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Pastor Tony Evans: Real men are men. They are men who initiate the leadership responsibility at home and in the culture of applying truth to the situations of life.
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John Fuller: That's the persuasive voice of Dr. Tony Evans on today's "Focus on the Family," challenging men to stand in the gap, to step up and today, he has encouragement for you to be a kingdom man. And your host is Focus president, Jim Daly.
Jim Daly: You know, John, what I hear in Tony's voice is conviction. And maybe that's what we as men are lacking today, no conviction. And the evidence is all around us that society is hurting, it's moaning and in large part because of the absence of men in the home and the impact that absence creates.
In fact, I remember we taped a program with George W. Bush a few years ago and he said the greatest challenge that our nation faces, even more grave than terrorism was the disintegration of the family and the lack of fathers in homes today. And I agree 100 percent. One of the things we want to do here at Focus on the Family is to inspire men to step up in their households to lead their families.
And it is difficult. Unfortunately, we don't always do that very well. And I'll admit, sometimes I'm failing at that, too. But this is what Dr. Evans is talkin' about. He wants to encourage us to not only think about it, but to do it today.
John: And I'll note that Dr. Evans and his wife, Lois started Oak Cliff Bible Church in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in Texas in the 1970s. It began in their home and now has grown to about 10,000 people. He is a well-respected Bible teacher and pastor and also the president and founder of a national ministry called The Urban Alternative. And Jim, you began the conversation that we have for our listeners today by asking Dr. Evans on behalf of all of us guys, what the central message is that he's driving at when he refers to a "kingdom man."
Pastor Tony Evans: I'm tryin' to define manhood as God defines it. (Laughter) God defines manhood as a male, who consistently makes their decisions consistent with God's rule over their lives. It is your consistent application of His rule over you that gives you the right to be known as a "kingdom man."
Jim: Do you have hope for men?
Tony: Oh, absolutely, absolutely, because I believe it is bubbling inside of the gizzard (Laughter), of the soul of every man to be what he was created to be. But oftentimes, history, background, family, culture, negative influences are stymying what God wants to release in him. So, we wrote this for men to be released from being anything less than they were created to be.
Jim: You know, Tony, when wives are hearing this program, they're gonna be saying, you know, "My man doesn't seem to want to express leadership." Women seem to have great antennae when men aren't doing what they should do. (Laughter) And what would you say to that wife with a man who's not living up to his potential?
Tony: Well, we subtitled the book, Every Man's Destiny, Every Woman's Dream and the reason we subtitled it that way was to give women a tool they could use to give to the man in their lives, in order to be able to say to him, "I want to follow, look up to, respect, admire and love a man who looks like this." So, giving him a challenge that she indicates to him, she is willing to appropriately submit to, inspires a man to be that, because he wants that result.
Jim: What keeps a man from doin' it?
Tony: Well, a number of things keeps a man from doin' it. First of all, manhood poorly defined. If you define manhood purely by job and wealth and how the secular society defines it, then you're gonna have all kinds of negative repercussions from that.
Once you leave God's definition and replace it with the world's definition, you're headed south and that's what we've done through a myriad of influences. Many men now grow up without a man in their lives who's a kingdom man, to illustrate what it oughta look like, so they don't even know how to emulate it, because they are not around to see it.
Jim: Let's talk about that, the landscape in North America particularly. I mean, it's a little different in different parts of the world and I know [where] this broadcast will air. But let's talk about North America. In this area, 40 percent of children born today in the United States are born without a father in the home. What is the impact of that on these households?
Tony: Well, and it's growing, and of course in the African-American community is 72 percent. So, you're looking at the devolution of a culture when you look at the disappearance of its men. When the children come out now, they spend most of their time being influenced by women, whether it's the mother, the babysitter, the teachers in school, the teachers in Sunday school--
John: Sunday school, yeah.
Tony: --their influence is women. When in the Bible, he was responsible.
Tony: When you leave that biblical role and we've defined it out and substituted it out for the women to be the child raisers, then what you've done is, you've given up your divinely authorized responsibility and turned the helpmate into the dominant influencer. And so, we wind up raising boys just like their mother.
Jim: Tony, that's powerful. I mean, that is a powerful statement that you're making there. Obviously mothers have a critical role in nurturing and teaching their children, but I do agree with you. Dads are desperately needed, too and they should take the lead with their children in their home and play the role of the dad and the father and not shirk that responsibility. So often we justify, we're busy, we're tired. And when fathers are altogether missing from the home, that result is disastrous, because so often that contributes to a ballooning prison population, because the incidence of kids coming from fatherless homes and ending up in prison is quite high, isn't it?
