Tuesday, August 26, 2008


What is the relationship between the wrestler on the left and Stone Cold on the right?

A. brothers
B. father/son
C. cousins
D. none of the above

Answer: D, none of the above. The shocking reality is that the guy on the left is Steve Austin back in the early 1990’s. Amazing, huh? If you don't believe me you can watch this old clip of "Stunning" Steve Austin (don't worry...there's no middle fingers, beer or swearing...)
Steve Austin worked his way up, making no money, getting beat to death 40+ weeks a year and clawed his way into the WCW in the early 90’s. What you need to understand is that industry is as cut throat as national politics…or worse. For every Hulk Hogan there are thousands of wrestlers with lots of potential who never “break in” as they say. The odds of one ever seeing themselves in a wrestling ring on TV are very, very slim.

So you do what you have to do, as they say. You follow the money, take what you need to take to get in the ring one more time and you say what you need to say to get over with the fans. Steve Austin was no different and in the 1990’s the gimmick he had was that of a good looking, arrogant and blond stud. The good folks at WCW even teamed him up with the late Brian Pillman and formed the now famous tag team, The Hollywood Blonds. I heard Steve Austin speak about this in an interview once and he indicated that he was in that tag team long before he had ever even been to Hollywood!

In the locker room Austin was anything but a sissy. Ask anyone in the mid-90’s about Steve Austin and they would have quickly let you know that Austin was one hard working man. He kept his nose clean for the most part (as much as a wrestler bouncing from city to city week after week could of course) and usually did what was asked of him. He might have had a pretty boy persona in the ring but Steve Austin was known as a work horse.

He had respect in the locker room and management tried to figure out what to do him. While not gargantuan in size, he wasn’t a midget either. He had solid mic skills, could flow with the electricity generated by the crowd in the ring and was good looking enough to be a champion. Yet they could just not market him the right way. He wasn’t as talented in the ring as the WWF’s emerging blond bombshell Shawn Michaels and the WCW already had a blond bombshell of their own in the legendary Ric Flair. Austin was fired by WCW while injured in 1995, they just couldn’t figure out how to market him and he ended up simply lost in the mix. They cut him loose.

Nice…after working his tail off, keeping his nose clean for the most part, doing what he was told for the most part and taking all those “bumps” for the WCW they cut him loose while injured. The gimmicks had not worked and his days of going to the ring as someone else were over. He was contacted by a friend in the business named Paul Heyman who ran a rouge wrestling organization…the infamous Extreme Championship Wresting…ECW. The vibe of the mid 1990’s was that of rebellion and postmodernism was more thoroughly than ever flooding pop culture. Nirvana and Pearl Jam ruled the airwaves and a raw aggravation with hypocritical polish society often put on things rose as Generation X emerged into their teens and early 20’s. Out went the Cosby’s and Home Improvement in came Roseanne and Friends.

Extreme Championship Wrestling was not family friendly. Its home was a rundown bingo hall in Philadelphia with folding chairs and some bleachers and it was the wrestling counterpart to the grunge movement in music and fashion. It was bloody, raw and real. And that’s where Austin landed…in ECW.

He took full advantage of this new setting. Certainly the money wasn’t as good and the over all work environment not nearly as safe. But Steve Austin found a place where he could develop an in ring persona which was nothing more than an amplification of who really was backstage. In those days in both the WCW and the WWF wrestlers were not allowed to curse each other in front of the crowd…in ECW you were not allowed NOT to curse at each other. It was all about being real with real emotions and passion in the ECW. And Austin took full advantage of this new found uncensored platform. While he was not yet “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (he went by the name “Superstar” Steve Austin) the Stone Cold famous today began to emerge. While his attitude and intensity with the mic and in the ring might not be considered over the top today, back in 1995 it was shocking to say the least. It was as if this Austin guy was just being himself, as if he really thought this stuff…as if he was being real or something.

And the fans ate it up. Men, young men…were eating it up.

Well, Vince McMahon could have cared less about “Stunning” Steve Austin just a few months prior…but this “Superstar” Steve Austin presented a new opportunity for the WWF. They snagged him after his brief stint in ECW and brought him in as the “Ringmaster” Steve Austin.

