An Open Letter to Men from Ken Harrison, Chairman and CEO of Promise Keepers
Today the men of America are like a sleeping giant. And I believe God is waking us up.
God is bringing pressure on men like never
before. Our culture is turning up its nose
at our masculinity. We’re called “toxic.”
If we’re honest with ourselves, we know
we’ve often failed. We’ve failed because we
haven’t heeded God’s Word.
Men, it’s time for us to turn things
We live in a nation where millions of
babies conceived by men lose their lives to
abortion each year. Where women march
in the streets to protest the men who’ve
preyed on them. And where the most
vulnerable are trafficked as sex slaves by
men and for men.
Men, we can change this! But first, we have
to know what the Bible says about our
purpose, our role, and our calling.
Sadly, many men in America have never
been taught true masculinity. They fritter
their lives away on sports, pornography,
and video games. They’re workaholics,
alcoholics, drug addicts, and pleasure
Not surprisingly, many of our brothers
face isolation, loneliness, and depression.
There’s an epidemic of suicide among men
aged 15-24 and among middle-aged men.
Too many men are apathetic. Bored. Sick
and tired of wasting their lives.
Men, this is not what God made us for.
Our Creator made us in His image. He gave
us strength and drive. He filled us with
passion and energy. He made us warriors.
And He expects us to use these traits for
I believe every man of us is called to be a
servant king. A leader. A man of destiny. So
let’s help each other shake off our apathy.
Let’s get radical about removing our secret
sins. And let’s get real with God.
Men, it’s time for us to show the world
what it really means to be a man of
It’s time to pour out our lives to bless our
wives, our children, our churches, and our
It’s time to bring revival to our nation. We
— the men of America — can do this if we
repent and turn to God.
God designed men to lead our families. To cherish our wives. To be true brothers to other men. To protect the defenseless. To guard our communities and nation from harm.
But somehow, our God-given role has been forgotten. It’s been lost in a murky sea of gender fluidity, changing values, and distractions such as pornography, video games, and binge TV.
Promise Keepers is here to take it back. We’re here to rally our brothers as servant kings, leaders who will take a stand as men and change our nation for Christ.
That’s why we’re calling men to come together July 31 – August 1, 2020, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex.
We’re trusting God for 80,000+ men to fill the stadium. We will also simulcast the event to a projected 5 million men, spreading the impact far across the nation and the world.
Speakers will preach the Word of God with power. We’ll worship together as brothers and shake the stadium’s foundations. We’ll fall on our faces in repentance. And we’ll return home changed men.
But the impact won’t stop with the event. We’re asking men to join small, local teams for accountability and changemaking in their communities. We’ll stay connected and focused through a Promise Keepers app. Together we’re building a movement, not an events ministry.
You need to be part of this! Talk to your pastor. Get a group of guys together. Mark your calendar for July 31–August 1, 2020. Plan to come to Dallas-Ft. Worth or host a simulcast in your community.
The men of America have been asleep. It’s time for us to wake up. Our families, our churches, our communities, and our nation need us. Don’t miss this.
Get tickets now and join us for Promise Keepers 2020.
The Bible is filled with stories of immense bravery: Moses leading millions of people into the desert with no water or food; David fighting Goliath; Gideon; Jeremiah; Esther; Abraham. The apostle Paul’s life is one long saga of bravery and suffering.
And at the core of courage is humility. Humility was the mark of each of these heroes’ lives. There were some falters, especially with Abraham, but courage marked by humility was the overarching quality that each possessed.
Courage isn’t something conjured up at the moment that it is needed. It is the expression of your character at a moment of testing. Courage is the sum of all your virtues expressed at a single moment in time.
Courage Reflects Who You Really Are
The person you have been, your secret thoughts, the skeletons in your closet, and a lifetime of training suddenly spill out. Would you run into a burning building to save a child with a crowd watching? What if no one is looking? What if you are rescuing an old man instead of a child? What if it is your enemy?
Near one of San Diego’s best surfing spots, Solana Beach, a sixty-six-year-old man was training for a triathlon. He was just off Fletcher Cove and in a line with several swimmers when he exploded from the water, both legs in the mouth of a twelve-to-seventeen-foot great white shark. The man emerged long enough to scream that he was being attacked before being dragged under again.