Tony: Yeah, not only in prison, but it involves dropouts, single parents, you know, teenage pregnancies, all of those statistics and the billions of dollars associated with trying to address all these needs come from the fact that men have been missing in action. And like the Abominable Snowman, footprints everywhere, but they're nowhere to be found.
Jim: Tony, what do you think is the reason? What's the core reason that men are missing in action? Why are men not engaged? Why are men fathering children, but not parenting children?
Tony: Well, first of all, I would say, they haven't been taught how to do it. They haven't been taught how to do it, either in the home and sadly, not even in the church. So many of our churches are geared to minister to females. Men tolerate it, but they're not challenged by it.
And so, you know, the soft organ and the nice feelings, all has its place, but unless a man has a challenge, a man has nothing to strive [for]. Women will look at a movie and be satisfied with cuddling. Men look at a movie and are satisfied with conquering.
Tony: And unless you give a man something to conquer, because he was created for that, then you are ripping away his manhood and he doesn't even know it.
Jim: Tony, when you look at so many boys in this culture right now as we've talked about it, growing up without a dad, that was my experience. I had an alcoholic father and he died when I was 11. And you know, there were a lot of doubts in my mind. Could I be a father? What would it be like to be a dad? What kind of dad would I want to be? Talk about that and talk about your relationship with your dad.
Tony: Well, my dad is my hero. He was a longshoreman, that meant that he loaded and unloaded boats in the docks of Baltimore. Many weeks he would go without work because you only did it when ships came in. But when he got saved, he would gather us around the table. He would pray with us. Even though he worked 24-hour shifts, he would read his Bible at midnight, because my mother was not a believer at first. She didn't like him as a sinner, but couldn't stand him as a saint. And (Laughter) she made life rough for him.
But after a year, she came down the steps and said, "Whatever this thing is must be real. The more I hate you, the more you love me back. The more I reject you, the more you accept me. Whatever this thing is, I want it, too." He got her on their knees and led my mother to Christ. He gathered the four children around and led us to Christ. He was a high school dropout. I was the first one to finish high school, first one to go to college, go to seminary, get a doctorate degree, because he, even though poor, consistently demonstrated the rule of God over his life. And in the inner city of urban Baltimore, my life was transformed and now millions of lives are transformed through our ministry because my dad, even as an African-American father in the inner city, became a kingdom man--
Tony: --and made God's Word [important to us]. He was at the table as often as he could be there, leading. And my mother learned to follow that and the kids learned to follow that and now we seek to emulate that.
Jim: How old were you when your dad became a Christian?
Tony: I was 11-years-old when my dad became a Christian.
Jim: That had to be something remarkable for you to see. Was there ...
Tony: It was remarkable, because my parents were like on their way toward a divorce. I mean, it was a horrific conflicted family existence. But when he got saved, he wouldn't take no from God for an answer [sic]. And one of the things we talk about in the book is that you have the authority to draw down from heaven answers from God, not just to ask for them, but to suck 'em down. And we talk about that, that many men don't know the authority that they have. It's called in the Bible, "dominion."
John: These are not answers to my own self interests. If I hear you, you're saying, I'm calling down and kind of unleashing God to do what He wants to do in and through me.
Tony: Absolutely. It's calling down God to doing what He wants to do, but we know much of what He wants to do from His Word. So, I'm calling down what He's already said He's going to do. And because He said it, I have the freedom to give the terminology, but to hold God hostage to His Word, because He holds Himself hostage to that Word.
John: So, if I'm praying that way, what kind of things can I expect?
Tony: You can expect Him to change a misdirected child, to create a new response in a[n] otherwise hurt or rebellious wife, to provide a job opportunity so you can meet your biblical responsibility to care for the provision of your family, to take those who are working against you who are your enemies and turn them into your footstools. You can expect that because God promised to give that.
John: There are times though when life is messy and I pray and pray and pray and I've prayed for 25 years and I haven't seen it happen.
