In the boxing world I have just described Manny Pacquiao. He has been appropriately labeled by fans of the sport, bloggers, sportswriters, and fellow boxers as the best “pound for pound” fighter in the modern era. In other words, as a boxer who has won titles in eight lighter weight divisions, he is never going to fight for the “heavyweight” championship of the world. That’s because he is five feet six inches and weighs in at a hundred and fifty pounds all wet in his street clothes. He is not going to be remembered like a Muhammad Ali because his greatness in the sport is measured in different dimensions. These include: how many 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 gives you the greater measure of the boxer.
As pastors and members we easily confuse the measure of greatness in the local church. We all know and admire the heavyweights whose numbers are the size of small to medium size cities (I should know because I am in one of those churches). But over the years my senior pastor has taught me not to elevate numbers beyond other 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 being delivered locally through our efforts. Those categories often lag far behind charismatic preaching and a robust weekend attendance.
My point? God weighs churches pound for pound not seat for seat.
The most critical “pound for pound” category for a pastor to address today is the quality of his efforts with men in the community and men in the congregation. More specifically, what are you doing to combat the Devil’s assault on the men he has called you to reach in your culture, community, congregation or country? The Devil loves pastors who keep dealing him the aces in their hands that he needs to deliver a royal flush of pain suffering in the world. On the other hand, the Devil loathes the pastor that intentionally invests in getting men in, getting them healthy, getting them strong, and getting them going into God’s purposes. Why so angry?
Because that pastor is moving men from the audience to the army.
And while Satan can hijack one gender as easily as the other, he chooses to focus his efforts on the hearts of men for pure performance reasons. He is like a sniper who targets men of high rank because of the impact on all who depend on him. Eliminate the one and you affect the many that look to him for strong leadership. We must get this 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” strength and dimension regarding men in perspective for us like no other verse of the Bible. “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous,” (NIV). Did you see it? One man impacting many. One blast zone produces death. The other blast zone produces life. Adam listened to him and death reigned. Jesus did not take the bait and life reigns forever. Every man you see today is either in Adam or in Christ. Those same men are either producing death or producing life. Satan loves and uses the one type of man for his purposes. He deeply loathes and tempts the other type. He understands “the math” of men. He is “all in” for influencing men but apparently we are not judging by the exodus of men out of the church. That is why we must lean in, listen closely, and learn how to get men right in this hour.
A church overweight with numbers but short on healthy men is not a good pound for pound church. A church with big events for men that is producing small numbers of leaders is not a good pound for pound church. A church that is investing in social justice outreaches without investing in reaching the men causing the problems is not a good pound for pound church. A church that measures itself by weekend attendance over depth of discipleship with it’s men is not a good pound for pound church. A church that does not recognize that if you appeal to women you don’t reach men but if you appeal to the man you reach both is not a good pound for pound church. A church that puts its young boys with female leaders because of a lack of male leaders is not a good pound for pound church. Pastors that are functionally and relationally disconnected from the network of men in their church, isolating themselves from the very men who they need to pull off big visions, 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 is focused on keeping men leery of church and keeping the church ambivalent about men. That’s a huge victory for evil’s enterprising leader. Conversely, if your church sees and prizes men the way Satan does, moves intentionally to balance out 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 over Satan. When 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 seeing a sleeping giant rise. More importantly, the spoils of turning the tide with men will bring supernatural blessing and power into his efforts. Pound for pound his giving will grow, his church health will grow, his church unity will grow, he will keep more youth longer, he will have more leaders to drive initiatives, and he will have fewer critics! Amen to that.
The men in your community and in your congregation are high value targets in the cross hairs 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 him to Christ, Satan will win him over to the culture. But if you wake the sleeping giant and become a good pound for pound pastor, true greatness awaits your church.