Isn’t it time you got one for yourself? Indulge. How many advertisements have you seen with this message? Take a break! You’ve worked hard. You deserve this!
It’s not just in the commercials. It’s in our entertainment, it’s in our workplaces, it’s in our schools, it’s in our leadership—it’s in the air! It’s a powerful and influential satanic attitude that surcharges the atmosphere around us: self-importance, self-promotion, self-serving, self-righteousness—selfishness!
Men in God’s Church are tempted by this same attitude: Have some “me” time. Check out of your responsibilities for a little while.
Jesus Christ never did that.
Christ was on duty—all the time.
Here is His perspective: “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4). Christ’s life was short, limited in duration. He was urgent about taking full advantage of every moment and every interaction.
Christ’s supreme example defines biblical manhood. The more Christ-like we become, the more masculine we become. Manliness is next to godliness (just as, for a woman, femininity is next to godliness).
Like Him, Christian men are always on duty.
Recognize Opportunities and Seize Them
This is the unselfish attitude godly men must have: a vigilant urgency to take action and to work at serving others. You have to pay attention to other people’s lives, and act on what you see.
You may look at tomorrow as just another routine day: pray, study, snag breakfast, endure the workday, unwind at home, watch a show, go to sleep. But Christ in you looks at tomorrow as a deluge of opportunities: What can I do? Who can I help? How much can I give?
Don’t underestimate the potential value of every decision, every encounter, every conversation
you have! Recognize opportunities to give for what they are. You’ll probably have one as soon as you finish reading this article.
To follow Christ’s example and seize that opportunity, you must fight the pull of selfishness and relaxation—and embrace the call of duty!
The question is not whether you have a duty to serve others more than yourself. The question is whether you will fulfill your duty. The more you do, the more God-like you will become, and the more habitual this Christ-like attitude will be.
Many of us intellectually understand and agree with the concept of male Christian leadership. But the harder step is to encounter a day-to-day routine occurrence and actively recognize: I need to use this moment—right now—to express biblical manhood!
It is easy to overlook those opportunities. It is also easy to underestimate the effect that YOU, reading these words right now, can have on other people’s lives.
If you think that Christ can’t or won’t influence very many people through you, you are wrong. He can and He will—if you are on duty. He wants to help you develop into a more dynamic and effective Christian leader.
A torrent of opportunities is coming at you. Helping your son with his math homework, approving your daughter’s new dress before she wears it, setting a household rule to unburden your wife, helping your neighbor fix his porch step, knocking out the reports nobody else wants to do at work, holding the door open for the mother of two children at the gas station, skipping the football game to visit an elderly Church member, putting your phone away so you’re not distracted when playing with your children, noting something troubling in your teenager’s voice inflection and following up with him about it, setting rules so that dinner time can be quality family time, choosing a topic to lead in conversation after Sabbath services—the deluge of opportunity never ends. And Christ wants to empower you to fulfill those opportunities.
But before He can do so, you must be diligent enough to spot them for what they are.
In the family structure as God designed it, the man is the head of the home and a dynamic force within the family. He has a dominating—not selfishly domineering—personality that stands for the right. He is alertly, actively, intensively interested in his children. He uses his God-given authority to lead in serving and in loving his wife and children. There is just no room for “going on break” as a husband and father! He is never off-duty.
Use mealtimes as an opportunity to talk with your family. Show them that you are interested in what they are learning, what problems they are dealing with, who their friends are and what they are like.
“In a positive way, not picking and nagging, guide your children to choose right companionships, to play games in a positive manner without fighting and quarreling, and to develop habits for success in their future lives,” The Plain Truth About Child Rearing states. “Learn to listen to your children talk. Notice their voice inflection, their personality and the enthusiasm—or lack of it—which they convey. Then try to guide and encourage them toward further development, making sure that you set the example above all else.”
Here is a specific example of masculine leadership that arises multiple times a day in a family: telling your children what to do. An engaged Christian father issues quite a number of instructions—not for his own benefit or vanity, but because he is actively directing his children to do things that will benefit them and others. But it only starts there.
Once you tell your child to do something, you must then pay attention to the child’s attitude toward that instruction, and then to his performance. You cannot simply give an instruction, return to what you were doing and forget what you said. Children, particularly if untrained, will often test the limits of your authority. If you give some direction and then return your full attention to your conversation with your guest, you are training your child not to be too concerned about your commands. The child you just told to stop racing his car on the coffee table will go right back to it.
Once you give a command, remain on duty. Ensure the child follows through. This must be the case at home, at Sabbath services, in public, everywhere.
“In order to teach your child any of these constructive habits, you will need to apply constant diligence and never-failing attention to duty,” The Plain Truth About Child-Rearing says. “You simply cannot expect to have decent results if you just give your child instructions, and then forget all about the lesson—letting the child get down from the chair when he decides, put up his toys when he gets around to it, or begin to talk when you have told him to be quiet.”
The booklet devotes an important section to “Be Aware of What’s Happening”: “Another way parents encourage foolishness in their children is by not knowing what’s going on. In many cases everyone knows but the parents.” The example that follows is of a boy who went so far as to take up smoking cigarettes, and everyone knew it—except his parents!
Do not be afraid to ask your child direct questions. Do not be too timid to intervene. When you never ask your child why she disobeyed, or why he didn’t come directly home, or why her tone seems stressed, your children begin to assume you do not care. Then they begin to think that what they do is none of your business. “Since their parents do not care to know, they feel that the parents have no right to know” (ibid).
In The Missing Dimension in Sex, Herbert W. Armstrong specifically mentions the possibility of young people developing the habit of masturbation. “This would never be if parents realized their responsibility and were vigilant, ever watchful imperceptibly, and took proper means to protect their children from this curse!” he wrote.
Exercising authority in your children’s lives is not easy—it is labor. It is not a power trip. It is a service. It is for their benefit. And it is your duty.
Report for Duty
As a Christian father, you are on continuous duty as long as his children are under your authority. Even after they leave the home, you may still be able to, and should, exert regular positive influence—even with your grandchildren (e.g. Deuteronomy 4:9).
As a Christian single, you are training for that duty right now by learning to pay attention to others, by learning how to treat women and children with honor, by learning to go after dating and to pay attention to the needs of single ladies, by learning how to serve the widows and the fatherless. These responsibilities also remain after you marry.
In your conversations, look for needs. Ask about things you could help with or find someone to help with. Find things you can pray about. Pay attention! You are on duty!
The duties of a man are constant. They require vigilance. They require you to work the works of Him that sent you, while you can. Be urgent. Recognize the onrushing river of opportunities for what it is. Seize each one. Let God come into people’s lives through you. Express dynamic male leadership. Put biblical manhood into action! Report for duty.