Austin already had his fill with the gimmick style of wrestling. He came in, shaved his golden locks, dawned simple black trunks with black boots…looked totally disgusted and stomped to the ring intending only to beat the life out of whoever was in his way in a manner that just seemed so serious and real. He didn't simply look "mean" or "mad" like other wrestlers...Austin looked "real" and as if he was not playing a character at all (flicking the crowd off and cussing at them the whole time btw). There were no pyrotechnics, he didn’t rip his shirt off, he didn’t have a glittery robe, he wasn’t an IRS agent, he wasn’t a leprechaun, he wasn’t a zombie, he didn’t dance around, he wasn’t doing voodoo or playing an air guitar. He was just Steve Austin and he was there for one reason…WIN…and then go home.

Again…this might not seem like a big deal now…but at the time this was just unheard of. Only the “stiffs” (wrestlers going nowhere who were brought in to be the punching bags on TV) wore such bland outfits. And flying the middle finger? Frequently? At the crowd? Unheard of! Before this the villain might shake his fist at the crowd and bellow a “ahhh…shut your yappers why don’t ya!” or something but that’s about it. No one had ever seen something like this Austin guy…the same guy the WCW just couldn’t figure out what to do with.

From that point Steve Austin’s fame took off like a rocket. He became “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and the rest is history. He was not just a popular wrestler…he literally transcended wrestling and became a legendary cultural icon in the west. This is particularly true with the very segment our churches are the least capable of reaching…men born in and after the 1960’s.

The first and foremost thing I believe our pastors and church leaders need to really “get” in order to more effectively communicate with unconverted men in our culture is what Austin got in 1995…authenticity. We do not fool these “real men” with our painted smiles, perfect hair, pat evangelical answers or glossy personalities. No man is always happy, no man is always patient, no man is always sweet and no man always has all the answers. So when we present ourselves this way we instantly lose the respect of men who were not raised in the evangelical bubble.

I’m always amazed at how out of touch with authenticity church leaders can be…and they often talk about how they want to be “authentic”. It’s kinda creepy actually. So often words like “authentic” are nothing more than new hip evangelical buzz words which seem to be presented as a new “style” to adopt or something. As Mark was saying in our last comment section, this is not a style. KNOW YOURSELF AND THEN BE YOURSELF. You’re not perfect and we all know it…acting like you are is insulting to our intelligence and makes you irrelevant in the end (in this day and age for sure).

Of course we need to stop here and be clear. Authenticity can be a wonderful excuse for being a complete jerk or pervert or whatever. “This is just how I am so deal with it” is not being authentic. Actually…I take that back…it’s being an authentic jerk. Steve Austin never considered the feelings of others to say the least and that is an example of what needs redeemed. We as Christians are to be “Christ like”…not “me like”. We represent HIM and not ourselves. So we put on Christ and act on HIS behalf. This is very true. The reality however is that from the moment of our Deliverance until our Glorification we are being worked on by the power of the Holy Spirit. Yes…even pastors. We are being changed and made new…we are in the process of being saved by Jesus. While our people do not need to know what our temptations are they ought to be sure we struggle to mortify the flesh and submit to the will of Christ just as much as they do (if not far more). They ought to know we suffer. They ought to know we agonize over our sinfulness and lack of faith. They ought to know we are not always happy, that we can and do often hurt. They ought to know that we are councilors who receive counseling. They ought to know we have not arrivedbecause we have not…and to present ourselves as if we have is inauthentic to put it nicely.

And men will not respect, follow or pay much attention to someone who is not the real deal or to someone who is so insecure inside that they must overcompensate by presenting a glossy evangelical front.

Yes, Stone Cold Steve Austin was a character. But the character was nothing more than an amplification of Steve Austin…a hard working Texan who was an aggressive straight shooter. When Austin stripped down his in-ring persona to nothing more than an amplification of himself…men responded and still respond. The very men who IGNORE us.

