I read this from my friend Ron yesterday and felt like I needed to repost it. While I don’t have the gift of being able to look back over fifty years of experience, I have had similar thoughts concerning men in general. I’ve been blessed to spend some of my life around guys who are great examples of what it looks like to die to yourself for the sake of others (first and foremost your wife and children) but I’ve also been shocked in my thirty years to see how many terrible fathers, husbands, and men I’ve seen who have chosen to live as children rather than grow up into mature, loving adults. Ron captures much of this tension in a really poignant way.
Over the past few weeks since I passed 50 I have felt sadness and joy. I’m not looking for comfort or validation—just venting in this post.
Sadness over the fact that as I look at men my age or older I see those (some/many who claim to be followers of Jesus) who have failed to be the men that their wives, children, and community needed. Guys who have spent time with pornography, sexual affairs, physical and emotional distance from their kids, and tried to serve the almighty dollar or offered their lives on the altar of success. Even worse, many lived a life vastly different from the one they pledged to Jesus when they were baptized. I know that there are a lot of good men out there, but (and maybe it’s the job I do) over the past few years the “sins of the fathers” have hit me between the eyes. It hurts to get hit between the eyes, especially when you weren’t expecting it, or expected better from those around you. I know we are supposed to be patient, compassionate, and forgiving. But this has been exhausting. I spent many years as the “young Christian man” or the “young preacher” submitting to guys who reopened my father wounds. Sadly, there were very few elders or older ministers who I respected and was wanting to model in my own marriage and role as a father. It was like living with my dad all over again. Even worse, they used the same excuses, “Lighten up, we all make mistakes…” or “You still need to submit because we are older…” or my favorite, “No one’s perfect.” Oddly enough the Greek word used in the Bible for “perfect” is actually “mature.” I don’t think any of us were expecting perfection, just maturity.
I am sad for the many young people who have to experience this in their homes. I am sad for the many young ministers who will struggle with their faith and trust while preaching in a church—I was mouthy, at times. I probably made it clear on a number of occasions that, “I don’t respect you but I will do what I’m told.” Unfortunately we as a generation didn’t learn from the “sins of the fathers” but have somehow repeated them in our own lives. This is the danger of young people with “father wounds” being lead by other wounded men, there is no healing and infection spreads from one generation to the next. Again, not everyone is infected and there are men I know who have healed and are great mentors for others. I know that God will continue to point them out to me as I grow older. It is interesting that many of these men share the same sadness I feel.
However, God has shown me the things that bring great joy. Joy in the work of this younger generation. I see young men and women, and God sends many to us, who want to struggle against the “sins of the fathers and mothers” to become the people God wants and that they need to be. While I hear older people tell me that they worry about the future of this generation, I actually am excited at what they can do, if we help them heal. If we are willing to lead them. If we are willing to be the men and women Jesus called us to be. If we are willing to repent of the sins of the fathers, our sins, and show them that getting older means influencing others for their good. Age doesn’t have to be an excuse to be cranky—it can be an opportunity to love people and live life with a passion. We don’t need wounded healers, we need healed, mature men and women. I see younger people rising up to take the challenge that Jesus has laid before us to help people heal. The future is exciting, but it can only happen if they have mentors who today model what the young people can be, or want to be, or even aspire to be.
Just my thoughts.
I couldn’t agree more Ron.