Look Under the Jacket!
My son came to me the other day distraught because he could not find his shoes. He needed to leave for football practice and the urgency was upon him. I asked if he looked in the front closet. “Yes, but they’re not there”, was his response. I proceeded to look in the closet, moving a jacket that had fallen to the floor, and you guessed it, there were his shoes! I share this story because I feel it relates well to our growing need of men in the church. The urgency is upon us. Many men are stepping out of ministry and retiring. The church is finding itself in a search for Godly men. There is an ever growing need to have men in our churches who are trained and equipped for what God has called them to. I would propose that we are often looking in the wrong place or not looking hard enough in the place God has us. Due to being tired in ministry ourselves, we tend to look without great effort or sometimes we just look for the easy solution that requires less of us.
When we look for men in our churches, we often are looking for a man who is ready or almost ready for ministry. We look for men who will take the least amount of effort because truth be told, we are busy, tired, and extended in too many directions. We tend to look to our institutions to send us men who are prepared and ready for ministry. I hold nothing against our Bible colleges, universities, and seminaries, but I believe the church, its leadership, and fathers have grown comfortable using them as a crutch. We have grown complacent in our upbringing of young men expecting that a higher educational institution will do the job of preparing, equipping, and impassioning the next generation of leaders in the church. We have handed off a vital responsibility. Truth is, the church, pastors, leadership, and fathers should be preparing, equipping, and impassioning our young men. If we do this, then when God calls them, we will see men adequately prepared for our institutions, our churches, leadership roles, and fatherhood. It is time we become willing to look within our own churches and spheres of influence. We need to be willing to put forth effort, “lift the jacket” so to speak, and engage the men, young and old alike, that God has brought to our churches and within our scope of influence.
Young people in our churches are a vital part of the church today and they will be our leaders of tomorrow. This has been a mantra that I have continuously repeated to both our adults and young people in our church. I state this so often that I think they are beginning to believe it, and act upon it! If we really begin to think and believe this way, then it will change how we view and interact with our young people, specifically our young men. I do not disregard our young women in all of this, but for the sake of this article I will focus on our young men.
Young men today are told to suppress their passions and are told that their energy and testosterone within them is wrong. They are constantly being asked by the world around them (sometimes even in our churches) to demasculinize or correct their passions and zeal. Many of them respond by suppressing what God has instilled within them. Later they are confused when they are attacked and put down for lacking passion, zeal, or desire to lead their families, their communities, and their churches! Deep down, men know it is not right, it is not natural, yet they choose not to fight. It feels noble to them to stand back, to not push the issue and they grow older watching the next generation of young men fall prey to the same fate. Slowly, we have seen the church struggle to find zeal and passion among our men. The few who choose to take a stand are attacked verbally and mocked. Eventually we see some men step back and some even step away.
Our older generation sees the need and the damage that has been done, yet they struggle to find the energy for the fight. The odds seem insurmountable, and the task requires so much effort and time. There is also this middle generation to consider. These men may or may not see the danger so clearly. If they see it, they lack the know how or the will to take a stand. They struggle to understand how to make the change for themselves, and the thought of instilling this drive in the next generation seems daunting and scary as they look at their own reflection. They ask, “How can I train young men to “be” the church, when I am struggling myself to know what that looks like?”
Looking around at the church of today there is a growing need to have men step up and “be” the church, be leaders, and to be fathers! It is time to reignite a fire that burns in the hearts of men equipping them to take on the challenge of spreading the truth of the gospel. It is time to instill within young men’s hearts the desire to step up and lead. There needs to be a war cry shouted out to young men in our midst. I desire to challenge the pastors, elders, and shepherds reading this. There needs to be action taken by us to come alongside other men, young and old, and challenge them to lean into the crushing currents of our times to declare and stand for Truth against the tidal waves of subjective reality. If we want men in the church to be the church, then it is time we as pastors, shepherds, and elders lead the charge and challenge the men around us to follow our lead and engage them to be men of God!
Far too long we have painted the wrong picture of being a “Godly man.” We have come to a place where our churches, our people, and our communities have grown complacent and expectant that the shepherd or man of God is some pretty boy, playing the harp, relaxing in a scene of serenity with the sheep. Shepherds, pastors, and men of God have ceased to be the young men with keen eyes watching for wolves and lions. The raging fire in the heart and eyes as one engages lost souls or stands guarding the flock or his family has been quenched by this world. We rarely have a man coming alongside a boy, challenging him to fight for all he is worth and to guard the sheep and his home! If we want to see Godly men leading in our churches and homes, then we need to clearly and visibly express that need to them. We need to teach the young men that a pack of wolves will come. Inform them they will feel as though they are outnumbered, yet we remind them that they don’t stand alone as they stand their ground and engage in the fight. They need to see why they take the staff and use it fiercely in defense, and how crucial it is to sling the stone with precision. We need to encourage them as they fine tune their skills and learn be ever watchful. We need to show them, prepare them, and equip them to be Godly men.
