One of the greatest blessings a church can enjoy is that of faithful, robust, masculine men who understand the difference between macho-manliness and biblical manhood. If we survey the evangelical church today, we see that there is a man crisis and this crisis is not what you might be led to believe. The evangelical church isn’t being swept away by toxic masculinity. In fact, the opposite is true. The evangelical church is being feminized. The church lacks masculine leadership and this creates vulnerability and a lack of security.
What are some ways that the church can benefit from stable masculine leadership? Paul deals with this in his letter to Titus who was left on the island of Crete to put into order the local churches on the island. In Titus 2:2, we read the following command for the older men in the church to be “sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.”
When we think of manliness, sometimes the first thought is that of a rugged bearded outdoorsman who is capable of harvesting big game, bench pressing 300lbs., and competing in various athletic competitions. However, it’s quite possible to be a quiet computer engineer who works in a cubicle on the 15th floor of a major corporate building in the heart of New York City and still be manly. The test of manliness isn’t the length of the beard or the callouses on the hands, it’s defined by biblical fidelity and perseverance which strengthens the church for the glory of God.
Biblical Manhood Provides Stability
One of the tragedies of the evangelical church today is consumerism. This brand of evangelical consumerism is like window shopping for churches. You might walk down the sidewalk and enter one store because of something that attracted you from the window display, but you’re not planning on staying very long. Soon enough, you’re back on the sidewalk looking into another window to see if there’s something you like which will lure you into that store next. Window shopping leads one from store to store to store.
Tragically, the average Christian home today will bounce around from church to church based on preferences or even worse, the preferences of their children. Like the window shopper, they’re not committed to one store. They’re just passing through. The sober-minded man is one who is not swayed by every wind that blows through evangelicalism. He is capable of remaining focused and vigilant. His mind is fixed on the pure doctrines of Scripture where he places his anchor and refuses to be moved.
The word translated “sober-minded” is the Greek term, “νηφάλιος” which carries the idea of one who is “level headed” or “restrained in conduct” and “self controlled.” The reason that the older men are addressed first in Titus 2, is because they are to set an example to the women and the younger men in the local church. As younger men are prone to make unwise decisions for their families or fall into sinful patterns of living in the church, the older men not only serve as worthy examples, they are also able to provide good biblical wisdom to the younger men in the church.
Biblical Manhood Promotes Sound Faith
Many times in the life of the church people are led astray or they make unwise decisions based on feelings or some private interpretation of Scripture. You might hear someone rationalize their decisions or actions by saying, “Well, this is just what I believe.” The older men of the church are called to be sound in the faith so that they can teach the younger men to be sound in the faith as well. Such soundness must be based upon chapter and verse of Scripture rather than personal convictions and positions. Proverbs 16:31 says, “Grey hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.” Grey hair doesn’t necessarily mean that the man is wise, but the principle holds true. This is why we must not neglect the importance of the older men in the church.
William Hendriksen observes, “In their attitude toward God let the aged men show soundness in their faith. Let them rely wholly on him and his revealed truth.”1William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of the Pastoral Epistles, vol. 4, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 363. In other words, the way men are called to function in the church and the home is based on sound faith rather than emotional feelings or personal interpretations. We must live and lead based on revealed truth. Any alternative leads to an unstable man who leads an unstable family and produces an unstable church. Chris Mueller in his excellent book Let the Men Be Men states the following:
A godly man will speak the truth graciously. He is not passive about truth, but passionate about truth. He is able to sort out the essential from the trivial and articulate healthy convictions about the basic truths of the Christian faith.2Chris Mueller, Let the Men Be Men: God’s Design for Manhood and Marriage, (Los Angeles: Three Sixteen Publishing, 2022), 85.
Biblical Manhood Produces Steadfastness
The Christian life is not a sprint. We’ve all heard the exhortation to remain steadfast in the faith. However, that truth finds its context in the teachings of Titus 2 where Paul is exhorting Titus to disciple local churches and church leaders. Unstable men produce unstable churches. Window shopping families produce a rotating door in the local church. Men who lack steadfastness find themselves hot one day and cold the next. A lack of steadfastness in the faith leads men to be eager to serve one day and lacking zeal and a desire to serve the following day. A local church suffers greatly from such lack of biblical men who lack steadfastness.
The Greek term translated steadfast is “ὑπομονή” which carries the idea of endurance, fortitude, and perseverance. One of the blessings of my life is sitting around the table in my small group with men who are the same age as me alongside older men who have been around the block more than once. It’s a blessing to talk about life and to be encouraged by men who exhibit a steadfast spirit. Such men refuse to be led astray by false teaching, work through disagreements among relationships in the church, and demonstrate a commitment to sound doctrine. The steadfast man is the stable backbone of the home and the local church.
When biblical manhood is defined more by the biblical definition than the cultural definition of macho-manliness the church becomes healthy and stable. When younger men learn to become steadfast by watching the example of older men—the church benefits. While the local church may have men who are capable of bench pressing 300lbs and competing in MMA competitions, the healthy church recognizes the genuine character qualities of biblical manhood. The church becomes stable, strong, and healthy as both white collar and blue collar men rub shoulders in the church, lead faithfully in their homes, and come together in gospel unity for the glory of God.
|1||William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of the Pastoral Epistles, vol. 4, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 363.|
|2||Chris Mueller, Let the Men Be Men: God’s Design for Manhood and Marriage, (Los Angeles: Three Sixteen Publishing, 2022), 85.|