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January 15, 2019

This post is about men, so if you’re a man, see if what I’ve got works.  If you’re a woman, you’re actually my primary target, so pay attention.  There will be a quiz.

I’ll start with a verse from a little-studied book of the New Testament, 2 Peter.  Peter writes in what we have as chapter 1, verse 8, “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Just before this, starting in verse 5, he offers a list of 8 character qualities God wants to build into every believer.  It describes quite a powerful developmental process.  You should click it up in your Bible program or find it in your ink-and-paper Bible and read it.  2 Peter 1:5-7.

And then he gives the gold on why building these things into your character matters.  “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

I’m doing my best not to get preachy with this, but there’s just so much great material in this one verse.

The two words I want to focus on are there in the middle: ineffective and unproductive.  These two words are key to understanding men.  Really.

In my life and in my observation of many other men, I can tell you that few things demotivate a man the way ineffectiveness and unproductivity do.  Feeling ineffective and unproductive put holes in a man’s motivational bucket.  Big holes.

This is true in virtually every arena of a man’s life.  In his career and work.  In his recreational ventures.  In his friendships.  In his marriage.  In his walk with God.

When a man feels he’s making no difference, that he’s not making any forward progress and can’t see that there’s any possibility of making any forward progress in the future, he will lose heart.  Eventually, if this feeling persists, he’ll give up.  He’ll look for another job, maybe even another career, or another hobby, or new friends, or a new wife (or maybe just a lover – all the goodies with none of the commitment), or another god.  He probably won’t do these things in an overnight flip.  It might take months.  But when there’s nothing more in his bucket, he’ll slide over and start looking for other options.

He might only do this in his mind.  He’ll keep showing up for work, and on the softball team, and with the gang.  He’ll still come home to the same wife and kids and house.  He’ll still go to church.  Maybe even most Sundays.  He will do these things physically, but not emotionally or spiritually.  He’ll grow to hate all of it more and more, but he’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other until he just can’t any more.

When friends (the circle of which has grown small and superficial) ask, “How ya doin?”  He’ll answer, “Fine,” the standard acceptable answer.  And then he’ll change the subject.  “How about that play-off game?”

It takes little imagination, and it certainly doesn’t take a degree in Human Relations to see that this scenario ends badly.  A guy’s not likely to wake up one morning and think, “Today’s the first day of the rest of my life.  I’m gonna make the most of it.”  He’s not likely to motor down life’s highway, honking because he loves Jesus.  And people who pass along neat positive-thinking and religious quotes and pithy sayings, even though they have noble motives, won’t help.

Turning a man’s Titanic away from the iceberg isn’t going to happen with a blog post.  It might start there, but it’s way too complex a thing for a quick-fix.  But the turn can happen.

I think it goes back to those two words.  But the positive forms of them.  Productivity and effectiveness.

The best inoculation against the scenario I just described are these two things.  When a man feels productive and effective, he can stay motivated through rough patches and crises.  If he feels he’s making some forward progress, even if it’s not ginormous, he’ll stay in the game.  Depending on his temperament and emotional maturity, he may not need to make heroic progress to feel motivated.  But if he’s of a less sanguine temperament, he will need people in his life who will speak the oxygen of encouragement into it.  People who talk and act like they believe the best about him.  They don’t have to lie about his failures and shortcomings.  They don’t have to pretend he’s the greatest when he knows (and he’s pretty sure everybody else knows it, too) he’s not.

Making this turn may involve a serious “Come to Jesus” moment.  But when he gets up from the alter, he may not be a new man.  It may be that he’s only starting a long journey.  But he’s starting.  And that matters.

If he’s been living the life I described for a long time, it will probably be a fairly long journey.  But then, again, it may be shorter than he or anybody else would predict.  Because of this one thing.  God wants to make him productive and effective on the levels that matter most.

Go back to what Peter wrote.

“…they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  They being the character qualities he listed, as they’re added to one another.

When a man partners with God to find true effectiveness and productivity in the deep core of his being, where Christ makes His home, he’ll find it.  Nobody can do this for him, and nobody but he is responsible for it.  But a life that’s meaningful and fulfilling is possible in partnership with Christ.

So if you’re a woman reading this, did you get any ideas for how you can support your man?  If you’re a man reading this, did you get anything to work with in your life?  Let me know.

Next time, ladies, it’s your turn.

From → Marriage

  1. Dureen permalink

    Good to know! Dureen

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