Scripture is very clear in this mandate to raise up men. Scripture is the basis of why we must do this! 2 Timothy 2:16-17 states, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” We desperately need men of God who are adequately equipped to serve in our churches! We need to inform men that we have an opponent. (Titus 2:8) Paul, as he is instructing Titus concerning older and younger men, gives a list of things not only to be taught but caught. (Titus 2:1-2; 6-8) Much of our training needs to be observed just as much as it should be taught. This is a mentor/mentee, relationship. The greatest opportunity is in the father/son relationship. These young men are able to observe life lived out by men more experienced than themselves. This concept of mentoring was not new with Paul’s writings. God had intended this from the very beginning with His people Israel. God specifically instructed fathers to teach and train their sons as they go through the day and through life. (Deuteronomy 6:7) Jesus throughout His ministry would take under His wing twelve men and pour into them. We see in His example a great demonstration of Truth being taught and caught. When we engage in this mentor relationship of teaching, we engage men with the very heart of our God.
The trouble is that so many men feel inadequate to equip the next generation, even with their very own sons. Our men need to realize that it is time they train the next generation. A father may teach his son how to fish, hunt, throw a ball, change a tire, yet very often there is a void when it comes to the scripture. There is a lack of understanding, reliance, or even need for God’s Word. They view scripture as holding answers to their religious questions, yet these men lack understanding its vital importance for this fight we call them to! If a man knows a fight or struggle is coming, he will prepare. It is time we point to the bushes where the eyes of lurking wolves are seen. Tell them to hold their head high and look up at the rocks where preying lions are ready to pounce. With the danger approaching and the enemy moving in, a young man will be eager to learn how to wield the sword you have given him in God’s Word. No longer will it be a decoration carried under the arm or proudly displayed on the seat next to him during the message or Bible lesson. It will be carefully examined. Each page turned with the intent to handle it with authority, poise, and skill. The teaching will be welcomed, reproof will be understood, correction will be taken with the purpose of improvement, and training will be sought out. As we point out the danger that lies out there, we give them reason to engage with God’s Word. The results will be worthwhile. We will see a church rise up where we have men who can handle the Word of truth, who have become intimate with the sharpness that can pierce to the depths of the soul and spirit! (Hebrews 4:12) When lies are fired in rapid succession, we will find men ready to take a stand, able to hold up the shield of faith, defending the truth, and willing to engage in battle and not back down. (Ephesians 6:10-13)
It is time we as men in the church step into this mentor relationship. I find that many men give the excuse, “The young men have not asked to be mentored.” I’m sorry, but why would you expect a young man to ask for something he does not know he needs? Act like men… (1 Corinthians 16:13) stop making excuses and be strong! Yes, it will be hard. Yes, there will be pushback. Yes, the enemy will try to distract, hinder, and attack. Take that young man under your wing into battle with you and train him! Allow him to see the eyes of the enemy. Allow his blood to boil when he sees the ruthlessness of our opposition dragging souls to hell. As the battle rages on, point him to Our Commander and Chief. Declare to him with assurance that our Jesus goes before us into battle to win!
You and I need to “lift the jacket” and look around our church, our community and find young men. The urgency is upon us! This is a long-range work. Find men who will engage with you in this work. When I look for young men in the church who could lead, shepherd, minister, I present a challenge to be tackled and an adventure to embark upon! There is a mountain to be scaled, and a fight that is worth engaging! You and I must engage with them! I strive to look for and find a young man with passion in his soul. On the outside he may appear to be a young man with all sorts of energy, reckless, loud, and sometimes even unruly, but God can boldly use him for His work and can capture his heart. The young man may be the quiet thinker, shy and withdrawn, but we can engage him to think deeper on the things of God and think through the areas of apologetics. God can use his intellect and quiet spirit for His glory. We need to put forth effort discovering creative and practical ways to engage one on one with the men in our unique settings. There has never been a time where the need is greater to raise up Godly men to lead, and be fathers, husbands, and grandfathers. May the urgency of the need spur you to act and make the effort to “look under the jacket” to see the opportunities God has given us!