Despite the obvious danger, two swimmers in front of the man turned and swam back to him, into the growing cloud of blood where a monstrous shark lurked, and pulled the man through the surf 150 yards to shore. Sadly, he died a few minutes later.
Courage is the expression of someone who sees something more valuable than herself.
Courage defends a victim by standing up to the bully, even though he’s bigger.
Courage says grace aloud in a restaurant.
Courage witnesses to a stranger. A lack of humility says, “I don’t want to ask that woman if she knows Jesus. I might look stupid.” This is an attitude that values self more than another person’s soul.
“Hang on. That’s not fair! I don’t really know how to share my faith,” you might object. Then care enough to learn. Put down your pride and pick up a book by Greg Stier of Dare 2 Share. He’ll teach you how.
Countless times I have seen my wife walk up to a stranger, say something brief and watched while the woman crumbles in tears. Elliette prays beside her for a long while, and then the woman hugs her tightly. I used to ask Elliette, “What was that all about?” “God just told me to go ask that woman if I could pray with her,” she’d answer. “I hate it when He does that. I’m always terrified that I’ll look stupid.” Yet she obeys and lives are changed.
Courage isn’t a lack of fear. It’s being terrified and obeying anyway. Here we see why humility is the foundation of courage. True courage flows out of concern for others without regard to the risk to oneself.
“The spiritual person, however, can evaluate everything, yet he himself cannot be evaluated by anyone” (1 Corinthians 2:15, HCSB). Many Bible translations use the word judge where the word evaluate is used in this scripture. The English language has two meanings for the word judge: one is “evaluate”; the other is “condemn.” People who don’t follow Christ love to quote Jesus saying that we are not to judge (Matthew 7:1, HCSB). Jesus means not to condemn. He isn’t telling a godly person not to evaluate or discern.
How do we evaluate or judge true courage? Courage is an outward expression, but its true motivation is inward, and we can’t observe that. As an example, let’s take two platoon commanders in the same battle.
The second man is also terrified. He comes from a decorated military family. He joined the military because that’s what all the men in his family do. He looks around for escape and sees none. He doesn’t care about his men, but is terrified to be branded as a coward. He’d never be able to look the members of his family in the eye again. Seeing no way out of his predicament, he charges and his men are saved.
Are these men the same? We don’t see their hearts; we see their actions. They each earned the military reward that is given by mere men, but God knows who they are on the inside, why they did what they did. “I, Yahweh, examine the mind, I test the heart to give to each according to his way, according to what his actions deserve” (Jeremiah 17:10, HCSB).
One man says grace in a restaurant with meekness and humility out of pure gratitude to God, who gave him the meal. Another says grace to impress the people around him with how religious he is. He smacks of religious pride. Both have completed the same action, but one said grace in humility and the other in pride.
So how do we properly judge courage? We judge it only in ourselves. We can judge — evaluate — others only by their actions, because we can’t truly know their motivations. And this is where the man of God must dwell — at a point of constant self-examination:
Why did I say that? Why did I react that way?
Guard your heart and your integrity. Courage, or lack of it, is a window that reveals your level of humility, which makes it a primary signpost on your walk with Christ . . . and on your journey to becoming one of God’s servant kings.
Excerpted from Rise of the Servant Kings: What the Bible Says About Being a Man by Ken Harrison, Chairman and CEO of Promise Keepers. To download a free chapter, go to RiseoftheServantKings.com. Ken is donating all the profits from the book sales to Promise Keepers.
As a person grows in Christ, he or she becomes a prayer warrior. I can’t think of a better example of a person who serves others through prayer than my own wife, Elliette.
She prays with women constantly. She prays late at night when someone needs help; she prays early in the morning with women who need her guidance; she prays in the hospital for people who are suffering.
Elliette prayed one day for a heroin and meth addict whom I’ll call Andrea. Elliette had prayed with Andrea’s grandmother for a year that her granddaughter would come to Christ. Finally Andrea consented to meet Elliette.
When she did, Andrea showed off the “daughter of Satan” tattoo on her neck, along with satanic symbols tattooed on her arms and chest. Unimpressed, Elliette explained that God defeated Satan and was waiting with open arms for her to turn from the defeated master of this world — and run to Him.
