The Anti-Pastor

It appears the modern business-growth mindset and pragmatic philosophy tend to attract and cultivate what I can only describe as the “anti-pastor” personality. We must retrieve a biblical foundation for pastoral and elder leadership.

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

From my perspective, the corporatization of the church as an institution and professionalization of the minister / pastor class as a career path feed worldly and fleshly desires for prestige and power.

This is not to say that ALL ministers end up in a bad place.

It appears the modern business-growth mindset and pragmatic philosophy tend to attract and cultivate what I can only describe as the “anti-pastor” personality. Basically, this mindset rewards men who do exactly the opposite of what the Bible describes as a pastor, elder, or deacon. Meanwhile, men who exhibit the true marks of a pastor, elder, etc. are not rewarded, or worse punished for their faithfulness. Maybe their congregations are small or they are seen as too rigid? You get the point.

This anti-pastor mindset results in the inability of some pastors to even comprehend the unbiblical nature of their behavior (driven by a set of beliefs) or their lack of theological convictions. This does not excuse sin or responsibility. But, it creates the conditions for bad thinking and self deception to occur. Furthermore, it becomes an environment of theological darkness where error can grow undetected.

In many ways, pastors are products of our culture. Unseen forces shape our thought life, passions, doctrine, theology, and practices. This is why scriptural critique is vital to the life of the pastor and the church. We all need it.

Os Guinness wrote, “The purpose of critique is restoration, not dismissal. The prophets’ messages were special calls to bring God’s people back to the original calling from which they had fallen away.

Faithfulness begets faithfulness, just like dysfunction begets dysfunction. Faithfulness will never emerge from dysfunction. This is why true repentance is absolutely necessary in the life of the Christian.

I’m convinced as we teach biblical worldview to others, the foundation of repentance and faith must be established and taught as first principles. We must retrieve a biblical foundation for pastors and elders.

Below, I share the qualifications and the marks of a Pastor / Elder (Overseer), and a post about repentance.

Qualifications (Pastor, Elder, Overseers)

“An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” – Titus 1:6–9

“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.” – 1 Tim 3:1-7

“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”” – 1 Peter 5:1-5

Blog Post: “Repentance” 

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Church Leaders Silencing Employees Using Legal Agreements?

“Money being offered in non-disparagement agreements can be a messy and sometimes profoundly evil transaction. At times people are asked with an offer of money to hide acts that are wrong, evil, and even criminal; some are asked for money not to talk about a corrupted institution.”

 

Steve Rabey (MinistryWatch)

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

There is a worrying trend among churches.

Big churches are paying big money (your tithes and offerings) to hire attorneys to legally bind employees (and former employees) with non-disclosure agreements, non-disparagement clauses, separation agreements, severance agreements, and similar legal tools in order to SILENCE them.

MinistryWatch’s Steve Rabey said regarding “Nondisclosure agreements — and their cousin, non–disparagement agreements… Money being offered in non-disparagement agreements can be a messy and sometimes profoundly evil transaction. At times people are asked with an offer of money to hide acts that are wrong, evil, and even criminal; some are asked for money not to talk about a corrupted institution.

…no one with a theologically-informed ethic should be thinking of non–disparagement agreements when the issue is dirt on the floor in the church. Such a person, instead of advocating silence, should be advocating rebuke and repentance and a return to basics, including unflinching truth telling.”

Others have criticized NDAs on moral, ethical, and legal grounds, arguing that:
– They are virtually unenforceable;
– Their real purpose is to intimidate people into silence;
– In churches and ministries, they can foster working environments and cultures that prioritize privacy over transparency, concealment over accountability. (link)

I’ve worked in the business world where these tools are legitimately and appropriately used. The problem arises when these agreements are used by church organizations.

From the outset, I am NOT claiming ALL church organizations are doing this. Most local churches (of all sizes) operate in humility, faithfulness, and fidelity to Scripture. However, we’re seeing a trend (see resource links below this post).

I’m going to address this issue and bring it to light. Hopefully, this will lead to healing and restoration in the church. Biblically, church leaders are accountable to their congregations, employees, and God.

“For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God;” 1 Peter 4:17

“Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.” Luke 12:2-3

“For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” Mark 4:22-23

There is a growing awareness that church organizations are implementing coercive binding agreements and other legal devices. These agreements are directly tied to financial compensation and/or severance packages, the purpose of which is to legally bind a former employee to silence. Some church organizations see themselves more as business entities than the body of Christ.

– Are these agreements ethical or moral?
– Are these agreements biblical?
– Does this belong in the church?
– What would Jesus Christ say about church organizations using such agreements?

NDAs, Separation Agreements, and other similar such agreements have ZERO place in the church.

They are coercive and toxic. They put former employees in bondage to their former employers. They cause harm to those with the least institutional power (the employee). These agreements are used to bully former employees. Once implemented, former employees are forced to separate from their church family and/or are shunned by staff. These agreements do not edify the church nor do they glorify God.

Forcing an employee to sign an agreement tied to money in exchange for their silence is evil (period). After all, what does a church organization have to hide that requires the coercion of an employee to sign a document that forces them to be silent in exchange for money?

Beginning today, this is going to stop.
Beginning today, I encourage church organizations to rescind all such agreements immediately.

“If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear…”
If you are a pastor, church officer, church executive, elder, etc. and you have used non-disclosure agreements, non-disparagement clauses, or other coercive separation agreements tied to compensation in exchange for silence, you’ve been put on notice.

The Light is coming and church organizations have a choice…

Repent of the harm you have inflicted and rescind these agreements or “whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light.”

