A silent son is a man who grew up in a dysfunctional family, denies he was negatively affected by the experience, and continues to have problems in his life today. He might come from a family that coped with violence, alcoholism, compulsive gambling, child abuse, verbal abuse, workaholism, divorce, extreme rigidity, or a variety of other problems. The problems that he has in his life today could include an inability to maintain relationships, an inability to control anger, a tendency toward workaholism or addiction, fear of intimacy, violent behavior, or low self-esteem, to name just a few.
~ Robert J. Ackerman – Silent Sons: A Book for and About Men – Chapter One: Are you a Silent Son? ~
In my personal, and past professional, experience there are many men suffering in silence because of their upbringing. Within the Christian life – a man may lead a healing life on many levels. Some may have turned to healing professionals for help. Something that contributes to one’s strength and empowerment that prove quite beneficial to many problems. Others turn toward a more mindful and spiritual journey of healing and living through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Such that, when combined with wise spiritual discipleship and counsel, proves even more significant and empowering to overcome many problems.
Relationships heal when each of us come to fully understand Godly Character where we develop traits that are loving, affirming, reliable, committed, and loyal. Such healing may come from mindful observation of our Heavenly Father’s creation – for nature heals. It also comes from the beauty of art where uplifting music, a poem, an inspiring novel, or a picture moves one to a different plane in order to teach us about life.
Christian meditation and thoughtful and mindful prayer brings peaceful solitude, relaxation, and a sense of a holy conscience where we experience inner peace. Laughter is said to also provide healing, as it is always said that laughter is the best medicine for the soul. Physical activity brings healing as we are mindful of what we ingest, exercise to maintain good health and provides us with necessary energy. Giving ourselves over to service also provides a means by which one experiences healing.
Yet, at the most basic level, accepting ourselves as loveable men, just as we are, is the foundation for all manner of healing. And it is this spiritual truth, I believe, missing in many Christian communities. A spiritual truth connecting broken men to the reality of their true identity in Jesus Christ. A spiritual truth and reality in helping them find meaningful healing through the grace of God and Christ’s infinite atonement.
Robert L. Millet posits three important questions each one of us may want to meditate and thoughtfully answer:
- What kind of a man am I?
- What kind of a man do I want to be?
- What kind of a man does my Heavenly Father and my Savior need me to be?
And a more important question comes from the Book of Mormon – found in 3 Nephi 27:27 – where the Savior asks: What manner of men ought ye to be? The answer – even as I am. Here is what President Howard W. Hunter taught at the 164th Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1994):
One of the most important questions ever asked to mortal men was asked by the Son of God himself, the Savior of the world. To a group of disciples in the New World, a group anxious to be taught by him and even more anxious because he would soon be leaving them, he asked, “What manner of men ought ye to be?” Then in the same breath he gave this answer: “Even as I am” (3 Ne. 27:27).What manner of men ought ye to be?
The type of masculinity and defined manhood is shaped by our devotion and willingness to exemplify the Savior in all aspects of our lives. In 2 Peter 3:11-12 we find a similar question – as it pertains to the Parousia of Christ (or the second coming). In the Complete Jewish Study Bible we find it rendered as: Since everything is going to be destroyed like this, what kind of people should you be? You should lead holy and godly lives …
Yet, how does one heal from the brokenness they’ve experienced while growing up in a dysfunctional environment? How does a man live a healing life through the grace and mercy of our Heavenly Father when they are suffering as a silent son? What is the ministry efforts of a Christian community toward those struggling with homelessness, substance use, mental health, and other adversities in life?
I, personally, believe the answers lie in how the Christian community avails themselves in answering the questions Millet proposes. And I’d like to expound upon those for a moment.
What kind of a man am I?
