I asked our elder, Tung Le, if he would reduce his address to the men of LCCC at the June, 2011 Men’s Breakfast to “blog size.” He accepted the request. Enjoy his well organized, thought provoking and challenging words.
God’s desire for every male Christian is for them to be real men of God. There are three specific areas in which men fail at this, and I want to look at these areas through the lens of three favorite topics of men: golf, fantasy football, and guns.
Golf is serious business for many men. Golf lessons, Golf magazines, Golf on TV, etc. One friend I played golf with amazed me with his extensive scorecard system of tracking his game in every minute detail.
About a month ago, I played golf for the first time in a year and I was worse than I had ever been. And when I was spraying shots all over the course, I was getting frustrated, and I couldn’t understand why I was frustrated. It was if I somehow expected my golf game to be magically better after not playing for over a year. Why would anyone ever expect something to improve if they don’t spend time being intentional about improving it?
Question: If Christian men were as demanding of self-improvement for their faith as they are for their golf games, imagine how Godly men would be.
For some reason, the default belief of Christian men is that their faith and their relationship to God will magically improve and mature if they do nothing. If you don’t pray or read your Bible, if you don’t serve in ministry – why would you ever expect God to draw you closer? If you don’t model the fruits of the Spirit, if you don’t actively discuss faith with your children – why would you expect your kids to grow older and still embrace their faith?
Like the golfer who steadily sets goals of breaking 100 for the first time, then 90, then 80, then 70, we need to be intentional about our spiritual growth. At the end of each year, a man of God should be able to say “I was a better servant of Christ than when I began the year.”
Secondly, like golf, fantasy football is also serious business to many men. An article I read reported that almost 30 million people play fantasy sports each year, with an estimated 1.5 BILLION dollars spent in leagues. I played in a different fantasy league once – fantasy NASCAR. I didn’t know anything about NASCAR, so my weekly picks were random. After the first quarter of the season, I was dead last. At that point my competitive side kicked in, so I downloaded ten years worth of NASCAR data and created complex formulae to determine what factors determined a driver’s performance (their pole position, their history on the track, etc). I finished 4th that year, and won the league the next two years.
I spent a lot of time poring over spreadsheets trying to use the best information I had at my disposal to maximize my performance each week. All of us fantasy sports fans believe that by tracking information each week, we can maximize our results.
Question: If Christian men were as diligent about tracking and measuring their faith as they are their fantasy football teams, imagine how Godly men would be.
For some reason, the default belief of Christian men is that there is no need to keep track of your faith, and that the results will turn out for the best without effort. In Hebrews 2:1, Paul writes, “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.” You will not magically grow in your faith by not paying attention to it.
Like the fantasy football fanatic who pores over data, we need to be measure the actions that are related to spiritual maturity.
We need to track how often we read the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” We can’t be equipped for God’s work without reading the Bible.
We need to track our prayer times. God is not a God who tracks minutes, but someone who prays 65 min/week is indicating a devotion to regular prayer that says something about spiritual maturity over someone who prays 0-5 minutes per week. Ask your spouse to help you set goals and to keep you accountable to them.
Golf, fantasy football, and finally, guns are serious business to many men. In 2008, Americans spent $4.6 BILLION on guns. A few months ago, I had coffee with a friend who works in the gun department at Cabela’s, and he told me that he sells probably $10K worth of guns/day. He even told me about one customer who had saved up money for years so that he could spend $25K on an antique rifle. When men are passionate about something, they study and immerse themselves in the culture and lifestyle. They save up money to feed their passion. They let themselves be consumed by it, and express their passion through their words, finances, and everything they do.
Question: If Christian men were as passionate about their faith as they are for their guns or other passions, imagine how Godly men would be.
For some reason, the default belief of Christian men is that they can be more excited about things or activities than they are over God, and that He will be okay with it. They are wrong. The reason God says in Exodus that He is a jealous God and that we will have no other Gods besides Him is because He wants our passion on Him alone. He has wired men to be creatures that respond to our passions, and He wants that top passion to be Him. Can you imagine what would happen to our families, to our community, to our nation, and to the world if every Christian man had as their primary passion Jesus Christ?
Like the gun fanatic, we need to show everyone who looks at us that we have a deep and abiding love of God. In Galatians 6:17, Paul writes “From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus.” Paul says that he wears Christ like he would wear a tattoo; he is marked by God.
We need to show that we are marked by God. And that means making going your church family a priority; and more than just going to church, but being involved in church. That means a father who leads family devotions because that is more important than watching TV together. That means sharing his faith to those around him rather than being silent about it. That means getting involved politically as needed, serving the community when the opportunity arises, and saving money to spend on missionaries rather than on your favorite hobby.
I am not implying that you can’t be passionate about sports or guns or your favorite hobbies; I’m saying that none of those should be a greater passion in your life than your passion for God.
Like a golf handicap, we should be working towards improving in each area. Like a fantasy football fanatic, we need to be disciplined trackers of our spiritual lives. Like gun enthusiasts, our greatest passion must be God and the things for which He is passionate.
And for those interested in intentional spiritual improvement, I say to you, seek discipleship. Whether you call it mentoring or discipleship, it will be immensely helpful to seek someone who can be by your side, speaking their life experiences and Scriptural wisdom into you to assist your growth.