Defining Terms:

Non-disclosure Agreement:
“A contract in which one or more parties promise to keep information confidential, and not disclose it to any other party without proper authorization… Also referred to as an “NDA,” “confidentiality agreement,” or “proprietary information agreement,” such a contract outlines the nature of the confidential information, without disclosing it specifically… NDAs are most commonly used in businesses when the need to establish a confidential relationship with employees or contractors arises. Such information may include trade secrets, proprietary information, client lists, database information, or any other information considered to be vital to the business.” (source)

Non-disparagement clause (or agreement):
“A part of an agreement, such as an employment contract, separation agreement, or marital settlement agreement, which stipulates that the involved parties are prohibited from making any negative statements, remarks, or representations about each other. Such clauses are in prevalent use to prevent (ex) employees from adversely affecting the business of employers with disparaging public statements either during or after the employment period has ended.” (source)

“The other place you might encounter a non-disparagement clause is in a separation agreement—a document you may be asked to sign if you’re being fired, laid off, or are otherwise leaving on bad terms… “Companies will make signing the non-disparagement clause a condition of getting your severance money and/or benefits.” (source)

Separation Agreement:
“Most employee separation agreements require the employee to waive any potential legal claims. These could include employment law, compensation, and discrimination claims. For employers, this is often the primary purpose of the agreement.

In exchange for waiving the claims, an employee separation agreement can offer a severance package to the employee. Severance is not required, but it’s often a good incentive for the employee to sign the document. It can also help enhance a company’s reputation.” (source)

Typically, these arrangements are embedded in agreements issued by the church organization (usually when an employee leaves or is forced to resign or terminated).

Should churches use NDAs or other such agreements? The answer is ‘No’.

I have yet to discover a legitimate biblical reason. Someone will retort, “But, what about protecting the ‘reputation of the church’ and the ‘reputation of Christ’ against slander or negative perception?”

“These agreements ostensibly ensured that both the church and employee “act in a Christ-like manner, avoiding gossip and destructive slandering that causes division, rather than unity.” (link)

Libel, defamation, slander, etc. have to do with lying about someone or something that occurred. There are legal remedies for that type of behavior. 

Furthermore, telling the truth, even if it is negative, is not slander or gossip.

Church leader, if you have a problem with an employee within a church organization, the solution is found in the Word of God not some pagan ‘best practices’ business arrangement.

Here’s the deal, don’t be evil. Don’t mistreat people or attempt to cover up unethical behavior. There is no biblical reason for a church to implement agreements that bind people to silence using financial benefits and legal threats. The legal threats and vague legal reasoning contained in these agreements make the person feel trapped while all the power resides with the institutional leaders. This leads to self-separation by the former employee and silence where conflict, spiritual abuse or worse has occurred.

Someone will say, “Oh, you’re being divisive.”

No, I’m being honest. These unbiblical agreements are divisive by nature. So, who’s being divisive? The one implementing them or the one exposing them?

I know an instance where church leaders instructed employees not to speak to a former employee or discuss anything related to the church because doing so would amount to gossip and divisiveness. So, employees who were friends with a former employee essentially shunned their former teammate. Some feared losing their jobs if they spoke to the former employee. That’s cultish behavior.

Imagine being told this by a church leader one day and running into your friend (former employee) at a store the next? Would you fear reprimand, if leadership found out you spoke to a friend? At worse, would you fear losing your job? Think about it.

In conclusion, I am NOT claiming all church organizations are doing this. But the trend is growing. There are no biblical or ecclesiological reasons for church leaders to bind current or former employees to silence through non-disclosure agreements, non-disparagement clauses, separation agreements, or any such binding agreements. Nor should the tithes and offerings of the congregation be used for attorneys’ fees or unconstitutional severance / separation packages.

Guess what? It’s going to stop. People are getting wise to the game.

The light is coming and accountability with it. It will be much easier to repent personally and ask for forgiveness privately than the alternative.

Church Leader, you can circle the wagons and attempt to protect your institutional power… But know this. The truth bats last, and he is a slugger.

Solution: Repent of the harm you have inflicted and rescind these agreements or “whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light.”

If you are a church leader (staff or elder) and you have implemented these agreements to coerce or cover-up wrong-doing or silence people, it may be time to resign. You’re most likely unfit for duty as a shepherd of God’s beloved people. Your sin can be forgiven but you’re unfit to lead ministry.

Will there be a Part 2 to this post, we’ll see…

I recommend every pastor, elder, deacon and ministry leader meditate on Ezekiel 34:1-10 “Prophecy Against the Shepherds of Israel”

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.

 

“Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: As I live, declares the Lord God, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.”

Resources and links:

Thou Shalt Not Disclose: How Churches and Ministries Use Legal Agreements to Silence Victims and Conceal Sin
https://ministrywatch.com/thou-shalt-not-disclose-how-churches-and-ministries-use-legal-agreements-to-silence-victims-and-conceal-sin/

NDAs are a tool for toxic church cultures
https://religionnews.com/2022/09/08/ndas-are-a-tool-for-toxic-church-cultures/

Silence of the sheep – Christian nonprofits and churches have adopted practices from the for-profit world of avoiding liability, sometimes leading to devastating outcomes
https://wng.org/articles/silence-of-the-sheep-1617298243

Should Churches Use NDAs? It Depends.
https://www.nae.org/churches-use-ndas/

Should a Church Use NDAs?
https://www.churchandculture.org/blog/2022/9/12/should-a-church-use-ndas

When Christian Ministries Ask Their Ex-Employees Not to Talk
How a corporate world practice became mainstream for evangelical nonprofits and churches.
https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/podcasts/quick-to-listen/christian-ministries-non-disclosure-agreements-non-competes.html

NDAs Kept These Christians Silent. Now They’re Speaking Out Against Them.
https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2021/july/ndafree-campaign-confidentiality-nondisclosure-abuse.html

Sign or face the consequences
https://wng.org/sift/sign-or-face-the-consequences-1617422845

Should Christian Organizations Use NDAs?
https://abfifer.com/blog/2021/12/should-christian-organizations-use-ndas/

What are Red Flags For Spiritual Abuse in Your Church? with Teasi Cannon
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suiB7_MUv2I

Spiritual Abuse and the Church: Why Should We Listen? with Teasi Cannon
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dseigzUaGRI

What Is a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)?
https://www.findlaw.com/smallbusiness/business-contracts-forms/what-is-a-non-disclosure-agreement-nda.html

What is an employee separation agreement?
https://www.adobe.com/sign/hub/how-to/guide-to-employee-separation-agreements.html

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

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The ‘Why?’ behind the Forge Room

WE ARE TRAINING EVERYDAY CHRISTIANS TO FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH.
FORGING A REVOLUTIONARY LEARNING COMMUNITY, LIVING BOLDLY FOR CHRIST.