Pastors are not performers like Austin and so we have no need to “amplify” our personality in that way. But I’m going to suggest that we strip down our church persona just a bit. I suggest we no longer present ourselves as the guy with all the answers and the guy who just loves being a doormat and is always real super sweet and nice. We’re obviously not fooling these guys…they’re all at home watching the pre-game and paying no attention to what we’re doing. Be real. I’m afraid that so many pastors and church leaders have been under so much pressure from their tradition, family and people to have it all together for so long that some guys just don’t know who they are and so being “authentic” is quite confusing and unnatural to them…and I’m being serious. It’s why so many pastors and church leaders burn out, drop out or fall out of ministry every year.

So…clue #1 as to why Steve Austin connected so powerfully with the men we are so poor at connecting with.

Stone Cold was Steve Austin.

"For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned." Romans 12:3 ESV

19 comments:

Stone Cold Steve Fox said...

Reading the comparison of Stone Cold to modern day pastors is kind of awesome because every dude wants to be the guy that will jump in your face if you cross him,or threaten him. Most dudes have been in a fight in their life and we all get that sick feeling before the fists start to fly. But you would never believe that of Stone Cold. I wonder if pastors or Christians in general ever get that feeling when it comes to doing spiritual warfare with Satan. Its hard to intimidate Satan when we have to think a certain way, or dress a certain way, or act a certain way. But the truth is we are warriors and need to be aggressive and get in the enemy's face Stone Cold style every day. Look nobody is afraid of Mr Rogers. Nobody is afraid of the preacher with perfectly combed hair that says words like thou and hither. We need to be aggressive in this battle against Satan. So I like these articles because it makes me realize that men should be men, like William Wallace, Stone Cold Steve Austin,Aragon from Lord of the Rings, and its ok to get fired up, especially as Shepherds of Gods sheep.Like David killing the Lions and Bears, I am sure he didnt have perfect pastor hair at all lol.

irreverend fox said...

Steve,

um...I have perfect Baptist pastor hair...what are you saying?

mark jones said...

I have perfect pastor hair too, Steve...

Great insights...

We must remember that Steve Austin (not the bionic man Steve Austin)was an ACTOR. However, the great heroes of history who were bold probably... most assuredly struggled with fear... The difference is they saw something greater EVEN IF IT MEANT DEATH!

I think that what you wrote gary is true of the style and symptom of the problem. I believe the problem is that many believers are not living for eternity EVEN IF IT MEANS DEATH!

We are more concerned about our era and not the future or the forever. Cash and Career have replaced Calling.

If you push the "right" buttons on any man he will fight for what he believes... The problem is he doesn't believe in the "right" things... If someone were to curse your wife or kick your child those are inevitably "right" buttons because we love our spouse and children and being "Stone Cold" shouldn't be a problem... Agree?

Why then can one curse God and kick our Savior around and we just let them do it? Because we love the family but not our Savior...

Pastors are too into pleasing their patrons (giving congregants) instead of proclaiming the life altering truth. They are also so busy visiting the sick and those thinking of leaving instead of living a life that reveals the LORDSHIP of Jesus Christ.

Why can preachers preach about tithes and offerings but not sanctification and being holy? Because the tithes and offerings effect their pocket books.

I need to be clear, that this is not every pastor, but I would say over 50% are this way...

So is it about attitude (Stone Cold or Mr Rodgers) or about devotion to the ONE TRUE LORD?

Just some thoughts... byt the way Steve, you may remember I am bald :)!

However, if we c

mark jones said...

For the record, visiting the sick is not wrong. I was speaking of the "required" ministry according to the job description of the universal pastor. I visit the sick, but not because I have to, but because I care to. However, I also have others that visit... It is called ministering.

I don't visit everyone that gets sick or has a toe nail removed. I do call and pray with them though.

Here is a question to ask your pastor... "If you didn't get paid, what would you be doing?" Their answer should be "the same thing I am doing now except I may have to get a job."

irreverend fox said...

