Men Finding Courage
About the Guest
As the chaplain for the Detroit Lions and the pastor of a large Detroit area church, Dave Wilson has manhood all figured out, right? According to Dave, he's as messed up as the next guy. The only difference is Jesus and the courage Dave finds in following God's instruction for men to be strong and courageous.
Dave Wilson admits he’s as messed up as the next guy. The only difference is Jesus and the courage Dave finds in following God’s instruction for men to be strong and courageous.
Men Finding Courage
Bob: In Genesis, Chapter 3, it was the woman who first bit into the forbidden fruit; right? So, why did God hold Adam accountable? Here’s Pastor Dave Wilson.
Dave: If you understand Scripture, God told whom about the tree they shouldn’t [eat from]? He told the man—so, he communicated to Eve what God said. He took the revelation of God, and he led his wife and told her. So, when they’re sitting there—and Adam is right beside her—and Satan in the snake tempts them and twists the word of God and said: “That isn’t what God said. He doesn’t want you to eat it because He doesn’t want you to be like Him,”—what does Adam do?
I don’t know what he thought—I mean, he had to be thinking, “This is not what God said”; but what did he do?—he sat there. Do you realize we live in a culture, in America, of passive men?
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, June 22nd. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’ll hear, today, how Pastor Dave Wilson challenged a ballroom full of men, in the middle of the ocean, to reject passivity.
That’s coming up. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition. You wouldn’t think that, if you were on a luxury cruise, that you’d feel like you stepped into a locker room at any point during the week. [Laughter] But it felt a little like a locker room, back last February, when we were on the Love Like You Mean It® marriage cruise. The chaplain of the Detroit Lions football team, Dave Wilson, huddled the men together; and he gave them quite a pep talk.
Dennis: Those guys absolutely loved this, and you’re going to love this too—whether you are a man or a woman / whether you are single or married. I’m just telling you—if this doesn’t light your fire, your wood is wet. [Laughter] I mean, Dave is just a great guy—pastors a church near Detroit of over 15,000 people.
He’s one of our speakers at the Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway, and he rocked the boat. [Laughter] He rocked the boat on the cruise that we did last Valentine’s.
Bob: Can I just say—I don’t know how many of our listeners have heard us mention the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise and have thought: “Oh, I’ve been on a cruise. I don’t ever want to go on a cruise again,” because, honestly—
Dennis: You have never been on our cruise, if you are saying that.
Bob: Some cruises—it’s a big party boat. You go, “That was not the atmosphere I was looking for.” But when you get to take over the whole boat—and it is all people who are there for the—
Dennis: It’s really a hoot, Bob—it’s absolutely a hoot. The crew loves us!
Bob: They want us to come back the next week.
Dennis: We had a video—we ought to somehow find a way to put this video on our website, where people could go click on it. This is the lady with Carnival Cruise Line—you could tell something is really disturbing to her—she goes, “All of these people just got off of this cruise, and they were so nice to me.”
Bob: —“and they were smiling.”
Dennis: “And they”—and as you can tell, she’s trying to search her memory for a category—she has no category for this!
Bob: Nobody was hung over on this one. [Laughter]
Dennis: No! It was a bunch of people who had been on a fun, romantic cruise with us. If you get a chance, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and check out this video—it really will make you smile.
Bob: Well, and if you are interested in joining us next February, we just need to let you know we are down to the wire—last few cabins available. You can get more information on how you can sign up to be a part of the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise—just go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link that says, “GO DEEPER,” and the information about the cruise is available there.
Right now, let’s hear Detroit Lions’ chaplain and pastor, Dave Wilson, as he talked to the men on the cruise, back in February.
[Previously Recorded Message]
Dave: I love talking to men! I mean, my ministry with the Detroit Lions is a bunch of big men, basically.