Elliette soon had Andrea and her boyfriend praying to receive Christ as their Savior. Only a few days later, Andrea learned she was pregnant. She was terrified because of all the drugs she had done and the damage that would have been done to the growing life inside her. She called Elliette and begged for money for an abortion.
Elliette didn’t give her the money.
Instead, she gathered several women and they prayed for Andrea and for her baby’s life.
I asked my men’s prayer group to do the same.
Elliette asked Andrea to meet her, and she showed up with another addict, a friend from high school who was not the father. This young man insisted Andrea must have the abortion. He explained that of their eight-person group of friends from high school, he and Andrea were the only two still living four years later. All were dead from suicide or overdoses.
He didn’t want to lose his last living friend.
Andrea and her friend raised the money for her abortion. Then Andrea called my wife and apologized for what she was about to do — as she was walking into a Planned Parenthood clinic.
We prayed. Inexplicably, Planned Parenthood turned her away. Our suspicion was that Andrea was too high on drugs at the time.
Andrea made another appointment the next week and called Elliette again as she walked into her appointment. “How could I not have an abortion?” she asked.
She hadn’t been able to stop her drug use, she said. The baby was loaded with heroin and meth and would likely be disfigured and sickly, she felt.
Her next appointment for an abortion would require more money because she was now nearing the 26-week legal limit for terminating the life within her.
While we were praying, the nurse gave Andrea an ultrasound. When the nurse left to go get the doctor, Andrea wept. The nurse never returned.
No one came.
After a very long time, Andrea got up from the table and walked out — only to make another appointment for another day.
Andrea’s next appointment for an abortion would require more money because she was now nearing the 26-week legal limit for terminating the life within her. She struggled to save enough money, but a few days before the deadline, she had saved enough.
On the day of her appointment, she headed to Planned Parenthood again. True to her pattern, on her way there Andrea called Elliette.
And that’s when God met her.
Suddenly Andrea had an overwhelming love for the life growing inside her. She panicked at what she had almost done — and cried out to God that He would protect her baby from all the abuse she had heaped on him.
She called Elliette again and told her the news.
We prayed for Andrea’s battle with addiction, for the health of her little baby, for self-control for her during the rest of her pregnancy.
A few months later, Andrea gave birth to a completely healthy baby boy.
The child is now being raised by Andrea’s aunt, who is overjoyed. Andrea visits her son three times a week. That’s the legal limit set by the state of Colorado while she tries to finish getting herself completely off drugs.
I’ve been doing a lot of interviews lately in conjunction with my new book and the launch of a new era of Promise Keepers.
She prays with women constantly. She prays late at night when someone needs help; she prays early in the morning with women who need her guidance; she prays in the hospital for people who are suffering.
A lot of the questions are the same — but every now and then a question takes me by surprise, as one did the other day. And that’s when I answer from my heart more than my head.
This was the question I was asked recently: “Why is it that you have such a heart for men’s issues that you’re bringing Promise Keepers back?”
It was a fair question. And my answer was immediate: “I don’t really have a heart for men’s issues. I have a heart for women and children.”
The answer welled up within me. I couldn’t respond any other way.
Women and children are the ones who suffer when men are messed up. If it’s true that 70 percent of men in the church look at pornography twice a week or more, then who are our daughters supposed to marry?
How are we supposed to expect men to treat women with respect as their partners — unless we change the hearts of men?
What I saw in my days as a Los Angeles Police Department street cop in South Central is that almost all the problems in this world come from the pride and the greed of men.
Calling men to be men isn’t chauvinistic or somehow against women, although it is countercultural and controversial. But it is a fact that when men check out of their families, women suffer the most.
four times more likely to need help for emotional or behavioral problems.
Look at all the ministries that are fighting sex trafficking in the world. They’re all very, very, very important.
But every one of them is fighting a war that cannot be won by only attacking the supply side of the issue.
And for every girl rescued from the horrific world of slavery, traffickers will enslave 100 more.
But if we can change the hearts of men, we change the demand side. When we attack supply and demand — then we defeat this evil.
That’s why Promise Keepers is so necessary. It’s not that we’re aiming for men; it’s that we’re aiming for the whole world. We owe that much to our kids.
