One Toxic Temptation Many Men Face—And How to Overcome It

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Michael Kelley

Passivity can be a real relationship killer.

It happens every week.

A man wakes up on Sunday morning, a little disgruntled that he has to get up at all. But he does it, and he throws the family together to head to church.

There’s some bickering and squabbling along the way, all the while the man in the front silently wishes for a true day off without obligation, without demand and without a schedule. They get to church, and for the next hour or two, the man sits. And then he stands. And then he sits. He shakes a few hands and exchanges some small talk, and then goes home to find what measure of peace and quiet he can.

Now this, of course, is a broad and sweeping characterization. Thankfully, there are many men that find a story like this not only insulting but a little bit offensive. The illustration isn’t meant to point out what is true of every man, but only to bring out an issue inside us that, at many points, tempts us all.

The issue is passivity.

This is not a new issue. In fact, it’s a very old one, going all the way back to the garden. I’m certainly not the first one to point out the issue of passivity in the garden, but it bears repeating once again:

“When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasing to the eyes and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she gave to her husband with her, and he ate” (Gen. 3:6).

The great temptation came from the serpent, and it was too much for the first humans to bear. They questioned the trustworthiness, goodness and generosity of God, and they gave themselves over to self-lordship. Instead of trusting in His design as their Creator, they sought to become the charters of their own destinies. Because Genesis 3 begins with the serpent talking to the woman, we might think that the man was off doing the gardening that day. But notice clearly his posture—he was with her. And yet he was silent. He was passive.

And so the trend continues. Today, for me, there are all kinds of reasons why I might be passive today. I might be passive when I see sin in my relationships because it’s none of my business. I might be passive in my marriage because I am resentful of my wife. I might be passive with my kids because I’m too tired from the day at work, or I’m too scared to dig deeper into that little heart, or I’m too self-absorbed with my own issues and struggles to try and take on someone else’s burdens.

Men, I can feel it inside me—this urge to simply let things happen, to assume a position of powerlessness, to take the easy road of being uninformed and uninvested. But this is not the road God has charted out for us. This is not the road that He Himself takes on behalf of us. God is a Father who is actively engaged, not passively aware.

So must it be with us. For the sake of our families, for the sake of our culture, for the sake of the church, passivity is a luxury we cannot afford. So what’s the remedy for this ailment? What’s the action point for this disease?

It’s simple—engagement. True enough, you can’t do everything. You can’t coach every team. You can’t make time for every conversation. You can’t serve in every ministry role. But you can resist the urge to let everything just “happen.”

If that strikes a chord inside you, then I’d love to encourage you to take a look at a new set of resources called Disciples Path. Fair warning—though simple and easy to use, these resources will require something of you. They’ll require you to give yourself to the process of disciple making. They’ll require you to invest. But in the end, they will also help to wake up the disciple and disciple-maker God has called you to be. You can learn more about these resources and download a free preview at

Be involved, men. Engage. Don’t just let things happen. Start taking up the mantle that God has for you, and get in the game. {eoa}

Michael Kelley, M.Div., and his wife, Jana, have three children. He’s the executive editor of HomeLife and the director of Discipleship at LifeWay Christian Resources. His works include his latest release, Boring, Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal, and Transformational Discipleship. Keep up with Michael on his blog or on Twitter.

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