How to Grow as a Man of Faith (Part 2)

John ThurmanBy John Thurman16 Minutes

There are three final stages in the process of How to Grow as a Man of Faith Pt 2, and they are the Lover Stage, the King Stage, and the Sage Stage. I hope that you will read this with an open heart and mind as you seek to mature as a man of faith.

The Lover Stage

The lover needs the warrior to be able to act decisively and restrain his passions.

The lover stage (the 20s to 30s) is the awakening of the heart. This could manifest as a love of poetry, nature, music … and eventually romance.

The lover stage is not just about romance and sex. It includes developing multiple layers of love for family, friends, and God.

Being sensual means learning to open and exercise all your senses in all areas of your life. It means tuning into touching, smelling, tasting, hearing, and seeing life, experiencing as many dimensions of life as you can. As you do this, you will feel more alive and aware of your world and those in it.

The most important thing for the lover stage is for a man to love others with the same depth as he loves himself. This is a difficult task because it requires self-awareness, empathy, and emotional maturity.

This is the stage in which men learn how to love themselves by loving others. It can also deepen your awareness of who you are as a person created in God’s image.

There are two extremes of lovers we need to look at before we move on.

The addicted lover becomes consumed by short-term pleasure at almost any cost. This person is a collector of experiences, women, and toys. The addicted lover resists structure and pursues pleasure.

The impotent lover lives in a muted world. His world may be void of color and flavor. He probably feels plagued by depression and feels flat on the inside. On the other hand, the impotent lover may turn into a guy who disciplines himself in excess. In some cases, men of faith can overdo this by going beyond standard faith practices. He may burden himself with prudish rules and feel extreme shame about any pleasures he experiences.

So here are three ways to expand your capacity as a lover.

1. Become more mindful. Instead of being caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, slow down and smell the roses (or coffee).

Here is another idea. Next time you have a meal, eat it slowly, enjoy the textures and flavors, and make eating a spiritual experience by adding a prayer filled with gratitude for the food you are consuming. Check out Philippians 4:6-9

2. If you are married, find shared pleasure with your wife. Now, I am not only talking about sexual pleasure. When was the last time you enjoyed the presence of your wife’s company? When was the last time you noted how she walks or moves her mouth when thinking about something? When was the last time you gave her a compliment, with no thought about any reward? Also, let me say a brief word about sensual pleasure. If you are a married man, there are two things you can do to be a better lover of your wife. Don’t watch porn. Learn how to help your wife experience sexual pleasure on her terms. For more info, read the Song of Solomon.

Here are a couple of fun ideas. First, plan a surprise date, it doesn’t have to be expensive, but I would avoid cafeterias and fast food. Finally, write her a love letter or poem.

3. Expand your brain’s capacity. If you don’t have a hobby, start one. Particularly if it involves your artistic skills such as painting, photography, or one that builds your craftmanship. Spend more time out in nature. Or, here is an interesting one, begin the habit of being a lifelong learner—start reading on various subjects and dig deeper into Scripture.

The King Stage

In the king stage (age 40-60), the man is mature, centered, and decisive. He lives with integrity and purpose. He protects his realm and serves his community.

The king stage is essential for men because it is the first time in their lives they are genuinely in control of themselves and their environment. This stage is about responsibility and power, not dominance or aggression.

A man at this stage of his life knows both who he is and whose he is. He is secure in his beliefs and centered on biblical principles. So when hard times come, he can dig deep into his resilient spirit and knowledge of God’s principles and stay the course.

A man in this stage is also decisive partially because of his victories and defeats. He is seasoned by life and has gained volumes of practical wisdom and insight.

A man in this stage of life lives with integrity. He is a man who lives a life of dedication to the Lord, his family, and his community.

I think men struggle with integrity because of what it could cost them if they were to live with integrity all the time. In my years of practice, I’ve worked with men who’d done things they regretted but were fearful of their wife’s response. As a result, they sometimes live like double agents, feeling it is easier to avoid the truth than roll it out and face the music. If this resonates with you, here are some things you can do to develop your integrity muscle.

