A SHOUT-OUT TO ALL THE MEN
Do you think it’s time for churches to start appreciating men more, and valuing the contribution they make in the church, in their families and in society in general? I do.
It’s quite noticeable that respect for men in much of Western society is not particularly high. The influence of feminism and the rise of women’s rights have been accompanied by the browbeating of men. In many media articles, books, films and depictions on TV, men can’t seem do anything right, and everything about them would appear to be wrong.
Their interests are seen as childish and immature; they’re often depicted as being unfeeling and insensitive and, due to the breaking down of societal taboos surrounding issues such as domestic violence and sexual abuse, men are often viewed as aggressors and perpetrators of sexual violence.
Whilst I think women are wonderful, surely men are wonderful too. Throughout history they’ve been at the forefront of major advancements in our world; they’ve been responsible for the most amazing inventions that have served to improve the lives of people and, when men live out their roles as husbands and fathers in the way God intended, their contribution to family life and to the wellbeing of communities is invaluable.
With this fact in mind, surely it’s beholden upon churches to counter negative societal attitudes towards men, particularly when they denigrate and stigmatise a whole gender unfairly. And it’s a fact that, if men in general are being viewed negatively, Black men in particular are faring even worse, because negative views about the male gender will be teemed with racism, creating even more toxic attitudes.
There are numerous ways in which churches can counter this negativity towards men. They can affirm what the Bible says about them, and seek ways to empower them to utilise their God-given potential.
The Church should also remind people that the Christian faith was founded by a Man, Jesus Christ, a Man of integrity and courage, who died for humanity’s sins in one of the most painful and degrading ways possible, and highlight that a real man is multi-faceted, able to display love and vulnerability, as well as heroism and strength.
Churches should do their utmost to encourage men with leadership aspirations, but also teach the Jesus model of leadership, which is a servant-based one. And, in those instances where churches have men in their congregations who are great fathers (including the unmarried ones) and husbands, let’s not only support them, but encourage them to share their experiences so the congregation can learn the secrets of their parenting and marital success.
Everyone – men, women and children – is made in the image of God, and reflects some of His glory. Let’s not forget this fact, so that when the world engages in its gender wars, Christians can serve as peacemakers.
KEEP ON MOVING
It’s a truism that anybody who achieves anything of significance has had to soldier through bad times, disappointments, difficulties, discouragement, criticisms, setbacks, weariness, boredom, fear and a host of others things before they reached their goal.
When you read about the lives of revered historical figures, like Moses, Martin Luther King Jr and Harriet Tubman, and modern-day role models, like Doreen Lawrence OBE or Oprah Winfrey, you get to understand they soldiered through many obstacles before they experienced their glory moments.
Oftentimes, the only quality that sets achievers apart from non-achievers is that achievers keep on moving during tough times, and dig deep into the recesses of their soul to draw on God-given qualities, like perseverance, courage, long-suffering, resilience, endurance, determination and that desire to not give up.
This fact was exemplified in a recently published story about 18-year-old Daria Rose. Along with her family, this teenager lost everything during Hurricane Sandy, but she kept up with her studies, and has now been accepted to study at seven Ivy League colleges in the US, including Harvard and Princeton, and all because she never gave up.
So, the next time you feel like giving up on your goal, throwing in the towel, and shutting down your heart to that dream because of a setback, encourage yourself not to give up. Remind yourself that you are God’s child, created for a purpose, that you possess all you need to fulfil God’s plan for your life – and what you don’t currently have, God will supply – and, most importantly, that you can and will make it, because God is on your side.
TAKE A STAND AGAINST INJUSTICE
There has been a proliferation of tragic news stories in recent months (hasn’t there always, though?). Firstly, there have been the cases of Africans dying as they sought to reach Europe’s shores in their search for a better life. Then there’s the news of the heavy-handed violence, including murder, that Black South Africans have been inflicting upon migrants from other African nations, plus the ongoing stories of US police brutality against Black citizens.
I mention these stories, because it is now very apparent that as we are living in a global village, we cannot hide from the injustices taking place in other parts of the world.
As a result of this, shouldn’t leaders within the BME community speak out more loudly about the injustice that occurs internationally?
Doing so would not only demonstrate the UK Black Church’s growing confidence but, more importantly, show the world that we are a church after God’s heart, concerned about mistreatment and injustice committed against humanity – wherever it is taking place.