“Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” (1 Cor. 16:13)
As we have been taught and received gratefully for years, God gives different kinds of glory to men and women. Another way to say that is, according to the creation pattern, God gives different kinds of strength.
While all Christians follow and imitate Jesus, the God-man, men are given the specific duty of modeling Jesus by virtue of being born men. Women have a general duty to follow and imitate Christ, but they do that by embracing their specific duty of modeling the glory of the Church.
Another way we might say this is that God gives men the duty to be strong, to protect and lead and work the ground (of whatever field they find themselves in), and God gives women the duty to be strong to conceive life, nurture life, and glorify life. And in both cases, sacrifice is necessary.
But the leadership of a man means that he is called to die first. Being a head means that he bears responsibility for the state of things under his care, and he suffers first, he dies first, he goes into the fire first.
This is one of the reasons why God requires, in the normal course of things, men to lead in the church. It’s why the elders and pastors of the Church must be male. We were made to be strong in that way. We were made to suffer and die in that way.
And so, it may mean long days, late nights, and early mornings. It may mean the hardships of personal and family life. It may mean the challenges of difficult coworkers, obstinate employers, or evil men. It may mean speaking the truth boldly, clearly, cheerfully despite what anyone thinks. It may mean taking flack from dear friends, it may mean bearing the fears and worries of your wife, and as elders it may mean bearing the knowledge of brokenness in our people, bearing patiently and firmly with their hurts, pains, failures, weaknesses, sin, whatever.
And as schedules and stresses and difficulties pile up, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. You might even think you feel like you’re dying, like it’s killing you. And I think Jesus says that’s just about right. You were made for this. You were made to die. You were made to be strong to bear up under these things. You were made to be strong like that.
So quit yourselves like men, and be strong.