This post’s part of a discussion with all the brothers and sisters on Adelaide Christian Scene (Facebook). Feel free to comment, whether or not that includes you!
I reckon being a Christian man is about being a servant leader. That means leadership + servanthood.
Don’t confuse this with church/ministry leadership. Being a man doesn’t mean you automatically have the gift of leadership. What I mean is spiritual leadership: proactively taking initiative and setting the spiritual standard. Men are to strive for holy living and passionate worship, and encourage others to do the same. Christ was so fierce pointing other people to God’s rule! That’s the kind of leadership we’re called to.
This means sacrificial living and radical love for others. Men are to be servants, the ones who are first in making themselves last, always putting others ahead of themselves. Christ made the ultimate sacrifice: he denied himself, he took up his cross and he gave up his own life for us. That’s the kind of servanthood we’re called to.
Important: these two things go together. It’s not like you can choose to be a servant or a leader; it’s got to be both.
I reckon we see both leadership and servanthood on view throughout the Bible. Ephesians 5:21-33 is one of the important passages — and not just for married men! Notice that, here, the man’s purpose is to spiritually lead his wife to holiness, which means setting the standard of holy living for her (and his whole family) and encouraging her to be holy. And the man is meant to serve his wife radically, like Christ himself, giving up the whole of his life for her, which means putting her ahead of all his own desires and ambitions and concerns.
The struggle to be a man
So, to simplify things, I wonder if most men have one of two main struggles… (And let me introduce a couple of hopefully helpful stereotypes here!)
- If you struggle with leadership, you find it hard to be proactive in pointing others towards Christ (you are “the sap”).
- If you struggle with servanthood, you find it hard to love others like Christ does (you are “the tool”).
And because we can’t actually separate servant leadership, you can probably see that “the tool” is also a “sap” because he’s not secure in Christ’s love — and “the sap” is also a “tool” because he can’t truly love others without leading them into Christ’s love. I expect you can spot both of these weaknesses in your own life.
The guts of it
None of this is any good unless we understand that men are broken and weak creatures who need redemption. If you’re out to be a tough guy, you’re living with Adam, the Old Man, the original tool and sap. But living with Christ, the New Man, the True Man, means being strong in Christ, having your own power and pride and selfishness dissolved, taking on Christ’s life for you. In other words, being a servant leader means following the real Servant Leader, allowing him to serve and lead us.
Arthur Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.