The first aspect of healing comes when one develops awareness of who they are in their present mindset. Awareness of how they have come to define themselves as a man. The amount of dysfunction and awareness of significant loss of personal identity, autonomy, and impact they’ve experienced because of toxicity. A primary way to develop awareness is what Dr. Ackerman shares in his book Silent Sons. He lists the following characteristic traits of toxic masculinity that interfere with healing and restoration:
- He keeps things that bother him to himself
- He denies that unpleasant events occur
- He fears letting people know him
- He has difficulty interacting with his parents, spouse, children
- He has a strong fear of criticism
- He is prone to anger and tempers
- He is not able to express his feelings in a healthy way
- He disproportionately fears failure
- He is obsessively driven to succeed
- He desperately wants his life to be better yet does not know how to change
Dr. Ackerman continues:
A silent son is a man in pain, but he doesn’t want to admit it or allow anyone to see it. The pain is always present. He tries to ignore it. He tries to forget it. He becomes so involved in his career that he becomes convinced that the pain doesn’t matter anymore. He surrounds himself with people whom he won’t let get close to him, and he pretends that he belongs. But when he is alone or alone with his thoughts he realizes the pain is still there.
Furthermore, Dr. Ackerman asks some important questions:
What do you do when you are reminded of the pain of your childhood? Do you vow to forget it by doing whatever you can to distract yourself? Do you deny it or condemn it? A silent son may try to drink it away, work it away, romance it away, or tell himself that it doesn’t get in his way.
And one of the most harmful aspects of ministering to those men who may be silent sons is seeing them appear as though they may have it all together. This may be due to the fact, as Dr. Ackerman lists, that many have some positive characteristic traits:
- He is good under pressure
- He is adventurous
- he is independent
- He is a survivor
- He is empathic
- He is a hard worker
- He is a loyal friend
- He is willing to help others
- He is a problem solver
- He has a good sense of humor
Dr. Ackerman further shares this insight where men functioning in their own pain. He also observed is the high functionality some silent sons possess – including social skills despite the pain of depression and low self-esteem. Dr. Ackerman views this as an intriguing paradox. And it is probably the most significant and problematic reason such men are overlooked within the Christian community. Despite the fact that they are hurting, they are capable of doing the right things socially.
The other paradox Dr. Ackerman observed is the involvement of self-defeating behaviors that prevents a man from living up to their potential or results in self-inflicted pain. He lists the following traits associated with this common paradox:
- Denial of feelings
- Inability to express needs in a healthy manner
- Passive and inability to be assertive – or “stand up for oneself”
Such traits are definitive and developed as a means of survival due to growing up in family dysfunctions, abuse, and where addiction may have been prevalent.
Developing an awareness to honestly answer the question – what type of a man am I? – rests upon the acknowledgement of a long held illusion. A belief that one is just like everyone else. This may be the illusion that one’s family and childhood was not one of dysfunction and is therefore minimized or normalized. Or, hold to the idea that there was some family dysfunction – however they managed to not experience any significant impact from it.
So, how does one become aware and thoughtfully answer the first question? Dr. Ackerman lists some indicators of silence in his book:
- Limited Expression: A man expresses a wide range of emotions in rare instances. This includes sharing positive emotions while negative and distressing emotions are dealt with in solitude
- The Strong Silent Type: At some point in a conversation – most times regarding romantic relationships – the term he is the strong silent type comes up. It is seen as a form of admiration. The danger is negative silence where pain is not expressed because of the fear that one may not be seen as strong and appear to be weak when it comes to emotions. This type of silent type is locked – imprisoned – and such feel empty, hollow, or alone.
- The Silent Treatment: When a man becomes upset – those around him pay the price and that price is through his silence. He is upset, angry, and rather than voice his own concerns, communicate how he feels, he engages the mode of silence. This prevents our needs from being met. It is the reason relationships become distant, failing, and empty.
- Target Practice: Opposite of the silent treatment is the anger and emotional vomitry that is projected and taken out on others.
- The Imposter Syndrome: There are some men who truly, and secretively, feel they are imposters. Despite doing well they see themselves as failures. Fear that if others truly see us for who we see ourselves may not like us. We do not see who we are and therefore see ourselves as being empty, hallow, and superficial. While others say we need to be ourselves – our own thoughts appear to betray us and say be anything other than yourself.
- One-dimensional Man: There are times one may feel out of place when there is no productive work being accomplished. One of the challenges is that men identify themselves with their occupation. When a job is lost there is a sense of emptiness and detachment that occurs. Our identity is tied into our occupation that sometimes we are not able to see past it. When we are not engaged in our chosen occupation – we feel displaced.
