ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–A man cannot separate himself from his actions, author Patrick Morley told hundreds of men who attended his seminar during a men’s conference in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 18-19.
“You are what you do,” Morley, a real-estate developer from Orlando and leader in the Christian men’s movement, said during the premier event of “Stand Firm: Men Leaving a Legacy.” More than 2,800 men attended the conference sponsored jointly by First Baptist Church of Orlando, Florida Baptist Convention men’s department and LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Morley, author of several books that deal with issues Christian men face in today’s world, said obedience to God is the key ingredient of godly behavior.
But in today’s culture, men are not so intent on being obedient to God as they are to being successful in life, he said.
“How is it that a man can get exactly what he wants and still not be happy?” Morley asked. “It’s not because he’s failing to reach his goals; it’s because he probably has the wrong goals. One definition of failure means to succeed in ways that don’t really matter.”
If economic success makes people happy, then why has the U.S. suicide rate (31,000 in 1999) reached a national epidemic? he questioned.
“In John 14, Jesus said: ‘If you love me, you will obey what I command,'” Morley said. “It doesn’t say, ‘If you obey me, you will love me.’ Obedience is not the purpose of gaining the cross or of earning salvation. There is nothing you can do that will ever make you good enough for God to love you.
“He loves you because he made you. So if your motivation as a man of God is to please God and make him happy, set yourself free.”
Instead, Morley said, “[O]bey God because you love him.”
Men can show their love for God, Morley said, by:
— Loving their wives. “The Bible says you should love your wife like Christ loves the church.”
— Serving the Lord. “A lot of men say they are unhappy in their vocations and they need a change. It’s very common for men who feel unsettled and unhappy to make a change and find they are just as unhappy as they were before.”
Morley said he often advises Christian men who are thinking about making a significant life change to spend six months serving the Lord at church before doing it. Many men find they are unhappy spiritually rather than vocationally, Morley noted, and serving the church helps revitalize all aspects of their lives at work and at home.
In a separate session, Sid Woodruff, men’s ministry specialist at LifeWay, said men of God do not have to buy into the cultural stereotypes the world has placed on them.
“How many times have you heard the statement, ‘Be a man!'” Woodruff asked. “All the worldly definitions of that phrase are far from what God’s Word says about being a man.”
For example, the world tells men not to display their emotions, he said.
“But Jesus was not afraid to show his emotions. Your life would be more full if you would just open up and connect with your wife and children. Tell them if you are feeling pain. Tell them you need their help.”
The world tells men they should have power and position, Woodruff said. “Yet Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.
“The world tells young boys, ‘You’re a man if you take a girl to bed,'” he said.
“Being a man doesn’t mean taking a woman to bed, but taking a woman to be your wife and keeping yourself only with her as long as you both shall live.”
Woodruff admonished the men to teach their sons what it means to be a good father and husband by demonstrating it.
“You have to leave a legacy for your sons. If we put our boys together right, somehow the world turns out all right.”
Designed to give men a shared vision of Christian leadership, the Orlando conference was one of two regional events of its kind being held this year. The next will be April 14-15 at First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga. For more information, call 1-800-254-2022 or e-mail [email protected].