The Four Pillars of a Man’s Heart
Pastor Jeff Williams
In 1555, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley walked out of prison for the last time. They both were condemned to be burned at the stake for refusing to recant their personal faith in Jesus Christ. As they approached the stake, Latimer uttered these unforgettable words to his good friend:
“Be of good cheer, Ridley. Play the man! We shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace…as I trust shall never be put out.”
Where did Hugh Latimer learn such a phrase as “play the man?” He learned it from the lips of an ancient king named David. David was approaching death and wanted to speak to his son Solomon. Let’s listen in:
“When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son. "I am about to go the way of all the earth," he said. "So be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go…” (I Kings 2:1-3)
I first heard these words as a new Christian nearly fifteen years ago. Can I be totally honest with you? I had no idea what they meant! What did it mean to “play the man” as a red-blooded American male? Whatever the requirements, I never felt like I measured up. I wasn’t strong enough, or brave enough, or tall enough, or rich enough to “play the man.” But all that changed about ten years ago.
In the mid-nineties, I discovered a group of authors who were writing about how to be a Godly man. The ideas you will hear this morning are from one of those Christian writers, Stu Weber. His book “The Four Pillars of a Man’s Heart” changed my entire perspective on what God has called men to be in this culture. The pillars have nothing to do with how handy, tall, or “pumped up” you are.
I realize that this morning is Father’s day. I also want to acknowledge that this day may be hard for some of you. Maybe your father has passed away or perhaps you are estranged from him. Some fathers have lost children and other men do not have the children they have earnestly prayed for. Some men hate Father’s Day because it reminds them how much they miss their children. This message is for all of the above. It is for us men. Ladies, you can eavesdrop if you’d like – and you have my permission to elbow the man in your life.
Are you ready to learn how to “play the man?” Turn with me to the book of Genesis.
The Four Roles of Manhood
In the beginning, God created. That is the nature of our God. His creativity is astounding: galaxies and giraffes, atoms and aardvarks, mountains and molecules all show the genius of our creator God.
Turn in your copies of God’s Word to Genesis 2. We read of God creating something completely different and new:
…the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (Gen 2:7)
God created a man, in His own image and he became a living being. Masculinity is not a culturally defined term. God created men for a purpose. What are these purposes? What are the specific reasons and roles God created the man?
Skip down to verse 15:
“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Gen 2:15)
The man was created to “take dominion” as chapter 1 verse 28 reads in the New King James version. Adam was to be the administrator of the Garden. The same is true today. Inside every man beats the heart of a leader.
“And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…” (Genesis 2:16-17)
The man was not only called to steward the land’s resources but also to steward information. Remember, Eve had not been formed yet. It is as if God were telling Adam, “I’m going to tell you this and I want you to pass it on, to teach it to others.” Inside of every man beats the heart of a mentor.
Verse 17 concludes with this ominous warning:
“…or when you eat of it you will surely die." (Gen 2:17b)
Adam was clearly warned of potential danger. It was his role to be alert, to be on guard, to stand watch over himself and his family. Inside every man beats the heart of a warrior.
Verse 18 introduces a new character into this cosmic drama:
“The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Gen 2:18)
Adam was given Eve to satisfy his deep longing for companionship. In more general sense, men were created to be in community. Inside every man beats the heart of a friend.
Something went wrong in the Garden though. After Eve ate the apple, God asks this question of Adam:
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?" (Genesis 3:8)
God was not confused about Adam’s geographical location. The question was more of “Where were you?”
• Where was your influence as a leader when Eve and the serpent were chatting under the tree?
• Where was the warrior I created to protect and keep watch over her?
• Where did the mentoring process breakdown?
• Where was the faithful friend when Eve needed you most?
Adam failed, the human race fell, and men have been frustrated every since.
The four pillars of a man’s heart are that of Leader, Warrior, Mentor, and Friend. This is how God defines real manhood. Let’s look at each one of these pillars in more detail.
The Leader of the Pack
As we have already seen, God created Adam to be a provider. This term means to see ahead. In other words, we are called to lead. We are called to be the leaders of ourselves, our families, our communities, and the global village in which we live.
Guys, we have been called to lead. But many of us have not been taught how to lead. I want us to look at three different two areas of leadership that we are responsible for and then to consider a few challenging questions.
