Saturday, May 12, 2012

What it Means to be a Man

 While looking through Josh's computer, his dad and I found the last blog post Josh was working on.  He likely would have tweaked it more before posting, but I believe you'll be blessed anyway.  Thank you for your comments.  We read each one and have been so blessed.  By Grace alone, Stacie Eddy

        During my Basic Training, I heard an amazing definition of what it means to be a man.  It was actually during the final speech to my Unit on promotion night.  Captain Keon (key-un) Pendergast, one of the most tremendous examples of true manhood that I have yet to meet, defined true masculinity as “the joyful assumption of sacrificial responsibility.”  I love loaded statements -  Let’s unpack this one word by word: 

~Joyful ~
| Definition:
Not only is joy the obvious opposite of grumbling and complaining, but it is also quite different than “happiness.”  Happiness is an emotion: fleeting, conditional, often short-termed.  Joy is first a gift of God: joy in its purest form can come from no other.  Secondly, joy is something that is chosen:  its presence is not based upon present circumstances.  I like to define Joy as “an outward expression of inner peace.”  Only God can give a man peace in all circumstances.  This peace often expresses itself in happiness, but the difference now is that the happiness is rooted in God, and the peace that trust in His faithfulness brings.  When hard times come, joy and faith allow us to say “Lord, You give, and You take away: blessed be Your Name.”
 | Application:
A leader must exemplify the qualities of competency and devotion that he desires to see in those under him.  If a man is to lead his family well, he must constantly strive to study, implement, teach, and live the character of Christ to them.  A responsibility like that is a tremendous load even for the stoutest of heart, and if he cannot surrender the burdens of his heart to God, he will fall under the pressure of life’s demands.  To live with true joy before God and family is the mark of a true man.

| Definition:
When I began this post, I originally remembered the quote as “the joyful acceptance…”, but then recalled that it was the word “assumption.”  Now, I like the sound of the word “acceptance” better, if only for the ease of which it slides off my tongue and out my mouth.  But I realized that there is a distinct difference between the two words that has a tremendous ability to change the meaning of the statement.  
To accept, say, a responsibility, means that it was originally presented to you as an option.  Someone says, “hey, will you do this?” and you say “yes.”  Simple. Direct.  It’s a good thing to be willing to accept responsibility.  But the assumption of responsibility has a slightly different flavor.  To assume responsibility has a lot more to do with the personal initiative of the individual.  You look, you see a need, and you say, “that’s my responsibility, I’m going to take care of that.”  It’s seeing something that needs to happen, and taking the initiative to do it yourself.
| Application:
A man needs to care enough about his family and whoever else may be in his charge to look around, and look ahead for anything that may be hindering the productivity of the system.  He doesn’t wait for things to plummet, or for someone else to do it; he exercises foresight and wisdom to see what needs to be done, and he does it.  A true man will not shirk responsibility, nor waver when demands increase.

| Definition:
True sacrifice is more than merely “giving something up.”  True sacrifice is giving of yourself for the good of someone else, without thought of personal gain; whether gain is defined as honor and accolades, or material compensation.  True sacrifice is completely devoid of pride.
| Application:
A man is called to empty himself in service to others.  He must be willing to surrender every right he has at the foot of the cross in order for his full effectiveness for Christ to be realized.  A man must be ready to drop every personal dream and desire that comes between him and his family or his faith.  He must be ready and willing to lay down his life for another, or as a martyr for his faith.  

| Definition:
In the context of this statement this word means more than just the act of being responsible. This word carries with it all the magnitude of masculine Biblical qualities. These would include, but are not limited to, authority, protection, provision and determination. 
| Application:
To be responsible is to take up the mantle of these qualities and carry them honorably. There will be no halfway measures or excuses for failure. A man must wield his authority as one under authority, recognizing he is responsible to God for the decisions he makes. He must be actively looking ahead to scout the way for those he loves, so that he can protect and provide for them. He must have a settled purpose within him that he will follow through no matter what may come or where he ends up. 
To joyfully assume responsibility no matter what it may cost is the essence of Biblical masculinity. We will be tested, but let us hear the word from James, “Brethren, count it all joy when you encounter tests of various kinds. Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, but let endurance have its perfect work that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing (1:2-4). So we are to have this mindset of joy when we encounter tests of all kinds. Why? Because we know that they are producing endurance, or steadfastness. This is a result of us walking by faith, one of the aspects of which is for a man to joyfully assume responsibility no matter what the cost. What is the reward for walking by faith? Verse 12 of James tells us, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under testing, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.” Enduring faith will receive eternal life. We can walk in faith by taking up our masculine responsibility because we know the end of enduring in that faith is the limitless glories of eternal life! 
And now I close. Many of you who are reading this are doing so because of the promotion into glory that Joshua Eddy received on Saturday May 5th. The post was one that Joshua was working on before he died, and his father asked that I finish it for him which I have done, grateful for the opportunity. Joshua wrote the first three points and I have added the section on responsibility and the closing thoughts.
Joshua has finished his race and endured to the end. What about you? We have no promise of tomorrow so the race must be run today, you must endure with joy today. Men, you must joyfully assume sacrificial responsibility today! The blessing is nothing less than eternal life!
-Capt. Keon Pendergast