There’s a desperation in America, as I see it. Too many men are becoming too passive. Many of them are obsessed with video games, sports, and pornography — and it’s women and children who are suffering.
But when a man is a man and keeps his promises, those around him are cared for and provided for, as I see it.
Real men never do anything solely for their own benefit. But they’ll swim shark-infested waters for those who count on them.
That’s what a man is — being a leader, being courageous and stepping into the fight, cherishing our wives and families, and being unshakable in our commitment to making the world a better place.
It’s urgent today for men to come back to the basics of what it takes to be a man and what it means to be a man of God. That’s what Promise Keepers is about. That’s our mission, to help men understand who they’re called to be.
And when men understand that — it will change the world.
Independence Day reminds us that when powerful ideas capture the hearts of purposeful men, the very course of history can be changed. Those men — our Founding Fathers — faced fearsome odds in standing up against the might of the British Empire.
And they relied on the “protection of Divine Providence” and each other, “mutually [pledging] to each other [their] lives, [their] fortunes, and [their] sacred honor.” It was no idle pledge.
Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, “Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.”
But they ignited a spark that couldn’t be extinguished.
When people ask me what the goal is for Promise Keepers in the new era, I tell them with a smile, “We’ve got our sights set low: All we want to do is change the entire foundation of America.” Men can absolutely do that — again — but we must get out of the stands and onto the field.
When men get saved — and not just saved but when they become disciples and give their lives to Christ — their families change, and their kids learn what it is to be men and women of God.
Men need action. And the problem today is that most Christian men are only expected to sit down, shut up, listen, and lather, rise, and repeat next week. That is not how men operate.
That is not how Jesus said the church is supposed to be. We’ve got to get involved in the lives of the people around us.
Dr. Howard Hendricks, a former board member of Promise Keepers, was fond of quoting this definition of football by legendary coach Bud Wilkinson: “I define football as 22 men on the field who desperately need rest and 50,000 people in the stands who desperately need exercise.”
Gallup found that 41 percent of Americans identify themselves as “born again” or evangelical. That’s over 134 million people. Imagine if every one of us got out of the stands and took responsibility for five houses on our street, prayed for those people, served those people, helped them out when they needed something — and witnessed to them. That would cover pretty much the whole country.
Imagine the impact if we just did that.
That’s why Promise Keepers in this new era is not only going to gather men from across the country and around the world in annual massive stadium events to remind them they’re not alone, we’re also going to connect men to each other in change-making teams in their local communities for discipleship and service.
And we’re going to teach the most dangerous, revolutionary book that’s ever been written: the Bible.
I was talking with a man recently who was complaining about how many millennials today aren’t clear about what the Bible says about being a man and sharing the faith. I told him plainly, “That’s because their dads didn’t teach them God’s word.” He didn’t like my answer, but that’s absolutely the problem.
When you look at Scripture, God gives the parents and specifically the dad the job of teaching his children. Unfortunately, we’ve outsourced the education of our children to others — but it’s our responsibility as dads to teach our children the things of God.
We need to be understanding, humble and loving with our kids — teaching them the Bible to be sure, but modeling righteousness and integrity as well.
I recently spent time with a bunch of well-known musicians, youngsters in their mid-20s. We started talking about Scripture, and they were enthralled. So for the next three nights, I just taught them the Word.
Much was new to them — as was the process of an older man teaching a younger man. They said to me, “We need older men to teach us like you’re doing.”
And I said, “Absolutely. The Bible commands older women to teach the younger women and older men to teach younger men.”
I believe that through Promise Keepers, we can get hold of the hearts of men through proper discipleship and follow-up. The Christian men of our country want to know the Bible. They’re looking for someone to get hold of them and teach them, train them, and show them how to train their kids.
This is the way to change our country — and it’s not too late.
Ed: In your new book you write that, “Satan has been attacking gender, gender roles, and especially masculinity with a vengeance over the last few years, and even Christians have been deceived.” Where exactly have Christian men been deceived?
Ken: Satan has been playing the long game on separating Christians from the love and unity we have in Christ. God says in Genesis 1-3 that male and female are the image of God, meaning that a fully masculine man and fully feminine woman coming together as “one flesh” in marriage is the best image of God that we have in this broken world. By attacking our understanding of what a man is, Satan is re-writing our understanding of who God is.
