Judging from current men’s ministry nomenclature, what I’m about to propose in this post is heresy. After all, isn’t it the goal of all men’s ministry to create truly manly men? Take, for example, the book I’m currently reading: Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men (which is really good, actually). The biblical passage that I’m proposing be taught to all men is not in that book. Nor is it included in the training material of such men’s ministries as ManUp! God’s Way, A Million Mighty Men, Noble Warriors, Knights of the 21st Century and other ministries with similar testerone-generated names.
Neither will you hear any men’s ministry keynote speaker speak on this passage – ever. You will never attend a men’s workshop dedicated to this passage. No men’s stadium event has ever flashed this passage on it’s 50′ high screens. If it did, half the men in the stadium would probably get up and leave.
So men, spoiler alert. The passage I’m about to quote may make the whiskers on on your upper lip fall off. Your biceps may shrink two inches. You may even begin developing breasts. If you cherish your manhood more than you cherish God himself, stop here. This passage isn’t for you. Otherwise, read on.
We proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8)
The Apostle Paul spent just three weeks in Thessalonika preaching the gospel of a resurrected Christ. Mobs followed Paul the way paparazzi follow move stars and Thessalonika was no exception. With the prospect of death by stoning stalking him, Paul and his entourage had to leave town. But behind them they left converts.
Think about this for a moment. In just three weeks, Paul led some people to faith in Christ. They had been complete strangers. But suddenly they became Paul’s closest friends, risking persecution and death beside him. 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8 describes how Paul felt about these new believers. He actually imagines himself as a young mother nursing her infant child. He says he and his companions were “gentle” and “tender” toward them. They had a “fond affection” for them. And their new converts had become “very dear” to them; so dear, in fact, that they were willing to give up their own lives for them.
This isn’t the typical vocabulary of “manly men.” You will never hear anything like this in a men’ s locker room. And yet no one can ever claim that Paul was effeminate. After all, he had just entered their town and turned their entire culture upside down with his bold and fearless proclamation.
So men, go ahead, imagine yourself as a mighty warrior, a 21st century knight, a manned up man. But all of that bluster has a goal: that we might sit in a rocker with a newborn child of God on our breast.
This post first appeared in NewCommandment.org.