1. Soft exterior, soft interior. Effeminate inside and out, top to bottom. Yuck.
2. Hard exterior, soft interior. Posers. Macho. Insecure, covering it with how much they can bench.
3. Hard exterior, hard interior. Genuinely strong, willing to lay down their life for Jesus and family, but earnest to make sure everyone knows that about them. Not only wants to be strong in actuality but needs to be strong in image. Stiff not only in conviction but in demeanor.
4. Soft exterior, hard interior. Rock solid, responsible, risk-taking, calls heresy heresy, calls error error, willing to take shots for the good of the team, able to stick his neck out in elder meetings when the pastor is being maligned by fellow-elder-golfing-buddies--but all soaked in a gentle demeanor, seasoned with grace, someone the guy struggling with homosexuality would confide in.
The answer to the first two is not the third but the fourth.
Paul said 'Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men' (1 Cor 16:13) and he said repeatedly to do all things with gentleness (Gal 5:23; Eph 4:2; 2 Tim 2:25). I think in the past I've received the first thing to the neglect of the second.
A mature oak tree is immovable when the storms rage against it, but it's also beautiful, and invites shelter to others. Isn't that what gospel men should be?
By Dane Ortland, Bible Publishing Director at Crossway, Wheaton, Illinois.