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The only organization on earth capable of reorienting society toward reality, virtue, and human flouring is the church. The only roadmap is the Bible. The only captain is Christ.

People change, organizations change and churches change. My calling remains the same.

God’s call led me into lay-leadership of our church’s pro-life ministry in 2012. He sustained me and exponentially grew the ministry and its impact, despite my short-comings. God is faithful.

God’s call led me to join staff at our church in 2014 to lead Local Missions (community outreach). God blessed and multiplied His ministry through bringing lay-leaders with gifts and talents I do not possess. They were vessels of God’s strength and grace in reaching thousands of people for Christ. Our message was clear, “we are a church without walls.” God is good.

God’s call placed me on the ramparts as a watchman in 2020 as dark ideologies attempted to mount a siege against our fellowship. My responsibility was clear; understand the enemy and his schemes, discern between friend or foe approaching the gates, and relay what I saw to those inside the city.

“For thus the Lord said to me:
“Go, set a watchman;
let him announce what he sees.
When he sees riders, horsemen in pairs,
riders on donkeys, riders on camels,
let him listen diligently,
very diligently.”
Then he who saw cried out:
“Upon a watchtower I stand, O Lord,
continually by day,
and at my post I am stationed
whole nights.
And behold, here come riders,
horsemen in pairs!””
– Isaiah 21:6-8

God’s call sustained me once again as organizational focus changed and shifted. God revealed a vital need where something was missing that I could create and contribute. The fellowship needed to be fortified in the faith, equipped with understanding of the times, and encouraged to stand firm – shining as lights in the darkness. God is wise.

God’s call on my life has always centered around protecting the most vulnerable – the unborn, the orphan, the trafficking victim, the elderly, the unprotected youth. You can read my story here to understand I was once the antithesis of this. But, God took the evil I committed and turned it for good. Even when I am unfaithful, God is faithful.

“Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
and will he not repay man according to his work?”
– Proverbs 24:11-12

I cannot and will not remain silent in the face of evil as I did in my younger days. I am accountable to God, my wife, and my children. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

I’ve reached two conclusions; First, for the most part, Christians have been fighting a defensive battle (even as we claim to be on the offense). Second, the American church suffers from the fear of man, a focus on self-preservation and empire-building, and protection of the institutional church (as a business). We’ve traded our God-ordained birth-right for a cheap bowl of marketing gimmicks. The results are; a loss of mission, moral confusion, and a sense of prevailing darkness. Well-meaning Christians have retreated to their ‘holy huddles’ and rabbit holes of Sunday church attendance, home, work, entertainment, and Christian activities (as sanctioned by the world).

Someone once said, “When the light of the world retreats inside walls of the church, the world becomes a very dark place.”

I prayed, “Lord, what would you have me to do? I’m your’s to command.”

On June 16, 2022 a vision began forming in my mind. I saw a joy-filled, spirit-led, faithful, prayerful, worshipful, and vibrant community of sold-out Christ-followers so distinct from the world, they shined like the brightest stars in the sky. I saw people on fire for the Lord and loving their neighbors. I saw hundreds and even thousands of Christians breaking down the walls of church buildings to serve as ambassadors of our Savior and King. I saw Christ being honored and glorified in our city. I saw entire families being brought into the fold through the proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom. I saw prayer meetings, big and small breaking out all over. I saw a recovery of a full-orbed Kingdom vision and public theology as Christ-followers engaged within their sphere of relationships.

I saw classrooms, seminars, and forums filled with eager Christians in learning communities being equipped to serve God’s purposes in this generation and this city. I saw people investing in people who invest in people – creating disciples who will disciple the nations and generations in our city.

Today, I see a recovery of what is good, true, and beautiful on the horizon. I see answered prayer unleashed on our city. I see renewal and local churches pouring fourth light like never before.

All of this is totally impossible… or is it?

My prayer is… Ephesians 3:20-21

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (ESV)

J.B. Phillips paraphrase puts it this way, “Now to him who by his power within us is able to do far more than we ever dare to ask or imagine—to him be glory in the Church through Jesus Christ for ever and ever, amen!”

As a pastor and leader, I’ve led the charge against human trafficking, exploitation of the vulnerable, abortion, euthanasia, and destructive ideologies. By God’s grace, great work has been done in these areas! We must celebrate what God has done through His faithful people. But, things in our community continue to worsen and decay. It’s not for a lack of awareness or funding or services. We have some of the best people and organizations serving trafficking victims, women in crisis pregnancies, orphans, the elderly and protecting the hearts and minds of children in our schools. The problem is cultural virtue is decaying because Christian leaders are telling their followers to abandon societal institutions like education, arts and music, media, and politics. Thus, our communities become very dark places.

The church isn’t lacking in programming or resources or personalities, we’re lacking in prayer, fortitude, and Gospel G.R.I.T. (Guts, Resiliency, Integrity, and Tenacity). Our Savior, Jesus Christ demonstrated all of these virtues as he “set his face like a flint” and marched to the cross, through death, and sat upon his Kingly throne.

Most Christians live as though we have a King without a Kingdom. Meanwhile, evil, chaos, and brokenness ravage our children, families, and communities – and churches!

Michael S. Craven stated, “While Christian faith is deeply personal it was never intended to remain private. This reductionism and privatization of Christian faith have left the contemporary Church with little to offer a desperate world other than a prescription for personal salvation, the only real implication of which is realized when you die. Unfortunately, this truncated gospel has left the Christian confused and uncertain with regard to what they are to be doing in the meantime.”

Again, we’ve made great strides in our fight against issues like trafficking and abortion. However, things continue to get worse. Most individual efforts are focused on arguing against and fighting at the point of crisis (ie. rescuing victims, protecting the vulnerable, or political action). I encourage, support, and participate in those efforts.

