This is the fourth post in a five-part series based on the five stages of the masculine journey as described in the book, “The Way of the Wild Heart” by John Eldredge.
I started this series over a month ago intending to finish it within a week or two. For the most part, I jumped right in and was able to do that, but for some reason I’ve been stuck on this one. It’s been sitting in my drafts for quite some time now and I couldn’t figure out why I was unable to just sit down and write the thing. But a few days ago it hit me. The reason I’ve not been able to write this post is that I really have no personal experience with being a king yet. It’s hard to write about being a king when you’re still figuring out what it means to be a warrior and a lover.
With that in mind, I will lean more on the words of the book for this post (and probably the next one as well) so that I’m not speaking out of turn on things which I know not.
The king stage takes place (hopefully) after a man has experienced, at least in part, all of the previous stages of his masculine journey. In many ways, the king stage is the goal of the masculine journey — the purpose for which God has been preparing and fathering a man for since his birth.
When everything works the way it’s supposed to, a man becomes a king after he’s proven himself in the warrior stage and after he’s learned to appreciate beauty and love others in the lover stage.
Though the word king is not used as much today as it was in times past, men fulfilling the role of king can be found in many different roles in our world today. A king may be a father of a household, manager of a department, minister of a church, coach of a team, or leader of a country. Different roles, but the same heart is required by them all… a heart that puts others first, that leads selflessly and with the wisdom that only years of battle tested experience can provide.
To wield power responsibly. To influence for good. To guide the affairs and lives of others. These are the reasons for the king stage. As a stage of the masculine journey, it’s as great and noble a calling as it is difficult.
The purpose of the king is to protect, serve, and care for the people who depend on him. Whether those people are his family, his employees, or the people of his nation, his role is the same.
Even so, one of the big lies of the king stage is that the man now has enough knowledge, power, wisdom, etc. to operate out of his own resources. As the book which inspired this series so eloquently put’s it, this is simply not true. As a king, a man will be faced with new challenges, bigger challenges, and the stakes are higher than ever before. Many lives hang in the balance for the man who is a king.
In many ways, because a king has such a great responsibility on his shoulders, this is also one of the most dangerous stages of the masculine journey for a man.
The two biggest dangers during this stage are very different, but have equally powerful consequences.
The first danger occurs when a man is made a king before he is ready… before he has been initiated by the other stages of his masculine journey. A man who’s boyhood was robbed from him or who was never the beloved son will have a hard time as a king because he won’t have those experiences to draw from as he tries to fulfill the fathering role of a king. A man who skipped the carefree adventures of the cowboy stage will have a hard time as a king because he won’t have those experiences to draw from when the time comes to take risks. A man who is thrust into the role of a king before he’s been a warrior may not have the confidence of his people or the wisdom of battle to draw from as he makes important decisions. And a man who has not known the beauty of the lover stage will have a difficult time ruling from a perspective that is anything but cold, calculated, and pragmatic.
The other danger for a man who finds himself a king is idleness or complacency. When a king is complacent, he often becomes idle. When a king is idle, unless he is extremely careful and the exception to the rule, it is only a matter of time before he falls. Unchecked by the rule of others, a king is usually only limited by his own character. And when left to his own devices, with unlimited power, unlimited resources, and great influence, a king who is idle will invariably start to test the limits of his power. When that happens, you get a repeat of the biblical story of David and Bathsheeba or the modern day tale of Bill and Monica. Same story, different kingdoms.
One of the main sources for problems in our world today is that we have so few kings. Sure, we have men in positions of power and influence, but few are true kings, that is, men who ascended to their position of power through initiation and with reluctance. Men who rule their domains out of a sense of duty and love for others rather than out of selfish ambition and/or lust for power.
A few examples cited in the book of kings who’s hearts were right for their office were Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln. Churchill and his unyielding fight against the Nazi’s, the pacifists and his own government. Lincoln and his unrelenting effort to preserve the union. Two men in two very different periods of history who both stood up for what was right despite severe opposition and consequences.
Becoming a king is something a man should accept out of a posture of obedience, his heart reluctant to take the thrown, but willing to do so on behalf of others.
As a man who thinks the king stage is one of the most noble callings a man can answer, I want to be prepared should I ever be thrust into that role. As a man of faith the kind of king I want to follow (and the kind I want to be should my life require it some day) is the man whose heart is in tune with God. I want to led by a man who checks in regularly with his creator, who submits to him, who yields his plans to the greater purpose of God’s will.
Moses was a perfect example of a man like that. He did not want to be king, but he eventually accepted the role out of obedience to God. He did not lead the Israelites from his own wisdom, though it was certainly available. No, instead Moses’ leadership style essentially consisted of simply doing (sometimes reluctantly) whatever it was God told him to do… one step at a time.
How many kings do you know in business, families, churches, or other realms who lead that way? I don’t know many. I’m certainly not there yet in my tiny kingdom. And yet, that’s the kind of man I want to follow as king. That’s the kind of king I want to be some day.
Regardless of age, position, or natural abilities, a man is only ready to be a king when his heart is in the right place… that is, completely yielded to God.