Tony: Okay, God always has three options, because He's God. He can say no, I'm not going to do something. Or He can say yes, I am going to do something. Or He can say, I'm not going to do that now. In the case of Job, when he had to wait, he says in chapter 42, he says, "Up until this time I heard about You with the hearing of the ear. But now I have seen You with my own eyes." So, if you're in a wait mode, 'cause you haven't heard a clear yes or a clear no, then you have one request. While I'm waitin' for Your yes and no, let me see Your reality like I've never seen it before, because that will change the nature of how I wait.
Jim: Tony, in that regard, when you look at our nation, a lot of people are losing hope that we're headed in the wrong direction. I'm not speaking so much politically. I'm talking about the core nature of this country and what it has stood for, for so many years and the coarseness that now [it] is seemingly headed toward, where you know, you see commercials on TV. And when we ran our ad in a football game, boy, we got hit by people saying, "You shouldn't read Scripture on television. We want to see those other ads," I guess.
Jim: But when you look at the culture and you see its coarseness and you see how negative, how evil it's becoming, again, how do we as men of God stand in the face of that, in a way like your father loved your mother, though and demonstrates the love and the grace of Christ in the face of people that really don't like you?
Tony: Well, first of all, we have to understand that, that's part of the price of a commitment to Christ. Those who live godly in Christ Jesus are gonna suffer. So, you have to understand that you don't go in the football game sayin', "Well, I don't think I want to play, 'cause I might get hit." That's the nature of the game. You're gonna get hit, so let's accept that. But you can know that you're gonna get hit and still plan to win.
One of the problems that the culture has declined is not because of the unrighteous people, is that the righteous people are nowhere to be found except in church, where the world is not, until we're willing to go public, until we're willing to be salt and light. Did you know God was gonna save Sodom and Gomorrah from the destruction if Abraham could've found 10 men? It was because Abraham couldn't find 10, that Sodom and Gomorrah was [sic] destroyed.
Our culture is falling apart because God's people are playing hide and seek and are not overtly Christian. Everybody else is comin' out of the closet. We might as well come out, too.
Tony: I mean, it's time to go public and not have this private Christianity, that allows the enemy to control the discussion.
Jim: And when we do that, we have to do that in the nature of Christ, right?
Tony: Well, yes, the Spirit in which you do it has to be compassion and love, but it oughta be clear and not ambivalent.
Jim: We've painted a pretty good picture with what's happening in reality. You talk about in the book, Kingdom Man, what a real kingdom man looks like. Let's talk about that. What does a man who's pursuing God's heart in the context of family and vocation, what does he look like? What are the attributes, his character?
Tony: Well, God has divided the culture or His creation into four categories--the individual, the family, the church and the society. The first thing about a kingdom man is, he takes God seriously. He does not merely reference God, but God is the first place he goes to determine the decisions he makes.
For most men, God is not the first place we go. We wind up with Him when nothing else has worked. That's called "backwards Christian soldiers." We're singin' the song the wrong way. (Laughter) You start with God, Psalm 128 says of that man, and then that man will begin to make his decisions.
Then he transfers it to his family. When he transfers it to his family, his wife becomes a fruitful vine, because she's not now responding only to him. She's responding to God's rule of him. 1 Corinthians 11:3 says that every man is under Christ and a woman is under a man. So, it should be visible to the woman that the same submission he's asking of her, he's giving to God.
If that submission is not visible to her, then he won't see the visible submission he's requiring from her. When she sees that he is bringing her and saying, "We want to seek God's face on this subject, regarding this decision in our home," she's gotta respect that or learn to respect it, 'cause he's respecting God.
Then the children, the Bible says that the way a man leads his family is around the table. Every man can lead his family in less than one hour a day if he's at the table, because the dinner table was used not just for eating, but for leading. It's work done; it's schoolwork done; it's behavior right. When the husband, as many days as he can, is at that table, he changes the atmosphere of the home. So, you just don't eat there, you lead there.
Then the church, men are called to be in accountable relationships through the church for the advancement of God's kingdom. When men just come sit, soak and sour, you know and they come and they sit down and they go home, or one hour in the white church, two hours in the black church, but (Laughter) when there's no accountable community to which he must answer his manhood to, then he can define manhood any way he wants to, rather than how God has defined it and where he is being held accountable. That's what the job of the church is, to disciple men.
And then in the culture, boys and particularly boys, but boys and girls ought to be influenced by a kingdom man. He is to influence his own children, but his impact should be so strong that other young people want to grow up to be like the dad of their friend because their dad is leading their friends the right way.
