Another of the foundations for my God Buddy concept was understanding God’s design for masculinity, which came from a study I attended called The Quest for Authentic Manhood.
I was invited to attend The Quest by another guy in my neighborhood who also worshiped at my local church at the time. Rick participated in the first week of series at another church the previous week and was so excited that he even offered to pick me up! The thought of learning about manhood based on the model of Jesus Christ and the Word of God was very intriguing to me so — despite not looking forward to starting at 6:00 am each Wednesday morning during the winter, I joined Rick for what became an in-depth look up into the biblical model for manhood.
About Men’s Fraternity and The Quest
Men’s Fraternity is the original curriculum authored by Dr. Robert Lewis, sr. pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. Lewis helped launch the biblical manhood movement with a series of three one-year-long studies, beginning with The Quest for Authentic Manhood, followed by Authentic Manhood: Winning at Work and Home, and concluding with The Great Adventure.
The Men’s Fraternity series was more than just a small group Bible study. It was also different than the PromiseKeepers event I attended (as I wrote about here). The series was designed to help men come together and strengthen each other with weekly gatherings that combined biblical teaching and small group interaction. The goal of the Men’s Fraternity was to equip men to make the pursuit of noble manhood their lifelong priority.
The Quest for Authentic Manhood
For our local version of The Quest, our meetings began with a 3-5 minute movie clip relevant to the week’s topic, followed by a 30-45 minute message from the sr. pastor of the host church, followed by a break-out session of our “fire teams”, which were groups of 5-10 men that would discuss the topic in-depth. This format encouraged consistency, fellowship, and accountability since the fire team generally stayed together from week to week.
The Quest began by outlining the issues men face and the impact on society these days calls “unhealthy men”. I won’t describe all of the statistics but the percentage of children growing up in broken homes, the large number of births to unmarried mothers, and the amounts of children raised separately from their father are staggering.
“This is not a good time for guys. Guys are in trouble. Manhood, once an opportunity for achievement, now seems to me like a problem to overcome.”–Garrison Keillor, radio humorist
The fact that fatherlessness is the single most important factor in a boy’s likelihood to commit a crime, become addicted to drugs, alcohol, video games and pornography was increasing.
Additionally, there were more than 63 million men who make no profession of Christ and only 1 in 6 men even worship on Sunday.
So what caused this change?
The Problem of Vanishing Manhood
Dr. Lewis says men today are very confused about masculinity and their roles in today’s society. He says many guys are not sure if they should be a sensitive male, the post-sensitive, kick sand in your face guy, the very involved dad, the macho man, the neo-wimp, or the Terminator.
Lewis suggests we need to recover the biblical view of manhood and womanhood since we have lost our vision of God’s design for humanity. This lack of a proper understanding has led guys to become more passive, not accept their responsibilities as men, and to live with less courage and avoid leadership.
Lewis suggested that the Industrial Revolution (generally, 1870 to 1914) destroyed a traditional way of life and literally jolted the role of men in America. Once farmers and their children exchanged the work around their homes for new occupations in factories, the ever-present guide, and leader of the close-knit colonial family, changed the true role of fatherhood and moral leadership in our country.
According to Walden Hardenbrook, author of Missing in Action: Vanishing Manhood in America, men had been the most numerous and most active members of the church and commonly debated theology and morals.
Now, they were now found arguing business practices in the tavern after work and not in their homes as much. Men who once taught their children respect and obedience toward godly authority came to act as though independence was the new national virtue. Men now labored hard and left the kids with the example of individualism and competition. Fathers who once had an active hand in the education of their sons and daughters relegated this responsibility to a public school system and its genderless teaching patterns.
“The central problem of every society is to define appropriate roles for the men.”— Margaret Mead, anthropologist
The net result was dismembering American men from a proper role of fatherhood and moral leadership, which eliminated true and proper manhood training.
Recovering A Vision for Manhood
Dr. Lewis re-cast the vision in The Quest for Authentic Manhood by outlining our biblical responsibility for the well-being of others: our wives, our children, and our neighbors. He says that when men have been trained properly from an early age, they properly recognize and assume their responsibility, which is honored and respected by both the men and women in their lives.
In The Quest, Lewis provided this very concise vision statement for manhood:
An authentic man is one who…
- Rejects Passivity,
- Accepts his Responsibility,
- Leads Courageously, and
- Expects the Greater Reward of Heaven.
Lewis goes on to suggest men want and need to follow a strong leader. They desire to do something positive with their life. They need to love and be loved. And they must do life together with other men who share their same interests and passions.
“Boys become men by watching men, by standing close to men.”— Preston Gillham, author of Lifetime Guarantee
This fashioned one of the main concepts for the God Buddy concept: Men help other men become better men. I also distilled some of The Quest content into a weekend retreat for the guys at our church the following year.
GBs Understand Authentic Manhood
God Buddies challenge each other to not become too passive, to learn and accept their responsibility as men, and to encourage each other to be courageous leaders in all areas of their life. GBs also help each other “get” better by addressing any wounds of their past (more to come on that in the next post) and help each other “become” better men by getting real with each other using proper accountability.
In my opinion, we can help guys apply the traditional and biblical aspects of our masculinty once we have a proper understanding of authentic manhood. God Buddy friendships hold each accountable to “live above the influence” of the world. Most of all, GBs know how and when to use their masculinity as God designed it.
What is your understanding of how to be a man? Does it align with God’s design or the world’s?
Feel free to comment below.