Greatness must involve victory over the best opponents, or against significant odds. In the boxing world I have just described Manny Pacquiao. Fans of the sport, bloggers, sportswriters, and fellow boxers have appropriately labeled him the best “pound-for-pound” fighter in the modern era. Pacquiao has won titles in eight lighter-weight divisions, but he will never fight for the heavyweight championship of the world. That’s because he is 5′ 6″ and weighs 150 pounds . . . soaking wet! He will not be remembered like Muhammad Ali because experts measure his greatness by different dimensions: the number of weight divisions he has won, the quality of his opponents, and his skills in the ring. Add to these: hand speed, punching power, and work rate. In this way, a “pound-for-pound” fighter designation provides the greater measure of the boxer.
We pastors easily confuse the measure of greatness in the local church. We admire the heavyweights whose numbers sound more like small cities. (I should know – I am in one of those churches.) Over the years my senior pastor has taught me not to elevate numbers beyond dimensions of measurement God considers more important. He knows, and I know, that numbers are not synonymous with church health, depth in disciple making, or God’s justice delivered through local efforts. Those categories often fade behind charismatic preaching and robust weekend attendance.
My point? God weighs churches pound-for-pound, not seat for seat.
The most critical “pound-for-pound” category a pastor should address is the quality of his efforts with men. More specifically, what are you doing to combat the devil’s assault on the men God has called you to reach in your culture, community, congregation, or country? The devil loathes the pastor who invests in getting men in, getting them healthy, getting them strong, and getting them going into God’s purposes. That pastor is moving men from the audience to the army.
While Satan can hijack one gender as easily as the other, he focuses his efforts on men purely for performance reasons. He is like a sniper who targets men of high rank because of their influence on all who depend on them. Eliminate the one and you affect the many who look to him for strong leadership. We must get this point, precisely because Satan does. He’s showing his hand to us, pastor and, we are giving him our aces!
Romans 5:19 puts the “pound-for-pound” dimension regarding men in perspective: “For just as through one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous” (HCSB). Do you see it? One man affects many. One blast zone produces death, the other produces life. Adam listened to the enemy and death reigned. Jesus resisted and life reigns forever.
Every man you see today is either in Adam or in Christ. Those men produce either death or life. Satan uses one type of man for his purposes. He deeply loathes and tempts the other. He is all in for influencing men, but we aren’t paying attention to the exodus of men from the church. That is why we must lean in, listen closely, and learn how to get it right with men in this hour.
Pastors functionally and relationally disconnected from the network of men in their churches, isolating themselves from the very men they need to help minister, cannot hope to be good pound-for-pound pastors. For Satan, it’s an all-out war to divide you from the power and presence of your men. Tactically, Satan focuses on keeping men leery about church and keeping the church ambivalent about them. That’s a huge victory for evil’s enterprising leader. Conversely, if your church sees and prizes men the way Satan does, balances its other strengths with a strong men’s culture, and becomes good at winning new men to Christ, you can consider that a hard-won victory.
I received an email from a pastor who shepherds 175 members telling me he baptized nine men in one weekend. I could feel his victory in every word. He is watching a sleeping giant rise. More importantly, the spoils of turning the tide with men will bring supernatural blessings and power into his efforts. Pound-for-pound his church’s giving will grow, its health will increase, and its unity will strengthen. Fewer youth will abandon his church, more leaders will rise up to drive initiatives, and his critics will decrease!
The men in your community and congregation are high value-targets in the crosshairs of a highly trained sniper. If you don’t make them a priority, Satan will. If you don’t have a plan, Satan does. If you don’t win them to Christ, Satan will keep him enslaved to sin. But if you wake the sleeping giant and become a good pound-for-pound pastor, true greatness awaits your church.
This article was published by LifeWay.com and is used by permission.