We do a chapel service on Saturday nights, whether we are on the road or home. I love challenging men to be men. I call it “Real Men”—four-pillar manhood is taking the word, “real”—R-E-A-L—and saying, “Okay,”—making an acrostic of it—and “What does it mean?” And I’m going to challenge you, as men, to be husbands and dads—but, really, to understand: “What is a man? What is a fourth-pillar man? I think you know this—this is really important for us—to know what a man is / to know what a vision of manhood is.
You know, I’ve listened to Voddie talk so many times. I was watching TV the other night, with the Stepping Up® DVD manhood series—and Voddie was talking about the three B’s that define a man. Have you seen this? Men in our culture are defined by “billfold, ball field, or bedroom.” It’s really true. He said: “You’ve got cash—you’ve got a lot of cash / a lot of possessions—you’re a man,” “You do something on a ball field / any ball field—you’re an athlete—you’re a man,” or, “If you have a lot of women…”—right?—that’s our culture.
I thought about that as I was watching the other night—I thought—I walk into a locker room almost every day, during the fall, with the Detroit Lions—for 30 years, I’ve been doing this. Every one of those guys is defined by that. They’ve got cash / they’ve got stuff; they’ve got women; they are at the highest level you can be in their career—and most of the guys in that locker room—guess what—they are boys / they are not men. Every year, I talk about the four pillars of manhood with these guys. They walk up to me and say: “I’ve never heard any of this. I’ve never seen this. Can you help me become that guy?” This stuff, I believe, is just critical.
Our boys don’t know what a man is. I mean, in our culture, when does a boy become a man? In Stepping Up, they went out and asked men that / asked women that: “When does a boy…”—nobody knew. One guy said, “When he has sex.” Let me ask you guys, “Did you become a man when you had sex?”—show of hands. Yes—no hands are going up—it’s like you would, but that didn’t do it.
Our sons need a vision of what a man looks like. Our daughters need to see one so that they don’t settle for something less when they get married.
Our wives—let me tell you—our wives are longing for a man—a real man.
I’m going to get right into it because here is what I did. If you guys have ever read Robert Lewis’s material—Men’s Fraternity or Raising a Modern-Day Knight—how many of you know what I’m talking about? Yes, Raising a Modern-Day Knight—I got it as a young father—I’ve got three sons now. My oldest is 29, 27, and 25. They are all married, and that was my guide book to raise boys to men.
In that book, Raising a Modern-Day Knight—which I think applies to fathers with daughters as well—but it’s really a definition of manhood / gives you a vision of manhood. Then, he has four sort of characteristics—I’m going to use three of them—and I changed the “E.” He uses the same letters in a different order.
I was sitting on a bus with Robert Lewis, back in the early 90’s. I was talking to him about the pillars—I don’t know if he even called them pillars. I said, “Robert, would it be okay if I took your pillars and put them in a different word?—because it comes out, ‘Real’!—and can I change the E?” And he goes:
“Dude, you do whatever you want with this. I want men to know what a man is. So, do whatever you want.” So, I took his three and changed the “E.” I’m going to give you my spin on that—and again, it’s just “Get real—R-E-A-L.”
The “R” is the same one Robert has in his book, and some of you know what it is: “What’s real man?—he what?” Yes, some of you said it: “A real man rejects passivity.” If you want to write this down, write it down; or put it in your phone: “A real man rejects passivity.” That basically comes from—and I think Robert is the first one I ever heard talk about this. In Genesis, Chapter 1, we have Adam and Eve—first man / first woman. You talk about what a man shouldn’t be—Adam / what a man should be—Jesus—and you’ll see this in these four pillars.
Adam represented all four pillars to the negative—he didn’t accomplish any of them. Jesus accomplished all of them—He rejected passivity to come from heaven to earth and save our lives.
Adam is in the Garden—some of you know this story. When Adam and Eve sinned—when Eve bites of the fruit, where was Adam?
Audience: Right beside her.
