A Guide to Biblical Manhood
Some of us men at The Mission Church are stepping through Randy Stinson’s A Guide to Biblical Manhood.
- Scripture equips us for “every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) It is full of counsel for how men ought to live.
- The aim of the book: The lessons of manhood in the book are aimed at helping us “cultivate a rejection of passivity and [embrace the] three essential characteristics of biblical manhood: leadership, provision and protection.”
- Biblical manhood is cultivated. “This active cultivation is what prepares you for courageous engagement when your manhood is most needed. You never know what Goliath moment(s) you were made for. Yours might be on the side of a road, in a coffee shop, in your living room or even in a nicely decorated sanctuary. But you’ll blow your moment or miss it altogether if you haven’t cultivated biblical manhood. Men who step up for God’s purposes are rarely moving toward the need for the first time. They have cultivated instincts in situation after situation.”
Chapter 1 (Adam)
- If nothing was created, man is an accident. If everything was created, then man should seek his Maker. “Manhood has everything to do with whether stars, and everything else in creation, ‘was made’ or ‘only just happened.’ If Huck is right and it only just happened, then man is nothing more than lucky mud and everything in this book is just a vote for how men should evolve. If, however, Jim is right and ‘they was made,’ then we should seek the Maker.”
Genesis 1-3 is our primary text. Give it a read. Here is how the author relates the text to Biblical manhood:
- You were created with a mission from God. “The creation account in Genesis 1 reveals the shared work God gave men and women to do — He created mankind as male and female and tasked them both to take dominion, to subdue the earth and to be fruitful.”
- You are called to leadership: “The pattern and order of creation set in these chapters [of Genesis] is for men to bear the authority and responsibility of leadership. And that hasn’t changed. If you’re a man, it’s not optional to be a leader. It’s your God-given assignment and identity. God calls you to lead in contexts throughout life.”
- You will answer for the spiritual condition of your family. “What went down happened under Adam’s watch and he was held to account. It’s not that Adam and Eve weren’t individually held accountable for their sin; they were. It’s that Adam bore a distinct responsibility as the spiritual leader. And that responsibility remains. God held Adam accountable and He will hold you accountable. If you’re married, you are responsible for your wife and children. You will answer for their spiritual condition. If you’re single, your job is to order your life and show self-mastery, to put disciplines in place and make provision for the day when you will have a wife.”
- Bring order to your world. Lead in exercising dominion over your domains. “The task Adam had of working and keeping the garden had clear hands-on opportunities to take dominion. You may not have land to cultivate, but God has given you a domain somewhere. All of your leadership should demonstrate some aspect of taking dominion as you bring order and structure. The exercising of dominion involves leadership and order. It’s instinctive in men to order stuff. A man sees disorder (especially all the disorder that came once Adam sinned) and thinks — this shouldn’t be. And so men order their lives, homes, families, and local church. This isn’t dominance or dictatorship. It’s responsibility… God gives you to work and keep. Your home, dorm room, garage, office, and car should bear the mark of your masculinity as you subdue it and keep it in order. Don’t let your domains take dominion over you. A clean desk or organized garage doesn’t constitute dominion, but it cultivates it and helps you take the same mindset to your family life, your work and the world around you. How are you cultivating the inclination to order your world?”
- Lead in production and own the responsibility of providing. “Adam has a leadership role to bear in production and provision. Remember Genesis 2:15; “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” When Adam sinned, God frustrated the fruitfulness of his work, but still left him with that task: ‘By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread.’ And then we read, ‘[T]he LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken’ (Genesis 3:23). Men still have to lead in provision. ‘[I]f anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever’ Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 5:8. Men bear the responsibility of providing — of knowing where the house payment, the groceries and other provisions are going to come from.”
- Either pursue Biblical celibate singlehood, or lead in establishing a family. This is the pattern of Genesis 2:24. “The man will take the initiative to leave his family and go create a new family. And men have to lead in the initiation because once they form a family, they are responsible to lead the whole thing. If you don’t feel gifted to sacrifice for the kingdom the joys of marriage, the pleasures of sex and the blessing of children, then you should take the lead towards marriage. You should not wait on the sidelines for women to take the risks of approaching you. You should consider who in His sovereignty God has put around you and take on the risk of pursuing a suitable partner. And in your path to marriage, you should demonstrate the same sacrificial leadership that will be expected of you as a husband (Ephesians 5:23-31). That means taking the initiative to “leave father and mother” (Genesis 2:24a), “find a wife” (Proverbs 18:22) “hold fast” to that wife as “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24b) and then love her as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:31-33).”
- Lead in fighting the curse. Four challenges:
- Conflict over roles in marriage is part of the curse. “Her temptation will be to usurp your authority and you’ll struggle to get it back. You’ll be tempted in your response to be either passive or domineering. If you’re passive, you’ll tempt her to further usurp authority and if you react in a domineering way, you could end up making her a doormat.”
- Hardship in work is part of the curse. “Don’t be surprised by the challenges you face in your work or in any effort to be productive and fruitful in life. Expect thorns and thistles. But keep working. Embrace the work God gives you without excuses. Don’t grumble or complain.”
- Consider Adam’s failure of leadership. “Adam abdicates his leadership role. When Eve sinned, he not only didn’t intervene, he participated. Then he hid. He blamed. He did not lead. He was passive. Adam shifted from being Eve’s protector to focusing on his own preservation.”
- Avoid abdication or abuse of leadership. “Instead of using their leadership to provide and protect, men are tempted to look down on those they lead, to be abusive and to use their authority to only care for themselves. God has given you notice of where you’ll have problems as a leader. You have to watch for those vulnerabilities and cultivate an instinct of engagement to overcome the temptation to either abdicate or abuse leadership.”
From our conversation
- Work is good. We had some discussion about work being a good thing, despite the curse, and despite any hard feelings about it. Work is frustrated by the curse, but work itself is not a curse. Work is meant to be redeemed. Do it to the glory of God.
- Do not rob your wife. We talked about owning a sense of concern and responsibility for making sure the family was provided for. Do not needlessly rob your wife of the opportunity to nurture her children in the home. If at all possible, bear the primary burden of the thorns and thistles of work so she can be with the (especially young) kids. Also consider that the post-Fall curses on man and woman correlate with pre-Fall spheres of dominion and responsibility that each have.
- God designed your family to be fruitful and productive, to bring order and dominion to the earth. What does this mean for your family? Think Biblically.
- God designed manhood and womanhood to work together in a way suitable for the task. Let’s show the world how beautiful and fitting God’s design is.
- Lead your family in pursuing this. Do not “check out.” Do not be passive. Cultivate instincts of active engagement appropriate to the calling of Biblical manhood.
- Living out your gendered Christian life is an application of the gospel.
Brothers, pray for one another to cultivate Biblical manhood to the glory of God! You are loved.
Grace and peace in Jesus,