“Man up!” I like this slogan for men. I found it when reading about the “man up” mission that is addressing the absence of fathers by the Christian Rapper, Lecrae. “Be the last of a dying breed, it’s time that we man up.” That is the last line of the new “Man up Anthem” from the Christian rap group 116 Clique. The song helped launch a growing campaign by Lecrae and his Reach Records in Atlanta, to get young men in hip-hop culture to “man up” as responsible husbands and fathers across the country. “Father absence is a systemic problem, particularly in urban contexts, that’s proven to lead to higher rates of gang violence, incarceration and suicide. As of 2007, the national rate of children born to single mothers was 40%. According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, 24 million American children – one in three – live in homes without their biological fathers.” So where are the men; they definitely need to man up.
When I thought of the slogan “man up”, I kept thinking of Paul’s words in Ephesians 6, as he describes the spiritual battle we are in. He challenges us with this urgent call. “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes (11). He also declares, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand (13). Three times we are exhorted to stand. I would suggest that when we “man up” we are taking a stand.
Taking our clue from Paul in Ephesians 6, men need to know that they are in a battle. The real issues are not economic, politcal and social, but spiritual. It is a spiritual battle between Satan and the kingdom of God. I have believed and taught for years that the real problem with the very fabric of our culture is what Derek Prince called the problem of “renegade fathers.” Until fathers and young men come to see who they are and can be in God, they will never begin to own up to their responsibility. Why? Because the culture takes them “off the hook.” The enemy will do all he can to brake down the family. That starts with renegade fathers. I know this is not a popular view, but it is the truth that has to be spoken.
I have changed my approach to fathers and young men over the years. I used to get after the men and almost shame then into facing up to their responsibility before God. But now I believe a better approach is to appeal to a man’s deepest desires and instincts. When a man is embraced with love and compassion, he able to get beyond his defenses and pay attention to his heart. Once a man gives his heart to Jesus, really gives his heart, then things begin to change. Until that time, it will be a lot of effort and willpower to change. Only the transformation of the heart will bring a new sense of wanting to be responsible for his role in the family as husband and father.
I appreciate what Lecrae says when he addresses father absence. He tells “young African American males that you’re immediately an example for other African American males in the community at large. Not only are the young men challenged and encouraged by this, but also the young ladies, because they get to see what they should be looking for and how to encourage their brothers in the direction of taking leadership and responsibility.” I think this is a good challenge for all us men. I know I take it that way. I am a grandfather, father and husband. At my age I know that my grandsons are watching me. They especially watch how I treat their grandmother. At church I know that the wives watch my actions. So I hope that you like this 70 year old grandpa, is still willing to “man up.” This is our call. I leave you with words from Paul. “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love” ( I Cor 16:13).