Man, Lead Thyself
The first area of leadership may take you by surprise. Men, the first priority in leadership is to lead ourselves. Until we understand this principle, we will not be effective leaders in any of the other areas in which we are called. I first read about self-leadership in Bill Hybel’s very helpful book, “Courageous Leadership.”
In I Samuel 30, we see a young leader named David. Things have been going extraordinarily well for him and he is well loved and respected. All of that changed in an afternoon.
After returning home from fighting, he discovered that the enemy has attacked and destroyed their campsite, burning all of their belongings, and kidnapping their families. David’s soldiers are tired, angry, and worried sick about their wives and children. Someone suggested it was all David’s fault and a mutiny was born. The troops decided to stone David to death. Where should he direct his leadership energy? His soldiers or the enemy? Neither. He needed to lead himself first.
He found a place of solitude and Scripture records:
“David strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (I Samuel 30:6)
Only after he gets himself squared away internally does he fire up his troops to rescue their families.
Jesus modeled this for us well. His life on earth was a pattern intense ministry activity followed by time set aside for solitude, fasting, reflection and prayer. Bill Hybels writes, “Even Jesus needed to invest regularly in keeping his calling clear…and avoiding distraction, discouragement, and keeping temptation at bay.”
Men, are you taking time throughout the week to recalibrate? After reading “Ordering Your Private World,” by Gordon McDonald, I started journaling over a year ago. Each Monday, I sit down and go through these challenging questions:
• Is there anything in my life I need to confess to God or someone else?
• Do I need to extend forgiveness or ask forgiveness of someone?
• Who do I need to thank?
• What wisdom have I gained from the experiences God has lead me through this week?
• What have I learned from my reading of God’s Word and other books?
• Am I taking care of myself emotionally? physically? spiritually?
There are Monday’s when I dread doing this but I always come away with a clearer vision of how important it is to lead myself. By the way, at the end of the service we will be giving all the men a copy of “Ordering Your Private World.”
The next area that we are called to lead in is our families. We are called to provide for their physical, emotionally, and spiritual needs. Let’s look at two men who were great leaders of men and failed their families greatly.
David was a leader of men and nations. He rallied the troops in times of war and wrote inspiring poetry that we still read today in the book of Psalms. He also committed adultery and murder and covered it up for almost a year. He was flawed, especially went it came to the leadership of his family.
In one verse we learn a lot about King David, the father:
“Now Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, put himself forward and said, "I will be king." So he got chariots and horses ready, with fifty men to run ahead of him. (His father had never interfered with him by asking, "Why do you behave as you do?") (I Kings 1:5-6)
David did not lead his children well. Men have been called to take the lead in the discipline of our children. But let’s never forget that the word discipline comes from the word disciple.
Another lapsed leader was Eli, the priest. Eli was the spiritual leader of the community. Yet, when his sons began to do shameful things he did not even know about it or want to know:
“Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. So he said to them, "Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours…. His sons, however, did not listen to their father’s rebuke, for it was the LORD’s will to put them to death.” (I Samuel 2:22-25)
At least he asked his sons why they were acting like idiots. But it is obvious; he had no influence in their lives
A man we can pattern ourselves after though is Joshua. He was a well-balanced leader who got it right. Listen as he confronts the leadership of the Israelite community before he dies:
"Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:14-15)
He spoke with authority and provided an example, for us as well as them, of a man who provides spiritual leadership for his family. Dr. James Dobson writes, “Our very survival as a people will depend on the presence or absence of masculine leadership in millions of homes.” Come on guys, let’s take the lead and give the world an example to follow.
Pillar Two: Are You a Brave Heart?
Part of the preparation for this message took place at Starved Rock. I was sitting in a shelter reading and praying when I noticed him. He was a majestic male goose that stood perfectly still, in the rain, about fifteen feet from where I was sitting. In fact, he was so still that I thought it might be a decoy. I decided to investigate by walking out of the shelter and around the corner. That’s when the whole scene made sense. Out of my view, but certainly not out of his, there were thirteen baby ducks and a mother duck quietly eating in the grass. My goose friend was on guard. He was standing at attention, keeping watch over his brood. I decided to do an experiment. I began to slowly walk toward the family of ducks wondering, out loud, how daddy goose would react. Would he attack me? How would I explain my injuries to Pastor Brian? Would “workman’s comp” cover me? The goose cocked his head and stared at me intently. But, he never moved. He stood even taller and puffed out his chest. Suddenly, the entire group of babies ran and stood behind their father. They knew where to hide when they felt threatened. Behind their webbed warrior was the safest place they knew.
