If you’re a man still in the prime of life, this may apply to you.
I’ve been an adult male for a few decades now, and this is what I’ve learned:
- You can have a great career.
- You can be a great husband.
- You can be a great father.
- You can be a great man of civic duty.
- You can be a great friend to other men.
- You can be a benefactor of the downtrodden.
- You can be a creator, dreamer, or visionary.
- You can be a pillar of your church.
In 2014, you can pick two of those, three if you’re a Type A personality.
But the rest you must lay down and leave behind.
Some aspirations alway suffer. I think it is harder than ever to be that kind of man who somehow does all those things in the list. I knew a few men like that, but most of them have passed on. You just don’t see their likes anymore.
It’s not that there’s something wrong with men today. Society is different, and the demands of being male in America have never been so difficult. Most men I know are struggling just to keep their heads above water, and not always in the one area we always think, financially. Men today are weighted down with a level of expectation that their dads and granddads never had to bear, and someone is always adding more deliverables.
Increasingly, men are making choices that don’t include being a pillar of their church. American churchmen are starting to see that they can’t measure up to whatever demands the Church asks of them. That list seems endless, and curiously, it often consists of the very line items that precede that pillar of the church line. Sure, all noble ideals, but something’s got to give!
I think there are men across this country who plop down into that same old pew on Sunday morning and get a message about how they’re not measuring up to some ideal they never asked to be compared against. Fact is, they compare themselves against that standard Monday through Saturday all on their own, and none of them is really dying to have someone else add to a burden they so crushingly bear all by their lonesome. Yet there they sit, taking it, because they think that this is the abundant life.
While grace is the antidote that that life of burden, too few men ever find a place of respite, and for all the Christian men I know, darned few seem to have found anyone or anything around them dispensing that most precious grace. If anything, grace is a fountain in Shangri-La to most men. They may think it exists, but practical expressions of it feel like a fairy tale.
If I were to have one hope for 2015, it’s that I hope our churches can become bastions of grace and not dispensers of millstones. God knows men everywhere need more of the former and less of the latter.