Below is a Guest Post from Anthony “Riv” Rivera, former Navy SEAL.
Grateful for the Responsibility of Being a Man
1 Corinthians 16:13-14, “be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”
First off, I love being a man! Being given the responsibility to lead, protect, and provide by God is an honor and a privilege. Everyday I thank God that He chose me to have this responsibility. This calling was exponentially easier when I was single and had no children, of course. Anyone who has ever led anything or anyone can attest to this; it is easier to lead one than it is to lead many. Carrying the load of manly responsibility and leadership is challenging all the time. It is a challenge that I accept with open arms because I have faith that God put the challenges in front of me to teach me valuable lessons like humility, self-respect, partnership, followership, accountability and ownership.
As I study the above verse I made a few notes. Below is what I took away from the message and owned up to past mistakes. Also, I have added ways to keep myself accountable so I do not make these mistakes again:
- Be Watchful – as men (deeply beloved sons of the most high God, earthly fathers representations of the Heavenly Father, husbands, sons to our earthly fathers, mentors, leaders, worker/provider) we are called to be good stewards of those that we are called to lead and mentor. In order to do this we must be watchful and vigilant. I have failed this calling many times in the past when my anger had gotten the better of me with my kids, or when I allowed my earthly sinning nature to enter my marriage. To be vigilant in my faith, I must stay focused on the Heavenly Father through the teachings in the Gospel.
- Stand Firm in Faith – men are called to maintain belief that Jesus will return and save us all again, one day. We are never to worry about when this savior will come again. Just to know that this will come again, even if that time comes long after we have left this earthly kingdom. There is a great Greek proverb that says, societies grow great when old men plant trees in whose shade they will never sit. We are called to plant these trees through our demonstration of our faith.
- Be Strong – I was taught this many years ago during my time in the military from much wiser men than I. My mentors in the SEAL Teams would say, “it’s easier to be ready than it is to get ready.” Maintaining one’s strength and resolve is always easier when close to the Gospel.
- All… Be Done In Love – I am writing a separate passage on love for another time. So I will try to keep this brief. Love is real, God’s love is infinite, and this is hard to comprehend because we do not fully understand infinity. I say that we do not understand infinity because we have an earthly time limit. Because of this, the concept of infinity is difficult to grasp. It is through faith that we accept God’s infinite love. Living in this loving nature, and being the light to attract others towards . “We love, because He first loved us,” (1 John 4:19).
Leading is not telling! As men, we can never expect to lead others one way while we live a different way. This is a hypocritical leader. We have all experienced these men in our lives, unfortunately. Strive to not be this man. Instead, lead from the front and by example. This example will NEVER be easy to demonstrate especially when we are trying to make it up on the fly (building a plane while in freefall, as the saying goes). There is some great news, we have an amazing example to replicate… Jesus! Jesus forgave, so we must forgive. Jesus loved unconditionally, so we must love unconditionally. Jesus asked more from us, so we must ask more from ourselves. As a father and husband, I may be good at times, but I will never be enough! I, my wife, and my kids still need God.
Like I said above, this responsibility is a challenge. At times, the negative self-talk in my head can be so loud when it tells me that I am inadequate, incapable and insignificant. This voice is NOT the Holy Spirit within me! Being able to recognize this has taken a great deal of practice. Often, when in the presence of other men that are verbally and outwardly self-critical, I hear them say things like “I am dumb,” “I am stupid,” “I can’t do this,” and the list goes on. We are all guilty of this at times of great frustration. When I hear phrases from men now, I try to make the following points to emphasize the importance of the power of the words that we use to ourselves:
- Do you have a son, or a young man that looks up to you in your life?
- If you heard this young man describe themselves with the words you just used to describe yourself would that build that young man up, or break them down?
- Would you be willing to tell that young man to correct the words they use to describe themself with positive affirmation?
- If you’re willing to do that to this young man why not try that with yourself? We are all young men in our heads. We all need to build ourselves up so that we can build up others around us!
The words we use to describe ourselves are important. Be careful. Now, this is not an opportunity to get a free pass and just mess everything up all the time and have zero accountability. What it actually is is a method to give into God’s plan for us in our lives. Pray about it. When I hear these self-critical thoughts I use that moment to pray to God and ask Him for the strength and wisdom to change my thoughts. I ask Him to remind me that I am the man He chose to take on the challenges He has put before me. I thank Him for the many blessings He has given me throughout my life. Sometimes it is easier to change the thought process than others. However, it is a practice that I use regularly to reframe my thoughts to help build myself up, so that I have the practice to build others up when the opportunity comes. I will forever seek God’s wisdom and guidance, and other older men in Christ.
Proverbs 20:29, “the glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.”
Being a role model –
When I was in the military we were taught to intently listen to the guidance of the platoon Chief. This man typically had several combat deployments and was chosen to lead the young men with experience. Now, there were always two or three young officers that were technically administratively in charge of the platoon. However, these young college graduates (at least the wisest of them) would ALWAYS defer to the Platoon Chief for tactical and leadership decisions. This was because one should always fear and respect a warrior with gray hair, for each gray hair represents a battle that was won.
As we age, I now truly understand this perspective, having won personal and professional battles. As I gain more life experience, I can then share these lessons learned with younger generation men to help guide them. Hoping to have these younger men not repeat my mistakes. This is a great honor and privilege, because we know as Christian men that every day is not guaranteed. So, we cherish every moment of every day.
Heavenly Father, I thank you for the gift of today! You are the creator of all things past, present and future. You are eternal! I thank you for making me the man I am, for giving me the opportunity to learn through struggle, for providing your limitless love to me, and for setting a perfect example for me. I ask that You use my life as a beacon to bring others closer to You! I ask for Your wisdom through all my trials. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
Check out the Full Spectrum Warrior Podcasts with Riv
- Anthony “RIV” Rivera (Navy SEAL) Finding Clarity in Chaos
- Machete James And His Come To Jesus Meeting with Navy SEAL Anthony “RIV” Rivera
Riv gave me permission to share his post. The scripture 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 that he uses for the foundation of this post is the theme for the 2024 Protectors Summit. Registration is now live and you can use code EARLYBIRD1 for 40% off and GRAHAM10 for an additional 10% off.
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