Friday, 28 November 2008

Lone Rangers Are Dead Rangers

This week, instead of our usual all together mid-week group meeting, our cell split into single sex groups and met at different places. The girls were with Rachel. I have no idea what they discussed, probably sugar and spice and all things nice. ;-)

Us guys are working through this book. We were discussing the chapter entitled Being a true spiritual leader and in it Artburn, (the author) quotes another guy Sam Keen who excited me by saying this:

At the centre of my vision of manhood there is no lone man standing tall against the sunset, but a blended figure composed of a grandfather, a father and a son. The boundaries between them are porous, and strong impulses of care, wisdom and delight pass across the synapses of the generations. Good and heroic men are generations in the making - cradled in the hearts and initiated in the arms of fathers who were cradled in the hearts and initiated in the arms of their fathers.

Now if you know me, hearing me saying that I got excited about this quote may sound a little strange as I have no sons of my own. I'm not even married. You might expect me to have a good old rant (privately if not in public) at the fact that single people often feel like they are the relational lepers of life, cut off from the highs and lows that are the relational adventures of marriage and family life, and instead being doomed to live in a world of gazing at their own navels. But I won't, not because I am hiding that reaction from you, but because I genuinely did not feel that way when I read it.

You see when God created the world, he intended that earthly families be a picture of his new spiritual family.  Membership of this family is not dependent on your life circumstances or relative successes, but on God's open invitation of mercy to the whole world.  When it works as it should; the love, tenderness, sacrifice and intimacy expressed in earthly families mirrors that which should be best demonstrated in the new family of God - the church.

So whilst I am not a father in the legal sense, I can be a father figure in a small part to many a young lad, both in the church family and beyond; through prayer, biblical instruction and practical life wisdom.

Blood may be thicker than water, but the Bible tells me that the Spirit of God who unites all God's children together as one is thicker still.
I can, (and I have a duty to) help cradle, nurture and initiate boys and young men into being real men, and better still, into being zealous and enduring disciples of Jesus.

This is especially poignant for me given that I work in a boys' school and only this morning had a boy tell me that he didn't know who his real dad was. He had never met him. My heart went out this little lad. He is by no means exceptional in our generation.

John expresses this vision for enduring godly men cradling and initiating the next (spiritual) generation a lot better than Sam, Stephen and I do.

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