Inside the chest of every man you know beats the heart of a warrior. Just look at the movies we like. Whether it is Rambo outnumbered in the jungle, or Mel Gibson’s Brave heart yelling “Freedom!”, or Russell Crow fighting lions as the Gladiator, we admire a man of loyalty, courage, and honor. Women did not make these movies blockbusters! John Elderidge proposes that, as men, we have “an adventure to live, a battle to fight, and a beauty to rescue.”
Being a man means being a risk-taker. Two weeks ago, when that severe thunderstorm hit this county, where were all the men? I sent Maxine and Austin into the basement and Joshua and I jumped into the car, with the camera, to hunt tornados. We got to the intersection of 116 and 66 and had to stop for the light. An ominous green swirling cloud hung right above us. At that very moment, the tornado sirens, which are located at that very intersection, went off. I thought things were getting exciting but Joshua tempered me by shouting, “Daddy, turn this car around right now. I am your son, and you are putting me in danger!” Looking back, I didn’t use very good judgment. He was reminding me of my role as his protector.
Men were created to be the protectors of our families and communities. We are called to be alert and on guard for the sake of our children.
Think of some of our Biblical heroes. Many of them had warrior hearts.
• With 318 men, Abraham pursued four kings and four armies and thoroughly routed them, and rescued the hostages. (see Genesis 14:1-16).
• David killed a lion, a bear, and a big mouth blaspheming giant named Goliath. (see I Samuel 34:17-51).
• Joshua led a group of amateurs around and around a walled fortress named Jericho and brought the house down (see Joshua 6).
• Caleb asked for the opportunity to drive God’s enemies out of the hill country. And then he went and did it. Oh, by the way, he was eighty-five years old. (see Joshua 14:6-14).
• Nehemiah sent his workers out to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem with shovels in one hand and swords in the other. (see Nehemiah 4:16-18).
• Stephen stood toe to toe with the Pharisees and proclaimed that Christ was King, and then was received by Jesus as the church’s first martyr. (see Acts 6:8-7:60).
Gentleman, we are at war and there is an enemy who is on the prowl. Listen to the orders given to us by Peter:
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (I Peter 5:8-9)
There is an enemy and men have been called by God to stand at their posts. Satan is a thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10:10a). He wants to obliterate our reputations, our marriages, our families, our children, and our churches.
We must be proactive protectors. And we must use all the weapons that God has made available to us. Listen to Paul’s advice to the church at Corinth:
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
We are to be actively engaged in combat with anything that would cause harm to our families or communities. We are to use the divine power that God makes available to us to counteract any influence the enemy might have. We are under His authority. God has given us our orders. Will we follow His commands?
• He gave us orders that we should spend regular time with Him, in solitude and silence, so that our relationship can grow deeper and stronger. Psalm 112:1-2 says, “ Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands. His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. (Psalm 112:1-2). A great devotional is “The Man God Uses” by Henry Blackeby.
• He gave us orders to love our wives as Christ loved the church. Paul exhorted the men at the church at Ephesus: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…Ephesians 5:25). He has given us the assignment of protecting, cherishing, and sacrificially loving our wives. A great book to read is “Your Wife Ain’t Your Momma” by Wellington Boone.
• He gave us orders to raise our children in such a way that they would know His word, know His voice, and follow Him. Pick up “The Power of a Praying Parent” by Stormie Omariten and begin the real battle for your children. Paul writes, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4). It has been said that our responsibility as fathers is to keep anything out of our children’s lives that could keep Christ out of their hearts.
• He gave us orders to be involved in the local church. We should be using the gifts and resources He has given us to build up the body of believers. The writer of Hebrews encourages us to make regular church participation a priority: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25). Reading “Experiencing God” by Henry Blackaby will give you a vision for your role in the church.
A friend of ours is deploying for Iraq this morning, leaving behind a wife and an eight year old disabled daughter. He is a warrior following orders. If he did not report, he would be listed as A.W.O.L. (Absent Without Leave). Unfortunately, many men have gone AWOL from their families and the result is chaos. We need a battalion of men to step up to the plate and fight for our families.
Pillar Three: Who is Your Paul?
Last Sunday night at Cross Training, I reminded the students that we would not be having any student ministry activities this weekend because of Father’s Day. There was an audible groan and a student said quietly, “So what?”