Hey Mark,

you are exactly right. the thing is that Steve Austin is an actor...playing himself...in the context of the fantasy world of big time wrestling, if that makes sense.

you are always one step ahead of me here...my next post will be about this middle finger Stone Cold flicks at the crowd. a crude gesture to be sure...but ironically...the people (the men we have such a hard time reaching) actual respect him for doing that because they understand he is going to do what he is going to do and he doesn't care if the fans like it or not...which millions of fans totally admire about him!

and it made him MILLIONS and MILLIONS of dollars!

now...and I'll get into this in more detail next time...what if pastors and church leaders understood this a bit more? not that we should literally flick people off (the origins of that gesture is not wholesome), but what if pastors cared more about Jesus than the customers...ERRRRR...members? what if pastors had more of the attitude which said, "all are welcome to come in, not all are welcome to stay"? what if pastors gave the impression to people that "if Jesus don't need you then I don't need you either..."? think about it. if pastors led with an obvious fear of Jesus first would men be more drawn or less drawn to their leadership and take them more seriously? If Stone Cold is any indication…I say “YES”.

we've got sheep leading the shepherds and we've got these shepherds who fear the sheep. it's crazy...and men don't respect weakness or timidity. And the crazy thing is that so often pastors will not truly pastor because they don’t want people to leave, because they do care about people AND as you said, often they feel that they can’t “afford” to lose these people…the irony is that what ends up happening is churches with that kind of leadership DIE and their budgets DIE because dudes stay home (putting their $$$ into their stupid truck or something) and these weak pastors end up doing the very thing they fear…killing the budget! Godly and strong leaders don’t have a problem with “budget” for very long…cause they’ll work a side job if they have to and not be afraid to challenge and provoke their people to action in the meantime.

Mark, you were in the Military...what if you had a superior who worried about what you guys thought? would you trust the guy if bombs starting going off or bullets started to fly? NO. Men will not follow weak puppets without backbone.

for example...John McCain drives me nuts and I will (unless he picks a pro-choice running mate) hold my nose and vote for him. my problem with him is strictly over policy. as a man...I'd follow him to the gates of hell with a squirt gun because I know he is not wishy washy. yes...he upsets me when he goes against my values...but I know that in doing so he does it at HIS OWN POLITICAL EXPENCE. so even though I disagree with the guy I do respect him. I'd trust him.

so anyway...more on that later. the question will be "why did the men of the crowd receive Stone Colds middle finger extended at them with respect?"

mark jones said...

OK... People may have respected Steve Austin. But in "REALITY" and not the fantasy wrestling world, someone I work with flipping me off would in turn tick me off. People paid to see something extraordinary, a show in Steve Austin.

When you are out in public and someone flips you off, you are not thinking I respect this guy. So the finger and the language is not what gained respect...

I agree with firm leadership. John McCain is my choice for various reasons, however, Obama has my respect because he does not waive from his core beliefs. However, he is not an in your face candidate, yet many men (race aside) want him as their president. I can see John McCain as the "Rambo" and Barrack as the "Negotiator".

Why? I believe it is not the demeanor of the individual (Stone Cold or Mr. Rodgers), but that they both are two very different men standing on very different platforms for what they believe. They are FIRMLY standing on what they believe.

I think comparing Stone Cold to Pastors is sort of like apples to oranges. The attitude addresses symptoms of the disease or problem and not the problem itself.

Stone Cold appears to only care about himself and his own interests, that is what he is/was paid to do (and may be like in real life). Ironically, the culture love the personna of an "I don't care I am going to rip off your head attitude" when it is for show or it is in their selfish interest.

Pastors are to care for the flock above themselves... Let me rephrase that, all BELIEVERS are to care for everyone above themselves. Unfortunately, many pastors already have the Stone Cold mentality of only thinking of themselves.

A good leader IS concerned about the thoughts of his followers. He must put them above himself. My military leaders gained my respect by their experience and concern for the squad, platoon, etc. However, decisions MUST be based on what is best for the whole and not what is popular.

I am not disagreeing that we need to reach men, but trying to point out that we strive to medicate symptoms (attitude)instead of curing the problem (devotion).

I contend that if a man truly loves the LORD above all else, he will reach other men whether using the middle finger (Stone Cold) or a thumbs up (Tony Dungy). It isn't attitude toward people, it is devotion to their god of choice. Which will in turn change their attitude toward people.

irreverend fox said...

hey Mark,

boy do we ever disagree about Obama. but I won't go down that road.

as I said...flicking someone off is not what we are supposed to do.

and as I said...I'm not talking about style here at all. I'm talking about the underlying principles.

