By Aaron Wilson
HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn.— “What does it mean to be a man?” asked James MacDonald to more than 2,900 men at this year’s Main Event conference presented by Lifeway Christian Resources.
“There’s a ton of confusion on that point,” said MacDonald, senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago, as he read from 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 where Paul essentially tells brothers in the Lord to “man up.”
MacDonald highlighted principles of biblical manhood from the text as he kicked off the Aug. 10-11 conference designed to equip husbands, fathers, brothers and sons to “act like men” in every area of their lives.
Imploring men to be watchful over their homes, MacDonald also encouraged them to stand firm in the faith, do everything in love and demonstrate true strength.
“[Being] macho and [being] masculine have nothing in common,” he said. “A big, strong macho guy might be pathetically weak when it comes to being a man. Allow yourself to receive strength that comes from outside of yourself through Christ.”
Crawford Loritts, senior pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Ga., spoke to men about what biblical courage looks like.
“Inherent in manhood is the idea God has raised us up as leaders,” Loritts said. “That means we come face-to-face with courage.”
Loritts identified four pillars of courage in Joshua 1 where the Lord commissions Joshua as the leader to succeed Moses. “Courage is defined by the mission God gives men and rests upon the assurance of God’s presence,” Loritts said.
He also called on men to trade in a playground mentality for a battlefield focus. He said the courage to do so rests on having focused determination.
“Courage and strength are like muscles,” Loritts said. “You’re not going to get any more until you use what you have. Start doing and you’ll get more strength to do it.”
Loritts said real courage rests upon the Word of God.
“Enthusiasm is not transformational; war stories won’t change your life,” he said. “The Bible is power. You need the authority of the Word.”
Josh Straub, marriage and family strategist for Lifeway, spoke to married men about leaving a godly legacy to their families and to future generations.
“I don’t care what your platform stage is,” Straub said. “The greatest red carpet you’ll ever walk is through your front door. Your legacy begins at home.”
Straub encouraged men to become famous at home by being teammates with their wives, investing in their kids’ interests and creating a posture of emotional safety for children.
Godly men also set the tone for their homes, Straub said.
“We walk in fear when we react to situations in selfish desire and fail to listen in love,” he said. “Setting the tone for your family is about approaching the throne of grace and modeling forgiveness.”
Ted Diabase and Steve Green
Ted Diabase, a former professional wrestler, told of achieving celebrity status only to come close to losing his family in the process. It was a journey that led him to Christ, he said.
Diabase, who once had action figures modeled after him as he wrestled under the persona, “The Million Dollar Man,” quoted Jesus’ words in saying, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and yet lose his soul?”
Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby, followed Diabase. Green shared how his father set the tone in his family by showing that men are stewards of God’s resources.
Green also walked men through his family’s prayerful decision to sue the federal government over a mandate that would require them to act against their pro-life convictions. Green said he knew the fines of resisting such a mandate would prove unsustainable for the organization, but that his family was prepared to suffer for their beliefs if necessary.
“If we say it’s all His, we have to trust He knows best,” Green said. “There was a peace in knowing we were doing what was right. And we’re grateful that in the end, we did win in the Supreme Court.”
Closing out the speakers was Robby Gallaty, senior pastor at Long Hollow Baptist, the host church of the conference. Gallaty spoke on the importance of spiritual growth in men.
“God uses three things to grow every Christian: people, circumstances and spiritual disciplines,” Gallaty said. “The act of maintaining spiritual disciplines is the only one of these things we can control.”
Gallaty emphasized the role of the local church in pursuing spiritual disciplines by using the analogy of people pursuing physical training as part of a gym community.
“We need people to hold us accountable,” Gallaty said. “You will never get to the spiritual level of maturity God wants for you if you work at it alone.”
Also presenting at the conference were musician Trip Lee and comedian Jason Earl. Case Keenum, NFL starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos and author of the book “Playing for More,” addressed attendees by way of a pre-recorded video message. Worship at the conference was led by Travis Ryan.
Aaron Wilson is a writer for Lifeway Christian Resources.