Week 13 in the year of our Lord 2022

Arrogance v. confidence

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In The Dichotomy of Leadership, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin list the characteristics they believe make a good leader. Their first attribute is:

He is confident but not arrogant.

This is a strong contender for first place in Scripture too. You could make a good argument that Adam’s leadership plunged mankind into ruin because of his arrogance. Saul lost his kingdom because of his presumptuousness in dealing with God. David retained his kingdom by being a man after God’s own heart—in other words, by humbling himself before the Lord.

Arrogant men neither know nor keep their place. Ironically, this is what makes them bad leaders. Confident men are confident precisely because they know their place before God, and can rely on him to be faithful to uphold them in it.

Arrogant men are generally fragile; they don’t respond well to other people critiquing them, because they think they’re better than everyone else—so how could anyone have a better idea than them? Confident men are generally antifragile; their confidence is not based on an artificial view of themselves, but on actual competence, and so they are eager to expand that competence with the help of other men.

Arrogant men want to tear others down so that no one looks better than them. Confident men want to build others up for the benefit of all.

Arrogant men are often very defensive. They need have an answer for everything. If they haven’t thought of something, they’ll have some excuse to make themselves look better. If they fail at something, it’s because they weren’t really trying, or some circumstance prevented them. If someone challenges them, they waste a lot of words justifying themselves. Deep down, what they are feeling is always, “How dare you question me. I’m better than you.” By contrast, confident men know they are sometimes wrong, and that they sometimes fail—and because they can accept this, they simply apologize and learn from their mistakes. Deep down, what they are feeling is, “How can I achieve greater excellence next time?”

Arrogant men are typically legalists or antimonians, always finding a way to be right even when they are obviously wrong. They hate laws and authority and being judged because these expose them. But they often love artificial standards they can adhere to as a way of feeling superior to others. Confident men, on the other hand, know that discipline hurts now, but yields fruit later.

Arrogant men are lazy liars. They want the illusion of excellence without striving. Confident men are industrious and truthful. They want actual excellence and know they must work for it.

All of these things make arrogant men terrible leaders. Being fundamentally self-centered, how can they properly serve others by leading them? How can they lay aside their desire to order the world around themselves, enough to order it around others?

The place of inefficiency in ministry & leadership #

There is a sense in which ministry is inefficient—whether it is church ministry, or simply leading a family or team.

You can remove many of these inefficiencies with well-thought out systems, a judicious use technology, and a little leadership acumen.

But the fact it, mankind is inefficient.

We don’t always say or do things the simplest way. And it’s not because we are being purposely difficult. We often don’t even really know our own minds.

It takes us time to sort things out. It takes many emails, text messages, and conversations. It takes a lot of reading and thinking. For some difficult questions, it can take years to settle on an answer. The same it true for easy questions that are emotionally challenging.

That’s only one example of mankind’s inefficiencies. There are many more.

Life is inefficient.

The only way to remove all inefficiencies from whatever ministry you do, is to remove mankind.

This is why an engineer-like or business system-like approach is helpful to a point, but then begins to have diminishing returns…before turning positively destructive.

Interestingly enough, with church ministry, this is a struggle that both the truly Reformed types and megachurches have in common. It just works from slightly different angles.

Masculinity hacks #

  1. Stop saying, “I feel like,” when what you really mean is, “I think that.”
  2. Stop ending every phrase with, “Right?” …unless you really don’t know.
  3. Stop self-deprecating. Fake humility is just inverted flattery: lies for emotional manipulation.

New content this week: #

Michael was profiled in Jack Donovan’s magazine, in an excellent piece by Will Spencer: Michael Foster and the Inevitable Goodness of Manhood | CHEST. The article is really an extended summary of the major ideas we have been teaching for the past four years, presented in a journalistic style that unbelievers can relate to.

Here’s a section on the feminization of the church:

If God was always the goal, why are the men who follow God so lacking in masculinity? And if patriarchy is “inevitable,” why is the secular world ahead of the Church in talking about it?

