In today’s society, young men wanting to learn character, responsibility, and leadership, are struggling to find role models to follow. The mainstream media seems to despise worthy role models – men who have the courage to lead in their families, businesses, and communities – instead believing this model an anachronism from an unfortunate past. What if the mainstream media were wrong, just like they have been on nearly all societal issues over the past century? What if men, playing their Godly roles, were a necessity for a healthy culture and community? What if the cultural and moral degradation we witness all around us today began when men retreated years ago from the duty owed to wives, families, and communities? What if a group of men, ignoring the carping of numerous critics, assumed the role assigned to them and provided structure and security in the family by being the husband, father and leader needed in today’s distressing times? For the last eighteen years of our business we have had front row seats, in living rooms across America and Canada, experiencing first hand the effects of men not assuming their responsibilities.
It wasn’t always this way. Duty, a word in ill repute today, meant something to the men of the past. Character, honor, fidelity, all words laughed at today, were, in the past, concepts worthy of sacrifice. Men believed that life without character, honor, and duty, was dissolute and hardly worth living. Many examples of duty and honor come to mind, but let us share the history of two men who had conviction and were willing to sacrifice for what they believed. Both lived in England during stormy religious times with Catholics against Anglicans against Puritans, each seeking to learn and live truth in an age where truth still mattered. In an era before religious freedoms, it’s easy for us moderns to judge critically the behaviors of all three denominations. But it’s important to remember it was the struggles of these three groups that produced the religious, political, and spiritual freedoms enjoyed by the colonial Americans, and through them, enjoyed by us today. It’s important, when studying history, to place oneself in the culture of the times, studying the courage and convictions based upon the culture as it was then, not as it is now.
Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, both preachers and teachers, were each sentenced to burn for their religious positions. The easy way out of the dilemma would have been to recant, but both Latimer and Ridley were convinced by scripture and reason, that to save themselves, they would be rejecting God and God’s Word. The two men were therefore tied to opposite sides of a wooden stake. The executioners stacked wood under their feet, preparing to set the whole on fire. At that point Ridley started to falter, losing his composure under the immense pressure, but Latimer, in a calm assuring tone, said to his friend, “Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.” The deaths of Latimer, Ridley, and another man named Cranmer (the three men becoming known as the ‘Oxford Martyrs’), are still commemorated in Oxford to this day by the Victorian Martyrs’’ Memorial near the site of their execution.
When we think of the great sacrifices such men of conviction have made to build the foundation of the privileges and rights we enjoy today, we are moved with respect and awe. It makes one wonder where the men of today are who will “play the man.”
We consider this particularly in the realm of marriage. It takes two people to make one good marriage, but if the marriage is struggling, men should ensure they’ve done everything within their power to make things right. How many times have we seen a crushed wife crying over a man-child in the role of her husband – a man in a body, but a child in responsibilities – wondering if he would ever grow into the man he was called to be? How many times have we witnessed a woman reading her tenth book on marriage relationships while the first one lies unread by the man’s bedside? Men who in former times likely would have sacrificed their time, money, and lives to protect their families, today seemingly cannot find the courage within to even read one book with the goal of protecting and enhancing their marriage. The words in the marriage covenant “for better or worse” now mean “for better or else” to many men. Husbands, it’s time for you to play the man.
One article recently posed the question: Where have all the fathers gone? Absentee fathers have created an incalculable loss in millions of young boys’ and girls’ lives, who are growing up without the reassuring protection and leadership of their father. Just a cursory look at the data tells the heartbreaking story of radical increase in teenage dropouts, crimes, pregnancies, and suicides. Mainstream media loves to call the tune, but conveniently isn’t around when it’s time to pay the piper. The men, women, and children are charged with paying the bill, suffering the pain associated with the fractured relationships, while the media runs off on its next social experiment. We can criticize the 19th century North America, mocking their social conservatism, finding fault with their quaint customs but when looking in the eyes of a deserted wife left with young children, the denigration of the older way has a hollow ring. It’s time every father steps up to the plate and learns how to lovingly serve his wife and nurture his children while providing a disciplined home environment. Young boys need to know they have what it takes to be men. Young girls need to know their father loves them and is willing to protect them against anyone who threatens his princess, until such a time a young prince comes along to defend her honor in his stead. This is just one of the many roles of the father, a role that is practically lost today, causing immeasurable harm to so many young men and women. If you are a father, it’s time for you to play the man.
A popular book recently asked the question: Where have all the leaders gone? So many men, checked out of their marriages, checked out on their children, complete the dismal Triple Crown by also checking out of leadership. You cannot be a bum in one area of your life while being a star in another. Either leadership will grow all areas or lack of leadership will stunt them. Men must lead their homes, learning the principles of leadership necessary to serve within society. Because of our warped understanding of leadership, many assume leadership means dictatorship, but nothing could be further from the truth. Leadership is based upon servanthood and a willingness to serve others. When a man gets the leadership right in his home, he can then step forward to lead in his community, having the confidence engendered by a stable home. In order to have men lead in the homes and society we must raise up a group of leaders who accept responsibility. As C.S. Lewis wrote in his classic Men Without Chests, “We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”
A vital part in the resurgence of North America is the restoration of manhood, ending the self-inflicted castration of the male. True servant leadership based upon character, courage, and convictions, is still alive in a remnant of men. This remnant has hibernated long enough. We can no longer remain inactive. We can no longer allow our wives and children to be damaged by our lack of leadership. We can no longer pass the buck. It’s time to step up to the plate. Just as Latimer encouraged Ridley, allow us to encourage you, “Be of good comfort, North American males, and play the man; we shall light such a candle, by God’s grace, as we trust shall never be put out.” Play the man!