Engage: The Call on Men to Show Up

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I struggle just as much as any other man. There is something written into the broken places of my heart that compel me to pull back, sit down, check out and just disengage. Back. Down. Out. Disengage. Why do I always have to hard things?

 

It’s January 2, 2016, and I’ve just gotten my butt kicked by Jesus. In the time of year where we reflect on what has been and look forward to what is to come, I have spent a good number of hours evaluating where I am versus where I want to be. And as I did so this morning, I fell into a tailspin of panic.

While on many levels, I have much for which to be extremely grateful (and to help me pull out of the tailspin I wrote down a long gratitude list in my journal so I could see it all in black and white), I also realized the many areas I have let go. Not many in my circles would necessarily call me a “passive” man, but as I reflected on those places/spaces in my life, business and ministry where I feel the most uneasy and shaky, I soon discovered one consistent commonality – my head has been in the sand. Those places where I have settled for “good enough” or “autopilot” are the areas where the ice is thinnest and my panic rises.

I suffer from passivity. And so do you. If you are a man, passivity is written into your fallen genetic sequence, and it’s going to require you to face the facts, seek your healing, and get off your duff. Regularly and consistently. Even though I thought I was doing relatively well, I discovered places where my disengagement has cost me dearly. And Jesus is challenging me to do something about it.

Consider what the Psalmist has to say:

Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. ~Psalm 34:11-14

Most of us love life and desire to see many good days. We want good things for ourselves, our families and our futures. And for the most part, we do okay. But ultimately okay doesn’t cut it. According to the Psalmist, it requires turning, doing, seeking and pursuing — the exact opposite of the passive response I prefer when I don’t like what I have to do or face. I don’t like doing hard things.

If I’m honest, I don’t want to have to turn from evil on purpose…I just want it to go away by itself. I want good days just to come without having to do anything. I want peace to show up without having to look for it or constantly engage in securing it. I want things to fall into place without requiring anything of me. This is the core of passivity. And it’s killing us.

The fact is, there is no one else but you. No one else can fill your shoes — the shoes God uniquely and purposefully designed you to fill. If you don’t show up and engage, no one can do it for you. Others may try, and in your passivity you may even find someone you can pay, connive or convince to attempt to take your place, but ultimately they will fail and you will lose out on the true “good days” you had hoped for. Passivity never yields goodness. The only result of passivity is pain.

When men show up…when men engage…when men punch passivity in the face and truly step in with boldness, curiosity and presence, we may have to wrestle with realities that are disappointing or difficult, but by our engagement these realities begin to change. We answer the call of God to “subdue” the earth by bringing shape and form, vision and hope, direction and action. To subdue is not to destroy but to release potential and create new directions. To engage our world is to till the soil, rip out the weeds, and secure a harvest out of the ground we have been given. Turning, doing, seeking and pursuing joins you together as a co-author with Jesus in the writing of a story worth living.

The only thing necessary for evil to triumph in the world is for good men to do nothing. ~Burke

What would happen if you personalized this to your life today:

  • The only thing necessary for my family to fall apart is for me to do nothing.
  • The only thing necessary for my business to go bankrupt is for me to do nothing.
  • The only thing necessary for my marriage to become passionless is for me to do nothing.
  • The only thing necessary for my son to wander through life is for me to do nothing.
  • The only thing necessary for my daughter to get hurt by men is for me to do nothing.
  • The only thing necessary for my church to become complacent is for me to do nothing.
  • The only thing necessary for my ministry to be ineffective is for me to do nothing.
  • The only thing necessary for my body to get fat is for me to do nothing.
  • The only thing necessary for my soul to wither away is for me to do nothing.
  • The only thing necessary for my possessions to rust and decay is for me to do nothing.
  • The only thing necessary for my money to disappear is for me to do nothing.

Sobering, isn’t it? Yes, this morning Jesus kicked my butt and helped me realize some places where my involvement is required, and where my passivity has allowed for the ice to become thin. I see where I have abdicated my responsibility and hoped that someone else (though I don’t know who…just someone) would come to my rescue and make it all better. I see those areas of my life where I have chosen not to engage and therefore recognize how I have not pursued the goodness of God. And while I know I will never be perfect, I will step back into my own shoes and see where they will take me.

Engage.

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