Sadly, the church sits on the sidelines, or complains, or remains silent or avoids critical cultural issues at all costs. I participate in the anti-trafficking community, serve on boards of ministries, attend school board and city council meetings, and advise crisis pregnancy centers. Local church involvement is always missing. Christians get involved but local churches tend to shy away from ‘controversial’ issues like trafficking, abortion, euthanasia, pornography, human sterilization, and perceived ‘political’ issues.

Silence on an issue of good versus evil is not going to win lost people to Christ.

Eric Metaxas said, “There are a lot of pastors that say, “I don’t want to fight (against moral evil)… I just want to “preach the Gospel.” I mean, if slavery is an issue, should you not talk about slavery because you might offend someone in your congregation? What issue will you be silenced on that is a God issue? That is an issue of good versus evil, because you have been persuaded somehow that if you don’t talk about that issue, you’ll win a convert. A convert to what? What dead, useless gospel are you preaching?”

Richard Owen Roberts said, “During the present time of moral and spiritual declension, the church is daily losing ground to the world. Each false convert that is added to an already adulterated work adds to the decline and hastens its pace. We have already reached the point where the negative impact of those who profess to be Christians and either are not or are badly backslidden is greater than the positive impact of those who profess to be Christians and truly are. Thus, the church is going backward instead of forward.”

Christ alone can heal and revive His Church. The church isn’t a franchise. Jesus Christ, not man, is responsible for building His Church. The “church growth movement” is an open door to liberalism, compromise, and false-teaching. Today, we find ourselves on a recovery mission of sound doctrine, faithfulness, and public theology.

God’s calling on me is clear and fortified. God moved the location and context of my vision. No longer is it limited to a single local church. It is a bigger enterprise for equipping and mobilizing the Church in our city in order to push back against the darkness and infuse God’s goodness into our community.

Based on my research, our communities will continue to degrade. Trafficking will continue to get worse, new forms of abortion will increase, sterilization of children will become normalized, euthanasia of the elderly and ill will increase, and the indoctrination of children and organizations with sex-ed, Marxism, and DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) / SEL / ESG doctrines will destroy any last vestige of moral virtue and human flourishing. Not to mention, the harsh rhetoric and cancelling of dissent or truth will continue unchallenged.

Moving forward, what are we about?

Christianity is a public truth.”

– Lesslie Newbigin

We must recover a unifying vision of the Lordship of Christ over the domain of our individual and collective lives as the local church. We shall live lives that are holy and pleasing to the Lord as we exercise dominion over that which God has placed in our care. The hallmarks of Christian maturity are; faith, holy living, the ability to articulate a Christian vision of total reality, and a zeal for sharing the Gospel of the Kingdom. Christ is Lord over ALL things. We serve as ambassadors of His Kingdom – reflecting our King’s image, redeeming and restoring that which is lost and dying in the place and time in which we live. We need a recovery of cultural virtue like in the days of William Wilberforce in order to make good culture and protect the sanctity of human life.

“God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners.”
– William Wilberforce

With this in mind, we launched the Forge Room Foundation in May of 2023.

A forge is “a furnace in which iron or metal is heated and hammered into form. Any place where any thing is made or shaped. The act of beating or working iron or steel; the manufacture of metalline bodies.” [Noah Webster 1828 – American Dictionary of the English Language].

A forge room is “a place or establishment where iron or other metals are wrought by heating and hammering.” [Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary]

A forge room is a motif of the Christian life and journey. We are constantly being grown, tested, sanctified, and conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Until Christ returns, the sanctity of human life will always be in danger. Threats against the weak, the vulnerable, and children are unending and will continue to grow.

We’re accurately Identifying the Problem:
We are living in a Civilizational Moment. Christians need strong biblical community and equipping now more than ever. Over the past hundred years, the Christian faith has become privatized as we have abandoned society resulting in darkness and moral confusion. Dangerous ideologies are invading our families, schools, and churches.

Like the German church in the 1930s, the American church is overcome with fear and remains virtually silent in the face of evil. As a result, the Church has lost its public witness. Our action or inaction today will shape the next century.

We’re Creating and contributing Solution:
The Forge Room Foundation is creating localized learning communities – providing training in worldview, cultural intelligence, and biblical theology – bringing light into the darkness.

We must repent of our silence. We must develop the life of the mind and heart. We must cultivate Gospel GRIT (Guts, Resiliency, Integrity, and Tenacity) in local churches. We must recover the Gospel of the Kingdom!

“The Gospel is so much larger than the personal plan for salvation. The Gospel of the Kingdom is the in-breaking rule and reign of Jesus Christ as King over all creation – redeeming and restoring all things. Through Him, the Kingdom of God has come into this world. Jesus has completed the atonement for our sin on the cross. By his resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God the Father, He is presently ruling and reigning over creation. Christ is reinstating his righteousness on the earth.”

– Michael S. Craven

We’re Encouraging and mobilizing appropriate Action:
We will develop a full-orbed Kingdom vision, confidence, and wisdom to serve generations yet unborn for Christ.

Are you ready to live boldly for Christ in this generation in our city?

Will you partner with us in this mission? Join us for a course and check us out (click here)

In conclusion, God will sustain and grow His ministry and its impact, despite my short-comings. Why? God is faithful.

Learn more about Forge Room here…

Resources to encourage you and give you hope

Article: Recovering the Gospel of the Kingdom by Michael Craven

Sermon: How to Be a Man of Courage by John MacArthur

Article: THE THREE WORLDS OF EVANGELICALISM by Aaron Renn

Book: Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling by Andy Crouch

Book: A Christian Manifesto Paperback by Francis A. Schaeffer

“Evangelization requires that we proclaim, not only God’s saving grace, but the norms by which he intends those who are in Christ to live. In no way do mere human beings redeem culture by engaging in creative activity. This is presumptuous. Only God in Christ redeems his fallen creation. We are at most agents of his kingdom, manifesting his saving grace in everything we do — including the shaping of culture.”

– David T. Koyzis –

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Signs Your Church, Ministry, or Business May Be Failing (Part 2)

You’re the problem with your organization!
You’re also the solution!

