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Anthony Esolen on Masculinity and Pastoral Ministry

Anthony Esolen is a particularly gifted writer. If he wrote a phone book it would be interesting and quotable. His 2003 Touchstone essay “What Sports Illustrate: The Obvious Truth About Young Men & Religion” is an insightful discussion of culture, masculinity, sports and pastoral ministry. His introduction alone is full of valuable truths, but as he moves to his conclusion he applies his point particularly to the role of the pastor (or priest as he would say). He calls for pastors to be men, not just males, and then poses these challenging questions to those who aspire to the pastorate.

Can you be not only a teacher, but a teacher who rebukes, loves, lays down the law, and naturally draws the most recalcitrant to you? For you are sent to the pagan and the prodigal, to the enemy and the atheist.

Will the young men listen to a word you are saying when you are telling them they are wrong? Will they obey when you require from them sacrifice that their friends would consider absurd? No one can do that, you retort? Football coaches do that for a living. Can you be, not den mother to emotional dependents, not archsongster of a liturgical club, but a master, a colonel, a vice-gerent, a father who can eschew the moment of truce because he sees, for the hosts he loves and leads, a distant glory?

Can you give men the courage to suffer and obey and restore their lives to order, as did the stern, soft-spoken, Christian coach of the Dallas Cowboys, Tom Landry? Can you be the head,as Christ is the Head of the Church? Is that the aspiration you believe the Lord has placed in your heart?

Of course we can do nothing apart from grace, but this does not negate the reality of our own pursuit and growth. Read the whole article. It is well worth it. Let us pursue, by God’s grace to be such men.

(NB: By the way, Touchstone Magazine commonly contains powerful essays like this. It is a regular part of my reading as I look forward to each new issue. It is well worth the subscription.)

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