Try as you might, you just can’t bend gender. Either you have the equipment or you don’t. Physically – men are different than women. As clearly defined that may seem to be, it bears repeating. However, does equipment alone make a man? Are there other characteristics that define men?
Be a man! We’ve heard that phrase, right guys? Obviously the taunting individual isn’t requesting that a women, suddenly change equipment. It’s not a demand to swap gender. However, it’s usually thrown into the ring as an indictment of behavior.
So what is a man? How do we define a man?
I have the privilege of working with countless different types of men from various backgrounds, economic ranges, and ages. The definition of manhood is as wide and varied as the irregular walls of the Grand Canyon. So what is the definition of a man?
I’ve asked that question in various settings, and within even the smallest gathering of guys – the responses are erratic and dissimilar. Could there be a grounding definition? A base from which we all start? Surely there must be a cohesive structure from which we begin to define who we are.
When someone yells, “Be a man!”. What they are really saying is – “meet my expectations of what a man looks like based on the definition I received as a child!” But that’s entirely too much to say when trying to “one-up” a guy in a face-off.
How we perceive men is greatly dependent upon how we viewed our father as a child. Think of your father for a moment. Remember the good moments and bad moments. What memory shapes you most? Perhaps you had no presence of a father as a child. Who filled that role? How did that shape you?
Many of our entertainment vehicles define the idea of “men” for us. Most television shows depict men as bumbling idiots, buffoons, or shady rule benders. You really have to seek out programming that doesn’t glamorize a guy for being a clueless idiot.
If we look to the bible for the definition of a man, we struggle to take the people littered throughout scripture and post them high on a pedestal as the definition of a man. Even doing so, you’ll fall short of what is necessary to fit the bill. The bible is full of men who missed the mark, obeyed the cultural stereotypes of their day, and fumbled the ball from time to time.
So, where do we get the idea that a man must be defined? Outside of the physical characteristics, the definition of a man really disappears doesn’t it? It would be nice to say that a man is…. and you fill in the blank. But to a guy who had no father as a child, what does that look like? To a son who was beaten and abused, what does a man look like? To a young boy who was molested, what does a man look like? To a teen whose father loved him deeply, what does a man look like? To the child of a war hero who died saving other people, what does a man look like?
The fallacy of this definition lies in the notion that we are using men… to define men. And let’s face it guys, we’re all jacked up. None of us are perfect – and never will be. If we truly want to find the definition of a man, look at Christ. Yes, it’s the easy answer. It ‘s the golden solution for all church people. But let’s seriously look at the traits he embodied.
Christ was a self-assured and confident. He stood before the leaders at age 12 and wowed them with His presence. He spoke the truth, rebuked people who lied, and stood up for injustices. He was loving and tender, but also powerful, and tenacious. He didn’t dodge a challenge and went toe-to-toe with people who opposed him. His love for his Father caused him to ransack the temple and drive out the derelicts who didn’t honor God.
Christ was intelligent, spent hours studying, teaching, and passing His knowledge to people who were cast offs. He stepped forward to take the beatings, humiliations, and suffering so no one else had to endure it. He died a horrible death in order to save those he loved. He never complained. He was determined and didn’t let the scoffers and the public opinion sway his course. Jesus Christ was tender, he was tough, he protected those who loved him and his Father to the last breath of life.
So are you man enough to walk like Jesus Christ? Seems to me, a fitting definition of a man.
We are all called to walk in his shoes. So, until we commit to His way of life, we’ll just call ourselves men because have the right equipment. But the real definition is reserved for those who live like Jesus Christ.
God calls us to be followers of his son. In doing so, we become sons of God. The true father definition is God the Father. Honor him the way Christ honored him. You’ll find direction, definition, and and unwavering characteristics that set you apart from all else.
To love others more than we love ourselves. To be willing to sacrifice our own desires for those that we love. That’s the definition of a man.