What Does It Mean To Be A Man?

As he walked out of the event, he had a beautiful woman on his arm and asked the valet to go and fetch his pride and joy, a sleek Corvette, named Trinity. After all the hard work of undergraduate and graduate work, his thriving career was finally all he ever dreamed of. Trips to exotic locations, luxury suites in Vegas, promotions at work, how could life get any better than this?  I had arrived in my manhood.

I look back at that time now, with the clarity of how foolish I really was. I had worked hard to create this fantastic, enviable life. A house made of glass, one in which I worked hard to keep away anything that would shatter it. I was a man who was insecure at his core because everything I looked to affirm me was a shallow reality based on lies.

The sad reality is that I am not the only man who faces this truth. I don’t have to tell you that we are in a world with now, generations of lost boys. A generation who makes websites like askmen.com one of the top websites for men, with over 12 million visitors a day. [1] Here, 12 million men are told, that the key to being a better man is to focus on: Sex, Fine Living, Power and Money. [2]

Our boys and men, are searching for manhood. PLEASE TELL ME -- WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A MAN.

We criticize lost men, but don’t we get it? Men, from birth, are continually bombarded with images in mass media glorifying immature ideals of success and conquest. How can a man honestly become a man, when he in a state of confusion due to lack of vision from no role models and the complete emasculation of men.

In addition to a lost society, let’s address the additional barriers and greatest threats to men today:

  • Absent or Abusive Fathers
  • Overbearing and Enabling Mothers
  • An Isolating Sinful Ego and Nature

 

The Fatherless

Let’s face the truth: The greatest wound of men today, is an absent or abusive father. Men who have grown up without a father suffer a grieving reality of loss that shakes them to the core of their being.  Let’s take a realistic look at men who are raised without fathers:

  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (US Dept. Of Health/Census) – 5 times the average.
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes – 32 times the average.
  • 85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average.  (Center for Disease Control)
  • 80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes –14 times the average.  (Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26[3]
  • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average.  (National Principals Association Report)

How can we ignore the societal norm that is ravaging the young men of the generations to come? Dave Blankenship brings attention to this devastating truth in Fatherless America, “The most urgent domestic challenge facing the United States…is the recreation of Fatherhood as a vital social role for men”.[4] 

Perhaps you did not have a father who left you, but instead abusively dominated and terrorized your family. Boys who experience the fearful reality of an abusive father, mature into angry, insecure and frustrated men. When abusive fathers dominate and dictate, they deprave their sons of the mentorship of what it means to be a man and their lack of affirmation leaves their sons to go out into this world asking, Will any man come and affirm me? This insecurity leads to extreme behavior, and invites self –destruction in a man who at his core, now believes, he has no worth.

A man who experienced these realities has a choice. He can perpetuate the cycle of abuse for generations to come or he will have the courage to face the wounds of the past. Bad fathers are a fact, but not an excuse. We need to deal with this reality and make peace with it.  How do you begin to address the wound?

1. Acknowledge it is there and refuse to be defined by it. My father was abusive but his behavior does not define me a man.

2. Choose to believe in God’s Justice. You may have had a truly evil father, but you have to let go of your vengeance and let the Lord apply justice. You will hurt yourself with self –destruction if you are trying to find vengeance on your own.

3. Choose to forgive your Dad, the way your heavenly Father has forgiven you. Your dad made a mistake, huge incredible mistakes. You need to see that he was a weak man that will have to answer to God and face sovereign justice. When you choose to reconcile and forgive; you will tell him how he hurt you, the wounds that were created, and offer a chance to be forgiven.

4. Accept the Love your Heavenly Father wants to give you. There is a father to the fatherless. Find men who will walk along side you, encourage you, and model Godly fatherhood and manhood. God pursued you when your Father was not there and will never fail you.

5. Break the Chain of Abuse and Abandonment. You will claim the relationship you missed and provide it for your child. You need to be re-fathered- You need to know what it means to be loved, affirmed, and respected.  Move forward and provide to your children everything your dad never gave you; time, respectful leadership, direction for moral truth and your heart. Go and love, affirm, and bless your children.

 

Enabling and Overbearing Mothers

So how does the lack of male leadership affect wives and mothers? It leads to an unhealthy relationship between mothers and sons, in which a mother believes she can create a man who will love her or he will replace the lost figure of a man in the family. This woman may be alone or married with a husband who refuses to lead. She creates a child-centered relationship and seeks to have her needs met through her children. The man with this type of mother faces the suffocating reality of Don’t you love your mom anymore? I told you no one was going to love you like Mom. Men have a much harder reality of making truth of this abuse because it is disguised as care and over attention. It has the name of love, but in reality is control. A man raised by a woman is lead into manhood governed by one of two realities:

1. They reel against women who are authorities over them and become socially disruptive, irresponsible in family and work commitments, overly assertive about their manly prowess, especially in sexual areas, or leading lives characterized by violence and crime, alcoholism, and other addictions.  

2. They overly identify with the adult women who are authorities in their lives and learn to behave or react in ways that are more appropriate to women than to men.

Whether they choose either option, they do not learn the discipline, the responsibility, and the character involved in being a man. [5] Face the truth, but do not use your mother as an excuse. Get a clear understanding of what it means to be a man and leave your childish behaviors behind. Gently, lovingly but clearly break up with mom and create healthy boundaries so you can face the responsibilities of the present and start creating a healthy mother, son relationship.

 

The Core Issue: Sin

Society, Absent Fathers, and overbearing mothers all have one thing in common: the reality that we live in a broken world and it is sinful in its very nature.  For men who were raised with supportive Godly fathers, we will struggle with a blinding pride, which tells us that we can find our own way in this world. The heritage of our dysfunction is in a sinful heart that is bent towards rebellion. Proverbs 14: 12 says it best, “There is a way which seems right to man, but its end is the way of death”.

