It came about after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has. Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, and go to My servant Job, and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves, and My servant Job will pray for you. For I will accept him so that I may not do with you according to your folly, because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has." (Job 42:7-8, NASB)The modern church doesn't have any characters like Eliphaz and his buddies, does it? To ask the question is to answer it.
I fear too many men's ministries are headed by "miserable comforters." They don't get it. Their theology is pat, simplistic, and lacking in serious reflection that comes from a concerted study of God's word and a modicum of spiritual growth. They falsely assume that the problems men face are largely self-inflicted. As Paul Coughlin has noted, women get "fellowship" groups while men get "accountability" groups. The "miserable comforters" will declare that if you only do "xyz" then God will resolve things. They don't want to listen. They want to discourse at length about their Mickey Mouse theodicy and assume that solves the problem. Sermonizing relieves them from understanding, compassion, and weeping with "those who weep" (Romans 12:15).
Here's a dangerous question to ask: What qualifies these people to minister? Are they ruling by decree? Or leading by example (1 Peter 5:1-3)? Really, let's think about it ...
1. Do they come from a tough background or where they raised in a supportive Christian home?
2. Have they ever experienced long periods of social isolation or alienation?
3. Have they ever struggled for a long time with sexual desire in the face of constant rejection from the opposite sex?
4. Have they ever lost their job, relationship, or something else comparable because of a personal failing?
5. Have they ever felt they were going nowhere with their life, being stuck in an unrewarding, dead-end situation?
6. Have they ever felt that their dreams have been dashed and that the doors have been slammed in their face?
7. Have they ever felt out of place in churches and among other believers?
8. Have they ever had to struggle with health problems at a young age?
9. Have they ever struggled with depression, serious backsliding, feelings of worthlessness, anger at God, feelings of being rejected by God?
10. Have they ever "hit bottom" with a serious challenge such as drug abuse, a prison sentence, contemplating suicide, etc.?
I suppose you or I could add to the list. I am not saying that men have to go through all of these things before they minister to others. On the other hand, if you see a pattern where self-proclaimed experts on "Biblical Manhood" act patronizing and condescending to men, and yet have never really struggled with the things many men struggle with, then take note. I fear that too many involved in "pastoring" or "ministering" to men grew up in the system, or were accepted early on because they "looked the part." Jesus, on the other hand, was "despised and rejected by men," "acquainted with suffering" and "tempted in all points" (Isaiah 53:3; Hebrew 4:15). Jesus understands what men go through. The others? I'm not so certain.
Jesus described his ministry this way: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord" (Luke 4:18-19). But of the Pharisees he said, "They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger" (Matthew 23:4).
Do you feel free from the spiritual bondage of sin, guilt, dread, emptiness, and/or despair? Or do you feel weighted down? It's one thing to demand that people be holy; it's quite another thing to show them how to be holy by example. Gentlemen, test the spirits (1 John 4:1). Get out the litmus strips and see if your leaders are authentic. Maybe God, in his mercy, can work through them even though their motives are less than honorable (Philippians 1:15-18). Maybe they are in an acceptable relationship with God, but I really think many of them have misunderstood their calling. Perhaps the best thing they can do to advance the cause of Christ is to sit down and shut up.