Dave: Yes, many of you know this—but if you’ve never read this or had anybody teach about this—I remember when I first heard Robert teach about this. I had no idea that Genesis 3:6 said this: “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some of it and ate it. She also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate it.”
So, we don’t know exactly if they are sitting on a tree / sitting on a log—but where was Adam?—right here. So, if you understand Scripture, God told whom about the tree they shouldn’t [eat from]?—Adam or Eve?—God told Adam. He told the man because that’s the fourth pillar—you’ve got to lead. Don’t write it down yet—we’ll get there. So, he communicated to Eve what God said. He took the revelation from God and led his wife and told her.
So, when they are sitting there—and Adam is right beside her—and Satan in the snake tempts them and twists the word of God and said: “That isn’t what God said. He doesn’t want you to eat it because He doesn’t want you to be like Him,”—what should have Adam done?
He should have said: “Eve, don’t listen to him. That’s a lie! It’s a lie from the pit of hell! I’m going to kill this thing right now.” No. What does Adam do?—passivity / he’s passive. I don’t know what he thought—I mean, had to be thinking, “That’s not what God said”; but what did he do?—he sat there.
Do you realize we live in a culture, in America, of passive men? I read a stat the other day that said, “This is the first time in American history that women are stronger than men.” It’s becoming a matriarchal society. I think it’s awesome that women are strong—I love that—but let me tell you, “God calls men to stop being passive and be men.” I’m not saying to become a dictator and an idiot and you fight everybody. I’m just saying, “There needs to be strength and firmness in a man’s life that leads his woman.” Your wife is longing for you to lead her, and most of that is just rejecting passivity.
Now, the reason we say, “reject passivity” is we all have a streak of passivity. I mean, I read that story—
—and I’m like: “Come on, dude! Come on, Adam, step up!” Then, I look at my own heart; and I’m like, “I’m passive so often!” So, what we are saying is—when that passivity is there / when you are in a situation and you think, “Man, somebody needs to do something,” DO SOMETHING! Boys are passive / men act! When it’s there, it is like, “I’ve got to reject that.” I mean, it’s going to be there—“When I feel that passivity, I’ve got to fight against it / I’ve got to reject it, and I’ve got to go.”
I remember when I first started dating Ann. She said to me—like three or four weeks in—she goes: “You know what? I realize why I am falling in love with you.” And I go, “Why?” She goes, “You’re the first strong leader-man I’ve ever dated.” She goes: “I didn’t realize this before, but I’ve been dating boys. Now, I’m dating a man.” I said: “You’ve got that right, baby!” [Laughter] You know what I mean? And I was just figuring out what a man was—I really didn’t even know what a man was.
It was like—as I grew into a man—and I say to the men at my church—I don’t have time to get into this—but I say: “I became a man at age 32. A lot of you did before that, but here is what happened at 32,”—and this is a whole other sermon.
I don’t have time—but number one, I understood what the four pillars were; and I started to live them out. That’s when you start becoming a man—when you start rejecting passivity, engaging with God, accepting responsibility, and leading with courage. You know—write those down. We’ll go through each one of them.
But the other thing that I did, at age 32—that I started at age 28—but it took me that long—is I forgave my dad. I don’t have time to get into it, but I had a dad that walked out on our family when I was seven years old—took me on vacations with his mistresses, as a toddler. Left my mom—dad left me and my brother with a single mom. My brother died six weeks later of leukemia—my five-year-old brother. I had to forgive my dad, in my 20s; and God took me on this journey.
I’ll never forget—I read a quote by Lewis Smedes in a book called Forgive & Forget. He said, “When you forgive someone, you set a prisoner free—only to discover you are the prisoner.” I realized, “All of this bitterness I’ve been harboring toward my dad—all those years was not locking him up—it was locking me up from being the real man that God called me to be.”
I’m telling you—it took a long time; but when God gave me the power—I didn’t have the power—but when God did that through me, and I forgave my dad, I became free to become a four-pillar man. That’s where the journey, for me, really started.
