What It Means To Be A Man

Father and Son on PierI’m doing something very risky right now. I’m a woman, and I’m talking to men about men. Sure, that’s a little dangerous, but here’s my perspective.

When I have the privilege of delivering a baby, I love the moment when I get to say, “It’s a boy!” Even though many parents already know the sex of their baby, there’s still that small lingering question until their precious baby is actually here. And then that little boy begins to grow up – and as the nursery rhyme says, “snips of snails and puppy dog tails, That’s what little boys are made of.”

Men have challenges to face that our modern society perhaps makes even harder. Generations ago their role was more defined. Many cultures had coming-of-age ceremonies, where a boy became a man. Such so-called manly characteristics as strength, honor, and courage were celebrated. A man could feel successful by demonstrating his strength, winning a woman, and becoming a father.

In today’s society those so-called manly characteristics are often not celebrated in the same way. Today’s jobs and today’s families often give men the message that they are unnecessary. And perhaps the church can be especially faulted for making a goal out of becoming a “Mr Nice Guy!” I find that sad, yes, tragic. For you guys out there, when you were a little boy, did you even once dream of becoming a Mr Nice Guy? It’s likely you dreamed of something much more dangerous, adventurous, passionate, and exciting.

I believe that God created men the way they are on purpose. Our families, our marriages, our communities, our churches, our country, and our world desperately need the strength, courage, and passionate heart of men who are fully alive. We need men who are willing to risk, men who are determined to stand on principle, men who refuse to give in to their flaws. We need men who develop firm character to stand strong against injustice and evil.

Those so-called manly characteristics can of course be used in terribly destructive ways. And so we see domestic violence, rape, war, and many other tragedies. Homes, families, and people’s hearts are damaged – sometimes beyond human repair. Strength turned bad can wreak havoc in so many ways.

The answer is not to give in to such destructive use of testosterone. Neither is the answer becoming a Mr Nice Guy. Rather, the answer is to take the personality God created you with, and become more a man than you ever thought you could be.

It takes a real man to:

  • protect, love, and cherish a woman for the rest of her life.
  • raise up a child through all the challenges today’s crazy world offers.
  • move past his fears to deal with the health issues he may face.
  • step into the role God has created for you.
  • refuse to stand idle in the face of injustice and evil.
  • unselfishly give himself to those God entrusts to his care.
  • live with integrity in the face of multiple “reasons” to do otherwise.
  • pass on a godly legacy to those coming after him.

God says you are His son. He says you have what it takes.

Now, will you take on the challenge?

Here are a few online resources especially for men:

  • Men’s Health Screening. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality provides an extensive list of the health screenings men should receive, at any age.
  • Church for Men. David Murrow’s resources – all about how the church can be more inviting to men, and help in their relationship with God.
  • Ransomed Heart. John Eldredge’s resources – many directed especially to a man’s need for transformation, recovering the treasure of the gospel, and equiping men to help rescue others.

The most recent Dr Carol Show is all about men: men’s health, fatherhood, the roles men play, and how the church and society have impacted those roles. The three-minute Saturday Memo gives some specific highlights (as in this post). And the full archive is available here.

Your Turn: What do you think it means to be a man? Do you think the church and society have made men’s role more challenging? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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