Broken hearts, broken families, broken communities, a broken country. What do all these things have in common? They could all be radically improved simply by an increase in the positive influence of men of this nation, our communities, and our families. Legislation doesn’t change hearts on the tough issues. Academia doesn’t, either. It’s everyday people like you and me, right where we are, that spark change. Statistics show that a shocking percentage of women who opt for abortions make that decision due to coercion from someone else. Many times it’s men who are responsible for that coercion. Whether it’s the boyfriend, fiancé, husband, or a concerned or upset father, when this happens, it only amounts to tragedy upon tragedy. Men have a duty to be life-affirming! We’re meant to be protectors of women and children!
While many men, like me, feel a little hesitant about speaking strongly towards women in the Pro Life discussion, due to real and perceived reasons why we can’t relate, there is a legitimate platform for us men of the world to have man-to-man influence with each other about the sanctity of life. So, men, I have some serious encouragement to share today!
In many ways, we men of the last couple generations could have done immensely better at leading and modeling God’s ways. Most men struggle with staying strong in the roles God appoints us to. We get distracted by careers, by bowling leagues, fishing and hunting, and whatever other sirens of accomplishment and adventure may call to us. We apathetically fail to keep leadership as a priority worthy of our effort and time. In our weakness of faith and character, we are letting the women of our times be led down a destructive path. But the good news is, God has given a lot of specific and empowering instruction for men to be the principled warriors that are needed in society. Wherever men have failed we can repent of those failures, and, being forgiven in Christ, our status as saints in God’s eyes means we’re in a great position to do great things going forward. Each and every woman who might have an abortion, as well as her unborn child within, desperately needs the Godly guidance we men can provide.
How can men be strengthened to come through in this way? Check out what King Solomon, who was a leader who both failed and excelled in his lifetime, wrote for us over 3,000 years ago:
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” - Proverbs 27:17
Many of us have heard this before, but just think about what that means! One of the reputedly wisest men of all time wrote succinctly that we men make each other sharper, or better, by our contact with each other. As in many aspects of life, even though the Almighty God could certainly “sharpen” a man on his own, He makes it possible for other mortal men to be His sharpeners! What an honor, what a privilege!
Men, how can we sharpen each other? The opportunities are endless, really, if only we keep our eyes out for them. There are the everyday interactions in our job places, in our teams or hobby related gatherings, and in functions related to our places of worship. There are the more incidental interactions, where we find ourselves bumping into someone else and having perhaps only minutes to influence each other through an interaction. On these occasions, every word and action and attitude is critical – an opportunity to lead that other man by your very example and Jesus-like behavior. Even if conversation about the Pro Life vs. Pro Choice topic doesn’t come up, anything you can do to demonstrate principled living and promote Godly ideals nudges that fellow male towards male leadership in his own life.
As one example, what could you do if you’re talking to a coworker who has a child already with his girlfriend (or wife), and says they’ve found out they’re pregnant again, and they really weren’t planning for it and don’t like the idea of dealing with another child? These kinds of situations are to be handled with care, and the better a relationship you have (or can take a step toward having) with that person, the better the chances that he’ll be receptive if you talk positively and excitedly to him about the blessings of seeing children come into the world. Speak in terms of what’s good, what’s happy, and what’s encouraging about the situation. And by all means, offer to direct him/them to their nearest pregnancy help center that values lives of the unborn, like our main location in West Allis, Wisconsin, so they can get the right support and information to make a God-pleasing decision for their family in a confusing time.
There can be a plethora of other very real scenarios like this, but the key is to listen and be attentive to the situations of our neighbors, allowing the realities they’re living in to hit us in the heart. Then, we can use the pure concern of a Jesus-like love to guide our suggestions, warnings, or information-sharing. We want them to see solutions and hope where many others in this darkened world might point them toward selfishness, destruction, and unhelpful quick fixes!
We men who want to serve and sharpen others need sharpening ourselves. So it’s wonderful when we can find special opportunities to be encouraged, such as in male leadership conferences and conventions. The one pictured above, called “Men of His Word,” takes place in the Oshkosh, Wisconsin area annually. Or there’s the “Ironmen of God” conference trademarked below, that also takes place annually, in the southern Wisconsin town of Ixonia. No matter where you are, seeking out events or resources that go beyond the everyday are crucial for this battle of upholding life and Godly living. You’re always just a quick Google search away from something local to you that might be already available, just waiting to bless you! Seek other iron to get your personal sharpening!
*At the time of this writing, the Ironmen of God conference in Ixonia, WI is right around the corner, set for Saturday, March 19th! If you’re in the area, it’s a fantastic way to spend part of a Saturday with brothers in the faith!*
The point in all of this, gentlemen, is: EQUIP YOURSELF! SHARPEN YOURSELF!
Deep down, underneath layers of stoicism and gender-role expectations of perfection and performance, we aren’t all we want to be as men. No one can be, if left to themselves. “No man is an island,” as the saying goes. And yet, many of us go through life as if we prefer to be one. There is just too much at stake for us to remain islands, when we could instead be the sharp and powerful iron tools we were created to be!
There are truths in God’s Word that can literally save lives, of which we can be the messengers if we first fill ourselves up with that truth. There are women in our lives whom God wants us to lead lovingly, with gentle words and actions that bring those vital truths into their journeys. There are also millions of other men out there, whose struggles don’t have to be endured alone. Any man you know or come across is someone who might be going through a situation (or has, or will someday) where they need the voice of truth – the voice of LIFE – breathed into their heart. They may need your guidance, they may need to learn how to guide others, or they may need a lot of guilt forgiven. These are our friends, our coworkers, our teammates, the men and adolescents in our churches, our nephews, our brothers, our sons!
Let’s be ironclad, men! Let’s resolve to be warriors for changing the course of the abortion story by humbly, yet boldly, seeking every chance we can get to sharpen one another. Let’s lead everyone – male or female – into the life-preserving decisions and lifestyles that honor God, cherish lives of the unborn, and build vibrant families. Surround yourself with as many ways to be sharpened as you can, and let’s go lead this generation into a bright new chapter on life!
Author: Jeff Ulrich
Jeff is a husband, father, and graduate school student. He attends Hope Lutheran in Oconomowoc. Jeff’s background in ministry education and future in the counseling field reflect a heart that loves to serve others and make a difference. He shares his personal or spiritual reflections in his own time at www.missionpossiblejeffulrich.blogspot.com
3/8/2016 12:55:52 am
Thanks Jeff! I just signed up for Ironmen of God. Looking forward to being fortified in God's word with men facing similar challenges in life.
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