Masculinity out of control demands respect. Nowhere do we see this more clearly than in Rehoboam:
So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king said, “Come to me again the third day.” And the king answered the people harshly, and forsaking the counsel that the old men had given him, he spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.” (1Ki 12:12-14)
Respect is the foundation for all male relationships. We need a certain level of respect from our peers; a respect for who we are, what we can do, and where we have gotten in life. From our wives, the need is even greater. We need our wives to respect us both as competent leaders and proficient lovers. We need them to respect our capabilities as a man and believe in us in ways that we ourselves may not. Every man wants the love of his wife too, but given the choice, he will always choose her respect.
The respect of those under authority to us can be the hardest to win, especially if we, like Rehoboam, lack the experience or credentials to immediately command what we may consider to be our due. And so, like so many new husbands and bosses, Rehoboam demands that nation of Israel treat him with more respect and give him more work than they gave his father. This is not an insignificant demand, given the fact that Rehoboam’s father was none other than Solomon.
The demand for respect comes in three stages. First, there is the verbal demand – “You WILL show me the respect you deserve.” Then comes the bullying or manipulation. In an employer, this may take the form of threatening write-ups or other action if the employee does not yield the respect demanded. In a husband, this may involve denying a wife’s emotional needs as a way of punishing her. Finally there is the physical force. The ultimate, final expression of masculinity out of control is for a man to force his will upon another via his superior physical size and strength.
And as masculinity out of control demands respect, it equally rejects the role of servant. Here is what the counselors of Solomon – and these men were counselors to the wisest man who ever lived – here is what they told Rehoboam:
“If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever.”
This is the biblical principle of servant-leadership. It is most perfectly modeled for us in Jesus Christ who, although He was God incarnate, “humbled himself” and “took the form of a servant.” Masculinity out of control rejects this because it requires humility. Godly servant-leadership wins the respect of those around it by meeting their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs in a way that demonstrates the love of Christ. Put another way, servant-leadership is about others. Masculinity out of control is about self.
And that brings us to the heart of the issue. Masculinity out of control is essentially immaturity. It is stunted growth. It is a boy who has grown all the muscles and desires of a grown man without growing the self-control necessary to govern and control his actions and impulses.
In the next post in this series, we’ll begin a look at the biblical model of the Worshipful Man and how we can make that our goal.