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

HOW TO AVOID LEADERSHIP FAILURE

You are the problem with your organization!
You are also the solution!

In Part 1, I shared a few signs your church, ministry, or business might be headed into decline based on Jim Collins’ book, “How the Mighty Fall.” The goal was to outline how to accurately diagnose the problem. Read Part 1 before moving ahead.

In Part 2, we’ll begin discussing how decline relates to you as an individual leader and what you can do to avoid it. At the end, I provide four helpful resources.

As leaders, we need to ask important questions:

Where am I as a leader?
How does my team experience my leadership?
Where are we as a team?
What is the condition of my organization?
Are we healthy and thriving?
Are we on mission?
Are we drifting away from our mission?
Are we at risk of decline and failure?
Have we abandoned the core principles that made us successful in the first place?
Are we measuring the wrong things?
Do I even really know the people in my organization on a personal level?

Problem:

Isolated leaders, insolated leaders, high staff turnover, pragmatism, institutionalism (self-serving), mission ambiguity, gaslighting, defensiveness, fear, promoting ‘yes men’ over wise men, sanctioned incompetence, poor communication, gossip, malfeasance, quiet firing, spiritual abuse, and lack of vision plague Christian organizations today. Yet many leaders retreat to their ivory towers, revert to blame-shifting or scapegoating. People are seen as problems to be solved instead of sheep to be shepherded. Goodwill and good ideas vanish. As leaders distance themselves from problems and criticism, they push away people with good ideas and solutions who could help. A brain drain ensues and toxicity slowly poisons the entire organization.

How do we avoid such things and guard our witness for Christ? I’ll share a few thoughts.

Getting at Solutions:

Where am I?

Have you ever participated in a land navigation or orienteering exercise?

“Navigation is the art and science of determining the position of a ship, plane or other vehicle, and guiding it to a specific destination. Navigation requires a person to know the vehicle’s relative location, or position compared to other known locations.” (National Geographic)

“Land navigation is the discipline of following a route through unfamiliar terrain on foot or by vehicle, using maps with reference to terrain, a compass, and other navigational tools.” (Wikipedia)

The primary key to successful land navigation is not locating your destination. The essential first step is locating your current position on the map. If you don’t know where you are, you will never reach your intended destination (period). When things get chaotic or difficult, we need humility to ask, “Where am I?”

Humility (I can’t stress it enough).

Deep understanding is vital to healthy leadership and will result in healthy church, ministry, and business. If the leadership is unhealthy or toxic, it will poison the entire organization. Leaders must understand we are sinners and imperfect. We need to allow others into our lives to help us. We need others to show us our blind spots. We must remove façades that veil the truth about us. We must allow God to deal with our pride and selfish ambitions.

Humility is at the core of leadership.
Personality, passion, gifting, competence, compatibility, and character apart from a deep authentic humility are worthless.

“If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.” – James 3:13 (NLT)

In February of 2016 my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. 58 days later, he was gone. Early on in my dad’s treatment, by God’s grace I realized I was not in the right condition to lead my ministry. I was responsible for 1000+ volunteers, leaders, nonprofit partners, managing budgets, strategic planning, and vital relationships. In addition, needy people in our community depend upon the church to help them. In a season of loss and grief, it was all too much! So, I handed over all leadership authority and responsibility to my second in command. He’s smart, humble, and consistent. He is a great leader. As I entered the crucible with my dad, my team mate masterfully guided the ministry. Everyone worked together to stay on mission.

A couple months after my dad died my second in command quietly handed the ministry back to me. The shepherd needed shepherding during a stormy season. God used my father’s death to humble me. God provided a humble servant to take the helm for a season. Like a good harbor pilot, my teammate handed me the wheel after guiding the ship out of the rocky harbor to safer waters. Praise God!

Reality on the Ground:

A leader must be transparent and honest about where he or she is and where the organization is at all times. A leader must ask for help, feedback, and receive it with gladness. Remember, people are watching. As a leader you are bearing witness to God’s work in your life and through the organization. Your team will forget a lot but they won’t forget how you cared for them.

When you know where you are and possess the humility to ask for help and admit mistakes, you can provide good care for your team. In turn, they will care for you. Trust is the currency of any culture. Humility fosters trust.

In conclusion, know where you are and the condition of the people in your organization. Cultivate humility by letting people into your life and investing them. Don’t hide weakness, problems, or failure. Share them with your team and ask them questions. We’re all human and people tend to help those they can relate to. We trust who we know.

Leader, look in the mirror everyday and realize you’re the problem with your organization… You’re also the solution. Be the kind of leader people want by their side in the storms and battles of life.

Leadership Resources:

  1. The 360 Interview
  2. Gemba Walk
  3. Read a Proverb everyday for 31 days (repeat)
  4. Book: The QBQ

In part 3, we’ll cover more…

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

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Signs Your Church, Ministry, or Business May Be Failing (Part 1)

We can be competent, highly-skilled, educated, passionate, and have a winsome personality, but if we lack humility, those other things don’t matter. Humility is the key to recognizing and avoiding failure in order to achieve success.

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

Success or failure of any organization begins at the top with those responsible for leading and stewarding the organization.

Whether you are a self-employed plumber, the CEO of a Fortune 100 company with 35,000 employees or a pastor of a 15,000 member church – it all begins with the leader.

Ultimately, the foundation of good leadership is not competence, skill, passion, or personality – its humility. We can obtain advanced degrees from the best institutions on the planet. We can be competent, highly-skilled, passionate, and have a winsome personality, but if we lack humility, those other things don’t matter. As leaders, we must relentlessly cultivate humility. It requires humility to recognize signs of decline in order to avoid it. Lasting success requires humility as well.

In Part 1, we will dive into signs your church, ministry, or business might be headed into decline. Essentially, we are attempting to accurately diagnose the problem. In Part 2, we’ll discuss how decline relates to you (and me) as an individual leader and what you can do to avoid it. Here, we are attempting to provide a cure or solution for the problem. 