- Hidden Feelings: Many times thoughts come to mind and the dialogue goes: I will just keep it to myself. It is a way to protect ourselves from potential exposure. It is also a means by which one minimizes problems within our relationships, work, and even when we are out in the community. It seems to make sense to keep our thoughts and emotions inside. And for most men there is an unspoken expectations of keeping silent.
- Short Fuse: Silent sons are prone to anger, outbursts, and temper. Typically this is because of small things that may cause one to fly off the handle. Anger is a powerful emotion. When there are unresolved hurt, guilt, shame, and resentments that have built up – such anger becomes even more powerful. Sometimes it manifests in violent behaviors. It is also due to inability to manage stress.
The challenge is for each one of us to come to terms with understanding who we are because of our upbringing in family dysfunction. Understand (and not minimize) the impact it has had on our own lives, relationships, ability to sustain gainful employment, and the impact it has on our overall health and well-being. It requires a deep and soul-searching investigation. It also requires us to come to a place of admitting our need for help. Our need to talk openly with others about this.
To answer this question – What kind of a man am I? – means we awaken out of a deep sleep of our own self-defeating illusions and false beliefs. To answer this question we look to Alma 5:6-8:
And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, you that belong to this church, have you sufficiently retained in remembrance the captivity of your fathers? Yea, and have you sufficiently retained in remembrance his mercy and long-suffering towards them? And moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has delivered their souls from hell? Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; yea, they were encircled about by the bands of death, and the chains of hell, and an everlasting destruction did await them. And now I ask of you, my brethren, were they destroyed? Behold, I say unto you, Nay, they were not.
Here are some truths I’d want to point out in this passage of scripture.
- The call to remembrance the captivity of our own fathers
- The call to remembrance of God’s mercy, grace, and longsuffering toward us and our fathers
- The call to recognize the power of God’s deliverance to those who call upon the name of Christ
- The spiritual transformation of a man’s heart by awakening man from a deep sleep unto God
- The heart and soul of man that laid in darkness is now illuminated by the light of God’s truth
- Spiritual transformation and a mindful and spiritual journey of true faith brings us out of destruction, breaks the bands of death, and frees us from the chains of suffering
In what manner is the Christian community able to come together and properly disciple men who are broken? Men who are suffering in silence and not awaken to their own peril and destruction? Robert L. Millet shares this thought (Men of Valor: The Powerful Impact of a Righteous Man) as it relates to the example of Peter:
Through the cultivation of the gift of the Holy Ghost, Peter was born again, converted, turned wholly to Christ and to His righteousness. Peter could now strengthen his brothers and sisters. “You cannot lift another soul,” President Lee added, “until you are standing on higher ground than he is. You must be sure, if you would rescue the man, that you yourself are setting the example of what you would have him be. You cannot light a fire in another soul unless it is burning in your own soul” (Conference Report, April 1973, 178. Truly, “one is converted when he sees with his eyes what he ought to see; when he hears with his ears what he ought to hear; and when he understands with his heart what he ought to understand. And what he ought to see, hear, and understand is truth—eternal truth—and then practice it. That is conversion. . . . “When we understand more than we know with our minds, when we understand with our hearts, then we know that the Spirit of the Lord is working upon us” (Lee, Stand Ye in Holy Places, 92).
First, a man (who desires to minister to other men struggling with pain, failure, impact of family dysfunction, substance use, and mental health related issues) will be appropriate to minister when they themselves have experienced a mighty change of heart and have experienced a significant spiritual transformation in their own lives (see. One who is seasoned through perseverance, facing adversity with faithfulness to Christ, and have established themselves on a higher ground of recovery and transformation. Second, such a man is willing to set themselves up as an example of what it means to live in healing and restoration of Godly masculinity and manhood. One who has committed themselves over to the example of the Savior’s life and ministry. Third, a man who is converted to where they see, hear, and understands through spiritual eyes, ears, and heart. One who understands truth and how to minister in a way that shows grace, empathy, compassion, love, acceptance, and kindness. Additionally, one who knows what it means to be long-suffering toward those still caught in their own misery and dysfunction. Finally, one who is open and receptive to how the Spirit of the L:ord is working in our own hearts and minds as we continue to grow in our own faith and testimony of Christ’s infinite atonement.
