Husbands are leaving wives. Dads are just walking away from children. Some are saying that adolescence, especially among males, should now last to the age of 30 (or even beyond). The fact of the matter is, men are not being challenged by society to really be men.
One of the passions of my life is to change that. I have written about my mentoring group before, but that is just one way this can be done. However it is done, it must be done, or we will have a society filled with boys in men’s bodies–and maybe we already do.
But this is not just an American problem, nor is it just a problem in the 21st Century. Maybe better said, this is not just a “challenge” for our time and place. God has made it clear for centuries that men need to be men. As Paul stated plainly: “Act like men” (1 Corinthians 16:13).
But the apostle didn’t just give the command; he provided the way.
As Paul wrote to his young protege Timothy, he knew that his time was short. The letter we call Second Timothy is filled with encouragement for the man that Paul called “my beloved child” (2 Timothy 1:2). Paul, nearing his execution, had done his part in living the faith (4:6-8), and was allowed, by inspiration, to pass along both encouragement and warning to this young preacher.
Paul understood, though, that it all could just stop with Timothy if the young preacher didn’t grasp his responsibility. So Paul made it clear that this man needed to build into the lives of others. Notice the progression:
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:1-2)
Do you see the heritage? Paul –> Timothy –> Faithful men –> Others.
Possibly four generations are contained in that singular verse.
But notice another emphasis: Paul was a man. Timothy was a man. And who was Timothy to pass along the teachings to? “Faithful men.”
It is possible that Paul was simply re-enforcing the idea of male congregational leadership. That is certainly a Biblical doctrine, and one that Timothy had been taught by Paul already (see 1 Timothy 3:1-13). But this passage in Second Timothy is not speaking specifically to that. Instead, it seems to be speaking more generally to godly men teaching and leading other godly men.
Why? Because being a godly man is hard! Notice the word pictures Paul draws in the next verses:
True Christians will suffer as “good soldiers of Christ Jesus” (v.3). It would be easy for a man to go AWOL without a fellow soldier to provide help.
Christians are described as “an athlete” who must “compete” (v.5). Such implies training and hard work, and competition often drives men. But it also implies that I could lose the competition! We need men around us, helping us train and pushing us onward to the finish line.
We are further described as “the hard-working farmer” (v.6). Farmers work very hard, but the work is slow and requires amazing patience. It is easy to get lazy or just give up.
Men, it is time we helped other men fight the good fight. It is time we helped them run the race. It is time we helped them keep the faith.
If we want to solve many of our problems in the Church and in society, we need godly men. But we also need those godly men to invest in the lives of other men. Why not start today?
QUESTION: What are some ways godly men can lead other men toward maturity? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Photo credit: David Amsler on Creative Commons
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