A junior high girl and I were talking about this sermon and I explained to her that inside of every man beats the heart of a leader, warrior, mentor, and friend. She cocked her head and me and laughed and said, “Ha, I haven’t met very many men like that!”
Up until this point in the sermon, you may have been saying to yourself, “I don’t have a family to lead or protect, I think I will catch up on my sleep.” Well, wake up men. There is a deep cry from the heart of our students for your time, influence, and guidance. You may not be a father or a husband, but you can be a mentor.
In a must-read book, “As Iron Sharpens Iron”, by Howard and Bill Hendricks, a definition of mentoring is given that sums up our call: “…a mentor is someone who functions to some extent as a father figure, a man who fundamentally affects and influences the development of another…mentors nurture our souls. They shape our character. They call us to be complete men, whole men, and by the grace of God, holy men.”
We see this principle at work in the life of Paul and the young pastor Timothy. Paul writes two letters to encourage, exhort, and instruct Timothy. (see I and 2 Timothy).
Weber writes, “The mentor in a man teaches life. Sometimes mentoring is spiritual. Sometimes it is mechanical. Sometimes it is intellectual, recreational, or technical. But at its heart…it is always transformational.”
Solomon, the wisest father ever to live, wrote this to his son:
“My sons…do not forget my teachings, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life, and peace they will add to you…write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.” (Proverbs 3:1-4)
Men are supposed to know things. We are supposed to know how life works. We are called to pass on this knowledge to the generations to come. This knowledge imparts life and direction.
I am thankful for the culture of mentoring that permeates this church. More than thirty years ago Jon and Judy Dewald joined this church and began influencing people for Christ. One of Jon’s disciples was a long haired hippie Harley rider named Milt Hanson. Milt and Michelle have in turn influenced hundreds of students over the past eighteen years while serving in our student ministry. One of those students was Kenny Hinds. Kenny and his wife Kara lead two of our small groups and influence students on a daily basis.
[Ken Hind’s testimony]
Gentleman, we have a responsibility to come alongside single mothers and help them bring their children up in the “training and admonition of the Lord.” The single moms and dads in this church are laying themselves out and deserve not only our admiration but our assistance.
We have a student ministry full of students who are quietly suffering for lack of mentors.
One of our deep thinking high school students recently told my eight year old son, “You have a dad…a dad that loves God…don’t ever take that for granted…I don’t have a dad and I really wish I did.” Some of you are not able to disciple your own children because of circumstances out of your control. Will you answer the call of God to be a mentor in the life of a young guy or girl within our church family?
Pillar Four: It is not good for man to be alone
In Genesis 2:18, God says something new, and negative, about his creation. He looks at the man and says: “It is not good for him to be alone.” God still says that today, as men are we listening?
As we have already seen, we were created to provide, protect, and teach. These three at least stir something within the masculine soul. But the fourth is scary to us. Within the chest of every man there beats the heart of a friend. We were created to connect, with other guys. We called to cultivate deep relationships with other guys in order to grow in our relationship with God.
If this is true, then why do most men live in, what Weber calls “rock-ribbed, self-sufficient isolation?” One of the answers is fear. Fear of being open with another guy.
Ken Druck writes of this need in “The Secrets Men Keep”: “Once we open our world to another man, we learn that we are not alone is our fears, insecurities, uncertainties, and desires…Through friendship with another man, we affirm much of what is good and strong in us as men.”
Scripture gives us a great example of male friendship in the relationship between Jonathan and David. Jonathan was the heir to the throne but realized that God had rejected his father, Saul, and had chosen David instead. Instead of being jealous, Jonathan chose to be a loyal friend to David.
In an earlier book, “Locking Arms: God’s Design for Masculine Friendships,” Weber proposes four “mileposts” of male friendships.
• Acceptance - we will choose to accept each other as we are with no conditions. Solomon wrote: “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17). Paul encouraged the church at Rome, and us men today, to “accept one another as Christ as accepted you.” (Romans 15:7).
• Affirmation – we will commit to building each other up through genuine expression of interest and regular encouragement. In a world that beats us down every day wouldn’t it be nice to have a friend that intentionally encourages us. The King James Version translates Proverbs 18:24 this way: “A man that hath friends must show himself friendly.”