We must understand that God defines what a man is, not society. Men are called to stand up for justice, care for the poor and oppressed, and be jealous for God’s name. This is why I often say that humility is the mark of a person who is in love with Jesus and the outward expression of humility in a man is courage and generosity.
Courage, because when you don’t see yourself as any more important than anyone else, you will always stand up for the truth and for others. Generosity, because a humble heart gives possessions, time, and spirit with abandon because humility trusts in God to fill our cup back up to overflowing.
Ed: We live in a culture that attacks the very idea of masculinity, that wants men to be silent and soft. How are men supposed to act today—especially Christian men? What does it mean to be a “true man?”
Ken: A man is one of action, not reaction. He understands that he is accountable for solving problems and making the world a better place for everyone in his charge. He is constantly looking for areas where those he loves are struggling or in need and he fills those needs.
A man is designed by God to initiate, a woman is designed to respond to a man who initiates in humility and love. Too many men today are waiting for someone else to initiate.
When we see a problem in our lives, we first examine what we may have done to cause it, then we look for ways to solve it. We don’t blame others, we lift them up.
Lastly, a Christian man understands that his life must be one that points to Christ in every way. We are responsible for the spiritual state of our wives and kids. This means that knowing and understanding God’s Word so that we can teach our families and give them perspective to counter the lies of the world is one of the most masculine things we can do.
Ed: What do you mean when you say, “a hallmark of being a man is accountability?”
Ken: One of the most important aspects of masculinity is accountability. And the beginning of accountability is self-control. A man takes responsibility. A passive man looks to take from his relationships. He looks to be served rather than to serve. A real man comes to his relationships with an offer to serve and he evaluates his relationships based on how well he keeps his promises and commitments within those relationships.
Ed: You write about a time when God broke you when he brought you completely to the end of yourself. Why is the experience of brokenness so essential?
Ken: Pride is an insidious disease from which we all suffer. It must be destroyed before we can really walk hand in hand with our Savior. If you look at your spiritual failures, even the fleshly failures like slandering others, sexual sin, or greed, you will see that pride is usually at the core, spurring on your flesh. Not serving and lifting up others stirs up so many sins. It is a lack of following God’s words: “In humility, consider others as more important than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3).
“Walking with God is a long process of going from the sinful nature’s pride to a place of complete faith. We’re all on that journey, and God wants to bring us each closer to him.
Sometimes it is through his gentle nudging as we read the Bible and pray. Sometimes, though, it takes a time of great pain because God must break us in some area so that we can really grow. I have found that real, life-changing growth always come through pain and sometimes, pain that results in utter brokenness before we’ll come to God in desperation where He can then truly work in our hearts.
Ed: Last year you became the new chairman of Promise Keepers and your team is in the midst of preparing for a huge stadium event next summer in Dallas. Why is this a good time for a new era of Promise Keepers?
Ken: God’s timing on this is so perfect because the church is finally nearing the state of desperation that I described previously. Women and children are suffering under the yoke of emasculated men, and men themselves are tired of living lives without meaning.
Promise Keepers will remind men of who God says they are and what he called them to be. Our lives matter greatly and our families are counting on us to rise up and be counted. Promise Keepers is not only calling men back to their identity in Christ but we, as an organization, are returning to our identity, which is an NFL stadium full of men praising our Lord.
I’ve been doing a lot of interviews lately in conjunction with my new book and the launch of the new era of Promise Keepers. A lot of the questions are the same, but every now and then a question takes me by surprise, and I answer from my heart more than my head.
This was the question, “Why is it that you have such a heart for men’s issues that you are bringing Promise Keepers back?” It was a fair question, and my answer was immediate: “I don’t really have a heart for men’s issues. I have a heart for women and children.”
This might not have been the smartest thing for the head of a men’s ministry to say, but it welled up within me and I couldn’t answer any other way.
Women and children are the ones who suffer when men are screwed up. If it’s true as Josh McDowell says that 70 percent of men in the church look at pornography twice a week or more, who are our daughters supposed to marry? How are we supposed to expect men to treat women with respect as their partners unless we change the hearts of men?
What I saw in my days as an LAPD street cop in South Central is that almost all the problems in this world come from the pride and the greed of little men.
