Dr. Robert Lewis has been a pastor, writer and speaker for 40 years. In 1990, Lewis founded Men’s Fraternity while serving as teaching pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Men’s Fraternity curriculum has influenced millions of men around the world. Lewis has authored several books, including “Raising a Modern-Day Knight.” Married for almost 50 years, he and his wife, Sherard, have four grown children and 10 grandchildren.
How has manhood shifted in recent years?
For the last 40 years, Lewis’ single-minded pursuit has been to instill passion and purpose into men.
“The culture shift has been building behind a dam,” Lewis said. “The cultural constraints were Judeo-Christian values, but that dam began to leak severely during the 1960s and ’70s. Now, the dam is broken. The question is, ‘What fills that vacuum?’ I would say nothing fills that vacuum.”
Lewis said it has led to a “fog” over fatherhood.
“The landscape is telling us today that manhood has descended into a fog,” Lewis said. “Twenty-five years ago, there were at least some markers most men would at least acknowledge and tend to shape their life around. The abandonment of the dad, either by absence or passiveness, leaves young men clueless. When men don’t know the definition of manhood, they can’t give it to their sons.”
How has passiveness played a role in manhood?
Because the societal meaning of manhood is blurred, fathers aren’t filled with kingdom-minded exploits.
“Passiveness doesn’t mean a lack of action, but irresponsible action,” Lewis said. “That goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. If men aren’t called up to responsible action, they become active in lower pursuits. Unless they are coached to that higher responsibility, men don’t naturally seek it.”
Lewis said this culminates in apathy toward the Gospel.
“One thing I’ve seen a marked increase in men is the amount of young men, who in the absence of something calling them up to more masculine action, tend to play to men’s natural passivity,” he said. “Whether it’s video games, playing their life away, rather than pursuing more aggressive adventures through activities, education or creativity. A lot of men are being dumbed down because of the entertainment of technology.”
How can men be graciously guided toward God?
It’s no small task to be the head of the household.
Lewis said men must lean on the power of God and the people of God.
“True manhood is supernatural,” Lewis said. “Manhood is not born, but made. That’s why they used to have ceremonies. They were knighted or had rites of passage where the older men called the younger men up.”
In the opening two chapters of Genesis, God originally outlined to Adam the makeup of a man.
Lewis lists four features:
1. Follow God and His Word.
2. Love and protect the woman.
3. Excel at God’s work.
4. Better the world through child rearing.
What are practical markers of manhood?
Lewis, who raised four Christian sons, gives three types of dads.
Problematic dad: One who has no clue or is never around.
Good dad: Trying to do things with his kid and is involved, but doesn’t know the end game of fatherhood. “He’s working hard, but he starts realizing he’s not getting all the results he had in mind when he attended his games, coached his team or helped him with his homework,” Lewis said. “He’s giving good things to his son, but what he’s not giving is the smart things.”
Smart dad: Has an eternal purpose to his parenting sketched by Scripture.
Lewis shared the significance of being a smart dad.
“Every dad needs to keep an eye on what he’s saying and what he’s actually doing because that’s character,” Lewis said. “Authentic spirituality, not church activity.”
Loving and honoring his wife is a key characteristic of a smart dad.
“If you don’t know anything about parenting, if you love your wife and build a good marriage, you’ll have accomplished 75 percent of parenting,” Lewis added. “Because your kids would have seen forgiveness, good communication, conflict resolution and money management.”
And dads need to make sure to give their children affirmation.
“Dads need to be their children’s biggest cheerleader—‘I love you, I’m proud of you and here’s what I admire.’”