Husband, Father, Leader – Play the Man
Posted by Orrin Woodward on January 1, 2011
The following is a synopsis of a talk given at a Men’s Leadership session in North Atlantic Canada. I hope every person is setting goals for 2011, playing the man or woman.
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. But what if the mainstream media was wrong, just like they have been on nearly all societal issues over the past century? What if men, playing their Godly roles, was a necessity for a healthy culture and community? What if the cultural and moral degradation, that we witness all around us, began when men retreated 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, providing structure and security in the family, by being the husband, father and leader needed in today’s distressing times. For the last eighteen years, I have had a front row seat, in living rooms across North America, experiencing first hand, the effects of men not assuming their responsibilities. I don’t say that pridefully, but only to explain, that few, if any, people in America, share a similar perspective on the front lines of America’s cultural decline.
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, hardly worth living. Many examples come to mind, describing the concept of duty and honor, but let me share the history of two men with conviction, willing to sacrifice for what they believed. Both lived in England, during the stormy religious times, Catholics against Anglicans against Puritans, all 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, that 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 yourself in the culture of the times, studying the courage and convictions based upon the culture as it was, not as it is today.
Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, both preachers and teachers, were both sentenced to burn, if they did not recant 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. Latimer and Ridley were tied to opposite sides of a wooden stake, the executioners stacked wood under their feet, preparing to set the whole on fire. Ridley started to falter, losing his composure under the immense pressure, but Latimer, in a calm assuring tone, shared with 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, along with Cranmer, the three known as the Oxford Martyrs, are still commemorated in Oxford, to this day, by the Victorian Martyrs’ Memorial, located near the site where they were executed.
When I think of the great sacrifices that men, believing in their faith, believing in their families, believing in their causes, have made to build the foundation of the privileges and rights that we enjoy, I am moved with respect and awe. Where are the men today who will “play the man”, loving their wives, as they love themselves. It takes two to make one good marriage, but men should ensure, that if the marriage is struggling, it isn’t because he hasn’t done everything that he can do. How many times, have I seen crushed wives, crying over a man-child, a man in body, but a child in responsibilities, wondering if he would ever grow into the man that he was called to be? How many times, have I witnessed women, reading their tenth book, or more, on marriage relationships, while the first marriage book, lies unread by his bedside? Men, who, in the former times, sacrificed their time, money, and lives, protecting their families, now, seemingly cannot find the courage within them, to read book, with the goal of protecting and enhancing the marriage. The words in the marriage covenant, for better or worse, to most men, now means, for better or else. Men, if you are married tonight, for your wife’s sake, play the man.
Where have all the fathers gone? Absentee fathers, have created an incalculable loss in millions of young boys and girls lives, growing up without the reassuring protection and leadership of their father. Just a cursory look at the data, tells the heartbreaking story of radical increases in teenage drop outs, 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 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 that every father step to the plate, learning how to lovingly serve their wives, nurturing the children, while providing a disciplined home environment. Young boys need to know, that they have what it takes inside of them to be men, that when their moment to be a man comes, they will be ready. Young girls need to know, that their father loves them, willing to protect them against anyone who threatens his princess, until a young prince comes along, willing 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.
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 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, a willingness to serve others, while holding the bar high on themselves and the community. 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 to lead in the homes and society, we must raise up a group of leaders, who accept responsibility. Males must stop hiding from Goliath, instead, stepping forward to conquer Goliath, moving on to their God given destiny. We have plenty of males, but not enough true men. As C. S. Lewis wrote in his classic chapter in Abolition of Man, called Men Without Chest, “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 American manhood, ending the self-inflicted castration of the male. True servant leadership, based upon character, courage, and convictions, are still alive in a remnant of men. This remnant has hibernated long enough. The year 2011, is a call to arms for that remnant. 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 to the plate. This is the year, the year that millions of males became men. Just as Latimer encouraged Ridley, allow me to encourage you, “Be of good comfort, American males, and play the man; we shall in 2011 light such a candle, by God’s grace, in America, as I trust shall never be put out.” Play the man! God Bless, Orrin Woodward