Calling men to be men isn’t chauvinistic or somehow against women — although it is countercultural and controversial. But it is a fact that when men check out of their families, women suffer the most, and so do their children.
Look at all the ministries fighting sex trafficking in the world. They’re all very, very, very important. But every one of them is fighting a war that cannot be won by only attacking thesupply side. And for every girl rescued from the horrific world of slavery, traffickers will enslave 100 more. But if we can change the hearts of men, we change thedemand side. When we attack supply and demand, then we defeat this evil.
That’s why Promise Keepers is so necessary. It’s not that we’re aiming for men, it’s that we’re aiming for the whole world. We owe that much to our kids.
I think there’s a desperation in America. I think men are becoming more and more passive, obsessed with video games, sports, pornography, and it’s women and children who are suffering.
But when a man is a man and keeps his promises, those around him get cared and provided for. Real men will never do anything solely for their own benefit. But we will swim shark-infested waters for those who are counting on us.
That’s what a man is — being a leader, being courageous and stepping into the fight, cherishing our wives and families, and being unshakable in our commitment to making the world around us a better place.
I believe that the time is incredibly urgent for men to come back to the basics of what it takes to be a man, and what it means to be a man of God. That’s what Promise Keepers is about. That’s our mission, to help men understand who they’re called to be.
And when men understand that it will change the world.
This Father’s Day, I’m reminded of a conversation I had with a father like me — a conversation that all fathers need to face.
I had just finished giving a presentation to a large audience when a line of people formed to ask questions or give their input to the talk.
Then I noticed the desperate face of a desperate man.
“I need to talk to you,” he said.
I shook more hands and answered a few more questions, and then as the crowd thinned, he and I were able to move to a private corner to grab a few uninterrupted minutes.
“My wife doesn’t respect me!” the man told me. “My kids don’t listen to me.” His face was shrouded in anger, the kind of anger that comes from pain. We settled down for a long conversation.
He was a retired Marine — and hew looked like one. He was lean and muscular and stared through me as we talked. We went through the usual symptoms of the problem until we got to the root.
He didn’t listen to his family.
“Man,” I told him, “if there’s one thing you can offer your wife and kids, it’s to listen. You can’t imagine how important it is to them that you hear them out. Don’t have a solution to the problem, don’t offer to help. Just listen and try to empathize.”
“I try,” he said, “but it’s all just so boring. My daughter goes on and on about who’s dating who. She talks about all her silly friends. It drives me crazy. I really don’t care. I sit at the dinner table and wait for it all to be over so I can turn on the TV and unwind.”
I paused. “You know,” I told him, “when I was a newlywed, my wife was traumatized because her jewelry store was burglarized. She went on and on about it.”
“In those days I was a cop in a brutal area of Los Angeles,” I added. “I averaged over one gun arrest and two felony arrests every day. I had to buy six watches in one year because mine kept getting shattered while I was fighting with some bad guy in a gutter or tackling some gangster in a parking lot. In my world, a jewelry store getting burglarized was nothing.”
“But as I watched her face while she told her story, I realized that she felt violated. Some bad person had broken into her store and taken some of her inventory. I listened intently to her because it was important to her. I don’t know why I had the wisdom to do that, but God gave it to me.”
To be a true disciple of Jesus, one must take a genuine interest in the cares of others.
“Who’s dating who may not matter to you — but it matters a lot to your daughter, and for that reason, you should give her your full attention. She’s developing her expectations of the man she’ll marry based on how her dad treats her — and that’s you. Are you teaching her that she’s important and deserves to be listened to? If you’re bored by what matters to her, she’s picking up on it. And she’ll carry that with her for the rest of her life.”
“You need to teach her,” I added, “that what is important to her is important to you, simply because it’s important to her.”
“Everything I just said to you ain’t bad marriage advice either,” I also told him. “You’re a Marine. I doubt that your wife doesn’t respect you, but I’m betting she doesn’t feel cherished by you. She doesn’t feel cherished because you don’t listen to her.”
About six months later, I spoke again in that city. And wouldn’t you know it: That same Marine came up to me afterward. I recognized him right away. He had the same desperate look in his eyes. “How’s it going with your family?” I asked him.