Foster answered, “The church has been talking about sexuality since the get-go. If you look at the early Church fathers, they talked about bodily realities, sexuality, the importance of male and female attributes, brash women, effeminate men… It’s in their writings.”

“One way you can think about how culture works is like a tsunami,” he continued. “A tsunami comes in and when it goes out, it takes a bunch of stuff with it, like buildings and soil. Then it comes in again, takes a bunch out. Back and forth, back and forth. So, for generations, we’ve had tsunami waves come in and rip away things that were common sense.”

That explains the intersexual wreckage in the houses of secular men. What accounts for the damage in the hallowed halls of God’s house?

“There’s a pretty strong argument that it began with the writings of Bernard of Clairvaux, who wrote about ‘bridal mysticism,’” Foster replied. “The Church in Scripture is seen as a bride, but individually as men, we’re not supposed to think of ourselves as Christ’s bride. That changes the nature of the relationship in a way that most men are uncomfortable with.”

Bernard of Clairvaux was a Benedictine monk writing in France during the 1100’s. Foster also cited the romantic influence of the Chivalric Codes in the 1200’s; the Puritan clergyman Cotton Mather’s observations about the lack of churchgoing men in America in the 1600’s; and finally, the influence of feminism beginning in the 1800’s.

These trends culminate in what Foster describes as the “lovey-dovey emo language towards Jesus as a boyfriend or lover” found in American churches today. As a pastor, he’s watched this language drive Christian men away from the religion of their upbringing and trigger disgust in spiritually-minded masculine men.

The Manosphere often talks about the impact of the Sexual Revolution—and earlier, the Industrial Revolution—on secular perspectives towards masculinity. To Foster the war on masculinity within Christianity has been waged for much longer.

“As a Christian, I don’t think in years. I think in decades and centuries,” he added. Perhaps the enemies of masculinity do, too.

And here’s a great summary of Spencer’s takeaway from our book (he spends a decent chunk of time reviewing it):

Assembling the pieces, to Christians, the authority of God orders and directs the Universe. A man, being made in the image of God, must similarly use his authority to order and direct his household.

A strong man makes the microcosmic order of his household reflect the macrocosmic order of the Universe. This reconciles him to the inevitable design of patriarchy and religion built into the cosmos.

Notable: #

Jon Moody explains the significant difference between household and family #

From his post on Facebook:

Rebuilding families is insufficient.

A few months ago, I touched on this point when teaching discipleship hour at church I believe. But I have been mentally coming back to it of late.

Households are the foundational building block of societies. Families make up households. But the elevation of the family over households is a recipe for run away power being lost to other institutions, especially those corporate and governmental in nature.

The reason apostate culture tolerates a certain number of families, but actively works to undermine “households” is because families by and large are not a threat to their ends and goals.

Families lack economic power. Families lack cultural power. Families lack political power.

Economically, families have rarely done well in the survey of history. The family level of organization offers none of the efficiencies or economies of scale that a household does. From childcare to transit, insurances (both of the traditional and modern kind), to infrastructure, and so much else, a family is an economically disadvantaged and inefficient unit.

Cultural, isolated families rarely pass on strong cultural values and traditions to their kin. Instead, given the “Farming out” of so many traditional household tasks (like childcare), the family becomes a consumer rather than creator of culture.

Let’s be honest. There is usually no margin to create culture at the family level. Between parenting, work, marriage, and church, little time is leftover for such tasks.

But at the household level? Music, traditions, art, and so much more historically flowed out of households, especially as the older generation who had margin passed it on to the younger one whom was often in their care and charge.

Politically, families exert very little real world influence. Even their votes are now often split against their own interests. But at the household level, especially on the local and regional level, a well ordered, unified, and established household is a political and cultural juggernaut.

If you want to change the direction of the culture and society around you, do more than merely focus on the family. Focus on that which produces truly strong families and societies, multi-generational, like minded households under the Lordship of Christ.

Talk again next week,

Bnonn & Michael

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