I'm not comparing Stone Cold to pastors. Just doing the work of a missionary...looking at the culture...and asking "why" do men react to a guy like Stone Cold and not to most pastors.

I don't know why this is confusing. I'm simply suggesting there are underlying principles that we as missionaries ought to be paying attention to...and we're not.

Stone Cold is just an illustration...I'm not now nor am I ever saying "go do these things" or "say what he says". I'm talking about the underlying principles...the way the manifest themselves in Christian service will OBVIOUSLY not look the same as they do in Stone Cold.

irreverend fox said...

the way a non-Christian like Steve Austin (I don't know if he is saved or not, but his character does not profess belief) manifests these principles looks one way.

the way Christians and pastors manifest these same principles are very different.

I'm asking...what are the principles?

that's all...that's all.

Anonymous said...

Are you even reading the blog? Are you just skimming them? Your points do not seem to relate with the content of the blog.

Tim

mark jones said...

I understand what you are saying... I am simply stating that you are looking at symptoms of a problem and not the problem itself. I know that Stone Cold is an example... It is not confusing... I am simply stating that the principle you may be looking for is only to the symptom of the problem and not the problem itself...

As far as Obama goes, I am simply stating that his stance on certain issues do not waiver. He is a politician and waves like a flag in a storm as has 90% of the politicians. No need to think I am for Obamanation in America :), I was simply stating his drive and attitude for illustrative purposes has gained respect from many men. I have listened to him on interviews and totally disagree with him, but respect that he is taking a stand for what HE believes to be true.

However, it would be interesting to see if you consider Obama a "real man" simply because he is not like you or I? Which takes me back to defining a "real man"...

I am like the energizer bunny... I just keep going and going and going... I was stopped by the police once... charged with BATTERY...

irreverend fox said...

Mark,

I don't understand what you mean by "the principle you may be looking for is only to the symptom of the problem and not the problem itself..." that's what is tripping me up.

Actually...I don't at all think Obama is a real man. But once again...it has nothing to do with style.

John Piper is a real man.
Alister Begg is a real man.

I'm not talking about style at all. A "real man" stands firm in his convictions, is bold in his convictions as well (he doesn't keep them to himself when they deal with vital things).

I follow politics very closely and I don't believe Obama sticks to anything at all. It's why he is going to lose actually. His position on Iraq is all over the map, he double talks about gun rights, he threw his grandma and pastor under the bus publically, he double talks on the issue of marriage...Obama does everything he can to HIDE his ultra-left wing agenda and philosophy. His views on abortion are WAY extreme...yet he doubles back and tries to come across as more moderate.

Anyway...I totally disagree with you about the content of Obama's character and convictions...and I don't think he is a real man at all. As Dick Morris said just last night...he (Obama) can be easily pushed around.

(However…incidentally…I could not disagree with his pastor Jeremiah Wright any more…and yet I could not respect him any more either. That guy is a nut case…but he has never backed down even when the flames of controversy were swirling this spring when he came back from sabbatical. He did not back down…and because of that unwavering attitude Obama tossed him under the bus. I think Obama is a real punk actually. I personally think he is a shallow opportunist and I have no respect from him at all. All those wackjobs in Chicago were great when he needed them…now that he doesn’t…well…to hell with them I guess is what he thinks)

Tim,

is this Bish?

mark jones said...

Gotcha...

Tim, I may be reading too much into what Gary is writing more than skimming.

Gary, I think we agree and will let this go... I think we may define "respect" differently especially as to the Obama issue. I will just read your upcoming blogs before I state anything else. Perhaps I can explain what I mean later with the symptom/problem discussion. Or maybe I am reading more into it than what is there.

How many men have any of us personally talked to about Christianity and the church to find out why they aren't interested? Are we personally engaging our culture or are we just getting "facts" from popular authors, websites, and studies?

irreverend fox said...

Mark,

asked, "How many men have any of us personally talked to about Christianity and the church to find out why they aren't interested? Are we personally engaging our culture or are we just getting "facts" from popular authors, websites, and studies?"

as for me...I can honestly say I do both frequently and with intention. I hope all our church planters can say the same.

mark jones said...