Jim: You often hear that, don't you, of men that are grown now. They'll look back to their childhood and say, There was a kid in the neighborhood who had a great dad and I hung out at their house a lot, because my dad was absent."
Tony: That's right, so you become surrogate fathers. And unless ... God said He'd be a Father to the fatherless and a mother to the motherless, that doesn't mean a floatin' spirit in Never Neverland. It means, He's gonna work through His people to provide surrogate parenting.
Jim: Tony, when you rattle that list off, a lot of men get overwhelmed. I mean, I connected with one. I think I'm doin' good in one area (Laughter). That's the dinner table. You know, I do try to get home and be there with the kids and have good community and talk and chat and find out what's goin' on in their day and pray together and talk about spiritual things. I think that is absolutely critical to a father's role is around the dinner table.
But then, when you mention the other things, you're a pastor. This is your vocation. Men that are, you know, in the business world or you know, runnin' a grocery store or whatever they might be doing, their time might be stretched so thin. What advice do you have for them?
Tony: First of all, in most cases, there are some exceptions, that's an excuse. Jesus got His disciples to get rid of their nets. We can't get men to get rid of their remotes. (Laughter) That means you're gonna have to sacrifice some TV shows and you're gonna have to sacrifice some football games, but you're gonna have to be strategic.
Let's use the dinner table and you take the dinner table and you spend it with the family, then you dismiss the kids and spend some time with your wife or after they go to bed, spend some time with the wife, dealing with the family issues, you can overlap things and it doesn't have to be a million different things. It can be one strategic thing that you use strategically to do many things.
Jim: Right. So, it's not as bad as it looks, guys.
Tony: It's not as bad as it looks (Laughter). It's not as big as it looks, but it is as significant as it looks.
Jim: What is the fruit, Tony, if a man's livin' his life this way? What does his household look like?
Tony: Well, first of all, his children honor him. His wife respects him. And others admire him, while all the time, God blesses him. Boy, that sounded good. Let me write that down. (Laughter)
Jim: With the idea of finances, so many men are rooted in what we do for our significance. You know, you throw out your title or you know, what you make or whatever it might be. That's kind of the "men talk" around the water cooler.
Jim: What is a good Christian perspective on that for a guy? What should we be looking at as the rule and the measure of success?
Tony: Well, one of the things I talk about in the book, I have a chapter on greatness. And I know we got this humility thing goin' and the Bible teaches humility, although we don't define it like God defines it. It's okay to want to be great. In fact, God encourages us to be great. He told Abraham, "I'm gonna make your name great." He told Moses, "I'm gonna make you great to Pharaoh." He told David, "I'm gonna make you great."
And in fact, He told His disciples, if you want to be great, He just says, don't be great like the Gentiles seek it. So, this thing in a man that wants to be great on the job and great in sports and wants to win, you're supposed to feel that way! And you're not supposed to apologize.
But biblical humility is placing your dreams and visions for greatness under the rule of God. It is the independence of God that's the issue. So, when men talk about their jobs or what they want to do, go ahead and do it, but not at the expense of the rule of God over your life, which means, He's tellin' you what to do with your family. He's tellin' you what to do with your church, as well as with your career.
Jim: Tony, for the man that is steady, doing some vocation that the world may not see as really grand, maybe he's just workin' as a clerk, but his home is in great shape. He's got a wonderful relationship with his wife and his kids. Things are goin' well. They may be tight financially. What kind of life does that man have?
Tony: That man is a great man. That man is a great man, because to be great in the marketplace and to be a failure at home is to be a failure in life. So, that means you must reprioritize your dream. In fact, one ... your greatest dream should be the success spiritually and practically of your family. Everything else should support that growth and that development. That man is a kingdom man.
John: Now Tony, there are people listening who are saying, there are guys listening, thinking, "Well, you just described me and I'm really hurt by that frankly. I am a failure at home and I know that, but I don't see any way to regain what was lost. I mean, I've blown it so badly at home. My wife doesn't respect me. My kids don't." Speak to that man.
Tony: Well, first of all, let me say, "God can hit a bull's eye with a crooked stick. I mean (Laughter) even though things may not be where they are, you start where you are, because that's the only place you can start. And you go to your wife and you say, "I'm asking for your forgiveness for failing to be the man God has called me to be. And if you will forgive me, I will begin the process--and I'm not askin' you to believe my words, but watch my work--to become the kind of man I was created to be as God's man. And over time, my goal is to see God change your heart toward me, as He changes my heart toward Him. When you confess it and then you show fruits of repentance, you're giving the Holy Spirit something to work with in the lives of your wife and children.
