Three men were walking by a river one day, when they suddenly noticed a baby floating downstream. One of the men quickly jumped in the water and saved the crying child. Before he could get back to the shore, another baby came floating down the river. The second man jumped in the river and saved the child. Baby after baby came floating down the river and soon all three men were in the water grabbing two and three babies at a time, clambering back to the shore and swimming back out to grab more babies. They were overwhelmed and devastated as babies started getting past them and disappearing around a bend in the river.
Suddenly, two of the men realized that the third man was gone. When they looked for him, they saw him climbing out of the river and walking away. They yelled to him, “Where are you going? What are you doing? We’re not saving all the babies with the three of us, how can you leave?” The man looked at his friends and replied, “You’re right. We can’t save all the babies. I’m going to go upstream and stop whoever is throwing them in.”
We are all somewhere in this story. The “babies” represent the many difficulties that real men, women, and families are dealing with — they have names like divorce, fatherlessness, crime, poverty, teen pregnancy, suicide. There are too many “babies” for us to save, too many issues facing men’s leaders today in the church. We must go upstream and prevent them from getting in the water in the first place.
From Parable to Reality
Man in the Mirror President, Brett Clemmer, tells this story because it illustrates the reality in such a poignant way. Babies being tossed in a river to drown is clearly a powerful and horrifying image. But the destruction that sin creates in people’s lives is no less horrifying.
Here are just a few examples from our culture in the United States:
- 27% of all children will go to bed in a home without a father.
- 40% of all children are born out of wedlock.
- 40% of first marriages end in divorce, affecting 1 million children each year.
It has to be better in the church, right? Not really. For every 10 men in the church…9 will have kids leave the church, 8 will not find their jobs satisfying, 6 will pay the monthly minimums on credit cards, 5 will have a major problem with pornography, 3-4 will get divorced, and only 1 will have a biblical worldview.
All 10 will struggle to balance work and family. We have to do better as men. But how?
No Man Left Behind
So how do we fix the problem by going upstream? By going upstream, we can usually find the source of the problem — a man who failed because he was not discipled. We like to use a simple equation to illustrate the impact discipling a man can have:
MEN → MARRIAGES → FAMILIES → COMMUNITIES→ WORLD
In other words, if we get men “right”, if we disciple men to be followers of Jesus who desire to love God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength and love their neighbor as themselves (more on this in an upcoming post) then we get marriages right. If we get marriages right, we get families right. If we get families right, we get communities right. And if we get communities right, we can change the world.
Jesus has called us in the Great Commission (Mat. 28) to make disciples. Discipleship is the key to unlocking the power of the Gospel on the everyday lives of men all over the world. Making disciples is God’s plan A, and there is no plan B. Discipleship changes everything.
BIG IDEA: As men’s leaders, we need to go upstream to the source of the problem and make disciples who will impact their marriages, families, communities, and the world for generations to come.
Our purpose at Man in the Mirror is to equip you and your church with a proven system to engage men in life-on-life discipleship. We call this system the No Man Left Behind model of men’s ministry. We will be unpacking this model over the coming weeks, because it has proven to help churches make disciples. Disciples who, by the grace of God, do not leave a path of destruction in their wake.