A few years ago I was asked to lead a workshop on the roles of men and women. As I was preparing, I was again struck by the immense need of our time for men to be real men. I do not mean men as it is defined by the world: the image of a macho, sports fanatic, who is so self-absorbed that he does not have time for anybody else. I mean real men, as God defines and prescribes men to be, godly men, who take the Word of God seriously, who are devoted not to their work or their hobbies or their sports but who are devoted to God! I mean men who take their calling as husbands and fathers seriously, seeking to be loving, sensitive, and caring to their wives, and attentive, inspiring, and instructive to their children. This is the need of the hour, and a desperate need at that. Dr. James Dobson calls the recovery of the husband’s leadership in the home “America’s greatest need”:
A Christian man is obligated to lead his family to the best of his ability . . . If his family has purchased too many items on credit, then the financial crunch is ultimately his fault. If the family never reads the Bible or seldom goes to church on Sunday, God hold the man to blame. If the children are disrespectful and disobedient, the primary responsibility lies with the father, not his wife . . . In my view, America’s greatest need is for husbands to begin guiding their families, rather than pouring every physical and emotional resource into the mere acquisition of money. 1
He is absolutely right! What we need are more men who are more concerned about the glory of God and the good of their families than about money and recreation. More than ever we need men who embody and exude the biblical pattern of Christ-like headship so that our young boys can see the wonderful example of what a true man is. Our culture is so filled with godless examples of perverse men who deny on every level the biblical pattern of manhood that our children hardly get to see what true, godly, Christ-like men are supposed to be. If we do not live it, where will they ever see it?
For churches that are committed to the biblical perspective (1 Tim. 2–3; 1 Cor. 14) that men alone may serve in the offices of minister, elder, and deacon, the obligation and necessity for men to strive to be God-centered and not self-centered should be even greater. The rise of the movement for women in church office is not primarily the result of feminism but the lack of able and godly men who willingly take the lead at church and at home. See how John Piper puts it:
If I were to put my finger on one devastating sin today, it would not be the so-called women’s movement, but the lack of spiritual leadership by men at home and in the church. Satan has achieved an amazing tactical victory by disseminating the notion that the summons for male leadership is born of pride and fallenness, when in fact pride is precisely what prevents spiritual leadership. The spiritual aimlessness and weakness and lethargy and loss of nerve among men are the major issue, not the upsurge of interest in women’s ministries.
Pride and self-pity and fear and laziness and confusion are luring many men into self-protecting, self-exalting cocoons of silence. And to the degree that this makes room for women to take more leadership it is sometimes even endorsed as a virtue. But I believe that deep down the men—and the women—know better.2
I think all Christian men must think long and hard about what Piper is saying here. Are we guilty of shutting ourselves off from our tasks at church or at home in “self-protecting, self-exalting cocoons of silence”? Are we willing, or do we even desire, to spend time in God’s Word alone, and together with other men, so that we will be able to lead our family and God’s people spiritually, or would we much rather spend our time on entertainment, sports, hobbies, or diddling in the garage? How the church and our families need men who are truly God-centered! Piper asks,
Where are the men with a moral vision for their families, a zeal for the house of the Lord, a magnificent commitment to the advancement of the kingdom, an articulate dream for the mission of the church and a tenderhearted tenacity to make it real? When the Lord visits us from on high and creates a mighty army of deeply spiritual men committed to the Word of God and global mission, the vast majority of women will rejoice over the leadership of these men and enter into a joyful partnership that upholds and honors the beautiful Biblical pattern of mature manhood and mature womanhood! 3
Let us begin to pray that God will visit us and create such a mighty army of deeply spiritual men committed to his Word! Our churches and our homes desperately need it! The well-being, harmony, love, and joy of our churches and our homes depend upon it. Let us never stop praying that God would bless us with godly men!
But brothers, while we pray we must be at work. We must seek out God’s Word. We must give ourselves to following Christ and putting into practice the requirements of his Word for ourselves and our families. As spiritual leaders of our homes we must avail ourselves of every opportunity to study God’s Word and to be held accountable to it! Are you taking the time to study God’s word for yourself? Are you part of a Bible study group or men’s group that will hold you accountable? Do you surround yourself with friends who will challenge you to grow in Christ? Are you reading anything that stimulates your spiritual growth? Oh men, let us not neglect the means God has provided to help us to grow and become more and more what he call us to be: godly men!
1. Quoted by John Piper in “A Vision of Biblical Complementarily,” page 39 in the book Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Crossway, 1991).
2. Ibid., 53.
3. Ibid., 53–54.
Rev. Jacques Roets is pastor of Redeemer United Reformed Church in Dyer, IN.