I'm a proponent of strong male leadership in the church. I believe that our mission is desperate for manly, courageous, godly, muscular leadership. Lest you think this means chauvinistic locker-room leadership, let me tell you about our annual men's retreat this past weekend.
I've been leading this retreat for the last 5 years. Friday night always consists of rowdy forms of testosterone-induced competition. Sweaty guys playing bean bag toss and ping pong. Some guys extended the play until 4:00AM. There was also venison sausage and adult beverages (in moderation).
But strong male leadership is not defined by games, chest-hair, or guy sweat. Something remarkable happened this year that took our annual retreat to another level. Our format included a panel of five men who were asked a variety of questions ranging from health to family to work. The panel was honest and forthright. This vulnerability immediately lowered the defenses of the larger group, opening up a whole new level of conversation. Suddenly we were having an hour-long conversation about pornography and sexual temptation. Men were making new connections, supporting one another, and praying. There was a sense of, "I'm not the only one. I'm not alone." And from such vulnerability comes strength.
Jesus calls his disciples to a posture of servanthood, "Whoever would be great among you must be your servant . . . even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:26-28). This is leadership on your knees. This type of leadership means you put yourself under others. And if you do that, you need some muscle to do the heavy lifting. Humility and vulnerability require strength.
Men typically have a hard time being vulnerable in general, and in the church especially. We feel the need for pious facades. I am grateful that this weekend cracked the wall and allowed for a new level of strength among many of our men - a strength proven in its vulnerability. I have courage in the mission when I know these men are on it.