Jim: Tony, when you describe that repentant heart, why is that so hard for a man to get to that bottom rung and say, "Okay, I'm done. I'm empty, God. Help me?"
Tony: Well, because to do that, you have to stop being like Satan, which is pride. Pride made him rebel to his own kingdom, rather than submit to the kingdom of God. You have to understand, when your pride and my pride keeps us from confessing where we are wrong, we have joined the other kingdom. And we are now in partnership with the devil, so no matter how many other prayers you pray, God can't respond to them because He can't help you help the devil keep you away from Him.
Jim: Tony, your daughter was here and recorded a program. She was quite an amazing young woman. And I thought about you and your wife and I thought, "Wow, they have done a good job." Are your other three kids like that, too?
Tony: Well, all of 'em are in ministry. I have one son who plays professional football. I have another son who's a professional Gospel singer. Priscilla, of course, is our big national speaker. My other daughter, Chrystal is a writer and leads one of our choirs at church. So, they're all doin' their thing and we're proud of 'em.
Jim: Well, because I ask the question very specifically, not only to give you a nod for a job well done, but you know, people look at the fruit of your parenting and your commitment to Christ. And it would seem when you look at your kids, they've done well. They may not be perfect. None of us are perfect.
Tony: No, they're not perfect. Trust me.
Jim: But (Laughter) you and mom have done a great job. For the parents that are struggling with those teenagers, that are listening more to the world's message than to their parents' message, what can a dad do to really get ahold of that rebellious child?
Tony: God is two things. He is transcendent and imminent. That is, He's distinct, yet He's close to us. And dads oughta be the same. You are to be distinct, in that you establish clear boundaries in which this home will operate. As for me and my house, there is no negotiation. We will serve the Lord. That is what it looks like in this stage of your teenage life.
Now, if you will respect and abide by the boundaries, we will expand the freedom. If you rebel against the boundaries, we will restrict the freedom. So, if you want more freedom, honor the boundaries. We are imminent to you, 'cause we're gonna love you. But we are distinct from you, 'cause we're mom and dad and we're setting boundaries for you. God does that with us. A dad does that with his family and they learn to respect it when they get used to it and know you're not floatin' all over the place after each day.
Jim: So, what you're saying is, that moms and dads can't be just friends--
Jim: --with their kids.
Tony: --no, you cannot be just friends. You can be friends, but not only friends. You've gotta be parents.
Jim: Dr. Tony Evans, author of the book, Kingdom Man you have challenged men today to stand up strong for our families and communities, Tony, to seek God's wisdom and authority, to stop making excuses and to step out in faith and go after the greatness that God has planned for us as spiritual leaders. Dr. Tony Evans, author of the book, Kingdom Man, we've got more to cover and we need to come back next time. Can you stick with us?
Tony: I absolutely will. Love being here.
John: Well, as you know, Dr. Evans has been a guest here on "Focus on the Family" a number of times and I so appreciated hearing his heart today, those family stories he's shared and I hope you have, as well. Kingdom Man is available through Focus and as you can tell, it's a wonderful road map to help a man learn to lead better in your family, in your church and community. And we'll invite you to ask for that and a CD or a download of the conversation with Tony Evans, when you call 800-A-FAMILY; 800-232-6459. Or you'll find those and other resources at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.
And when you get in touch, please remember that we rely on your generosity to help families thrive and to reach out with radio programs, websites, events and more, all designed to strengthen the family. Please make a generous gift today of any amount and we'll send a copy of Kingdom Man to you.
Our program today was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly, I'm John Fuller, thanking you for listening and inviting you back next time, as we hear more from Dr. Tony Evans.
Tony Evans: I'm not into this easy thing. The thing is, is it my responsibility? It may not be easy for me to get up and go to work, but I better get up and go to work, 'cause it's my responsibility. And to be a man is to opt for your responsibility whether or not it's easy.
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John: Some more great insights from Dr. Tony Evans next time, as we once again, help you and your family thrive.
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Tony EvansView Bio
Dr. Tony Evans is founder and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, founder and president of The Urban Alternative, former chaplain of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, and present chaplain of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. His radio broadcast, The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, can be heard on nearly 1,000 US radio outlets daily and in more than 130 countries. For more information, visit TonyEvans.org.