• Accountability – We will regularly check in with one another in key areas of our personal and spiritual growth. Last week, I met with another man who asked me some hard questions about areas of my life I would rather not talk about. Solomon knew the value of accountability: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)
• Authority – We will recognize and if necessary remind one another of God’s ultimate authority in our lives. Proverbs 27:5-6 reminds us: “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Truth telling is indispensable in a friendship that under God’s authority.
As men, we are not meant to walk this path alone. Ecclesiastes 4:10 says:
“If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:10).
If you are lonely, and surveys show that most men say they are, would you take a chance? Next Sat morning, we will be having another men’s breakfast here at the church. I am so thankful to the leadership of one of our elders Jim Bauman for recognizing the need for a men’s ministry and giving us men opportunities to fellowship with each and develop friendships.
Our Ultimate Example – Jesus Christ
Inside the chest of every man beats the heart of a leader, warrior, mentor, and friend. But many of us were not taught that growing up. Many of us did not have such a great example of manhood in our house. Who are we to look for to provide for us an example of Godly masculinity? Thankfully, God Himself provided us the example of the ultimate man – Jesus Christ.
• Jesus was perhaps the greatest leader the world has ever known. But he turned the idea of leadership on its head when he said: “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:42-45) Whether washing his disciple’s feet, loving the unlovable, or dying on the cross, Jesus taught us how to be servant-leaders.
• Jesus Christ is the ultimate warrior. Jesus took on our worst enemies, death and hell, and won: “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-15) Although he was a warrior, he also spoke words of healing and life to hurting and lost people. Jesus taught us how to be a tender warrior.
• Jesus Christ provided us with a beautiful example of mentoring. He was the greatest small group leader ever. He gathered twelve younger guys and for three years instructed, directed, and loved them. While fishing, or walking down a dusty road, or sitting on a hill, Jesus was continually pouring into his disciples what they would need to carry on his mission on earth. After washing his disciple’s feet, Jesus said: “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13:15-17)
• Jesus is the best friend you will ever have. His promise to the disciples still stands today: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:20) He said: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. (John 15:13-14). That is exactly what he did for you and me. He died on the cross, in our place, for our sins, so that we could go to heaven to be with him forever. Romans 5:8 tells us: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Do you know Jesus Christ as your best friend this morning?
Let me end with four quick action steps.
1. In just a minute, one of the ushers will hand you a free copy of Gordon McDonald’s “Ordering Your Private World.” Will you make a commitment to read this book? Remember, leading the world begins with leading ourselves.
2. Will you be willing to sit down and make a list of things that you need to do battle with in your life? Maybe it is your words, or your anger, or your thought life, or something else that is getting the upper hand?
3. Will you be willing to invest your influence in the life of a student? You could ask for information about becoming part of the student ministry team, the AWANA team, or the Promise Land team. I have a framed picture on my wall in my office that read, “ One hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or car I drove…but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.”
4. Intentional seek out a few guys to be friends with. Join one of our many small groups. Attend the men’s ministry breakfast next Saturday morning. Don’t walk alone.
I would like each of the guys in this auditorium to look at the pillars. Which one would you say is your weakest? We are going to play a song called “The Measure of a Man” by the group 4-Him. During the song, pray that God would help you to build that pillar up. Ladies, could you pray as well that God would do a mighty work here this morning and many men would walk out of here committed to being a leader, warrior, mentor, and friend?
“The Measure of a Man”
This world can analyze and size you up and throw you on the scales
They can I.Q. you and run you through their rigorous details
They can do their best to rate you and they’ll place you on the charts
And then back it up with scientific smarts
But there’s more to what you’re worth
than their human eyes can see
Oh, I say the measure of a man is not how tall you stand
How wealthy or intelligent you are
’Cause I’ve found out the measure of a man
God knows and understands
For He looks inside to the bottom of your heart
and what’s in the heart defines the measure of a man
Well, you can doubt your worth
And search for who you are and where you stand
But God made you in His image when He formed you in His hands
And He looks at you with mercy and He sees you through His love
You’re His child and that will always be enough
For there’s more to what you’re worth
than you could ever comprehend
Oh I say the measure of a man is not how tall you stand
How wealthy or intelligent you are
’Cause I’ve found out the measure of a man
God knows and understands
for He looks inside to the bottom of your heart
and what’s in the heart defines the measure of a man
You can spend your life pursuing physical perfection
there is so much more than ever meets the eye
For God looks through the surface
And He defines your worth by what is on the inside