So, reject passivity is just this—I mean, I could talk about that all morning. In fact, when I do the chapel with the Lions, we do one pillar a week. Even one—we take half the season to just talk about. So, I’m going to try and do all four really quickly.
Here is what I did in our last chapel for the Lions—I used the David and Goliath story to talk about the four pillars. I’ll just do it really quickly. If you want to go to 1 Samuel 17, you can pull it up in your Bible or on your phone. I’m not going to read them exactly because I don’t have time; but many of you know the David and Goliath story; right? We know it; right?
So, think about this—we’ve got a battle between the Philistines and the Israelites—God’s chosen people and the enemy of God. There is one man / a giant, and a boy goes out. Of all the men there—who were warriors ready to fight—guess who the man is?—a 12- or 14-year-old boy because what does he do?
He rejects passivity.
It says in 1 Samuel 17 that the warriors / trained men were afraid and fearful. They pulled away from the battle line; but a boy says, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine”—that means he’s not a man of God—“who would challenge us?” What does he do? He says, “A man has to go fight him,” and they are like, “What is this dude doing?” His brothers are mad, but he rejects passivity. I look at that passage and think: “A bunch of boys that look like men, and one boy who’s a man because he lives out the first pillar of rejecting passivity.”
I’ll give you a couple of examples. I was—my oldest, CJ, is 29. When he was like eight years old, I went over to his school one day—this Christian school. I went over and had lunch. There was playground afterwards. I went out on the playground, and I’m an old quarterback. We started playing touch football with all the guys out there; right?
I get my little team; and I throw a ball to this kid that was a friend of my son, CJ. CJ’s an engineer; and he had a buddy, Timmy, who’s an engineer—just really smart kid but not really athletic. I wanted all the kids to get involved—so, I throw a pass to Timmy.
He just drops it because he can’t catch, and the guy guarding him is the best athlete in school—a little guy named Ben. He goes: “Hey, Timmy, you suck, man! You’re pathetic!” When I heard that, Timmy just put his head down and walked back. I could tell this is what he hears every day.
Now, when I was a boy—and I’m talking 25/28 years old—you know what I would have done?—nothing. I would have heard that and I would have just been like: “Okay, guys. Get in the huddle.” But now, that I am a man, and I hear that—a man rejects passivity. And I’m not going to go punch the kid, but a man needs to step in—say: “Hey, Ben,”—I knew the kid—“Hey, we don’t talk like that. I don’t want to hear another word like that about Timmy; you hear me?” “Okay.” And so, he did—he behaved.
Maybe, 10/15 plays later, I wanted to get Timmy involved—he was right here. I threw him a pass, and he dropped it. Guess who went off: “That guy’s pathetic! You’re the worst…”—he just went off—and I lost it. I walked over—I grabbed him from the back of the—I didn’t hurt him. I just picked him up.
I started walking to the school, and he’s kicking his little feet; you know? And there was a woman there / a teacher by the door; and I just said, “Hey, this young man needs to go in the school.”
She looks at me and goes, “And you are who?” [Laughter] I go: “Oh, I’m Dave Wilson. I’m CJ’s dad.” She goes, “And what do you doing with him?” She was like defending him; right? “Well, he needs to go in because he has been sort of belligerent out there.” And then, he goes—and she’s looking at me, like, “No, that’s not going to happen.” He goes: “Yes, this dad—I don’t know what you’re doing, Mr. Wilson. Who do you think you are?!” She saw that and she goes, “Okay, we’re going inside.” [Laughter] And she took him in; right? And that was the end of the day; right?
Maybe, a week later, I’m at parent/teacher conferences at that school. I’m in a class, and I’m just getting ready to leave that class. I just turned, and this woman walks up to me—I’ve never met her before. She goes, “Are you Dave Wilson?” “Yes.” “Are you CJ Wilson’s dad?” “Yes.” And I’m thinking, “Oh, this is Ben’s mom,”—that’s what I first thought. I go, “Yes.” And she starts weeping. I go, “Can I help you?”
