What is a “real” man? What does a “real” man look like? Do you have a picture in your mind of John Wayne (is it just me) or some other iconic American standing off the forces of evil single-handedly? You are independent and you hear an inner voice saying, “A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do!” There is a huge difference between taking responsibility for our lives and trying to live independently of God and godly counsel. The reality is that biblical community is required for us to grow and develop into the men God desires for us to be.
When you ask men for a biblical description of a godly man what kind of answer would you get? There will be some excellent characteristics and spiritual qualities mentioned but can the men in your church give a clear, concise, and compelling vision of what a man of God looks like? Yet that ability is exactly what will enable every man in your church to pursue the goal of looking like what you have described. You then have a benchmark that holds every man in your ministry accountable to that standard.
Robert Lewis went on a quest to define Authentic Manhoodin developing a ministry called Men’s Fraternity. Luke McCown (recently retired NFL quarterback) shared with me that when he was playing with the Detroit Lions the chaplain, Dave Wilson, took those four benchmarks and with Robert’s permission developed the following acronym for R.E.A.L. Men:
- Rejects Passivity
- Engages with God
- Accepts Responsibility
- Leads Courageously.
These give every man a biblical standard to be held accountable to and pursue.
The greatest challenge for most men in this journey will be accountability. This does not set well with many because men by nature have a desire to be in control of their own lives and to chart their own courses. The culture has convinced us that independence is a characteristic that must be pursued by “real” men but that is not what the Bible teaches. Many are raised to believe that they do not need to rely or trust anyone else. This builds a self-reliance where a man would rather go it alone than to risk the pain of being disappointed or let down by others.
We need a good definition of accountability and fortunately Pat Morley gives us one in his book, Man in the Mirror.
He states, “to be regularly answerable for each of the key areas of our lives to qualified people.”
The scriptures show us the importance of this truth repeatedly. Galatians 6:1-2 says, “Carry one another’s burdens” and admonishes us to restore those who fall. Solomon makes this principle very clear in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 and tells us rather matter of fact, “Two are better than one.” Proverbs 27:6 says, “The wounds of a friend are trustworthy.”
First, we must be answerable. Everyone answers to someone and we tend to stray when we are not. We need godly people in our lives that will ask us the hard questions about the goals we have set but also about the standards by which we should be living.
Second, we answerable in the key areas. There is so much below the surface that needs to be examined and much of that tends to be the areas of highest risk in our lives. That which is unseen and not carefully looked at can cause the greatest damage just like an iceberg.
Third, we must be held accountable regularly. It needs to be frequent and somewhat systematic. Studies have shown that when men do not meet weekly that eventually they stop meeting completely.
Fourth, we must be held accountable by qualified people. People who love Jesus and who also have a burden to be held accountable themselves. They want you to succeed and practice confidentiality. Accountability in this kind of relationship is required to work properly.
R.E.A.L. men (Reject Passivity, Engage with God, Accept Responsibility, Live Courageously) refuse to be cultural Christians where we never go deeper than discussing the weather, news, sports, and our jobs. We desire to go deeper with godly mentors who can hold us accountable for our spiritual walk in such areas as our faith, family, friends, fitness, and finance. Accountability takes friendship and fellowship to the next level where we intentionally and willingly decide to live in a fishbowl. Accountability only works when individuals willingly submit to it.
Unfortunately, we are told that only about 15% of men in our churches will submit and follow through on biblical accountability. Have a plan on how you can begin to connect them with one another. The number four seems to be a good number of men in a group to ensure real accountability and that the hard questions are asked in love. One-on-one accountability seems to fall prey to the stronger personality overpowering the weaker. The stronger willed individual can convince one person far easier than three that they are not doing anything wrong.
Having three others walking this journey of accountability with you provides flexibility when one of them is unable to attend one week. Remember that Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes 4:12, “And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” There is great wisdom in looking for three godly qualified men who will on a hold you answerable on a regular basis in the key areas of your spiritual walk. They ask the hard questions on the goals we have set and the standards we are called to live by in God’s word.