men like to be active, assertive, adventuresome, always knowing they are making a real difference.
Awakened men do not feel challenged when the goal is to conserve the status quo and when their leaders fear rocking the boat and offending the sensibilities of big shots. They love to rock boats and shake up the power structure.
So, as pastor, if you cannot handle a group of men wanting to move out and get things done, leave them alone. Let sleeping dogs lie, as they say.
I took a group of men to minister in the state penitentiary. Dealing with other men who were sentenced to live in close confinement for years apart from their families was a wakeup call to our guys. Just being there pushed them to grow and expand and lead their families like nothing we were doing in the church. Those who participated in our monthly sessions never forgot it.
We took a group of men to New Jersey to build a church from the ground up. They slept in sleeping bags and worked long hours on top of the buildings. One was heard to remark, “I don’t work this hard for money.” My 16-year-old son remembers to this day how impressed he was to find distinguished businessmen doing grunt work, hard work, dirty work, and loving it.
Churches make a mistake by not asking enough of their men.
Pastors set a poor example when they live a life of ease, when surrounded by people who work hard for their living.
Our Lord admired John the Baptist. He said to the masses, “When you went out to hear John preaching in the desert places, what did you expect to find? A weakling who bends with every wind blowing his way? A guy in thousand dollar suits with monogrammed shirts and expensive cuff links? You find those kind of men in mansions and palaces, not out here on the cutting edge.” (My paraphrase of Luke 7:24ff.)
Jesus said, “So, what did you go out to see? A prophet? Well, you got more than you bargained for, didn’t you? He was God’s messenger, sent to prepare you for the Coming One.”
“Whatever you thought of him,” Jesus continued, “I’ll give you my assessment: Among those born of women, no one greater has ever appeared.” (more paraphrasing, same passage)
It’s clear our Lord is not impressed by preachers who hire image consultants, pastors preoccupied with hair styles and clothing, and disciples who make decisions based on their investments and retirement income.
Must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease, while others fought to win the prize, or sailed the bloody seas?
Am I a soldier of the cross, a follower of the Lamb? And shall I fear to own His cause or blush to speak His name?
Thank you, Isaac Watts, for this wakeup call. (We’re told Mr. Watts wrote this song in connection with a sermon on our text today.)
I had a tiny idea. What if we put a box in the foyer for people to contribute all their extra, unused Bibles from home? And what if we had a Bible give-away in front of the church? I put the box out there and in a couple of weeks had over 200 Bibles.
With the office staff, we culled the Bibles with no backs, pulled out the two Jehovah Witnesses Bibles (they’ve corrupted the text), and inserted some witnessing material. We announced on the large sign out front: “Free Bibles. Saturday. 10 to noon.” And had a great response.
So, we put another box in the foyer and collected all the remaining loose Bibles in the congregation. And had another giveaway.
And one of our men came to me.
“Preacher,” said deacon Nick Carrone, “Would you like for me to take the leadership in this Bible giveaway thing?” I said, “You bet I would, Nick. Thank you.”
And thereafter I had nothing to do with it.
Nick involved his Sunday School class. They would take up extra offerings from time to time, then purchase 200 new Bibles from the American Bible Society. They printed up plastic poke-in-the-ground signs announcing free Bibles and blanketed the lawn in front of the church driveway. Then, Nick involved his class. They put two large tables in front of the church for the Bibles, and put a dozen people to work. Twice a year, they gave away Bibles.
On Sunday morning, Nick would present me with a typed report just before the morning service. He refused to give the report himself, but knew I was thrilled at what his class had accomplished. I would tell the church, “Yesterday, members of the ABC class set up in the driveway in front of the church and gave away 212 Bibles to 121 people. They shared the gospel with 68 people and had 19 pray to receive Christ. They also got the names of 38 service men and women for our prayer ministry.”
Any pastor would give his right arm to have such a man in his church as Nick Carrone.
Every pastor has several such men in his congregation. Pray the Lord to raise them up, and in the process, ask Him to give you discernment in how to recognize them and how to encourage them in accomplishing what He’s asking them to do.
Be an encourager to your men, pastor. You may be amazed at what they get done.