What kind of a man do I want to be?
Once we have come to understand what type of a man we are the next step is to answer the question of what kind of man does one desire to become. The short answer is to be the type of man that reflects the love of the Savior, growing in the image and likeness of Christ – who bears the image and likeness of the Father. 1 John 2:6 gives us this insight: A person who claims to be continuing in union with him ought to conduct his life the way he did. Healing and spiritually transforming our lives means we are willing to commit ourselves over to living a life that mirrors the Saviors. And this is a process of growth, challenges, faith, and facing our own struggles and adversities.
According to Robert L. Millet – there is a call for each of us to rise up and understand what kind of a man we ought to be:
I believe the message in the hymn “Rise Up, O Men of God” (Hymns, no. 324) is a plea, a call, a divine invitation for us to rise above the telestial tinsel of our time; to deny ourselves of ungodliness and clothe ourselves in the mantle of holiness; to reach and stretch and grasp for that spiritual direction and sacred empowerment promised to the Lord’s agents, to those charged to act in the name of our Principal, Jesus Christ; and to point the way to salvation and deliverance and peace in a world that finds itself enshrouded in darkness, a world that yearns for spiritual leadership.Millet, Robert L.. Men of Valor: The Powerful Impact of a Righteous Man . Deseret Book Company. Kindle Edition.
Millet prescribes some observations from the hymn:
- Become a man who rises above ungodliness
- Become a man clothed in Godliness
- Become a man that reaches, stretches, and grasp hold of Spiritual Wisdom and sacred empowerment promised
- Become a man that acts in authority of Jesus Christ in ministering in a manner that brings salvation and deliverance to others
- Become a man who emulates peace within his own life and home despite the shroud of darkness hanging o’er us
- Become a man who steps into spiritual leadership roles within his home, workplace, and community
All of this begins when we take those lesser steps of healing and restoration. It occurs when we are willing and committed to put to death our own former lives and embrace a new life. The Apostle Paul reminded Christians in the first century of this spiritual truth. A spiritual truth that the Savior taught. The Apostle Paul summed it up when he wrote to the Church at Ephesus: then, so far as your former way of life is concerned, you must strip off your old nature, because your old nature is thoroughly rotted by its deceptive desires; (see Ephesians 4:22).
By becoming aware of our own pain, acknowledging it, understanding and taking accountability and responsibility we are able to begin the process of healing and become the man who has a sense of meaning and purpose through Jesus Christ. And to become a man that mirrors the image and likeness of Christ – we need to be and do as the Savior. These are not two separate ideas. To become the type of man we want to be we must do the things that cultivate the type of godly manhood and masculinity our Savior possesses. In essence we willingly commit our own lives over to become as Christ is by doing the things He did (see 3 Nephi 27:21).
What are some of the things Christ did that we must also do?
- Christ was a man of faithful prayer and fasting
- Christ willingly submitted himself to the Father’s authority and will
- Christ understood His personal identity, mission, and purpose
- Christ ministered with empathy, compassion, and kindness
- Christ spoke with authority and truth
- Christ experienced his own anguish, pain, and suffering willingly and brought it to His father’s attention
- Christ understood the scriptures and the spiritual truths contained within them
- Christ was steadfast and assured in his Faith and Authority
- Christ gave himself over to serve others through humility and meekness
- Christ gave himself over to solitude, reflection, and contemplation
- Christ gave himself over to stewardship of his own personal life and ministry to do the Will of the Father
- Christ endured and overcame adversity and temptation
These particular attributes, as Elder Lynn G. Robbins explains, result in our successful efforts to develop Christlike attributes so that His image may be engraven in your countenance and His attributes manifest in your behavior.
What kind of a man does my Heavenly Father and my Savior need me to be?
The process, and our spiritual journey and growth, begins with awareness of what kind of a man we are. It then moves us to answer the question of what kind of a man we desire to become. It is when we come to answer the third and final question that brings about significant truth and transformation. Since we understand that the type of man we desire to become is one that emulates Christ’s image, likeness, and attributes – it delves into the deeper truths that such a man is what our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ needs us to be.
