Here is an e-mail that I sent out to the men of our church today.  Hope this encourages your day and challenges your leadership:

I have been praying specifically for our leadership and the men in our church today as I have been fasting.  I’ve prayed for each of you men individually and God’s vision, Christ’s maturity, and the Spirit’s passion for your lives.  I love OUR church and I love being able to serve alongside each of you.  Thank you for your leadership and the way you serve boldly and humbly without being asked.  Thank you for serving willingly and with a happy heart when you are asked.

This past week I was given the gift of hanging out with a group of really sharp and Godly church planters.  Unfortunately I heard some stories about men on their team who had cheated on their spouses, stabbed them in the back, along with other various and sundry actions that were rooted in placing self in front of Christ’s glory and His church’s good.  If we are going to truly be a city on a hill and a church that God chooses to use for His fame in this region then we also have to be men who deal with hard times, temptation, struggles, and sin with a gospel grounding, a gutsy determination, and by living in the light with godly men.

In my study in Nehemiah I was impacted by chapter 6 and specifically these verses 6:10-13:
10 One day I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was shut in at his home. He said, “Let us meet in the house of God, inside the temple, and let us close the temple doors, because men are coming to kill you—by night they are coming to kill you.”  11 But I said, “Should a man like me run away? Or should one like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!” 12 I realized that God had not sent him, but that he had prophesied against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 He had been hired to intimidate me so that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would give me a bad name to discredit me.

I love the biblical vision for manhood.  It calls men to be REAL men.  Men who fight for what is right and against what is wrong.  It calls us to cling to God as our source of strength and vision for our purpose.  It bids us to love our wives (or prepare for our future wives) sacrificially and to build up our children to know who they are and the greatest calling on their lives, which is to be wild eyed imitators of Jesus Christ.  It calls us to be influencers of everyone around us and to lead from humility and grace through Christ’s power in us.  It calls us to build with all of our God given might and gifts so we leave an indelible mark on every task we put our hands to.  It calls us to create culture and impact this world as we beckon Christ to make His kingdom known in our lives and through our lives.  It bids us to come and to die so that life may abound from the resurrection power at work in us.

Most men are never called to live or invited to lead in this way.  What God is doing in our church is not common and therefore it is a gift.  It is a privilege that God has graciously placed in our hands and your future, my future, and our church’s future is dependent upon our stewardship of this grace.  So my charge to each of you is to lead.  Start by making the challenge of finding your greatest strength and joy be in Christ today.  Take your wives on dates, teach your children what passionate faithfulness looks like tonight, show your employers what a Spirit filled work ethic looks like, share your faith with your neighbor, enjoy the drive home with the radio off and sing to the Lord a new song, let your cup run over especially when the day is hard, look to Christ not at porn, allow yourself to be amazed by the gospel message that Christ stands in victory over everything you feel stands against you and that your eternity is hid with Christ in heaven, not by anything you’ve done but through Christ’s finished work on the cross.

This is an unabashed call to not wait to lead but to let your passions loose so that the next 50 guys that come to our church feel loved  so well that they see the Spirit transform their lives, that they are invited into a brotherhood where they can set down the broken cisterns of money and comfort and lust and every other other thing that is sucking life from them and with Nehemiah and with us say “I will not go” except to where the cross calls me and that I’ll do it with real men.

In Him,
Michael

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