God is looking for spiritual lions who
will exhibit boldness, compassion and true holiness.
While millions of men were watching last weekend’s
NCAA basketball contest (congratulations to Virginia Commonwealth), I was in a
three-day conference in Concord, N.C., with 180 men from eight nations. We
called it Bold Venture, and it was an opportunity for American guys to be
exposed to the courageous faith of men from the developing world.
We ate together (North Carolina barbeque!),
worshiped God passionately (thanks to three worship teams, including a group of
guys from a Christian college in Georgia) and had our rear ends kicked by some
humble, battle-scarred ministers from Uganda, Nigeria, Ethiopia and India.
“There is a new
move of God stirring among men in this country—but it is not about ‘taking
charge’ or throwing their testosterone around. It is about reflecting the full
nature of Christ—humility, compassion, integrity, gentleness and strength.”
Our goal during Bold Venture was to model New
Testament humility. At least a third of the participants were in their 20s, and
they have a low tolerance for fake religion. There were no VIP rooms,
limousines, suits, ties or entourages. Everyone was on the same level. Being
real was our theme, and the men from Africa and Asia gave us a taste of the
revival that is sweeping their countries. It made us hungry for true spiritual
awakening in this country.
During the weekend we touched on five areas
Christian men should pursue. I’m sharing this with you because I believe
American guys need a healthy dose of the gut-level honesty and raw spiritual
passion we experienced in Concord.
1. Real men are compassionate. Biju Thampy shared how God
called him to work with the 300,000 street children who live in the slums of
Mumbai, India. His heart broke when he saw a photo of an Indian child sucking
milk from a dog. From that moment he determined to be a channel of Christ’s
compassion—and today he and his team feed, clothe and educate more than 1,000
Men often think of compassion as a feminine virtue,
but Biju reminded us that Jesus was motivated by compassion throughout His
ministry—and it produced supernatural results. “If you want to see miracles in
your life, ask God for compassion,” Biju said.
2. Real men make disciples. Barry St. Clair was a busy
youth leader for his denomination when I met him in 1973. He traveled around
the country speaking, yet he took the time to teach a group of 10th-grade kids
how to spend daily time with God. I’m a Christian leader today because of
Barry’s commitment to the “2 Timothy 2:2 Principle” of personal discipleship.
Barry reminded us in Concord that God never intended for us to make crowds or
monolithic church structures. “Today we run the church as a business,” Barry
said. “The business makes money, and the money builds buildings. We’ve created
an audience, not an army.”
So many American guys are
sitting in pews week after week, never realizing that God has called them to
pour spiritual encouragement into the people around them. I wonder what would
happen if we had a major shift in priorities and began to invest our lives in
each other. We might actually start resembling the New Testament church!
3. Real men share Jesus. Ethiopian evangelist Daniel
Haile has preached in 50 countries and has seen countless miracles on the front
lines. But he didn’t expect front-row treatment at our conference, and he
stayed in the same Hampton Inn with the rest of us (some brothers even stayed
in homes). What drives this humble man is his passion for souls.
Daniel reminded us that of the 200,000 people who
die every day, about 180,000 of them are not Christians. And while folks in the
church today question the reality of hell, Daniel told us that hell quite
dramatically figures into John 3:16.
“Hell is in John 3:16 because it says, ‘whoever believes in Him shall
not perish.’ In the best ‘love’ verse in the Bible, we see hell.”
4. Real men live holy. Some denominations today
have completely lost their moral spine. Even in so-called “Spirit-filled”
churches, we rarely address the sinful habits that cripple men. We don’t
confront the pornography epidemic, the secret pain of sexual abuse, the
unmentionable sin of homosexuality, the crime of domestic violence or the
rampant epidemic of adultery and fornication. Men hide in their “man caves” of
shame and live in continual spiritual defeat.
At Bold Venture we gave four
guys the chance to share their testimonies of freedom. Two brothers told how
they have overcame additions to porn; one young man told how he fell into
temptation and had sex with his fiancée before his marriage (and how guilt
almost destroyed him); and another brave man admitted for the first time
publicly that he had been sexually abused by a minister. Because these men were
transparent, dozens of men came to the altar to find freedom from their secret
5. Real men are bold. A Ugandan pastor (whose
name I won’t mention because his life is on the line) told us that boldness is
more than the courage to be a witness. We also need steel in our backbones to
confront sin. This brother had to muster up that boldness last year when he
learned that his pastor was sleeping with women and infecting them with the
Speaking from Proverbs 28:1 (“The righteous are as
bold as a lion”) this African brother gave us some insights about lions and
challenged us to let our voices be heard. The lion is the loudest animal in the
jungle. God is still waiting to hear the roar that will emerge from men of God
who are filled with the Holy Spirit.
It’s time for God’s lions to come out of their cages
of shame, defeat, condemnation and addiction. There is a new move of God
stirring among men in this country—but it is not about “taking charge” or
throwing their testosterone around. It is about reflecting the full nature of
Christ—humility, compassion, integrity, gentleness and strength—and passing it
on, as fathers, to those we are called to mentor and disciple.