Tag Archives: leadership

Defining Manliness: Living Under Authority

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When he (Jesus) had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.

(Matthew 8:5-13 ESV)

I just got home from one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  Our family vacation this year was one of great reflection and also seeing life from a profoundly different perspective.  I am still digesting everything we did and learned.  I know the kids had a good time but I don’t think they realize what a watershed this trip was.

While I was travelling I was thinking a lot about the hand that God has dealt us.  In some ways it is nontraditional.  In some ways it is very traditional.  At least, it could be.  And that is what I am unpacking.

Being the father of 6 boys, I have been wrestling for year with how to teach them what it means to be a man – but not just a man, a mature man, a man who is everything that God wants Him to be.  In many ways I have let them down in modelling this for them, but I am trying very hard to change.

The picture of manliness offered by the world is a picture of independence.  It is a picture of freedom, to do what you want, when you want.  It is a picture that really, at its core holds up selfishness and self-centeredness as its idol, supreme goal, and ultimate end.  I have found that a lot of people speaking truth about manliness and masculinity still fall into this trap, though there are a few that realize there is something more.  This something more I think is obvious when you are a follower of God but I think it is still clear from basic human nature that manliness – true masculinity involves voluntary submission, and living under another authority.

The story I relate above is a story of faith.  It recounts the centurion, a commander in an centurionarmy, caring for one of those under his authority.  The picture of the Roman Centurion, a legionnaire, has been a picture of masculinity for millenia now.  It is recognized and not debated.  Yet, this Centurion in the story is not just a tough man.  Not just a man capable of sending men to their deaths for a cause, for controlling and orchestrating death, for guarding and protecting.  He is also a man who cares, who sees value in the people in his care.  He has a sick servant, and he is willing to take time out of his day to personally seek out the only one who could possibly help – a strange holy man who seems to have a reputation for bringing about healing where no healing should come.  A man who claims to be sent from God.  The Son of God Himself.

The encounter the Centurion has with Jesus has most often been used with its most obvious intent – to encourage us to have faith like the Centurion – a faith Jesus had not witnessed even amongst the supposed people of God.  But the message for me, and for men seeking to understand manhood I think is clear.  This manly man, this Centurion, was a man under authority.  He didn’t resent it.  He didn’t rebell against it.  He didn’t seek a workaround.  It was a fact of his masculine being that he was a man living under authority.  Read the rest of this entry »

Woman At The Well, Part 2: Crossing Barriers

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The Woman at the Well – John Chapter 4 was one of the first texts I ever spoke on.  As the years have passed I have become more and more mesmerized by this anecdote from Jesus’ ministry and all the different issues it impacts in our life today in the 21st Century.

In Part 1, we began this study by examining the woman herself.  Why was she fetching water at midday?  What is the significance of this?  Who was this woman Jesus was talking to?  Can we relate to her at all?  Turns out, her story is becoming more and more common today, but the biggest difference between her day and ours is that today the zeitgeist tells us that this woman is a healthy, successful woman who has had a life of personal self-fulfilment.  In contrast, what led to her isolation in her day was both her own acceptance  of and society’s censure of the outcomes of the immense pain in her life, and the calluses that were forming over those wounds insulating her from love, closeness and intimacy both with other people and with God.

Here in Part 2, I want to wrestle with the reality that this conversation should have never happened.  There were too many reasons that Jesus, an unmarried devout Jewish man, should not have been talking to this half-pagan, Samaritan five-time divorcee, living with a man she was unmarried to.  How did it happen?  What does it mean that Jesus set aside all these barriers to speak to her?  And what was it that he had to share with her that carried such urgency? Read the rest of this entry »

Rebutting Wilson’s “Why the Hunger Games is Flawed”

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Trevin Wax’s friend N.D. Wilson commented on the Hunger Games and why it is seriously flawed as a work.  I really appreciated the level of thought and the perspective of a writer on how people’s motivations should be written.  He definitely caused me to think more deeply about the messages the book sends and the question of realism in terms of how the people acted and reacted in tune with (or out of sync with) human nature.

However, I found his arguments for what makes the books so flawed to be seriously… flawed.

Warning: if you have not read the books or seen the movie yet, the below will contain spoilers.  Don’t read any further unless you don’t mind them. Read the rest of this entry »

Lessons in Leadership

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In discussing with one of my core leaders today I realized I knew three things:

1. Humility is one of the most important assets of a oeader
2. Leaders must govern from the centre. Living black and white is not a luxury for a leader.
3. Leaders lead with vision – more important than teaching every week.

Lots to unpack there but I wanted to put those out there.

A New Pattern of Prayer

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Inspired by the life of monks, who I recently watched in the BBC reality series, “The Monastery“, I began to investigate the cycle of services they live under.  They Pray “The Hours” and their services follow a cycle called “The Daily Office“.  A lot of what they pray and do strikes me as overly formulaic, but there is something to be said for a structured prayer life that leaves room for really engage spiritually – to seek with your very soul a moment with the Lord and have Him be that glass of living water that refreshes you in ways that drink never can.  There are precious few moments where I have felt that, but I can tell you that several have been in the past two days.

I am a pretty unstructured guy.  I like spontaniety.  I like discovering, flying by the seat of my pants, and happening upon random things.  However, in terms of growing and learning, the truth is God made us to learn best in a rhythm, a pattern, with discipline and consistency – things that I am not horribly good at.  In looking to deepen my walk with God, I decided to take it upon myself to create my own “Hours” to add rhythm to my day.  To make my relationship with God more central.  So for the past two days I have been beginning my day in prayer and devotions, taking 30 minutes at noon, and another 45 minutes before bed.  In that time I have been praying through the Lord’s Prayer, Psalm 23 and Psalm 117, working on memorizing new Scripture, and reading out of four books that I need to read as well as working on reading through the Bible in a year.  One a traditional devotional, one a pastoral book, one on missional life, and one from antiquity.  As a pastor of a newly forming church, I have determined that I cannot rest in where I am.  God needs me to be growing, stretching, and putting His purposes in my heart.  I can’t lead the way He wants me to unless I am doing this.

The rest is good, but I want to focus specifically on the prayer time.  As I mentioned above, I have struggled with feeling really close to God as I pray.  There have been relatively few times when I have just been feeling His presence in a real way.  But it has already happened several times.  How?  I point to the preparation that comes from praying through the passages of the Bible.  Before I even begin to pray for myself, I am just praying through the Lord’s Prayer.  And then at lunch, I pray through Psalm 23.  Finally, in the evening, I pray through Psalm 117 before I turn to other things.  The preparation of my heart through meditating on the words of Scripture is doing wonders for my state of mind.  The luxury of not having to search for words, but to just let the words I have long ago learned pour out of my heart, it just wipes my mind of worries and cares, and gives me a chance to come to God centered on Him.  I can’t recommend it enough.

You might have been shocked by the numbers I put up there for the time I am setting aside.  I was always overwhelmed by other “more spiritual” people than I who pray for an hour, two hours a day.  I didn’t know how they did it.  Watch for my next post on how I found the time.

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