Robert L. Millet authored three books where he explores three concepts of Godly and Righteous men:
- Becoming a man of valor
- Becoming a man of integrity
- Becoming a man of Oath, Covenants, and Transcendent Promises
What does it mean to become a man of valor?
- Provides protection, security, and sanctuary (Chet)
- Engaged in mighty deeds and works (Yood)
- Operates and speaks with the authority and ability to be a strong steward (Lamed)
Our Heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ – our Savior, desires us to become men who provides protection, security, and sanctuary through mighty works where we operate and speak with authority and able to be stewards over our lives. And this is accomplished through our willing commitment to make an oath and covenant with our Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ. This requires us to become:
- Faithful men in receiving the power and authority of Christ
- Become Sons and Heirs of God in His Kingdom
- Become Heirs and Joint-Heirs with Christ in the Father’s Kingdom
- Commit to a willingness to live by God’s reveal word and truth
- Be committed to learning and growing in all spiritual truth and matters
This promised blessing won’t happen when we are asleep and walk with blindness to our own personal sufferings and pain. We may, as Robert L. Millet shares in his book, place a ladder against the wall and climb it and yet find ourselves having done so against the wrong wall.
Healing and spiritually transforming our lives comes when we first submit ourselves over to God’s divine care and will for our own lives. Our desire to become like Christ, and therefore to become like our Heavenly Father, grows and strengthens within our faith as we face and overcome our many challenges. For, it is through the refiners fire where we are shaped and transformed into a Godly image and likeness (see 1 Peter 1:7). Obtaining the desire to become like our Savior and our Heavenly Father – we are able to further transform ourselves into a man of valor.
Our personal identity as men flow from understanding who Christ is and thereby understanding who our Heavenly Father is. By this, we grow and transform our hearts, minds, and souls into a Godly man because we understand our sense of meaning and purpose. We, in essence, come to identify who we truly are and our divine heritage.
How this comes about is constant dialogue with our Heavenly Father. Prayer, meditation, and fasting are the key principle spiritual disciplines that open us to receive personal and divine revelation. It is also where we receive strength, wisdom, and encouragement. It is the place where we come to lay ourselves out on the alter and bring to God our troubles, fears, distressing emotions and submit to His authority alone. This includes faithfully and trusting in God to answer our requests to show unto each of us a sign so that we may not be mislead or deceived (see the story of Gideon in Judges 6:1-49).
Being a man of valor also means that we move toward being radical and brazen through God’s will and authority. Gideon tore down the altar to Ba’al. In its place, Gideon built an altar unto Yeshua Hamashiac. Today, there is a serious attack on manhood by denying it’s power and authority. Denying the power and authority within the home, within the workplace, and within the community.
Courage is standing in God’s will despite our fear of what others may think. For men – it is standing in the face of fear of what we have led ourselves to believe who we are. An illusion of what society expects us to be. Manhood redefined by social norms. Feminization of true masculinity. Yet scripture calls us to be of courage because our Heavenly Father is with us and no one may stand against us (see Joshua 1:5). This occurs when we walk in obedience to the God’s will and commandments (see Joshua 1:7). It is to stand and face our accusers with faithful loyalty to God’s truthfulness.
True and Godly masculinity comes from the strength of Jesus Christ (see Ephesians 6:10). Through the power of the Priesthood we are faithful in not only representing Christ and our Heavenly Father – we are equipped to act in authority. When I think about Paul’s admonishment at the end of his letter to the Christians in Ephesus – the priesthood, the oath and covenant of the priesthood, and the transcendent promises contained within the Holy Priesthood of God – I am amazed at the power such authority has over our lives. The Melchizedek Priesthood and the Aaronic Priesthood is the very armor of God that not only protects us, it strengthens us, it gives us the authority to do might works. It is our protection, sanctuary, and peace. This armor of God that we are to put upon ourselves is Christ himself (see Romans 13:12-14):
The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
It also means we give ourselves over to prayer, fasting, and meditating upon God’s word. Christ, himself, expressed the spiritual truth – man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (see Matthew 4:4). Living in healing means we are willing and committed to seeking personal revelation and hearing the voice of God. Furthermore, it is a commitment and willingness not only to hear – but to hearken unto our Heavenly Father. Specifically in these darkening times and days (See Doctrine and Covenants Section 1).