Disclaimer (because everybody needs one): I have been in various leadership positions since I was in high school. I have worked for myself. I have worked in the C-suites. I have owned companies. I have led ministries. In my lifetime, I have made massive, sometimes heart-breaking mistakes. In fact, I could write volumes about my failures and mistakes and a short pamphlet of my successes. So, when it comes to failure, (please believe me when I say) I know what I’m talking about. I’ve failed a lot. But, I try to learn from my failures and make things right.

What are the signs your church, ministry, or business may be failing?

Jim Collins’ book, “How the Mighty Fall – And why some companies never give in” will be our guide. I read the book in 2009. I’ve read it at least 5 times since. I use it as a reference. I’ve watched the lessons in the book unfold in real life. “How the Mighty Fall” is ultimately a book about humility. I highly recommend reading it. You can also read my post: How The Mighty Fall – A Primer for Successful Leadership

The book answers the questions: “What happened leading up to the point at which decline became visible? What did the company do once it began to fall?”

I’ve organized key concepts and quotes into sections to help readers navigate and digest Collins’ concepts quickly and easily.

– 5 Stages of Decline –

Stage 1.

HUBRIS BORN OF SUCCESS

We’re so great, we can do anything!
(Picture Leonardo DiCaprio on the bow of the Titanic yelling, “I’m king of the world!”)

“Stage 1 kicks in when people become arrogant, regarding success virtually as an entitlement, and they lose sight of the true underlying factors that created success in the first place. When the rhetoric of success (“We’re successful because we do these specific things”) replaces penetrating understanding and insight (“We’re successful because we understand why we do these specific things and under what conditions they would no longer work”), decline will very likely follow.” (1)

Markers for Stage 1:
a. Success Entitlement, Arrogance: Success is viewed as “deserved,” rather than fortuitous, fleeting or even hard earned in the face of daunting odds; people begin to believe that success will continue almost no matter what the organization decides to do, or not do.

b. “What” Replaces “Why”: The rhetoric of success (We’re successful because we do these specific things’) replaces understanding and insight (“We’re successful because we understand why we do these specific things and under what conditions they would no longer work”).

c. Decline in Learning Orientation: Leaders lose the inquisitiveness and learning orientation that mark those truly great individuals who, no matter how successful they become, maintain a learning curve as steep as when they first began their careers. (2)

Stage 2.

UNDISCIPLINED PURSUIT OF MORE

More, more, and more!

“… more scale, more growth, more acclaim, more of whatever those in power see as “success.” Companies in Stage 2 stray from the disciplined creativity that led them to greatness in the first place, making undisciplined leaps into areas where they cannot be great or growing faster than they can achieve with excellence—or both. When an organization grows beyond its ability to fill its key seats with the right people, it has set itself up for a fall. Although complacency and resistance to change remain dangers to any successful enterprise, overreaching better captures how the mighty fall.” (1)

Markers for Stage 2:
a. Unsustainable Quest for Growth, Confusing Big with Great: Success creates pressure for more growth, setting up a vicious cycle of expectations; this strains people, the culture, and systems to the breaking point; unable to deliver consistent tactical excellence, the institution frays at the edges.

b. Declining Proportion of Right People in Key Seats: There is a declining proportion of right people in key seats, because of losing the right people and/or growing beyond the organization’s ability to get enough people to execute on that growth with excellence (e.g., breaking Packard’s Law).

c. Bureaucracy Subverts Discipline: A system of bureaucratic rules subverts the ethic of freedom and responsibility that marks a culture of discipline; people increasingly think in terms of “jobs” rather than responsibilities.

d. Problematic Succession of Power: The organization experiences leadership-transition difficulties, be they in the form of poor succession planning, failure to groom excellent leaders from within, political turmoil, bad luck, or an unwise selection of successors.

e. Personal Interests Placed Above Organizational Interests: People in power allocate more for themselves or their constituents – more money, more privileges, more fame, more of the spoils of success – seeking to capitalize as much as possible in the short term, rather than investing primarily in building for greatness decades into the future. (2)

Stage 3.

DENIAL OF RISK AND PERIL

Oh, don’t be an alarmist, things are just fine!

“In Stage 3, leaders discount negative data, amplify positive data, and put a positive spin on ambiguous data. Those in power start to blame external factors for setbacks rather than accept responsibility. The vigorous, fact-based dialogue that characterizes high-performance teams dwindles or disappears altogether. When those in power begin to imperil the enterprise by taking outsize risks and acting in a way that denies the consequences of those risks, they are headed straight for Stage 4… If you blow a hole above the waterline (where the ship won’t take on water and possibly sink), you can patch the hole, learn from the experience, and sail on. But if you blow a hole below the waterline, you can find yourself facing gushers of water pouring in, pulling you toward the ocean floor.” (1)

Stage 3 Leadership-Team Dynamics (organizations in decline)

– People shield those in power from grim facts, fearful of penalty and criticism for shining light on the harsh realities.

– The team leader has a very low questions-to-statements ratio, avoiding critical input and/or allowing sloppy reasoning and unsupported opinions.

– Team members acquiesce to a decision yet do not unify to make the decision successful, or worse, undermine the decision after the fact.

– Team members seek as much credit as possible for themselves yet do no enjoy the confidence and admiration of their peers.

– Team members argue to look smart or to improve their own interests rather than argue to find the best answers to support the overall cause.

– The team conducts “autopsies with blame” seeking culprits rather than wisdom. (2)

Markers for Stage 3:
a. Amplify the Positive, Discount the Negative: There is a tendency to discount or explain away negative data rather than presume that something is wrong with the company; leaders highlight and amplify external praise and publicity.

b. Big Bets and Bold Goals without Empirical Validation: Leaders set audacious goals and/or make big bets that aren’t based on accumulated experience, or worse, that fly in the face of the facts.

c. Incurring Huge Downside Risk Based on Ambiguous Data: When faced with ambiguous data and decisions that have a potentially severe or catastrophic downside, leaders take a positive view of the data and run the risk of blowing a hole “below the waterline.”

d. Erosion of Healthy Team Dynamics: There is a marked decline in the quality and amount of dialogue and debate; there is a shift toward either consensus or dictatorial management rather than a process of argument and disagreement followed by unified commitment to execute decisions.

e. Externalizing Blame: Rather than accept full responsibility for setbacks and failures, leaders point to external factors or other people to affix blame.

f. Obsessive Reorganizations: Rather than confront the brutal realities, the enterprise chronically reorganizes; people are increasingly preoccupied with internal politics rather than external conditions.

g. Imperious Detachment: Those in power become more imperious and detached; symbols and perks of executive-class status amplify detachment; plush new office buildings may disconnect executives from daily life. (2) 

Stage 4.

