May 6, 2003
|Rod Handley, left, shows one of the resources he offers to men.|
LEE’S SUMMIT – Rod Handley is not a soldier in Iraq, but he’s still seen plenty of men fall.
One such tragedy took place in Missouri, at a Southern Baptist church, when a minister began inappropriately touching a woman who was not his wife.
"He’s out of the ministry today and he’s scrambling to find work in a secular job," Handley said.
Another pastor strayed from his accountability relationships only to wander into the minefield of Internet pornography. What began in secret soon spread to his work.
"The church secretary caught him," Handley said. He was given a sabbatical.
Handley is an ordained Southern Baptist minister who has been teaching on character, integrity and accountability since July 2000. His ministry, Character That Counts, is based in Lee’s Summit and is national in scope. Handley has been to such large venues as Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis; First Baptist, Orlando; and Liberty University but is willing to go to small churches as well to help prevent these "casualties of war."
"I just have seen too many train wrecks, too many guys who have believed in their own power to manufacture this or pull it off," he said. "They’re casualties. Everyone of us, we’re just not good enough in our power to fulfill this calling of doing right and being whole."
Character involves right responses, behaviors, attitudes and actions. Integrity involves wholeness, or becoming complete. Satan’s strategy is to make you into a fraction, Handley said. The pursuit of accountability is what makes up the difference, what enables a man to go forward into battle.
"The key is guys who are willing to repent and come clean," Handley said. "Not to excuse their behavior, not to gloss over it, but to really set up a strategy."
Character, integrity and accountability are "no-brainer words" that pastors use all of the time, Handley said. Even so, many Christian men somehow have failed to get the message. The growth of www.characterthatcounts.org in such a relatively short period of time has been nothing short of remarkable, Handley said.
"I never had any idea that this was such a need," he said. "The stories and the stats are that Christians are falling woefully short. In many cases, the secular man is more honest, more patient, more loving than these people who identify with Christ, and so something is tragically wrong."
About 30 to 50 percent of his audiences are Southern Baptist.
"The Baptist community is very receptive to what I’m doing," he said. "I think it’s striking a chord. Because of my Southern Baptist upbringing, the conservative teaching that I got, I’m a very safe bet for the Baptist community. I don’t think I’m necessarily the show, but I think the material is really resonating with the guys. A lot of the Baptist churches are purchasing books for their Sunday School classes, for their men’s retreat."
While he is primarily a speaker and an author, the counseling part of Handley’s ministry has been growing. This is because he will stop and care for the wounded. The Southern Baptist minister from Missouri is one such case of a wounded man being restored to health.
He confessed his sin to his wife and started to read one of Handley’s books. That led to a personal accountability relationship with the author.
"He’s got some tremendous skills and gifts," Handley said. "I give him credit for realizing that he needed to repent and get right with the Lord, then also bring his wife into the equation."
The minister on sabbatical is also recovering. A key step for him was confessing his sin of Internet pornography before the church.
"Of course he was totally humiliated in front of this church of several hundred people, but today he’s effectively ministering, even using his very shameful thing to bring glory to God," Handley said.
Handley tries to create a "win-win" for churches. He has no established fee but he cannot come for free.
"I tell people, ‘I can do five minutes to five days with you,’" he said. "Do they want a 20-minute pep talk or a three-day weekend retreat? Obviously, the more time, the better, because it allows the men to really develop this."