I had a loving, blue collar father who knew Jesus and shared this truth with me. I also had a mother who taught me to love, with a deep compassion for helping others in need. If you do have good parents, who modeled Christ for you, don’t believe that you don’t need community like those “broken people”. Just because you came from a good family, does not mean that you can escape sin.

If you are not continually surrounded by godly mentors who model Christ on this earth, you are destined for the same destruction. The lie I believed, is that because I came from a good family, that I didn’t need further accountability, equipping or encouragement. I believed my father had good intentions but was out of touch with the type of man I wanted to be. A man that the world said was sleek, powerful and sophisticated. My parents worked hard to provide me with opportunities they did not have. As I succeeded and was praised for my performance, it fed the lie, that I had become a better man.  As I chased success, I started running with a group of people who were far from Jesus, and before I knew it, I began to define truth differently.  I was a nominal Christian, who professed to know Christ, but led a life that was far from truth, wrapped in isolation. I secretly hid my struggle with pornography, masturbation, objectifying women and engaged in relationships with ungodly, “successful” women, where I looked for validation, but it always left me empty.  If you are not surrounded by God’s people, confessing and shining light on your inner weaknesses, you will continue to justify the dark places in your life and redefine truth.

You see, the glass house I had worked so hard to create, came shattering down when the rocks of truth and the weight of my sins revealed that my world was built on a shallow foundation of sin and lies. See I believed that I could do it on my own. I knew who God was and I knew the truth, but I believed that I knew better. I did not believe the reality that, "we are so completely broken that there is nothing we can do in and of ourselves to correct our course. The reason we struggle as men is that we keep looking within ourselves to correct the problem, or to our world - which has been created by broken men - to correct our problem. Unless something outside of us greater than the world we create intervenes, it ultimately won't get any better." [6]

 

Defining Real Manhood

We must fight the corruption of truth, by modeling ourselves after Jesus. Not only a man, but the perfect model in how we are to identify ourselves in all aspects of being a man: in the home, at work, at school and in the church.

The world will tell us that true manhood comes from athletic, sexual, or financial conquest. We can pursue what the world honors, but they are broken in their ability to provide ultimate significance and greatness.  Men have lost their design for greatness. The result is that men will isolate, deal in superficiality, lead hurried lives, operate in fear and inappropriately define accountability that leads to emotional, social and spiritual deficits that result in foolish actions, serious setbacks, discouragement and poor stewardship of life. Is this what it means to act like a man?  

No. A real man is a man who lives as God really intended. He not only speaks truth but, the way that he lives inspires and encourages the men around him with God’s truth.

1. Real Men Step Up and Reject Passivity.  A real man leads, initiates by being a man of action. He assumes it is his job and  rejects apathy (Ezekiel 22:23-30, 2 Samuel 10: 7, 12, Proverbs  20:6, Psalm 101, James 1:23-25, John 10:11-13, 2 Samuel 10, Ezekiel 22:23-31

2. Real Men Speak Up, embrace their role and are courageous in the face of challenges.  “A good guy” who stays quiet, must realize that silence in the midst of sin, is a sin. Fear God and not man. Speak the truth in love (Proverbs 31: 8-9, Proverbs 27: 5-6, 1 Peter 3:15, Proverbs 15: 1-2, Proverbs 24:11-12, Jeremiah 1: 17, Isaiah 8: 11-13, Romans 1:16, Proverbs 14:25

3. Real Men Stand Strong and don’t give in when challenged, attacked or criticized. (Jeremiah 1:18-19, 1 Corinthians 15:58, 1 Peter 5: 8-9, Proverbs 24:10, Philippians 1:27-28, Galatians 1:10, Jeremiah 12:5, 1 Corinthians 10:13

4. Real Men are Humble and Pursue Authentic relationships.  They are vigilant against pride, get the log out of their eye, think of yourself less.  They understand that they must live in a community of godly men who will give them acceptance, affirmation and accountability. (1 Peter 5:5-7, Psalm 141:5, Proverbs 12:1, Philippians 2:3-5, John 15:5, Micah 6:8, Isaiah 66:2

5. Serve the King. Real men love and lead those given to them.  Seek His Kingdom, His glory, His Righteousness, Hope in the eternal and live for a greater award. (Mark 10:45, Matthew 6:33, Joshua 24:14-15, 2 Corinthians 5:10, 1 Peter 2:21-23, Hebrews 6:10, Psalm 16:11, Psalm 84: 10-12

What men have affected you the most? Who are your mentors? How many of those are still in your life today?

You need to surround yourself with men who will encourage you to be a real man. Isolated men are not real men. Real men know how to commit, to communicate, to confess their mistakes and to change, to grow in spiritual maturity. Real men live in the company of Christ following coaches, teammates and mentors. Real men connect deeply with others, live by a code of honor and serve the cause of the gospel which is greater than them.  Men who act in love, for nothing in return. Men who share their love for the One who came into this world, to lay down His life for our sins.

Real Men Live as Christ Lived.  

 

 

 

[1] "CBC News - Technology & Science - AskMen.com: a decade of manliness". Cbc.ca. 2009-12-15. Retrieved 2010-11-12.

[2] http://www.askmen.com/

[3] http://thefatherlessgeneration.wordpress.com/statistics/

[4] Blankenhorn, David. Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem. HarperCollins Publishers. 1995.

[5] Tipton, Prentice, “The Crisis in Black Manhood, Pastoral Renewal, March 1987.

[6]  Credit to Todd Wagner, Words From Wags. To hear more please check out, "A Few Good Men": http://www.watermark.org/media/the-truth-about-men-confusion-crisis-and-the-confidence-to-meet-the-challenge/2006/