The priesthood authority of Christ is our armor that we put on to withstand the darkness and increasing evil of our own day and time:
- Christ is the Truth we gird ourselves with
- Christ is the Breastplate of Righteousness
- Our Faith in Christ and our Heavenly Father is our shield
- Christ is the helmet of our salvation and deliverance
- Christ prepares our feet with the message of the Gospel truths
- Scripture and personal revelation is our sword of truth we wield by the power of the Spirit
By putting upon ourselves the full armor of God we are equipped and battle ready. This is the type of Godly masculinity and man our Heavenly Father desires. One who is prepared to engage and properly use the priesthood authority.
Finally, how do we become men of valor? By aligning ourselves with true spiritual warriors and mentors. I know that such an idea is not fully discussed within the Latter-day Saint Christian community. However, growing up within the faith there is a true spiritual comradery among fellow men who are seasoned priesthood holders. Not only is it our priesthood duty to make our calling and election sure with faithful diligence, prayerful and mindful meditative supplication; we are to also become examples of true Christians in emulating Christ.
The Apostle Paul understood this when he wrote to the Christians at Corinth and admonished them to follow him as he follows Christ. As priesthood holders, we are to emulate the savior so that others may follow us as we follow the Savior.
What does it mean to become a man of influence?
Our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ wants us to become men of influence. Ever asked yourself how the men went from being disciples of Christ to being called apostles? This is something I had not known before. The Greek for disciple is μαθητής, οῦ, ὁ (mathétés – pronounced math-ay-tes’). It is the same word that we use for discipline. In the Gospels of the New Testament, we are introduced to these men. Christ called them into service. Yet, they had to first learn from him. They were His pupils. It is not until after Christ’s ascension that these men went from being Christ’s pupils to being His apostles. The Greek for Apostle is one who is sent out (ἀπόστολος, ου, ὁ – apostolos = pronounced ap-os’-tol-os). The latter is has the same root for apostasy – one who is sent out because of sin, transgression or rebellion.
To become a man of influence we are to willingly commit ourselves over to being first disciples. Learning spiritual disciplines. Growing in our faith. Having seasoned men of valor and influence in our lives to promote spiritual growth, healing, and steadfast faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Robert L. Millet shares this thought in the book Becoming Men of Influence:
We have been called to labor. There is no more noble task in this world than extending ourselves in service and striving to motivate, inspire, uplift, and influence others toward greater righteousness. God and Christ are in the business of saving souls, and holders of the priesthood are employed in the same business. Jesus was not a CEO in his kingdom, and the living prophet is not a CEO in the Church. Jesus was not a personnel manager, and the local bishop is not called to manage people; he is called to lead them. If there is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:7), let me be the one who repents with all the energy of my soul and thereby brings joy and rejoicing to angels and to my Father and God. And let me be the instrument of peace—the one who honors his priesthood, ensures that there is no iniquity in the Church (D&C 20:54), and tenderly helps others to see the error of their ways and turn to our Lord and Savior for relief and renewal.Millet, Robert L.. Men of Influence: The Potential of the Priesthood to Lift the World (Kindle Locations 194-198). Deseret Book Company. Kindle Edition.
Millet also observes this truth:
We have been called to labor, to take up our cross daily—indeed, to be “soldiers of the Cross”—and to deny ourselves of all ungodliness and worldly lusts (Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 91; see JST Matthew 16:26; Luke 9:23; Moroni 10:32). Our labor, our work, like that of Hyrum Smith’s, is to keep the commandments of God with all our might, mind, and strength (D&C 11:20).Millet, Robert L.. Men of Influence: The Potential of the Priesthood to Lift the World (Kindle Locations 198-201). Deseret Book Company. Kindle Edition.
