I read a story about a pastor counseling a man with reoccurring nightmares where a ferocious lion kept chasing him until he dropped from exhaustion and awoke screaming. Assuming the lion represented something fearful in the man’s life, the pastor worked through many possibilities: the man’s boss, his wife, some heavy responsibility, but all seemed to come up empty. When they prayed about it, the pastor was compelled to ask the man to recount the dream and relive the nightmare as he described it. When the man got to the point where the lion was approaching, the pastor instructed him to stand still until the lion was close, then ask it what it wants.
Then the lion ate him.
No, I’m kidding. The lion answered, “I represent your courage and strength. Why do you keep running from me?”
There are so many lessons and teachings we can draw from this story, especially when comparing the verses in Scripture describing Jesus as a Lion, such as Revelations 5:5, “…See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
What/Who is our source of courage and strength? What/Who provides our self-worth or self-image?
When I consider ministry, one of the highest priorities I hold is seeing men recognize the image of Jesus in their own self-image, an image of courage, strength, integrity, and purity, without the macho junk or femin-nazi crap plaguing men today. Through this renewal of the way men see themselves, women will recognize a difference in their self-worth, how they see themselves, and how they are portrayed in life.
God loves both genders equally, not raising one above the other, yet recognizing the man as the leader of equals. This is an essential element we have lost in today’s society, in our families, and in our relationships. God sets the male as the leader of equals, not to dominate a female in an overbearing, control-freak way, but instead to serve in leadership. Men are to see the women in our lives as equals, though understanding and accepting our role as the leader of the equals.
Is this role for men to lead just for married couples? No, this is a role for men to recognize for themselves for all the women in their lives: Wives, daughters, mothers, sisters, friends, co-workers, casual acquaintances, and even strangers. Is this role just for men? No, this role begins with boys at the age of accountability, accepting the role as a leader of equals with regard to their sisters and friends, although this also includes mothers and adults with respect and consideration to their position.
The role takes responsibility. To often, men try to grasp the role with authority, not fully accepting the responsibility, which must come first. When men recognize the image of Jesus interwoven in their own self-image, their responsibility as the leader of equals is to help women come into this same position of recognition.
I am not saying men are to give women the revelation, as this is not possible. Only God can give either men or women the revelation to which I am referring. However, when men truly understand their self-image comes from Jesus, the Lion of Courage and Strength, then they are more ready to receive the depth of this truth in their lives.
When this revelation hits them, and more importantly, when they accept this revelation and receive this into their lives… oh man, watch out! For this is a genuine man of God, an instrument of service to the Almighty, a destroyer of the enemies of God, and leader among equals for the women in their lives. This is a true man, the way God made him, with a purpose and a role in life.
I will tell you this, just as Paul told the Philippians in 3:13-14, “…I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” I am just beginning to develop the understanding my self-image comes from Jesus Christ, the Lion of courage and strength. Oh sure, I can say I knew this academically for years, but have I actually understood this concept and accepted it in my life? Now is the time to forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead, and I press on toward the goal to recognize my self-image is interwoven with Jesus Christ.
Along with other men with this same goal, only then will we be transformed and know what it means to be a true man. And, when the women in our lives see this transformation, will they follow? Will they put themselves in a position to understand their self-image comes from Jesus? Will they receive this revelation into their lives?
I will let you know.
Are you tough enough to be a Christian?
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