Summary: To be credible as Christians, men need to acknowledge their dependence on God in everything, to make God their first priority, to make their spiritual security more important than their financial security, humbly admit their mistakes and express their sex
You may wonder whether a sermon in a Sunday service is the place to be talking about being a credible Christian man, given that at least half the congregation are women, but let me suggest that at least some of what we’ll talk about today is equally relevant to women, and even those bits that aren’t are important for all of us to understand so we can support the men among us in being more credible as Christian men. Besides which, women will get their chance later in the series.
The great difficulty in thinking about what it means to be a credible Christian man is that we first need to think about what it means to be a man in today’s world. This whole question of where men find their sense of identity has become one of the major issues, for men at least, over the past 20 or 30 years. Men are no longer sure of who they are. For example, we’ve been told so often to get in touch with our feminine side that we’re not sure what our masculine side is any more. Our place in the workforce, our position in society, even in the church, has all been changed as more and more women enter areas that were previously the realm of men alone. Now that hasn’t been a bad thing. There were inequalities and injustices that badly needed to be addressed. But men have struggled to deal with these changes, probably more than women have.
So let’s begin by thinking about where men tend to find their sense of identity. Let me suggest that most men find a sense of identity in one or more of the following areas: sporting achievement, particularly in team sports; in career achievement, how far they’ve gone in their chosen profession, how high they’ve climbed the corporate ladder, how big their business is, etc; academic achievement: how many degrees they have, how many papers have been published; they might get a sense of identity from being a parent, though again, fathers, it seems are often not sure what that means for them. But they do get something from the things their children do, the sporting, career, or academic success they have. Occasionally a man might find his sense of identity from his family background, the things his parents have done. Finally, our financial security, our financial achievements, might be an important factor for some of us.
Now you may have noticed a theme running through that list as I spoke. That’s the theme of achievements. It seems to me that achievement is central to the way men see themselves. When they fail to achieve, they get depressed. Apparently the suicide rate for men in country Australia has risen markedly over the past few months, as men have seen their livelihood burnt away by day after day without rain. Men struggle when their livelihood is taken away by something like a prolonged drought. It isn’t just that times are hard. Times are often hard on the land. But there must be something deeper that leads men to despair to the point of suicide. I can’t help but think that it has to do with their sense of identity being undermined by their inability to provide for their families.