Not only are we to understand that we are called to labor we are called to take up our cross daily and to be soldiers of the Cross. This comes by way of our dutiful obedience to the commandments of God. Those outside of the Latter-day Saint Christian faith view the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ as one of works and legalism. They fail to comprehend the simple spiritual truths of Christ’s teaching. To deny ourselves and take up our cross is the very thing many Christians do not understand in it’s full spiritual truth. Not only to deny ourselves but to defend ourselves because of Christ’s faithfulness and truth. We are to defend the right and privilege of being called into the vineyard and labor for the sake of Salvation. To call all humanity unto repentance. Teaching them to develop faith in Jesus Christ. To submit themselves to the sacred ordinance and covenant of baptism by immersion, and seal upon them the gift and privilege of the power and authority of the Holy Spirit over their lives. Through this process we are able to make disciples unto God (See Matthew 28:16-20).
The essential truth here is that we become a man of influence when we mature in our own spiritual faith and journey.Tweet
It is through Christ’s authority and power – all power is given unto me in Heaven and in Earth – which is the Priesthood of Melchizedek:
As we look to Christ as our example, seasoned priesthood holders who are self-reliant, faithful in their duties and service, and emulate the life and ministry of the Savior; we are able to discover some key aspects of what it takes to become a man of influence.
First, it requires a journey of awareness (as previously discussed). Second, it requires a personal journey of discipline – specifically cultivating spiritual disciplines that we are faithfully persistent and consistent in doing. Next, we come to a place of understanding. And finally we become a man of influence where we show compassion, kindness, and empathy through meekness. Such behaviors and attributes takes time and patience in developing.
Our first duty is to labor within our own lives to cultivate a pattern that is consistent with Christ’s teachings and ministry. Without establishing how Christ influences our own personal lives -we are not able to empower and influence others. Our second duty is to stretch out and begin to serve others. First, in small capacity and means. Next, taking on responsibilities that further challenge us and our resilience so we grow from faith to faith and learn line upon line and precept upon precept (see David A. Bednar’s message).
Let us go back to the beginning of this post concerning men who are broken, suffering in pain and silence, where they lack awareness and operate under a false sense of reality and illusion. Awareness is the very first step. This requires humility and honesty. Second, it requires our commitment and willingness to submit our lives and our will over to our Heavenly Father’s care and will. Trusting in Him and in his Word. It is also learning to tune in and here the voice of God and not rely upon our own means of understanding.
The greatest desire is for us to attain a high level of masculinity that is influential, impacting, and inspiring. By becoming a man of influence we are cultivating a true attribute of Christ-like integrity. This significant attribute provides a means by which we are able to influence our family, workplace, and community at large. Christ-like integrity means:
- We develop and mature through consistent spiritual disciplines in our own personal lives
- Leads to healthy respect, admiration, and success in our personal lives
- Integrity focuses on ability to manage our lives wisely – meaning one is a faithful steward over all aspects of his life
- Stabilizes and promotes healthy relationships
- Develops a sense of fulfillment, worth, belonging, liberty, and leisure where one is at peace with who he is
Because of our integrity, we are in a position of making a significant influence in the lives of others. And we are not adverse to growing and maturing further in abundant of our Heavenly Father’s mercy, grace, and faith.
This is not something taken lightly either. By becoming a man of influence and integrity means we make an oath and covenant with our Heavenly Father to faithfully walk in obedience, fulfilling and making our calling and election sure. Secure our salvation in Christ through fear and trembling (see Philippians 2:12).
What does it mean to become a man of Oath, Covenants, and Transcendent Promises?
Our Heavenly Father takes seriously the nature of oaths and covenants. These are quite sacred to Him. They are sacred to our Savior – Jesus Christ. Along with the blessings God gives us in honoring those oaths and covenants – the transcendent promises of holiness, salvation, deliverance, protection, and exaltation – He also lays out specific warnings in our failure to honor those oaths and covenants made. We find this in the Doctrine and Covenants Section 84:33-48.
Granted, the Apostle Paul does not refer to man’s duties as an oath and covenant to priesthood fulfillment and obligation, but he does provide some interesting truths on the powerful influence man has in the home and community. Paul points out the following (see Ephesians 5:25-32):
- Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the Church
- Sanctify the home and cleanse it by the power and authority of the Spirit
- Present ourselves with holiness and glory
- Nourish and Cherish ourselves, our spouse, children, and neighbors
- We represent Christ and His truth and Church in all things.
