It is a great tribute to a man when his family knows him for his commitment to the Bible, to prayer, and to the local church. Gifts and vacations and inheritances are all well and good, but there is no better legacy you can leave to your children than being a man who truly loves the Lord and has lived for his glory. This legacy is inextricably bound to a long dedication to Scripture, to prayer, and to consistent commitment to the local church. Be known for these.
I have had a few opportunities in the past few weeks to interact with Christian men. Along the way I’ve jotted down a few thoughts that arose from those conversations. I thought I’d share them today.
Pause for a few moments to consider the fact that God is a Father and you are his child. Now think about how many times God has obviously chastised or disciplined you for your sin versus how many times he has extended mercy and grace and given you time to correct your sinful behavior. How often in life has God clearly afflicted you with some kind of negative consequence for your sin? How often have you been certain that he has providentially intervened with some kind of pain in order to change your bad behavior? My guess is your answer would be something like, “Not all that often, considering how sinful I am.” Having pondered that, contemplate the way you parent your children and whether you reflect a good measure of God’s patience and long-suffering. Is your fatherhood modeled on God’s?
The society around you wants you to believe that men cannot have friendships with other men that are significant and meaningful and emotionally intimate—but that do not involve sex or any desire for it. Society casts doubt on Jonathan and David and on Frodo and Sam and on everyone between, as if love between men cannot be utterly true and also utterly pure. Don’t buy the lie. Friendships with other men are precious and good and bring glory to God. You will be a better man for baring your heart before a friend and allowing him to really know you as you are. You will be a better husband and father and church member. So pursue friendships and relational intimacy with other men. You’ll be glad you did.
And on the topic of friendship, why not make it your goal in friendship to make your friends better? There are lots of relationships that can leave us the same or even make us worse. But the most precious relationships are the ones that make us better by providing an example of godliness, by speaking truth to us, and by challenging or even rebuking us when necessary. Be the kind of friend who is committed to leveling up your friends—and your wife and your children and the other people around you. You’ll probably find they do the same to you. And be aware that the way to do this is first and foremost for you to grow in godliness, because you cannot expect of them what you are not willing to do yourself. Make people around you better by being better yourself.
Much of the pain men bring upon themselves is a result of their sense of entitlement when it comes to sexual satisfaction. For that reason, one of the best and godliest things you can do is determine you will not experience illicit sexual pleasure as an expression of that sense of entitlement. In other words, you will not masturbate. If you make that commitment and work backward from there, you may just find that your desire to look at pornography is diminished. You may find you are more careful with what you watch on Netflix or what your eyes alight on when you are round and about. You might find you put better measures in place to guard what you see and experience. After all, why get all worked up when you have committed not to satisfy yourself?