Monday, July 11, 2016

Encouraging male leadership

I witnessed a rare and moving event this weekend at Bair Lake Bible Camp.  The director Bob Tissot, extended a challenge to all the young men on Senior Staff: to volunteer to present the message to the rest of the camp staff on the remaining Sundays of summer.  He first engaged them and said, "Young men, turn around and look at me."  This is a man who has earned their respect already.  Next, he asked them to listen to the Holy Spirit and allow themselves to be stretched.  Rare, for Bair Lake, probably no, but in our current modern church rare indeed!  But, let me back up a bit...
Some of the BLBC Sr. staff men, including my Taylor!

Why is male leadership important?  I can't possibly address it fully in this humble little paragraph, but in a nutshell God says it is both in the home and in the church.  There are many authors who have written full books on this issue.   It is what Chris and I have witnessed missing in so many Christian homes and churches today.  Eph 5:23 "For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body."  Consider Titus 1 "v5+6...appoint elders in every city as I directed you,  namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion."  Why is this missing in so many homes and churches?  Many reasons but consider opportunity and example.

Our young men need examples to follow and opportunity to practice!  They need it desperately.  There are few men truly leading and even fewer who mentor those young men following their example.  I can think of a few examples (Bob Tissot the above mentioned camp director being one,) but sadly less names come to mind then should.

While I can think of "some" names and some good examples to follow, I have a harder time thinking of places where "opportunities" are given.  How many of the churches you attend allow young men to give the sermon on a regular basis?  Sadly, as the modern church has been more "seeker" attuned, and more for the non-christian we have failed to give these opportunities to growing our own.

My oldest son, a few years back, was one of the young men given an opportunity to share a message with the camp staff when he was there.   It was a growing and challenging experience for him.  Sadly, when that next year my husband approached our church about being able to offer that opportunity there he was told no.  No, it didn't crush my husband or son, but what a great opportunity was missed on so many levels.

Now, I do know of two local churches who offer an occasional "youth Sunday" where they do actually have the youth give the message (not the youth pastor.)  And we have recently begun attending an assemble style church which, get this, EVERY week has different men in the church give the message! In our experience, these are exceptions not the norm.

Opportunities are out there!  What can we as wives, mothers, sisters, aunts, and friends do to encourage male leadership?

First thing, pray!  It's never too soon.  Early on I began to pray that leadership qualities would be developed in my sons (and husband for that matter.)  Even as early as the pre-school years, as I mom I saw things that needed to be addressed and am happy to report that God was so faithful.  Over the years I have many check marks in my prayer journals in relation to "leadership" issues for my men. 
Product DetailsMy girls have a book called Just Friends by Mike Ray and Cary Schmidt that is about relationships, but actually spends quite a bit of time talking about how young women can encourage the men around them to be leaders.  Simple things like allowing and expecting the "boys" in their life to open doors for them.  Asking and expecting their brothers to pray for a group before eating.  Little and bigger things that set the stage for their lifetime of leadership.  What is this doing for my girls?  Preparing them to be wives and mothers someday!  They will be needing to encourage men in their lives later too.  Highly recommend this one for all young women.Anytime you can, give opportunity.  We often have research parties, co-op classes, Bible studies and things at the house.  Whenever we do, I always ask if one of the boys would be willing to pray before we eat.  It's a small thing, but an opportunity.  When we have had family Bible studies and home church, we've had the young men facilitate discussions, or take portions of the study to lead.

Anytime you can, encourage.  Once you see your husband, son, your friends son, your brother or nephew step up and do something, be sure to encourage it!  It takes a lot of courage to step out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there.  And any boys reading this, I can assure you girls will find that quality attractive!

Lastly, seek places where their leadership can grow. Two places we have found excellent are Bair Lake Bible camp and NCFCA (Speech and Debate league).  The other places we have "created"; groups and Bible studies lead at our home, family Sunday school classes, and just impromptu times with other families and friends.

When you look for a camp, church or activity (like speech and debate) look not only for what kind of men are leading it, but at what kind of young men are coming out of it.  Just like a Christian, you will know the organization by it's fruit.  Is it creating young men who can, are willing and equipped to stand up and lead in this culture?  If it is, it's a place for the men in your life.  Likewise, find families who have young men who posses the qualities you'd like to see in your sons and brothers and find out what they did.

And wives, encourage your husband to lead.  This is hard sometimes, I know, but so good.  I cannot begin to tell you how rewarding this can be (that will have to be another blog article, maybe later.)  Just this weekend, I got to encourage my husband.  All I did was tell him how much I appreciated him praying with our kids before their week at camp.  It was a simple thing really, it was a "little" thing but it means a lot!

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