If someone were to ask me, “Mark, in your 43 years of following Christ, and serving as a pastor for more than 30 of those years, what do you see as the biggest single struggle facing men, husbands, and fathers?”
Without hesitation, I would say this: PASSIVITY!
I am stunned over and over again, by the passivity, the apathy, and the complacency of men. Men, this is killing your family, your marriage, and your own personal growth.
When I was 19 years old, I made a decision to follow Jesus Christ, and give Him my whole life. Everything, no holding back. This was in Dec. of 1975. I had been making a mess of my life, living my own way, with my own set of rules, in open defiance of God. I had just returned from hitchhiking out West, and God, using a very difficult set of circumstances, really starting messing with my life and put the fear of God in me. He almost took my life on several occasions. Shortly after the 3rd episode, I pulled my car over to the side of the road, down by a river, and got out of my car, and with everything in me, I gave the rest of my life to Jesus Christ. I was all in, no holding back, no playing games. I was going to fight for my faith, and be the man God wanted me to be for the rest of my life.
The next day, after I got off of work, I took my Bible, my Mountain Dew, and my leather jacket, and went off in my car to the woods outside of town. I began a habit of reading my Bible every single day. Large chunks of it at a time. No one had to tell me this, I knew I needed to do this.
One of the first passages I read was this one from Proverbs 1:20-33. This passage hit me like a ton of bricks but especially verse 32, “For they are simpletons who turn away from me–to death. They are fools, and their own complacency will destroy them.”
This warning, from God himself, sunk deep into my soul. I have re-read these hundreds of times. Shared it at so many of my dad’s workshops. I have met so many complacent, apathetic, passive men throughout my 43 years following Jesus Christ.
There is nothing more dangerous than to keep ignoring God, ignoring God’s Word, being passive and indifferent about your life, your faith, your family and your marriage. I see this destroying men and families more than any other single issue.
Men, our wives, and our children are longing for us to take initiative, to stop being passive, and lead ourselves and lead them. They long for us to be an example of a consistent spiritual life and of Godly habits. They long for us to be the man God wants us to be.
There is a verse in Daniel that says,
“Those who know their God display strength and take action!!”
Men, if you say you know God, then it is time to take action in your life. It is time to seize the initiative, and contend for your faith. To get up every single day and fight. Take your spiritual life seriously, take your fathering seriously, take your husbanding seriously, running scared from the apathy, complacency, and passiveness that are always trying to enslave you, trap you, and ruin and destroy your life.
Are you desperate for God?
Check out your prayer life. Your prayer life is very self revealing. Do you spend time praying every single day? Are you diligently, passionately, intentionally, and consistently seeking the lord?Are you hungry for wisdom?
Check out your Bible reading habits, and your attitude and application of what you read. Do you do what it says?
Do you cry out for wisdom, seek for it with the same fervency and devotion that you hunt that deer? With the same initiative and effort to catch that fish?
Do you take initiative with your wife? Do you pursue her? Do you plan time with her? Do you work over your mind, and heart, and mouth, so you have something meaningful to say to her? Do you seize every chance you get to show her you love her, to tell her you love her? Do you date her? Check out your calendar. What does it tell you about your habits? Maybe you don’t have money to go out, no problem. You can have a date at home. Put the kids to bed, or let them watch a movie, or favorite show.
Do you take initiative with your precious kids? Do you give them your time? Do you take them out to play, or throw the ball with them, or listen to them tell you a story? Do you pray with them? Do you share God’s truth with them? Do you take initiative to intentionally shape their precious life and soul? Do you take initiative to enter their world, and understand their feelings, their thoughts, their perplexities. Do you know what they like and don’t like?
Do you take initiative with your health? I am shocked at the lack of initiative and laziness I see today in so many men. It is killing them physically, literally, and relationally, and certainly spiritually.
Recently I went to the bank. I usually go outside and use the ATM machine for my banking. This time it didn’t work. I had to go inside and speak with a teller. The lady behind the counter was about my age. I was there to take out some cash that I was going to gift to my wife to surprise her. I do this from time to time, to bless her whenever I can.
The lady made conversation, asked me a little about myself, and I said, “I am taking this money out to give to my wife.” Her eyes got very big, and she said, “Really, that is very thoughtful. What do you do for a living?” I said, “I help mentor husbands and fathers, and young men, to teach them how to be the kind of men God wants them to be.” She got a big smile and said, “I should have known. I am a Christian, but my walk with God has always been more serious than my husband’s. I longed for him to be the spiritual leader in our family, but he never did.”
This broke my heart. If I have seen this once, I have seen it played out thousands of times in the lives of those I have tried to minister to. We are in a catastrophic mess in Christianity today for this single reason: men are passive!!
Many years ago, I decided I need to be a man of prayer. I also wanted to be a more fit man. I began the simple, easy to do, prayer walk. I started with 10 minutes each day. I timed it with my watch. After about a month, I added 10 more minutes and eventually worked my way up to an hour. Two reasons: I have much to pray for and talk over with God, and I wanted to get in at least 3+ miles to burn calories and to keep fit and active.
Well, little things add up over time. That is why Jesus said to be faithful in little things. Today, I have prayer walked 32,850 miles! That is once around the whole planet, plus all the way across the across Russia and then some! By the time I am 78 years old, I will have prayer walked another time around the world! Whenever I travel, whether Honduras, Berlin, Utah, Colorado, wherever I go, I find a place to prayer walk. Anyone can do this unless apathy, complacency, and passivity have become your master.
Men, I challenge you, in love, I plead with you, for the sake of your life, your wife and your children!!
Stop being passive! Take some initiative, and be the man that God wants you to be! You will be amazed at what happens as a result.
Helping you become a strong disciple,
Because of Jesus,