She goes: “I’m Timmy’s mom. Timmy told me that you defended him to the bully last week on the playground. I just want to say to you, ‘Thank you.’ You made my little boy feel like a man and like he was valuable. Thank you!” Guys, I was weeping as I heard this. What did I do?—rejected passivity—that’s all I did. A real man rejects passivity.
I talked about this one time at my church. One of the guys in my small group came up to me, years ago, and he goes, “Dude, do you know they are selling porn at the Mobile station right by our house?” I was like, “No, I had no idea.” This was back when they had magazines. He goes: “Yes, I went in there. I told them, ‘I want this out of this gas station because my kids go to this high school and they live near here.’” He goes, “They just laughed at me.” He said, “I’m taking some men back in—you in?” I’m like, “I’m in.” So, we walk in this Mobile station. I’m telling you—we weren’t idiots—we were very graceful and tender but firm.
We stood there, as men in the community, and said, “We are asking you to remove this porn.” They did because some men came together and did what?—rejected passivity. [Applause]
So, here is the deal—as I was thinking about this week, I thought, “Okay, I want to challenge you to reject passivity in your marriage.” I sat right over there, Monday night, when Kirk Cameron came up here. I don’t know if you heard what he said—but if you want to reject passivity in your marriage, do what he said. He said, “Study your wives.” Do you remember him saying that? He said, “I challenge you guys—study your wives to understand who they are.” Reject passivity—become an expert of her.
I read a book, years ago, by Willard F. Harley—he’s a counselor in Minnesota. He said: “I’ve counseled 3,000 couples. I can tell you the top five needs of a man and the top five needs of a woman.” He listed them, and he had a chapter on each one. I looked at those top five needs—I read them. I went to Ann and I said: “Is this true? Are these your top five needs?” What am I doing?—studying her / rejecting passivity.
I’ve got to become an expert of her—I’ve got to meet those needs.
I know what God really wants from me—I’ve got to meet them. I’ve got to tell you—if you guys don’t know the top three—because I showed them to my wife / she goes, “That’s exactly my top three.” I’m going to give you the top three; alright? You go, after this, and ask your wife if these are her top three. Hers may be different, but study her and find out.
He said: “Number one: affection. Number two: conversation. Number three: openness and honesty.” “Number one: affection. Number two: conversation—honesty and openness.” Do you think he’s right? Oh, yes, they always want us to non-sexually touch them. You know what I mean?—whatever. [Laughter] But they want that, and they long for that. They love to TALK; right?—not just talk; right? And they love it when we are honest / we share our struggles—are open; right?
I remember when I went to Ann—I said to her / I said: “I don’t understand.” The number one need of men, according to Harley in this book, back in the 80’s—you know what it was?—sex. Number one: sex. Then, I don’t know if it was respect, but it was sex. So, I go to her and go, “Sex isn’t even in your top five!”
I saw one study, years ago, that asked women what they would do, if they could, in their leisure time. Sex came out like 29th, right before sewing for pleasure.
“You got to be kidding me?!”—[Laughter] —right? And for men, it was right up there at the top. So, I said to her—I said, “Why isn’t sex in your top five?” And she goes, “Well, it’s the top three.” I’m like, “What are you talking about?” She goes, “That’s foreplay—affection, conversation, honesty and openness.” I’m like, “Let’s go talk.” [Laughter] I was just like—it was unbelievable. I was like—okay, guys, you want to reject passivity in your marriage?—study your wife.
Here’s the other thing Kirk said the other night: “Serve your wife.” All I wrote down in my notes for you guys—and it is for me, as well, because I do this so badly: “Get off the couch!” I’m telling you, guys: “Get off the couch!” I told my sons, when they got married: “Whenever your wife is up, you are up. If she’s in the kitchen, you’re helping. Don’t lie on the couch playing video game. Don’t lie on the couch and watch football all day. Get off the couch and serve her in any way you can.”
