Our young men need public and private examples of godly men in generations past and present. Our pastor would tell us that his personal pursuit of holiness was for the benefit of others—because his wife needed a godly husband and his children a godly father and the church a godly leader. He modeled meekness and godliness even in his later years of immense personal suffering. He showed us how to die. The church needs more everyday heroes like him to prepare our young men to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness” and to “fight the good fight of the faith” until the Lord calls them home (1 Tim. 6:11-12).
A hero went Home this week.
It’s hard to put into words the measure of a man. God gives many good men to His church. As I mourn this beloved pastor, I can’t help but wonder how many of our young men are in the queue to lead the next generation. I know not every man can or will be like him – but that was not his aim, nor his desire to be a standard for comparison. His aim was to build men who follow after Christ (1 Cor. 11:1) and become more Christ-like (Rom. 8:29), from one degree to another (2 Cor. 3:18). Christ is the only imitable way, truth and life (John 14:6).
Yet, the scriptures do command us to “consider your leaders and the outcome of their faith” (Hebrews 13:7) and to follow them, as they follow Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). I’ve had ample opportunity to “consider…the outcome” of this pastor’s life as a sheep in his flock for 35 years. And, at the risk of the criticism of romanticizing a fallible man, I offer these reflections of one man’s faithful life to encourage the Church to nurture our young men, so that it will flourish in their generation.
Set Christ apart in your heart by faith.
We must encourage our sons to live wholeheartedly for Christ. There is no middle ground, no nuanced path. Indeed, the way is narrow and has only one gate. Our pastor would say to us, “Look to Christ” who is the “author and finisher of our faith” in all things (Heb. 12:2). Our world holds many glittering distractions for a young man’s heart, but we must pray that our sons’ hearts esteem Christ above all else. When men learn to find their treasure in Christ alone, many worldly distractions fall away, scattered in dull comparison. We must pray for our young men because this act of “setting apart” is a sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit alone, in His timing. The Church must exercise patience, grace and grit to equip men to grow into “mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).
Have a vision to change the world.
We must encourage our young men to have a vision for their lives that extends beyond their personal gain, for the glory of God’s kingdom. Our pastor’s vision to change the world was not to have a world-renowned name for himself, but to lead, train and send men “into all the world” (Matt. 28:19) for Christ’s name. As we foster interests and enable talents of our sons, we need to never stop encouraging them to think big and take risks for His glory and for the good of others.