To all... After rereading the last blog by you Gary... We stand in agreement and I stand corrected... I have had alot on my mind lately and realize i may have had an axe to grind with the complacency of the church... Tim... thank you for questioning how I read the blog... I was reading more into it...

I think we talk too much and do too little...

Tim said...

Gary,

This is Bish and the other comment above was not me.

On to the subject at hand...I agree we need to reach men and that most churches aren't geared that way. I also agree with Mark that many people are looking at the symptoms and not the root of the problem. We need to realize first of all that God created men and women DIFFERENT from each other and the inherent needs of men are different than the inherent needs of women (with the exception of Christ of course). A good illustration of this is asking a room full of people if they would rather feel 1) alone and unloved, or 2) disrespected and untrusted. You will find the majority of women will pick number 2 and the majority of men will pick number 1. That's the way God made us. That's part of the reason that Scripture tells husbands to love their wives and wives to respect their husbands. I've NEVER liked Stone Cold. I don't understand what draws people to him. The way I saw it he was just a loud, arrogant jerk, plain and simple. Yes we need to engage men. Yes we need to be real, passionate, and have real convictions and stick to them. How that looks will vary from person to person. Some people will talk softly and carry a big stick while others will walk around yelling "Weeeeeeeeellll Glory!" I think part of our problem is that masculinity in our society has been so diluted with the femininst agenda no one knows what it looks like any more. Whether the guy's loud, quiet, whatever, you know a real man when you meet him. It's something we may not be able to articulate, we just know it.

On a side note about the whole Obama thing...I see him taking multiple sides on a huge range of issues at the same time. That's not standing firm. That's saying whatever you think people want to hear which is exactly what is wrong with our political structure. It's also the same thing that's wrong with the church today. Maybe this isn't such a side note after all.

irreverend fox said...

Well then I think we're all on the same page! Amazing!

Tim...the only reason you never liked Stone Cold was cause he beat up your favorite wrestler...Savio Vega...admit it...

lol!

I can say for a FACT that I do know one guy who couldn't stand Austin and it was Bish. I do remember that clearly. So I must back up and say that 99.99% of guys under 45 in some way or another get a kick out of Stone Cold...but not Bish. That is the truth and I stand corrected.

Stone Cold Steve Fox said...

Wow, this is getting good. Ok lets totally take Stone Cold out of all of this for a second and replace him with ....JAKE THE SNAKE ROBERTS! Now these guys had totally different personalities in the ring and behind the mic, but were very similar in many ways. They were both MEN. They were both straight shooters. They were intimidating to other dudes. Many of us know Pastor Larrison. (One of the greatest men I have ever met and all who know him would say amen to that). He was not so much of a shouter or screamer, but that guy is a mans man. When he said something you listened. He has a soft spirit and a commanding presence.I know what I am saying is kind rehashed frmo what most of us have been saying, but my point and the point of this latest blog is that there are certain things that click with men in general. As Bish said, we were created different from women, and yes there are exceptions to every rule, but generally speaking, most men "like" certain things. Most men dont like flowers or for other dudes to tell them they love them. When they go to church they are surrounded by flowers and things that they by nature just dont care about. I think as Bish said as well, our culture has tried its best and ist still trying to confuse boys who will be men as to what is "normal" for them to like, or feel like. The bottom line is this, Men like Stone Cold because every dude wants to be a MAN. But Jake the Snake is every bit as much of a man, and dudes like him too, but their personalities are differnt. So in this post I think everyone can find some common ground, yes alot of dudes are different and have different personalities. But there are general truths that we need to get ahold of if we are going to get men interested in Jesus Christ in this day and age.

irreverend fox said...

Stevo,

Jake the Snake is another great example...totally different "style" than Stone Cold in many way...but the same principle.

you get a gold star today.

Tim said...

Just a point of clarification from my last comment: When I was talking about the needs of men and women and I mentioned Christ being the exception, it was because he had no inherent needs in regards to his being. Being fully God, he didn't need the affirmation or respect of others. Being fully man also, of course he needed the basics of life, food, clothing and shelter. I wasn't meaning his needs as a man were the same as women. He just didn't carry that kind of baggage.