How to Be a Faith-Filled Man in Today’s World (Part 1)

John ThurmanBy John Thurman11 Minutes

It’s okay to be discouraged. It’s not okay to quit.

“It’s okay to be discouraged. It’s not okay to quit. But, to know you want to quit but to plant your feet and keep
inching closer until you take the impenetrable fortress you’ve decided to lay siege to in your own life—that’s
persistence.” – Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle is The Way.

Are We in a Masculine Crisis?

There was a time in recent history when masculinity came with a clear purpose of being a provider-protector (e.g., warrior, contributor, sole breadwinner). Many of us grew up imprinted that men are designed to serve. We are to serve our family, our church, the Lord, our community, and our nation. We were raised with a sense of mission and a sense of purpose.

Today, according to Warren Farrell (The Boy Crisis 2018), “Many men are experiencing a purpose void.” Young and old alike seem to be wandering through life without a sense of mission. Due to multiple factors that, for the sake of space, will not be covered in this article.

In my coaching and work-life mentoring practice, one of the alarming shifts I have seen in the past ten years is the sense that many men seem clueless about their roles, purpose, and mission. I believe the Scriptures give us clear guidance on what it means to be a man. My hope is that you and I will be challenged to take a look at where we are in our lives and to “get back on mission” if we need to.

Jordan Peterson Has Stirred the Pot!

As I begin, I want to mention the work of Dr. Jordan Peterson, a Canadian Psychology Professor and practicing Clinical Psychologist who burst onto the scene a few years ago. Jordan Peterson is no stranger to controversy but millions of men are giving him a listening ear.

A few years ago, at his own expense, he began a series of lectures on the Old Testament, primarily in Canada. By his own account, he was amazed at how many young men attended and still attend his seminars.

In a recent interview with British reporter Piers Morgan, Peterson was questioned about why men are drawn to his seminars. “It’s very difficult to understand how demoralized people are, and certainly many young men are in that category.”

My son first recommended Peterson to me a couple of years ago. While he is testy and controversial, like an Old Testament Prophet, he calls the modern culture out.

The First Six Rules with Biblical Commentary

As I begin this series, I will give you a rapid overview of his first major best-selling book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. Don’t be surprised if these remind you of some of the original values of the Boy and Girl Scouts. The bullet points are his; the commentary is mine.

1.         Stand up straight and hold your shoulders back. As a believer who believes the God of the Bible is a God of order, the result of sin is that this world and the hearts of men are out of order, in a fallen place. As men of faith, we are to move toward order, lean into life, and man up. Many in our culture would have you believe that happiness is the goal. It is not! When you look at the New Testament, you quickly see that the good life, which honors God, will involve both joy and struggle. The good news is that He promises to be with us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor
demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us
from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to
separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39 NLT).

2.        Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for. Remember the Bible story about the Garden of Eden? That story reminds you and me that we are impacted by Original Sin. The good news is, through an active relationship with the Lord, you can seek him and experience his presence in your life. You always have a choice: Stay in the pit, or get off your duff and lean in. Jesus spoke timeless truth when a religious leader asked him about the greatest commandment. Jesus’ response is in the New Testament book of Mark 12:30-31 NLT:

“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart,
all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’
The second is equally important:
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
No other commandment is greater than these.”

So the challenge is to quit waiting for others to pull you out of your mess. Instead, take kinetic action to do something healthy and meaningful for yourself.

3.        Befriend people who want the best for you. We are hardwired for relationships. To a large degree, your happiness and health depend on the quality of your relationships. So here is a tricky question: Are the people you hang out with challenging you and building you up? Or are they taking from you and tearing you down? If you need to adjust your relationships, begin doing it right now. The daylight is burning.

As iron sharpens iron,
so a friend sharpens a friend.
Proverbs 27:17 NLT

So encourage each other and build each other up,
just as you are already doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT

If one person falls, the other can reach out and help.
But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.
Ecclesiastes 4:10 NLT

4.   Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today. In today’s over-connected world you will always be able to find someone who is better than you. So what? Begin where you are and do what you need to move forward. Failure to move will only result in you going backward.

This is the day the Lord has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24 NLT

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,
but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past
and looking forward to what lies ahead,
I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly
prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Philippians 3:13-14 NLT

5.        Don’t let your kids do anything that makes you dislike them. I am afraid that we are seeing so many “fragile” kids because parents have refused to allow children to experience the painful consequences of their negative behavior. Parenting is daunting—your mission is to raise them to be honest, law-abiding citizens when they grow up. My friend and mentor, Dr. Kevin Leman, says, “Your home needs to be a place where your kids can fail and learn from their failures. Surround them with love, show them how important they are to you, but don’t try to undo their failures.” It’s not our job as parents to get our kids off the hook.

Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6 ESV

But as for you, continue in what you have learned
and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it
and how from childhood, you have been acquainted
with the sacred writings,
which are able to make you wise for salvation
through faith in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 3:14-15 ESV

6.   Get your own house in order before you criticize others. Setbacks, suffering, and stupidity can cause pain and misery, but we can choose what we do with them. Will you wallow in self-pity? Will you stay angry at your situation and the world? Will you be crushed? Or will you be resilient and allow yourself to be positively transformed by the adversity you are going through? Get your finances figured out. Do what you need to do to repair relationships.

Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.
For you will be treated as you treat others.
The standard you use in judging
is the standard by which you will be judged.
Matthew 7:1-2 NLT