Who can I look to for leadership in our shifting, narcissistic, hedonistic culture? Who will stand up against it and live as the Bible proscribes and as Christ commands? Who will be strong enough not only to make it through life with his eyes on the goal, but be able to lead others along with him? And this strength cannot come from himself alone, but must come from absolute dependence on Another.
This week, Pastor Jeff brought in three men whom he had discipled and held a panel of discussion about how discipleship works on an everyday basis. It was very practical and useful to get different perspectives on what intentional discipleship can and should look like. I admit though, that I was fairly distracted by the men. No, not because of their physically attractiveness, but because of their godly obedience to disciple, raise their families well, and humbly accept leadership in the church, their family, and in other areas. These men expressed humility even as they shared how God had worked in them. The adjective “humble” does not necessarily apply to men who sit back and do nothing because they do not want to pridefully assume command. No, humility describes men who do things, good things, and great things even, yet do them with a dependence on God and with an attitude that deflects attention from them and returns the praise to God.
Our culture seems to be running short on men like this and I wish so desperately for a change. I pray that God would wake up so many Christian men from their lethargy and the lie that they are not important to the Church and that it is acceptable for their life to be defined by watching sports, eating heavily, and living for themselves. They have so much more responsibility to love their wives with the passionate love Christ had for the church, to raise and teach their children, to set an example in prayer and in evangelism and in discipleship for the rest of their family, to be a bearer of the gospel to their friends, neighbors, and coworkers.
I do realize that there is another facet of this issue. It is relatively easy to tell men to step up and be who God has called them to be since I cannot control their actions. However, how women act does affect how men lead, and it is hard for to know what to change. I Timothy says that women should learn in all submissiveness and that, at least in the church, should not have teaching authority over a man, but should remain quiet. Why this restriction on women? Paul specifically says it is because woman was the first to be deceived. This may seem like an irrelevant reference to one point in history, but I think it may actually be representative of woman’s nature. Women are easily deceived; this is illustrated in the well know story of Eve in Genesis 3, but can also be seen in the world today. I think particularly of women being lured into the sex traffic industry or of destructive cults whose followers were predominantly women. Perhaps this is because of their female emotional nature, or perhaps because they are truly designed to be submissive to a godly man who will lead them in the right way. If they are submitting to a man who is not leading them in the right way, or are not submitting to a godly man and thereby leading themselves astray, there will be trouble. But what should a woman do when she is joined to a man in marriage or under a group of male leaders at a church, and they are not leading at all? Should she continue to be submissive, quiet, and seek to learn from them? Should she step away from this relationship and seek someone who will lead? Should she temporarily take over leadership as far as setting an example of godliness, hoping they will be ashamed into following suite and leading?
I really do not know. I know that God has designed men to be leaders in the Church as they represent Christ, the head. I also know that in Christ there is no male or female and that the Spirit and His gifts are equally laid upon both and His commands are equally binding on both. May God give us wisdom. In the meanwhile, I am so thankful for the men in my home church and in my acquaintance who are actively pursuing the Lord and taking the responsibility of leadership. I wrote this intending to praise these men as they stand out from the majority culture and to consider what a woman’s responsibility is in the midst of this wide lack of leadership, not to complain about all men. I hope that is evident. I have seen some wonderful examples of godly men leading. It is not just an ideal in my mind, but something I have seen fleshed out. I’m praying that I may see more and more of Christ as the head through the men in our church and in the Church.