What is a man these days?
There’s a lot of discussion in our culture about the roles of men. So, what is a man in 2015? How do you know if you’re on the right path to becoming a man? What would that look like? Is there a measuring stick to know when you have arrived?
As a guy, I wonder about these questions. I am a husband and father, but am I a man? Sure, we could use gender as a guide. In that sense, I am a man. I’m a guy. A male. I have an X and a Y chromosome. But that isn’t what we are talking about here. For most guys, we need a deeper meaning. What is a true man? And do I measure up?
The Need for True Men
Over the years, I have read a lot on this subject. Some of my favorite books have been by John Eldredge and Donald Miller. Each of these men have their own unique experiences with this issue. (I highly recommend any of their books. I’m not an affiliate. Just good stuff!) John Eldredge talks a lot about rites of passage. For years, many cultures had rituals and rites of passages for boys to become men. It was a process, a journey to become a man. It would take years, and there was always one key element to the process.
Manhood is not taken. It’s earned. And to earn it, it must be bestowed by other men. Manhood is handed down like a precious heirloom. This is one of the key reasons we need to fight for true, Biblical, masculinity in our culture. We need godly men to train boys and bestow manhood upon them!
Losing my Dad
My dad died when I was 30 years old. It was sudden. He called me one Sunday to tell me about the RV that he and mom had been looking at that day. Dad was excited to find one he really liked. I know he was excited because he rarely called me. We had a great relationship. He just wasn’t much of a phone guy. If I would call the house, he would say, “Hi, let me get your mother.” It was funny, but that was Dad. But that Sunday was different. He talked to me for a while about their day. It was a great conversation. One of the best phone calls I ever had with Dad.
Five hours later, my phone rang. This time it was my sister. Dad had collapsed in the living room. He never got up.
Two months after dad passed, my wife became pregnant. It was a little bit of a shock because we had been married only 7 months. This was not the plan. But, a year and a half after we were married, we had a boy. I missed my dad more than ever. I felt lost. I longed to have my dad around to ask questions and learn how to raise a boy. I wanted to learn how to teach my son how to become a man.
The Toughest Thing a Man Can Do
We need more men. It can be dads and brothers and mentors and friends. But we need guys who are willing to step up and be men. I want to be a man for Noah, my 7-year-old son. I want to teach him about life and what it means to lead, provide for, and protect his family. We need men who can act as mentors. I would give anything to have an older man teach me and train me about being a dad, since my own father isn’t around.
But how can we determine manliness? What is masculinity today? This is the question I asked above. What makes a true man? Obviously, we could list a lot of different attributes of men. But there is one key characteristic that separates the men from the boys. In every REAL man I have ever seen, they have all carried one trait. It defined them-who they were and what decisions they made. While true masculinity is a deep and complex matter, I believe this trait is a Core Characteristic. It is foundational to true, biblical, honorable men. What is this Core Characterisctic?
True men commit. This is the single greatest indicator of true masculinity. Every true man I have ever known and respected has had this trait. They commit. Commitment is the greatest, toughest, manliest thing a guy can do!
I am not saying they are perfect. I’m not even saying that they haven’t been divorced or made mistakes in life. Divorce happens for a lot of different reasons. But the men I have seen have returned to a life of commitment. They commit to their families, their responsibilities, and their church.
I’ve seen the opposite, as well. I have seen men I looked up to and admired walk away when things got tough or uncomfortable. And I no longer consider them men. They are boys in grown-up bodies. Maybe you think that sounds harsh. It’s not. I have love and grace and forgiveness for each of them. I waited to see the outcome. Was it due to some understandable circumstance? Or was it a deeper heart issue? And each time, it was deeper. They put up a good show for a long time. But true manhood is a marathon. And they fizzled out too soon. I sincerely hope and pray that God works in each of their lives.
I hope I am making myself clear. I am not judging. I was divorced. But since then, I have been blessed with an amazing wife, and we have been married for close to a decade. Like I said above, I have grace for mistakes. But true character, true manliness makes the necessary course corrections. There is room for mistakes. But when no change comes over time, we have to be honest: These men are just boys.
Real men love. But love is just as confusing as manhood. What does it mean? Love isn’t emotion. It’s not a feeling. It’s a choice. It’s a choice to love when love is tough. It is selfless. It is honest. It is 1 Corinthians 13 Love. This passage is much more than a wedding poem. It is the definition of God-Love. It is the Love that Jesus has for us. This is true Love. This is the Love that real men strive for.
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. -1Corinthians 16:13
A few chapters after 1 Corinthians 13, Paul makes this statement. The phrase “be courageous” is interesting. It can also be translated as “be a man.” Even other translations say act like a man. True manhood is courageous. But how? The next verse is the last thing you might expect.
Do everything in love. -1 Corinthians 16:4
According to the Apostle Paul, the way you are strong and courageous is by showing love in all you do. And what kind of love? The Love Paul just outlined 3 chapters before! The God Love.
Commitment means sticking it out through the good and the bad.
Commitment stays when others would leave.
Commitment pushes through the uncomfortable.
Commitment doesn’t go to bed angry, even if everything isn’t resolved.
Commitment is never temporary.
Commitment is a partnership.
Commitment is Love.
Real men Love. Real men commit.