Fail, Fool, or Fake
I have been very interested in ministry to men for several decades. However, my passion rejuvenated five years ago. I began with a group called “Hungry Hunters” on Wednesday nights at church. I realized how important men are in the church. In fact, I believe, “As go the men, so goes the church.” I now disciple two groups of men and one home group composed of couples. That does NOT mean women are not important. It does not mean women do not greatly contribute to the spiritual vitality and growth of a church. It does express that I believe if men do not lead, the blessing God intends for a church and community will not be all that God desires. Men have a key role and they have been passive since the Garden of Eden.
In the Garden of Eden, while the Serpent was wooing the woman, Adam was standing near passively listening to the discussion. When the woman took the fruit and ate it, the text says, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” (Gen. 3:6)He should have been leading. He should have been protecting the woman from being deceived. He should have cried out to God if he didn’t know what to do. Because Adam was passive and silent, we suffer today. Because men are passive and silent today, we continue to suffer. Why are men passive?
Men are passive, because that is the alternative to doing the wrong thing. What? Yes, men want to do the right thing. Men want to lead, but they have not been discipled. Men want to make a difference in life, but it is easier to do nothing than risk doing the wrong action.
If men do the wrong action, what happens? They will:
· Know they did the wrong thing and people will let them know it.
· Look like a fool in front of other people.
· Be found out as a fake. Men want others to respect them and they want others to think that they have their act together. If they do the wrong thing, they will either be shown a fake or someone will accuse them of being a fake.
Obviously, most of that is perception. But the reality is that is a man’s reality. And he has a fear of those things. Let me explain. There are three key things men do not want.
Men do not want to fail. Jesus prayed for the disciples before going to the cross, “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:32) To fail is to fail God for most men. Somehow it is wired into most men that we want to succeed, to win, to overcome, to complete the task and hence, triumph. You can see that in every aspect of life. Men want to succeed up the corporate ladder, win the big game, overcome the adversity or challenge, complete the project at home or work and hence have satisfaction of the triumph. Men do not want to fail in their marriages, their families, or their church, let alone their work. But men have not been discipled.
Men do not want to look like a fool. Men know from Scripture that a fool is the opposite of the wise one, “the fool will be servant to the wise of heart. (Pro. 11:29) Men like to joke around and banter back and forth among trusted friends. However, make a man look like a fool and he is gone. He will not come back unless he knows it might be safe. Make fun of him around people he does not know, especially women and he will avoid you like certain politicians avoid answering the truth. A man who looks foolish will remain quiet and uninvolved, until he can work up the courage to risk that last step again. Even then, he’ll be very cautious.
Men do not want to be found out as a fake. Men want people to respect them. The Lord respected Abel’s offering, but not Cain’s (Gen. 4:4,5). Jesus told the same parable in each of the three synoptic gospels regarding the expectation that the Son should be respected by the vinedressers (Matt. 21:37; Mark 12:6; Luke 20:13). Respect is a big deal to men. That’s why God tells women to “respect their husbands” (Eph. 5:33). When, or if, a man does not know or live in a way that he should be respected, he would rather retreat to his man-cave. So rather than saying or doing the wrong thing, it is easier for him not to do anything, than risk being found out a spiritual or otherwise fake.
These three – fail, fool, fake – result from fear. Men do NOT want to claim to struggle from fear, so it is easier to be passive, silent and uninvolved. Even Scripture identifies this as a possible approach, “Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.” (Pro. 17:28) A man wants to look wise, so it is easier to be passive, silent and uninvolved than take the risk of revealing fear. Fear is abominable to a man. He is supposed to be a leader! But when the flesh controls, he plays the fool and fear gets the best of him. What is the solution?
The solution is to disciple men. That was the purpose of “Hungry Hunters.” We took the Message Based Discussion Questions and went through them each week. The purpose was to engender confidence in the men and restore true masculinity to lead in their marriages, homes and the church. Men are hunters and providers. Hungry men are those who seek after God’s righteousness. The goal is to stay with a man, until he is ready to disciple other men. The key is “as go the men, so goes the church (marriage, family).”