Guys Need a Vision of Maturity
In the UK physicians are taught a simple truth: the common things are common. The idea is that, when analyzing the symptoms of patients, a doctor should first consider mundane ailments before entertaining more exotic diagnoses. If a child has a cough, the first thought should be a cold, not tuberculosis. If an old man has joint pain, look for arthritis before testing for cancer. The method is to start basic until the obvious and regular are ruled out.
The same wisdom can be applied to thinking about the spiritual condition of men. Before launching into diatribes about church or culture, or facing the guerrilla army of indwelling sin, one ought to ask a simple ‘what if’ question: what if in spite of the books written, the professionally trained clergy, and the prolific spread of parachurch ministries, there was a blind spot at the center of men’s discipleship? A blind spot, by definition, is a place where one’s vision is obstructed. Too often a blind spot exists unknowingly, as many disgruntled drivers have figured out.
So here is something to consider. Missed in the hustle and bustle of men’s ministry is an oversight as shocking as it is obvious: Christian men are being told to pursue spiritual maturity without being told what spiritual maturity is. In the cascade of voices telling men to prioritize discipleship and promoting spiritual disciplines, a gap is festering like an open wound. No one - other than Jordan Peterson - is giving men a blueprint of spiritual fitness.
Why does this matter? Two Reasons. First, vision clarifies action. Human beings have the remarkable ability to see an unrealized state of being. A traveler can stand on a hilltop and survey the horizon. In the distance he sees a majestic peak and imagines himself standing on the crest of it. Reoriented, he continues his journey. A sculptor stares at a block of marble. He imagines two children at play, an emblem of joy, safety, and civic spirit. Grabbing a chisel, he begins to sculpt stone into predetermined form. A young man peers into his forties. He foresees a loving family, a respectable life of service and employment, and a heart renewed in the shape of a cross. This in view, he navigates college, dating, and Netflix. Such is the spiritual power of vision: to see concretely a future state of affairs so that a line can be traced from here to there
Second, vision motivates. Ambition is vision, a compelling view of a future self coated with significance and value. A man foresees himself with a large house, expensive car, and liberal budget and, like wind in sails, feels himself constrained to go and achieve the dream. Another imagines himself devoting all of his spare time to meeting with unbelievers and young Christians to train them in the gospel. He is swept down a different path. Both men have vision. For both, vision is drive.
The opposite is also true: without vision there is no ambition. It is pointless to ask a man to sacrifice for anything without giving him a soul-gripping insight into the value of the object. How does one motivate a fifteen-year-old boy to do trigonometry homework instead of play video games? Neither carrot nor stick is ideal. The best method is to instill a vision of attending a selective college and pursuing a meaningful career. Only by valuing something more than pleasure will a young man feel motivated to solve equations instead of kill orcs.
Cross Training Ministries recognizes the need that every man has to have a concrete vision of spiritual maturity. Without vision, guys are unmotivated and lost. With vision, life becomes a quest worthy of sacrifice, effort, and perseverance.
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