Paul's Ponderings

Thoughts about following Jesus

What Makes a Man a Man?

3 VirtuesAll of creation needs men to be men. If a male doesn’t accept his design to be a man, bad things happen.

Essentially this is what  happens in Genesis 3. Sin entered the world because of Adam’s passivity. Adam had the responsibility to protect his wife’s integrity. Instead he allowed Eve to tempted by the serpent. Sin entered the world because Adam did not accept his responsibility as a man.(Tweet this)

The world needs men. A man is more than a male. The world has plenty of males, but not enough men. This reality forces us to ask the question: What makes a man a man?

While there are many virtues of manhood the cross cultural boundaries, I approach this topic from a Christian background. What it looks like to be a Christian man should look different from what it looks like to be a pagan man.

I believe that the Church needs to do a better job at teaching people what it means to be created in God’s image and what it means to be a man or a woman. Since God created people in His image, male and female, I believe there is something of God’s character which is captured in the masculinity of men and the femininity of women. While there are many virtues that are for all Christians, the reality is that there are masculine and feminine virtues that are needed in the world, and provide a glimpse of God’s character. I know this becomes a touchy subject because sometimes it seems that in talking about the differences between the sexes that women are reduced to second class citizens.

That is not my intention. The Bible teaches two important truths that remind us that women are not second class citizens in the Church:

  1. Women are the crown of God’s creation. God started with plant life, then He created fish and birds, next came the creation of the animals on the land, and finally man was created. After a period of time, when Adam realized he needed a helper, God created Eve.
  2. Being a helper shouldn’t be considered inferior. The word helper or helpmate is a  word that is also used for God as He helps people, and God is not inferior to man. Eve was Adam’s helpmate, not because she was inferior to Adam, but because she was to join Adam in fulfilling God’s call to be stewards over creation.

I think there are three virtues that we need emphasize when we talk about Christian masculinity. These are areas which cannot be developed simply by teaching a lesson, rather they have to be experienced. In other words true masculinity is the product of discipleship and not just teaching.(Tweet this)

  1. The first area we must develop is courage. I believe this a basic difference between men and women. That is not to say that women cannot be courageous, because they can be very courageous. Rather what I am saying is that it is a man’s responsibility to be the first to take the stand. He has to be the one who takes the punishment so his family and friends can avoid it. If a man only stands up in support of the stand his wife took, allowing her to be the courageous one, then something is wrong. Men need the attitude that Jonathan displayed in 1 Samuel 14:6 “Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer. “Perhaps the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!” (NLT). Perhaps the Lord will help, Jonathan said. He had no guarantee of victory or life, but he did know what God desired, and so he stepped out in courage to do it.
  2. The second area we must develop is leadership. The apostle Paul wrote; For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of his body, the church; he gave his life to be her Savior (Ephesians 5:23; NLT). God has ordained men to be leaders. This does not mean men are to be dictators, getting their way, but it does mean that men are to lead their family and church into God’s best. In this Jesus is to be our example. Jesus led by serving, he led by teaching, he led by praying, and he led by dying. Jesus led by doing those things that would bring God’s best into the lives of people. We need to men to be a leaders. To be a leader requires laying down our wants and desires to do what is best for other people. That is how Jesus led. Men need to listen to the concerns of those around them and make a decision which benefits them all. Men need to help those around them to hear God’s voice so they can be led from His guidance.  Godly leadership is crucial for good families and churches.
  3. The third area is responsibility. I think this is the biggest weakness men in our culture have. We have misplaced priorities which leads to a lack of responsibility. Too many men neglect their responsibilities at home and instead focus on their responsibilities at work. This is actually the best case scenario. The worst case scenario includes men who neglect their responsibilities at home and hide away in the fantasy world of sports, pornography, and video games. We need to follow the example of Boaz. Boaz was a wealthy land owner we read about in the book of Ruth. When Ruth and her mother-in-law return to Israel, it was to Boaz’s field Ruth went to in order to collect grain for food. While Boaz wanted to marry Ruth he couldn’t because there was another relative closer to Ruth’s family who had that right. Yet Boaz wasn’t going to leave it at that, so Naomi told Ruth; “Just be patient, my daughter, until we hear what happens. The man won’t rest until he has followed through on this. He will settle it today” (Ruth 3:19; NLT). Once Boaz decided to marry Ruth, he left his responsibility of the harvest in order to settle the matter. In Boaz’s mind his business could wait while he fixed the problem in his relationship. The responsibilities in our relationships are more important than our responsibilities at work. Men need to understand the difference and be willing to make the appropriate sacrifices for his family.

