The Relationship Between Masculinity and Pastoral Authority

I remember the first time I worried if I was masculine enough. It was three years ago (I know, probably should have come sooner, right?) when my wife and I found out our second child would be a boy. Being a man is hard enough. How am I going to raise a man? Someone somewhere once said you can’t impart what you don’t possess. Did I possess enough masculinity to impart it to my son?

Enter Douglas Wilson’s Father Hunger, a book about how men should love and lead their families.In the fourth chapter he defines masculinity as “the glad assumption of sacrificial responsibility” (p. 41). It has less to do with tools and more to do with using your tools to serve your wife and kids, rather than to escape from them. It is more masculine to take five minutes to hammer a nail into the wall of your daughter bedroom to hang a flowery painting than to spend all Saturday morning working on a hot rod walled off from your family by rock and roll music.

On the next page Wilson says, “Masculinity is authoritative, and the Scriptures teach that authority flows to those who take responsibility, and it flees from those who seek to evade it” (p. 42). If we synthesize the two statements here is what we get: men who gladly sacrifice themselves to see to their family’s needs will be men who are looked to for authority, and will exercise that authority in unselfish, non-egotistic ways. Wilson sums this idea up a bit more succinctly when he says a man is “called to  an authority that bleeds for others” (p. 45).

Masculinity and Pastoral Authority

When I read that line, my imagination began to play connect the dots, starting from family affairs and moving toward pastoral ministry. Pastors are called to be an authority. Our office, as under-shepherds of the Chief Shepherd, is endowed with divine authority.

But how will that authority “flow to us” as Wilson says? Because isn’t that the key to true authority? That it is not taken, but is given? The pastor who has to grab his people by the ears and remind them that he is in charge has no authority in his church. Ironically, even though the office is endowed with authority, that is not what pastors can point to in order to exercise authority.

The answer is that pastoral authority will flow to us when we “bleed for others,” when we bleed for our church.

Are you bleeding for your church?

Do you sacrifice for your church? Do you take up responsibility that doesn’t “get results” but serves your people? When was the last time you called up someone to pray for them before they went in for surgery? When was the last time you spent half an hour answering an email for someone who has a difficult question?

Jesus bled for you, and is the head of the church. His authority comes from his glad assumption of responsibility for our sins. In light of what he has done for us pastors, let us now do this for our churches.