It is indeed amazing to me the manner in which men whine. Is it not so that by whining men prove themselves to be nothing more than mice—squeaky critters that scurry around running from big things? Is it not time for men to cease being mice and, well, be men?
Consider the case of the claim that I lied when I told the congregation recently that I lovingly invite couples who live together, when they come to visit with me about the possibility of getting married, to evaluate their circumstances, step back, and strive for something better so as to get any potential marriage off to a richer and more substantive start. Word on the street is that I am not loving at all. According to this claim I “yell and scream” at these couples, embarrassing them, and then I send them out my door humiliated. The one making this accusation says he knows this because one of the men who supposedly was in my cross-hairs told him so.
Hmmm. As I reflect upon this it hits me that I can think of two instances since high school, from which I graduated in 1987, that I have actually raised my voice to anyone. One time was when I was a college student and I got in a shouting match with a female pastor who claimed that the Bible was not authoritative. The other time was actually a few short years ago when I got angry at an elder who was saying some very ugly and demeaning things about the pastoral staff of the church where I worked at that time. In both cases I regretted being so boisterous. To the elder I apologized, not because I was substantively wrong but because he was an older gentleman and I came off disrespectful of his age. He in turn apologized to me and insisted I was right to call him out. Of course the female pastor and I never reconciled our issues.
So why would I then be perceived as yelling and shouting at couples in my office when in fact I by nature just really do not do anything of the kind? And why would others on our ministry team be perceived in such a light? The reason is simple: when people do not want to hear the truth they exploit reality so as to put themselves in a better and more secure light. I have not yelled or screamed at any couple who has come to me seeking to get my approval about their inappropriate behaviors. That is so “un-me” it’s ridiculous. Indeed I have merely joined with others in loving them enough to share with them what they desperately need to hear. I have done so gently and with a tender heart, gone out of my way to tell them I will join them on the journey to help them succeed, that my concerns are not about me or image or being prudish, but about them and their well-being; but the bottom line is that most do not want to hear it. Thus, rather than take it for what it is they recast the story so that it comes off as me yelling and screaming.
What intrigues me about this is the fact that those willing to espouse this revision seem more concerned about what may or may not be my mode of communication than they are the actual reality of the couple’s lifestyle. Let us say, theoretically, that I did yell and scream. If my motive were to keep this couple from disaster could that not possibly be acceptable? But what happens is people presume that my response is, well, far worse than the pending destruction of dignity, legacy and well-being these couples are facing. And typically, in my experience, it is the men that are complaining most because what I have done is primarily challenge them for not being real men who build into the women in their lives. The irony of the whole thing is that their whining about my supposed demeanor is indicative of their real problem: an inability to stand up and own their circumstances as men; a need to pass along blame, as Adam blamed Eve when he failed in the Garden (Gen 3); a hyper-focus on their own needs, wherein everything should be about, well, themselves. It is as if they are crying out, “Oooh, how dare that rascally pastor call me out for making the world about me!” Suddenly my bold but gentle words become yelling and screaming.
And that is why they are mice instead of men. And ladies, if any of you are reading this missive, you can indeed do better. You deserve better. God has made you precious in His eyes and you need not settle. And men . . . well . . . the stakes are high. Your need, and mine, to step up and by God’s grace and power be the men we are called to be, is so critical. There is no time like now to decide to stop being mice and embrace the nobility that comes with being a son of the Most High King. And if by chance you wonder whether you are aiming well toward that goal, simply ask yourself whether or not you are owning your responsibilities or blaming others for your discomforts, even to the point of lying.