Our society has dropped the ball in developing true men and women, and it is time the Church stepped into the gap and begin to do what we can to train men and women to be the people God created them to be.

Questions to Consider:

  • What other qualities do you think men need to develop?
  • Have you been hurt by a man who refused to live up to his responsibilities?
  • Why is it important that men develop “manliness” in their lives?

 

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6 Comments

  1. Men need to understand what integrity and character are and then develop them. It’s like harvey keitel said in the movie pulp fiction “just because you are a character doesn’t mean you have any”. If you have no spiritual grounding and foundation in Christ you are scattered to the wind and will do whatever “feels” right instead of what IS right.

    Men have lost the ground to be men. People having kids out of wedlock helped push this lack of responsibility on both parties. Men not taking responsibility for their actions, regardless of what the law is throwing at them. I know, because I used to be this very same person. I let selfishness dictate my actions and I had no integrity or character. No grounding in Christ and therefore I did what felt right for the situation. No wisdom no patience no faith. If we can’t learn to submit to God as our leader how can we expect our wives to submit to our leadership as men and the head of our family?

  2. Drae, integrity and character are so important. Those are two more area that Christian men need to develop in order to be like Christ. Thanks for mentioning them!

  3. Wow! Really, an awesome post! Courage, responsibility and leadership are essentials to a man being a real man. I have also written about this idea and try to focus on the spiritual maturity of a man. Men need to hear messages like this and more often. I have gone and shared this in multiple ways and look forward to reading more.

  4. Thanks Bryan for reading and sharing! I appreciate it. I believe that as Christian men we have a responsibility to model and teach other men what true masculinity looks like so they can understand that there is a better way to live.

  5. This article was great and got right to the heart of the matter. My biggest gripe is that you hear a lot of women/people talk about how men need to do this and men need to do that and it can be frustrating/discouraging. Some of these same people will voice these statements and either a) have no idea what a man’s duties entail or b) fail to mention what women need to do in terms of relationships. In my life, I didn’t have a good, stable role model because my dad ducked out while I was in high school. Even when he was around, he took the “best case scenario” and focused more on his responsibilities with work–he went through a lot of jobs and seemed preoccupied with financial success, particularly by his own merits. Long story short, no one taught me how to be a man and now I’m expected to learn how on my own. I’ve only had the women in my family to help me and while they did their best, I feel I always come up short, especially in relationships. My past experience with girlfriends (in church and out of church), they readily expected me to be a man—the Christian girlfriends were quick to literally reinforce that they needed me to lead and I’d agree at first, hoping that that was the right response when inside I was upset because I was wondering why they felt the need to tell me that. I never said to them “I need you to be a helpmate in the relationship, OK?” It’s frustrating and irritating and I guess I’m mostly mad at myself when sometimes I’d take it out on them.

  6. Hey P, thanks for the comment. My basketball coach in college used to tell us that he yelled at us because he still believed that we could get better, and if he stopped yelling it meant that he had given up on us. I think you should view being told to lead in a similar light. Girls tell you that because they see potential in you, if they had given up hope that wouldn’t have said anything. Start looking for ways to lead, even in small ways, and go from there, your cause is not lost.

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