GRASPING FOR SALVATION

Do something! Anything! 

“The cumulative peril and/or risks gone bad of Stage 3 assert themselves, throwing the enterprise into a sharp decline visible to all. The critical question is: How does its leadership respond? By lurching for a quick salvation or by getting back to the disciplines that brought about greatness in the first place? Those who grasp for salvation have fallen into Stage 4… Initial results from taking dramatic action may appear positive, but they do not last… leaders atop companies in the late stages of decline need to get back to a calm, clear-headed, and focused approach. If you want to reverse decline, be rigorous about what not to do.” (1)

Stage 4 behaviors:
– Pin hopes on unproven strategies – discontinue leaps into new technologies, new markets, new businesses – often with much hype and fanfare.

– Embark on a program of radical change, a revolution, to transform or upend nearly every aspect of the company, jeopardizing or abandoning core strengths.

– Destroy momentum with chronic restructuring and/or a series of inconsistent big decisions. (2)

Markers for Stage 4:
a. Series of Silver Bullets: There is a tendency to make dramatic, big moves, such as a “game-changing” acquisition or a discontinuous leap into a new strategy or an exciting innovation, in an attempt to quickly catalyze a breakthrough – and then do it again and again, lurching about from program to program, goal to goal, strategy to strategy, in a pattern of chronic inconsistency.

b. Grasping for a Leader-As-Savior: The board responds to threats and setbacks by searching for a charismatic leader (expert) and/or outside savior.

c. Panic and Haste: Instead of being calm, deliberate, and disciplined, people exhibit hasty, reactive behavior, bordering on panic.

d. Radical Change and “Revolution” with Fanfare: The language of “revolution” and “radical” change characterizes the new era: New Programs! New Cultures! New Strategies! Leaders engage in hoopla, spending a lot of energy trying to align and “motivate” people engaging in buzzwords and taglines.

e. Hype Precedes Results: Instead of setting expectations low – underscoring the duration and difficulty of the turnaround – leaders hype their visions, they “sell the future” to compensate for the lack of current results, initiating a pattern of overpromising and underdelivering.

f. Initial Upswing Followed by Disappointments: There is an initial burst of positive results, but they do not last; dashed hope follows dashed hope; the organization achieves no buildup, no cumulative momentum.

g. Confusion and Cynicism: People cannot easily articulate what the organization stands for; core values have eroded to the point of irrelevance; the organization has become “just another place to work,” a place to get a paycheck; people lose faith in their ability to triumph and prevail. Instead of passionately believing in the organization’s core values and purpose, people become distrustful, regarding visions and values as little more that PR and rhetoric.

h. Chronic Restructuring and Erosion of Financial Strength: Each failed initiative drains resources; cash flow and financial liquidity begin to decline; the organization undergoes multiple restructurings; options narrow and strategic decisions are increasingly dictated by circumstance. (2)

“Reorganizations and restructurings can create a false sense that you’re actually doing something productive. Companies are in the process of reorganizing themselves all the time; that’s the nature of institutional evolution. But when you begin to respond to data and warning signs with reorganization as a primary strategy, you may well be in denial. It’s a bit like responding to a severe heart condition or a cancer diagnosis by rearranging your living room.” (2)

Stage 5.

CAPITULATION TO IRRELEVANCE OR DEATH

Oh well, at least we tried…

“In Stage 5, accumulated setbacks and expensive false starts erode financial strength and individual spirit to such an extent that leaders abandon all hope of building a great future. In some cases the company’s leader just sells out; in other cases the institution atrophies into utter insignificance; and in the most extreme cases the enterprise simply dies outright.”(1)

In conclusion, the core of good leadership is not competence, skill, passion, or personality – is humility. As leaders, we must relentlessly cultivate humility. We must be open to criticism, feedback, challenges, questions, and advice. We are to be servants, not masters.

READ PART 2 HERE…

 

Sources:

(1) Article: How the Mighty Fall – A Primer on the Warning Signs (Business Week) by Jim Collins (2009)

(2) Book: How the Mighty Fall by Jim Collins (2009)

 

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

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No Time for Weak Men

Is a real man safe? “Who said anything about safe? ’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

Weak men are dangerous men.

Someone once said, “Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men, weak men create hard times.” Easy living, loose morality and affluence have led to a decadent culture.

America has arrived at a civilizational moment, a crisis point, and it is no time for weak men. As men we’ve bought the idea that passivity and weakness are virtues. This idea is shaped by movies we watch, music we listen to, games we play, and how men have been taught to view their role in society.

Someone will say, “It sounds like you are advocating for violent men or toxic masculinity.” If you mean abusive, terrible, evil men? Absolutely not! Nor am I referring to a man’s physical strength or capabilities to commit violence. I am referring to men who demonstrate moral strength and virtue. Let’s call this type, “Good Men.” Good men protect against evil men. Good men who display moral courage are the antidote to weak men and men who demonstrate ‘toxic masculinity.’

Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world where good men at times must resort to violence in order to defend against evil. That is reality. That is the reason why we have military, police, security guards, etc.

Morally weak men

Morally weak men are like doorways that allow evil into homes and societies. Moral passivity and weakness are detrimental to the vulnerable, women, children, the elderly, families, and civilizations.

Since the 1960s men have been portrayed as predators or witless oafs. Many pathologies exist, including radical feminism, secular humanism, and the rejection of objective morality. Pornography has lured men into sexual fantasy just as violent life-like video games have lured men into pseudo-conquest. Sexually explicit and violent music lyrics catechize generations of boys to believe exploitation, violence, and personal pleasure define what it means to be a man. Set within the modern social environment of psychologized expressive individualism… boys grow up lacking necessary skills required to successfully fulfill their vital responsibilities of manhood. In other words, boys physically mature into adult males who don’t possess moral courage and virtue. They do not know how to be men.