And for those who are not married – or are divorced – the same applies in our duty and obligations in fulfilling priesthood duties and callings. This includes cultivating and sustaining a life of devotion, worship, loyalty, and spiritual disciplines as a means to becoming a man of influence, integrity, and impact.
The inherent warning and consequences compose of two things: breaking the oath and covenant and altogether turneth from it (See D&C 84:41). I personally believe that this is the unpardonable sin (see Mark 3:28-29) Christ warned about.
President Henry B. Eyring admonishes the following in his Conference address: Go forward in faith in keeping your covenants with God and so claim the promise He has made to you with an oath.
Understanding how one answers the question – What kind of a man does my Heavenly Father and my Savior need me to be? – wisdom and knowledge is the gainful spiritual truth that moves us toward a healthy spiritual transformation where we are adorn with Godly masculinity and manhood.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
What, then, does this mean when it comes to ministering to men who are suffering in silence. Men who are locked in a false sense of security. Men who appear to have it together and yet function in their own pain and distress?
Elder Garritt Wong gave one of the most significant and inspiring messages at the April 2021 General Conference. His message – entitled Room at the Inn – reflects the spiritual message hidden within the parable of the Good Samaritan. Elder Wong shares this insight:
On our dusty roads to Jericho, we are beset upon, wounded, and left in pain.
Though we should help each other, too often we pass to the other side of the road, for whatever reason.
However, with compassion, the Good Samaritan stops and binds our wounds with wine and oil. Symbols of the sacrament and other ordinances, the wine and oil point us to the spiritual healing in Jesus Christ. The Good Samaritan puts us on His own donkey or, in some stained-glass accounts, carries us on His shoulders. He brings us to the inn, which can represent His Church. At the Inn, the Good Samaritan says, “Take care of him; … when I come again, I will repay thee.” The Good Samaritan, a symbol of our Savior, promises to return, this time in majesty and glory.
I believe that there are men within the LDS Christian (and general Christian) community where they feel passed by for whatever reasons. There is a sense of neglect, spiritual abandonment, and detachment from well-too-do faithful members of the Church that may have caused significant harm to further entrench many silent suffering men.
Elder Wong’s thoughts on the parable of the Good Samaritan shows us the following truths:
- All of us have come to the Inn as we presently are.
- Our duty and obligation is to create an environment where there is a genuine sense of Grace that is welcoming for all to come
- Through discipleship, a person is able to heal, learn to live in healing, grow, mature, and face their struggles and adversities with genuine bold and resilient faith
- Every one is part of a community where Christ is the anchor – the chief cornerstone
- The Church is a place of sacred worship – rejoicing, not only in victory, rejoicing in spirit and truth despite our own personal struggles and challenges
True healing begins when one recognizes a man suffering in their own silence and pain. Coming along side them, journeying.
Notice that when we meditate and ponder the significance of this parable Christ spoke of the compassion the Samaritan had toward the injured individual. Because of this compassion, the Samaritan bound up the man’s wounds and used olive oil and wine to procure healing. We also notice that the individual placed the wounded person onto their own beast – carrying them toward the Inn. Once there, the Samaritan stayed with the individual, continually nursing them to good health. Finally, a promise to return and reward the Inn Keeper.
The parables of Jesus are not simple means of interpretation. There are complexities and truths drawn from each moment of meditation. The parable has some hidden and forgotten symbols that pertain to the plan of salvation (see, The Good Samaritan: Forgotten Symbols by John W. Welch).
Like Christ, we are called to labor in God’s vineyard and Kingdom to heal those in need of healing. To restore them unto faithful service through repentance. Disciple and mentor them so they are spiritually disciplined in fulfilling their own oath and covenants of priesthood authority. Minister as the Savior has ministered to each one of us unto Salvation and Exaltation.
By nurturing and nourishing one another to heal through awareness of who they are, the potential of who they desire to become, and the nature and purpose of what our Heavenly Father and Christ expect of us – we come to grow and mature in healing, spiritual transformation, and overcome our past trauma’s and dysfunction. One becomes a man of Godly purpose, significance, influence, and a true spiritual warrior -standing firm on the truth of Jesus Christ.