How the king rejoices in your strength, O Lord!
    He shouts with joy because you give him victory.
Your victory brings him great honor,
    and you have clothed him with splendor and majesty.

Psa. 21:1, 5, NLT

I had the opportunity to hear Rick Johnson, founder of Better Dads, speak on what makes a man a good leader. “I had just turned forty,” he said, “and had no idea what it meant to be a man or how to be a good father. As I drove I began thinking of great leaders throughout history and asked myself what they had in common.” Rick wasn’t a believer at the time, so he surprised himself with his own answer. “I realized every one that came to mind were all men of faith.”

In his quest to discover true manhood Rick began a relationship with Jesus Christ, who revealed to him what true masculinity and leadership is all about. I agree with Johnson’s assessment of the low expectations we have of men in his chapter “Gladiator: Defining Masculinity”: “Our society typically ascribes a dismal role to men, with low or no expectations of nobility or greatness. Few portrayals of men in the media are positive. Television shows and commercials often cast men as bumbling idiots with their wives as the competent ones in the family – all done under the guise of humor, which makes it acceptable. I wonder what the outcry would be like, though, if they reversed roles and all television sitcoms portrayed women as bumbling idiots and all men as the competent ones.”*  

On the other end of the spectrum are heroes who possess brute strength, and perhaps a sense of justice, but are completely inept in personal relationships and unfit to face everyday problems. Johnson says, “Authentic men are passionate, fierce, and noble – they care. In fact, they are dangerous, but it’s a good dangerous.” This is the kind of leader portrayed in Psalm twenty-one. The king was a man of God; victorious in the name and character of God; a man full of joy and commitment. His stride exuded splendor and majesty.

We need leaders like this! Whether the leader is a king, our president, pastor, boss, father, or church elder, we desperately need men who will courageously face the enemies of God and do battle for their families, fellow believers, the weak and the needy, and those who are oppressed. How does a man get to be that kind of leader? Norman Mailer says, “Masculinity is not something given to you, but something you gain. And you gain it by winning small battles with honor.”

That means doing things God’s way, even when it would be easier to take shortcuts. That means choosing what is right, even when it costs you personally. Victorious leadership doesn’t make compromises, it doesn’t make deals with the enemy, and it doesn’t delight in war for war’s sake. This leader does not fight for his own pleasure or glory, but to bring honor and fame to the King of heaven.

Who will lead this generation in the strength God provides? Who will shout louder for victories over sin and bondage than for football games, hunting, fishing, or work exploits? Who will walk through life respected for his godly leadership?

If you’re reading this and feel there’s no way you could ever measure up to this kind of manhood, remember, it happens one battle at a time. Each time you fight for God’s honor, relying on His strength, you add to your reputation as a man of God.

*All quotes from The Power of a Man by Rick Johnson, also author of The Man Whisperer, Better Dads, Using Your Influence as a Man of Character and others.