·  Learn to be more open and vulnerable with people. A man expanding his capacity for integrity will not fear being more vulnerable because he is learning the value of being open and honest. He is  actively taking responsibility for his actions and rather than projecting blame.

·  Begin being more comfortable with discomfort. There are two reasons this can be distressing, and the first is best stated by my friend Dr. Jack Allen. “When you make a mess, own your mess, confess your mess, and clean your mess up!” The second uncomfortable thing is you might need to confront another person about an issue.

·  Make repairs as needed. Apologize, and make amends. The fourth and fifth step of A.A. is spot on when it comes to this. Step 4 – We have “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” Step 5 – We have “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

·  Get some other guys in your life. Proverbs 27:17 (NLT) “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”

If you are reading this and feeling like a loser, let me remind you—if you are a believing man, there is more in you than you know. Jesus promised to be with us. You have the Holy Spirit in you, and there are men of faith who want to come alongside you.

The king protects his realm. This is the Oath of Office I took as an Officer in the U.S. Army in 1974. Its history goes back to July 11, 1868, following the Civil War. Take a moment to read it and apply it to your family, your realm.

“I (state your full name), having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of Second Lieutenant, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter, so help me God.”

So, what does it mean to protect your realm? First, it means you have the God-given responsibility to physically, emotionally, and spiritually safeguard your home and family. Your home is a haven from negative influences and a safe refuge. In your working space, it means doing what you can to facilitate a productive, cooperative work environment.

To protect others, you must also guard your heart and mind against things that could damage your body, soul, and psyche.

A man at this stage of life should inspire creativity and motivation in others. My son-in-law is an excellent example of this. He is a combat veteran, former police officer, entrepreneur, and father of two boys. He was a great soccer player growing up. I remember him telling me how he received intel from playing soccer with Iraqi children. Recently, both of my grandsons began playing football, and my son-in-law saw their teams were short on volunteer coaches, so he signed up, became certified, investing both in his boys and their community. We talked a few weeks ago, and he said, “I never played football, but as a former Army Staff Sergeant who was a Cavalry Scout, I know a little about encouraging and motivating men and boys!” So he and my daughter are doing their part to enrich the lives of others in their community.

A man in this life stage has the power to bless others. Dr. Jordan Peterson was recently asked, “What is the most important thing we can do for our young men?” His response was somewhat surprising to the journalist, and Peterson was moved to tears when he responded. “People need a word of encouragement!”

The tongue has no bones, but it is strong enough to break a heart, crush a spirit, or lift someone out of despair and hope. So, watch your mouth.

Proverbs 18:4 NLT – Wise words are like deep waters;

      wisdom flows from the wise like a bubbling brook.

Proverbs 18:20 NLT – Wise words satisfy like a good meal;

      the right words bring satisfaction.

He leaves a legacy. Here are some verses which best describe what this means.

  • Deuteronomy 6.5-7 NLT: And you must love the Lord your God with your heart, soul, and strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.
  • Ephesians 6.4 TPT: Fathers, don’t exasperate your children, but raise them up with loving discipline and counsel that brings the revelation of our Lord.

The Sage Phase

This stage is the final stage of masculine development. It is a time when a man has lived an entire life, has demonstrated resilience as he has grown through his own woundedness, and has a long-term perspective on love, life, hardship, and accomplishment. The silver-haired sage steps aside to let younger men carry the load, but he’s sought after for his wisdom and counsel. Age is not something to be despised, and younger generations have much to learn from their elders. In my coaching practice, over half of my clients are young men looking for direction and affirmation.

The sage is a steady character throughout history and literature.

In the Old Testament, Solomon is seen as a Sage. The apostle Paul, in the New Testament. In modern literature, Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings and Yoda from Star Wars.

Proverbs 20:29 NLT – The glory of the young is their strength.

            the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.