“Well, you know,” he said, “I tried to take your advice, but it doesn’t work. I try to listen, but my mind just drifts away.”
He seemed to want to settle in for another long conversation in which I’d give him advice that he’d then choose to ignore.
Instead, I stood up and clapped him on the shoulder. “If you want to take up my time again, make sure you know the names of all your daughter’s friends. And tell me all about them.”
I spoke again in that city again about a year later — and he wasn’t there.
We men understand that our responsibilities are to protect and provide for our families. Often, the most important thing we can provide is to make them feel loved. All too often, men listen for an assignment: We listen for something to do, or for a problem to solve. Yet sometimes, just listening and caring is all our loved ones really need.
To be a true disciple of Jesus, one must take a genuine interest in the cares of others. Things that wouldn’t normally interest us become interesting because they matter to someone we love.
As you examine your life in Christ, don’t look at the outside — at whether you’re following a certain set of rules. Instead, look on the inside. Do you take a genuine interest in what’s important to others? Do you pray daily for them? Do you authentically wish the best for them?
If not, take a deep look into your heart and ask God to help you to see others through the eyes with which He sees them.
He will answer that prayer, and the world will begin to look vastly different and more interesting.
This Father’s Day, I pray that God gives you and me and all fathers the patience and strength to really listen. I pray that He makes us fathers worth celebrating.
We are in a fight. If you don’t feel like you’re in a fight, then you aren’t paying attention. There are misery and need all around us, and God has called us — as men who have received His gift of grace — to fight for His suffering people, and fearlessly share the Gospel.
A continuing theme in Paul’s writings is that we are soldiers in God’s army. But soldiers fighting what? Paul wrote, “Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand” (Ephesians 6:12–13).
So we see that the deceivers and the deceived are really just tools of Satan and must be rescued from him. Most refuse to be rescued. Some just can’t see the truth. Some love their sin and don’t want to repent. Some just really love evil. If you stand firmly, gently, and humbly for Christ, people will have one of two responses: “To some we are an aroma of death leading to death, but to others, an aroma of life leading to life” (2 Corinthians 2:16).
A man of God in today’s society will have enemies because he is standing for the truth. If you don’t have people who dislike you because of your commitment to following God’s Word, then you’re probably not even in the fight.
My wife, Elliette, got a call not long ago from someone claiming to be with the IRS, stating that they were sending the police to arrest her and she needed to give them all her information to save herself. I’ve gotten that call; you may have gotten it too. When I got it, I just hung up. Not Elliette. “How could you do this?” she asked the caller. “Don’t you know that these kinds of calls only deceive the elderly and the uneducated? How could you steal from such people?” The caller hung up.
Unfortunately for them, they hadn’t called me; they’d called her and she’s a fighter! She prayed against them and the damage they were doing to people, and then she felt a strong push to call them back. And she kept calling them. Each time, as soon as she explained why she was calling and began her lecture, the person on the other end hung up. Finally a supervisor answered the phone and yelled at her for interfering with their business. She cussed at Elliette and hung up. Elliette kept calling.
On the thirteenth call, a young man answered. This time, when she asked how he could do such a thing, he answered her, “Because I’m a wicked man.”
“Why would you choose to be a wicked man?” she asked.
“I don’t mean to be,” he said, “but where I’m from there are no jobs. This is the only way I can make money.”
“Do you know Jesus?” she asked.
“Yes, but He won’t listen to me. I’m a wicked man.”
“Jesus died for wicked people. He died for you,” she told him. “He will listen to you if you repent of your sins and give your life to Him.” Elliette walked him through the gospel and they prayed together. Elliette, like a marine in World War II, took the rock in front of her, and a young man on the other side of the world is on his way to heaven. Twelve other people rejected her or cussed at her, but she found the one whose heart God had been working on, and now he’s saved.
In our fight, we mustn’t concentrate on those who reject the truth; we must just keep pushing forward for those who will respond. We are commanded to love our enemies (Luke 6:27). And we see from examples in the Bible that the more closely we follow Jesus, the more intensely the wicked will hate us. There was only one perfect man who ever lived, and they nailed Him to a cross. After that, they hunted down His apostles and murdered many of them too. It’s worth pausing and asking yourself a very serious question: Who hates you and why?