Excerpt #4. How Do Men Change?
NOTE: In conjunction with the release of our new book about men’s discipleship ministry, No Man Left Behind, we are publishing 12 excerpts to give you a taste of the book. This one is from Chapter 4, “How Do Men Change? Helping Men Experience Heart Transformation.”
In the previous chapters we gave you some tools to define what a disciple looks like. It would be natural for you to ask “how does a man become one?” This chapter helps you understand how a man changes and why your ministry should focus on helping men change the core affections of their hearts. You can do everything else right, but if you miss this your ministry will lack the power to truly transform men’s lives.
Performance versus Faith
How are men successful in the world? We quickly figure out that we have to dress a certain way, have a certain job, make a certain amount of money, live in the right house, or have a good family. The focus is on external things that we can do or see.
So we take a man from this world’s system and plop him down in church. He wants to be a “successful Christian.” So he looks around and decides he needs to dress a certain way, use certain phrases, attend church a certain number of times, give money, serve on committees, and join a men’s class. Often we take a man from one performance-oriented culture (the world) and move him right into another one (the church).
In both of these cases a man is basically relying on his own strength to be his god. We end up with men who are focused on whether their external behavior matches some ideal, but who are disconnected from a heart of faith.
Men know how to play the game, and, if you let them, they will follow your rules to perfection. The only problem is that in ten or twenty years they will realize that their hearts are dead.
True Obedience Flows From a Heart of Faith
A man’s actions are not random events that just happen. The things we do are the last step in a process that starts with our attitudes, beliefs and desires. There is really only one reason men don’t build their life around their faith – they don’t believe they can truly trust Christ. The Bible calls this unbelief. And since everything we do reflects what is in our hearts, all sinful attitudes and actions are a result of unbelief.
So how do you motivate a man to do the things God wants him to do? Not by just telling him to do them, but rather by helping him to want to do what God wants him to do.
Manipulation and legalistic rule-making can make a man conform on the outside for awhile – even decades. But the secret to lasting obedience is a renewed heart. Our goal is to help men believe the right things so they will live the right way.
Paul describes the connection between what we believe and what we do. “We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3, emphasis added).
When a man works 70 hours a week just so he can get more power and money, he does so because he believes that is how he will find something that he cannot get any other way. When a man gets emotionally involved with a woman who is not his wife, he believes he will gain something that his wife, or God, cannot provide.
In the same way, when men resist temptation and live righteously, they are often motivated by faith. “By faith Moses left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger” (Hebrews 11:27). Moses obeyed God rather than man not just because he decided he would or because someone else told him to, but because he believed God.
When you work with a man, consider these questions: “How can I help his faith in God to grow? How can I help him understand even more fully that his hope is only in God? How can I help him develop a deeper love for Jesus Christ?”
For the glory of Christ and no other reason,
Pat Morley, Ph.D.