I love what Tim Keller says—how to apply the gospel to your marriage—he says this: “Do for your spouse what Christ did for you.” That’s applying the gospel to marriage. When we were dead in sin, Christ died for us. He says, “Die for your spouse.”
That’s what rejecting passivity looks like for a real man in his marriage.
So, I’m going to ask you guys to say it aloud: “A real man is ‘R’—say, ‘Rejects passivity.’ A real man—
Audience: Rejects passivity.
Dave: Alright. So, here’s the deal. I’m going to ask you to do this four times; alright? We just started with the first one. When you say, “Rejects passivity,” it can’t be [Sounding weak] “Rejects passivity,”—it has to be manly / you’ve got to grunt it out. Try it again—one, two, three: “A real man—
Audience: REJECTS PASSIVITY.
Dave: Now, that’s what I’m talking about; okay? Here is the “E”—and this is the one I actually got permission from Robert to change. I say this: “A real man engages with God.” Engages—action verb—engages with God—pursues God / goes after God. It’s a guy on a kickoff team—coming/flying down the field. He’ll do whatever it takes to get to that ball. Same thing—you chase down God no matter what.
And the reason I wanted this in the four pillars is—I think our culture gets it all messed up. Our culture thinks a man is a man when they’re tough / they’re strong; right? The opposite is true. A real man is a man that realizes we are weak, we are sinful, and we are prone to get in big trouble.
Without God and His power, we are dead.
So, a real man—in our culture—man, it’s like—really, in our culture—it’s like: “If you have Jesus,” or “If you go to church,” or you—even in the football team—if you go to chapel, they are like: “Ah, weak. Weak men need that stuff, but real men don’t.” No, it’s the opposite. Real men realize they are weak and need God—so, they engage with God.
Bob: Well, we’ve been listening to the first part of a message from Dave Wilson talking to men onboard the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise, back in February. Was there anything unclear about what the coach was saying there?
Dennis: I’m just telling you—don’t you feel a compelling invitation for a guy to truly step up and be the man God made him to be? Quit wimping out, becoming passive, unplugging from life, and not engaging in the tough, hard work of relationships. It’ll help you become the man God designed you to be.
And Dave Wilson is such a funny guy—he propels men into the battle. You can just feel it, listening to him.
Bob: Well, and I should mention that Dave is a big fan of the Stepping Up video series that FamilyLife has put together for men. I just encourage guys, “If you are looking for something to do with your son this summer,”—just talked to a dad who is taking his son through the Stepping Up material / going through a session at a time. If you are looking for something to do with other guys over the summer, the Stepping Up video series is something you might want to look into. You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link in the upper left-hand corner of the page that says, “GO DEEPER.” You’ll see information about the Stepping Up video series when you get there.
But I also need to mention that Dave Wilson and his wife Ann are going to be joining us again next February when we head out on the 2016 Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise. The Wilsons will join you and Barbara, along with other speakers—
—Darrin Patrick, Bryan Loritts. Lysa TerKeurst is joining us as a speaker. Sanctus Real is going be on the boat with us, along with Steve Green and Selah. And if you like Southern Gospel music—and I do—I like a good Southern Gospel group. Ernie Haase & Signature Sound are joining us on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise in 2016.
We’re down to fewer than a hundred staterooms available for the cruise next February. I just wanted to let listeners know our team is kind of motivated to wrap up the cruise by the end of June. In fact, they are making a special offer to anyone who signs up between now and the end of June. You can save some money on next year’s sailing. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link in the upper left-hand corner of the screen that says, “GO DEEPER.” You’ll find information about the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise there. Just click on the link, and you can find out more about the cruise.
Or call, if you’d like to book a stateroom: 1-800-FL-TODAY is our toll-free number—1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.”
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to hear Part Two of Dave Wilson’s challenge to men onboard last February’s Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise. Hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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