When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. (1 Corinthians 13:11 NKJV)
As I was reflecting on this month of June, I thought about how many different celebrations take place, and how this month often marks the beginning of a new chapter in so many lives. As I look around the malls, eateries, and gourmet coffee shops, I’ve noticed an influx of Millennials as college students have returned home, and high school students are gathering with one another to celebrate their “academic freedom” with the end of school. As a pastor, friend and relative, my mailbox has gotten fuller as proud parents have sent graduation announcements. Also as pastor, friend and relative, June generally increases the number of wedding invitations and/or ceremonies as the tradition of “June brides” can be traced all the way back to Greek and Roman times. And speaking of “Greco Roman” traditions, even for sports fans, June marks the crescendo of seasons in which major championships are decided for both colleges (College World Series, track & field) and professionals (NBA Finals and Hockey’s Stanley Cup). Highways and waterways have increased traffic and pools and beaches fill as summer officially begins and vacations kick off.
I’ve also found that June marks one of the most bittersweet observations and holidays of the year, Father’s Day. For many, Father’s Day is a joyous celebration of “Dad,” often the unsung hero of the family, whose participation and presence impacts both the positive present and future of every member of the household. For others, Father’s Day, like Mother’s Day, brings a flood of challenging and even negative emotions that range from intentional to untimely absenteeism due to abandonment or death. One of the most eye-opening observations of the impact of men in the home comes from Fatherhood.org, which states, “There is a father factor in nearly all social ills facing America today.” The research from this organization and multiple others reveal that the statistics are undeniable. Young men and women in this country who do not have a father, father-figure, positive male presence, mentor, etc., are at greater risk; greater risk of suicide, greater risk of drug abuse, greater risk of disruptive behavior & maladjustment in society, greater risk of unwanted pregnancy, greater risk of homelessness, and greater risk of crime, prison and incarceration, with the later escalating to an 85% increase or 20 times greater the odds that a child will be involved in crime, gangs, incarceration, etc. than those with a father or father-figure in the home. If you come next month and help minister to our homeless guests as I pray you will, you’ll see firsthand what I’m talking about as the majority of folks we host are single moms and fatherless children.
Now, we can’t completely solve society’s ills, but as Christians, we can certainly influence society for the positive. Ironically, one of the most powerful lessons I learned about manhood came when I joined my college fraternity (Lambda Chi Alpha). Ironic in that often, sometimes justifiably, people think of fraternity boys as immature, but I’ve found that at the heart of most college frats, is a foundational belief in men stepping up as men, and many as Christians. In my frat, our motto was the Latin phrase, "Vir Quisque Vir." Translated, it means, "Every Man a Man." The open ritual of Lambda Chi states that, “Unless each of you determines to make of himself a man, there is no place for you within Lambda Chi Alpha. To be a true brother, a genuine patriot, and one who employs his learning for the good of society, one must first of all be a man. The brothers of this Fraternity may help you to attain your goal; but the source of the greatest strength is the One about whom this book (The Holy Bible) speaks.”
What our society desperately needs are more Christian men to step up; step up as men, as husbands, as fathers and sons, as mentors, and as ambassadors and representatives of “the One,” who gives life fulfilled, and life eternal, Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote to the men in a church, admonishing that, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” It’s time we men reclaim our manhood. There’s nothing wrong with playing and enjoying sports and recreation. There’s nothing wrong with taking some well needed time to relax and recharge. There’s nothing wrong even with taking a little ‘me time,’ now and then, as long as it doesn’t negatively impact our church attendance and example, serving and giving of our time, resources and talents to God, our families, and those who need our help. Fortunately, as has often been pointed out, regardless of our circumstances (male or female), we have the greatest Father and Father/Child example to draw upon; the source of our greatest strength, the One about whom the Holy Bible speaks. Let’s open that Book , begin there and grow as the men, fathers, sons, husbands, mentors, examples, friends and the servant leaders God has created us to be. Vir Quisque Vir. Let every man a man become. God bless.