A distorted vision of manhood eventually leads to decadence and destruction. The tyrants and monsters of human history were all weak men. History reveals weak men always prey upon the most vulnerable.

Don’t confuse physical strength, wealth, celebrity, or political power with moral fortitude. Hitler, Stalin, and other ‘strong men’ were in fact extremely weak. Bullies are weak and insecure cowards. Thus, weak men are dangerous because they commit evil against vulnerable people. Unfortunately, at times so-called men have also been known to allow evil to be perpetrated against the weak.

It has been said, “For evil men to accomplish their purpose it is only necessary that good men should do nothing.” (Unknown). This is true of Hitler’s Holocaust against 6 millions Jews. Good men stood aside while evil men abused, tortured and murdered the weak. It is true today as ‘nice guys’ and dare I say some ‘Christian men‘ stand aside while women and children are abused and exploited.

“Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.”
Proverbs 25:26

We are witnessing good men fleeing the moral battlefield – allowing women and children to be exposed to the onslaught of the enemy.

Drag queen strip shows in schools, boys claiming to be girls competing in girls’ sports, chemical sterilization, medical mutilation, the rise of pedophilia, sexual grooming of children in schools and on social media are a few of the atrocities men are allowing to occur. Thus, men become accomplices to such evils by refusing to speak up or otherwise defend the vulnerable.

When I survey the cultural moment in America, I observe bold women standing up for themselves and children against evil. However, very few men are entering the moral fray. There is a strange silence. Where are the men? Where are the defenders? Where are the ranks of courageous men who belong to the armies of the living God?

Have we forgotten who we are as men?

How can we (men) who claim to “love our neighbors” who are made in God’s image allow those same neighbors to be harmed?

Men are called to be good and formidable enemies of evil. Men should be capable of appropriate violence for the protection and defense of the defenseless and weak. At the same time, promoting what is good, true and right. We are to pray, reason, having sharp minds and warm hearts. We are to use our voice to speak against the spirit of the age that is destroying lives and robbing our progeny of a future.

The devil kills in the womb if not actively resisted. He slyly attempts to destroy the future fertility of society by ensuring the children of today are rendered incapable of following God’s admonishment, “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28a). The devil would love nothing more than to sterilize a generation thus robbing the future of human flourishing.

In his novel, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” C.S. Lewis writes about a conversation between a little girl named Susan, and Mr. and Mrs. Beaver. The protagonist and star of the book is Aslan the Lion. He is all powerful and benevolent. He is king over the entire land. Little Susan has never seen or met Aslan the Lion. As you can imagine, she is a bit scared of meeting such a powerful being. Susan asks Mr. and Mrs. Beaver about Aslan.

[Mr. Beaver said], “Aslan is a lion–the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he–quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver. “If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” asked Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ’Course he isn’t safe (He’s a lion). But he’s good.”

Men are created for greatness but are fallen in sin. However, a lost man can be redeemed in Christ. He can be made an heir of the King and put on mission. Men are capable of great violence and strength. But, men are to be disciplined and self-controlled. Men are to be like sheathed sword – under the control of God’s spirit.

Meekness is not weakness
The Bible refers to this ‘controlled strength’ as meekness. “Biblical meekness (Greek, “praýs”) is not weakness but rather refers to exercising God’s strength under His control – i.e. demonstrating power without undue harshness.” It is a blend of gentleness and strength. (Strong’s Concordance 4239)

The same father who must hold his baby daughter with gentleness and care must also be willing and able to physically defend that same baby girl from someone who intends to harm her. To allow a child to be molested or harmed would be evil.

Fear of man is Satan’s primary snare for weak men.

“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.”
Proverbs 29:25

The Puritan, John Flavel writes the following in his book “Triumphing Over Sinful Fear“, I’m going to quote him at length.

“Fear drives people out of their proper station, out of their proper place and duty and into Satan’s ground… When troubles and dangers come to a height, fear begins to work at a height too. The critical hour is when fear is high and faith is low, temptation is strong and resistance is weak. Satan knocks at the door and fear opens it, yielding up the soul to him, unless special assistance arrives from heaven.

As long as we can profess religion without any great hazard to life, liberty, or estate, we show much zeal in the ways of godliness. But when it comes to resisting unto blood, few will assert it openly.”

Flavel goes on to say something very germane to our modern context, “The first retreat is usually made from a free and open to a closed and concealed practice of religion.” In other words, fear causes good men to become weak men who then privatize their faith, limiting it to inside the home and church.

He continues, “We fail to open our windows to show that we do not care who knows we worship God (Daniel 6:10). Instead, we hide our principles and practices with all the art and care imaginable. We seek to escape danger by letting go of our profession. If the inquest continues and this refuge can no longer protect us, then we give some open sign of compliance with false worship (i.e. virtue signaling). We do it in order to avoid being marked out for ruin. Then, fear says, “Give a little more ground and retreat to the next security. We comply externally with what we know is forbidden, hoping God will be merciful to us as long as we keep our hearts for Him.” (Flavel, John – Triumphing Over Sinful Fear 1682)

If the fear of controversy or criticism or cancelling or offending spiritually dead people keep you from speaking truth and defending the weak, Repent! Repent of your sinful fear of man. Join me in this hour of repentance.

In conclusion, men, we find ourselves in this civilizational moment facing a pivotal decision. Will we allow this scourge of abuse and exploitation to continue unabated? Or, will we recover who we are created to be?

Is a real man safe? Who said anything about safe? ’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”

Men are called to be formidable and good. Men are called to serve God’s purposes in their generation.

“The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.”
Proverbs 28:1

Be the kind of man others would want by their side in battle!

 

Related: Revolution of Man Podcast: Ep. 2 Cancelling Women and Girls

LOOKING FOR MORE?

In addition to this blog, explore additional content on my Substack!

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