When a father dies he leaves a legacy. Yesterday, the three sons of our friend Mike Pineda, stood on the platform, at his funeral, and spoke beautifully about their hero of a dad. He had faithfully walked alongside of them all their lives. Teaching, mentoring, and modeling. One of the lessons their dad had taught them (by word and action) was to reject passivity.
That stuck with me. What is it to resist, in fact, reject passivity? Where does the temptation to be passive come from?
We can go all the way back to the first man who lived – Adam. When the Evil One tempted him and Eve to question the goodness of God, and even though Eve seems to take lead in sinning against God (Genesis 3:6), Adam was physically present, right there with her. [This isn’t to cast greater judgment on Adam, or Eve, for that matter. It is a declarative statement of what can result from passivity.]
Men have been living in Adam’s shadow ever since. Rather than being strong dads, men often just stand there. Rather than being loving husbands, men often just stand there. Why is it that so many men are so decisive, focused, and effective in areas of life that don’t really matter, but tentative, uninspiring, and passive in some of the areas that matter most? It’s as if passivity is in our DNA. And that if we don’t actively fight it, we’ll default to being passive.
Where does passivity reign in your life? Is it at home? Or with your finances? Or in your career? Or with your wife or girlfriend? Where are you doing nothing when you should be doing something? Where are you being silent when you should be speaking up? Authentic men reject passivity. They refuse to live in the shadow of Adam and instead choose to fight for what truly matters most. They find their strength in the grace of Jesus and follow His example of rejecting passivity—ultimately by coming to earth to rescue us. – Authentic Manhood
Now, please don’t get me wrong here. I’m not trying to bash men for being passive. Maybe like Eve, we as women, hold some measure of complicity in this whole issue of passivity. Do we make it difficult for the men in our lives to act decisively? Do we act in ways that prove to be passive-aggressive and pose for men a lose-lose outcome…that either way, they will pay for “manning up”.
Even as I write, it’s a little uncomfortable having grown up in the era of women’s liberation, ERA, and feminism. Hard battles have been fought for women to fare well in the workplace. In the home as well. Yet, is it possible that one of the fruits of this movement has been men just stepping aside and letting us have our way…even when it’s not what it could have been with both men and women working better together.
Of course, we know this whole issue of passivity didn’t start a few decades ago (go back to Adam and Eve). So what do we do about it?
I’m going to talk to my sons right now. [You’re welcome to read along.]
“It’s so easy…too easy…to let others make the decisions. When others make the decision, you don’t have to accept the consequences of those decisions. You can, in many cases, let those others live with the outcomes. You can elect to go along with the decisions, or (if not required) you can step back, and let the chips fall where they may. Now if it’s work, and you’re held to a standard requiring you to go along with the decision once made, you have little recourse. You didn’t speak into it, therefore you must to some extent abide by the decision. How much better if you had entered into the decision-making yourself?
What about the larger community? Your circles of potential influence outside your work. Are you willing to sit silently…to offer nothing of your giftings, your intellect, your experience to those conversations?
What about your family? Your wife, your children? Are you willing to let others speak into their lives and you take a quieter, more disengaged space? You will find the years will go by…and the voice in their ears and hearts…is not yours? Is that really what you want?
Passivity is like a weak link in a chain…compromising the strength of that chain. In relationships, passivity is something we can correct, if we’re willing to take the perceived risk to do so.
In Lay Aside the Weight of Passivity by Jon Bloom, we are reminded of how our expectations and resultant emotions shape our engagement with struggle:
What we expect shapes how we respond. If we expect peace, we will resent having to fight. If we expect rest, we will resent having to endure. If we expect leisure, we will resent having to work hard.
This is why it’s so important for us to prepare our minds for action.
We lose perspective and forget that in this age war, not peace, is the norm; vigilant self-control, not indulgent rest, is the norm; difficult cultivation, not easy picking, is the norm.
Our emotions typically tell us what our mind-sets are; our responses reveal our expectations. So, when weariness, disappointment, disillusionment, and resentment set in, we need to examine what’s fueling those feelings.
Our emotions springing from misplaced expectations of peace, rest, and leisure ask to be coddled. – Jon Bloom
Passivity is sometimes born out of exhaustion from battling for too long a season. Or a lack of hope when looking at the opposition. As Bloom states in his article: as we choose to stay in the battle, with a mindset to act, we resist passivity and the false sense of safety it projects.
In thinking back to our friend Mike’s funeral, his sons talked about both his rejection of passivity and his pursuit of a quiet life. He aspired “to live quietly, and to mind [his] own affairs, and to work with [his] hands (1 Thess. 4:11). This is not passive living. It takes focus, prioritizing, and hard work…out of which is the great harvest of those in your sphere of influence learning the tools of fruitful and faithful lives. By your example.
So my loves, I’ll let you get back to your lives. I see you resisting passivity. Keep nurturing that habit of life.
Stand with or stand against, but don’t allow yourselves to stand aside.“
Fathering Practices in Twenty-six Intact Families and the Implications for Child Contact – Jane Lewis & Elaine Welsh
YouTube Video – Purging Passivity – an interesting video on a martial arts training approach with children (Christian perspective – fascinating – whether you agree or not)
Reject Passivity (1 of 5) – Stephen T. Messenger
YouTube Video – Passivity Is Not an Option! – Dave Ramsey – EntreLeadership
YouTube Video – The Problem Of Passivity | Paul Tripp’s 1 Peter Study (Episode 012)