I look at the state of us men today and it becomes weighty at times. I listen to men talk about their lives, I hear their struggles, I see their pain. I see young dudes without a compass guiding their lives and a lack of older guys willing to come alongside. The generation gap seems to just be getting wider and the chasm deeper.
And so I see guys doing one of two things: 1) either jumping the ship of faith, saying something to the effect that they just are not sure about this “stuff” anymore, or 2) putting on the “everything is OK” mask and quietly disengaging from what is relevant.
We’ve been lied to, guys.
We have been so led down the path of “be your own person” or “be true to yourself” that many guys, young and old, really do not have a bulls-eye in front of them on which to place their aim. Being true to myself could mean a different bulls eye every day. And it appears that there are such gaps between age groups of men that guys are often left with only their peers, swimming in their own “pool of ignorance.”
We have been taught well to follow our own compass. The problem is that my own compass, heavily influenced by emotions and pressures around me, easily steers me into the rocky shoals of life where I end up shipwrecked.
I am super thankful, though, for the hope that arises because of Jesus. I love how Eric Mason states it:
Jesus Christ is the answer to your manhood issues.
God has called us to be manly men. To be men who look like Jesus. But what does that mean? Do I do certain things? Do I act with certain behaviors?
That becomes impossible. For if I find my identity as a guy in my performance, what happens when those crutches in my life take a hit? You got it. I fall hard.
But what if my identity is not in what I do but in who I am…in Jesus? Ephesians 1:4-5 describes my identity:
Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.
If my identity is placed correctly, then everything else will flow naturally from that. Once that is set, now we can define marks at which to aim.
4 targets of manhood
I would like to offer four key targets that we as guys should aim for. I was impacted by these over a decade ago in the book Raising a Modern Day Knight and I have never forgotten them. I have presented them to my own son; I have taught them to a number of guys on the college level; I have laid them out for men in our church.
And so I would like to offer you these same four pillars with the hope that they provide a biblical compass for your own decisions and pursuits.
I have seen passivity in my own marriage and parenting and I know what it “tastes” and “smells” like. It is one of the two ways that I have seen that a man can ruin his family.
Guys, E-N-G-A-G-E. Engage with your wife and listen to her heart. Engage your kids. Engage other men around you. Reject the temptation to do nothing and offer no leadership. Reject the urge to stay distracted. Choosing to engage more has been one of the most liberating decisions in my life.
God has called us to lead, my friends. Lead. It is not always easy nor is it always to be desired. But we are wired for it. Each of us have people to whom we are responsible. Our wives. Our kids. Our employer. Our friends. I have found that true joy comes in embracing what God has called me to do in each of these relationships and do it well in His strength.
Love my wife. Support and nurture my kids. Serve my employer. Sharpen my friends.
This is not just taking a path, but taking a path that others might not be so quick to jump on – a path to action. Resolving conflict. Setting aside personal agendas. Having a difficult conversation. Stepping out in faith to allow God to stretch you, even though you know that it might be painful. Even though you know it might cost you.
These all take leadership and they all take courage.
Expect the greater reward
This simply means that in the pressures of gratifying myself right now and for my cause, that I make decisions that show that Jesus is better. That in following Him that HE is truly the greater reward. That there is a better sense, a more noble sense, a long lasting sense of joy when I discipline myself in fighting this fight of faith in desperate surrender to a God who wants my joy more than anyone else.
If you read about the temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4:1-11, you will notice these four traits masterfully modeled by Him. In being tempted by Satan himself, He endured the full brunt of each temptation and resisted through to the very end.
What if you prayed and asked God to start developing these in your own life? What if you challenged just one guy you know in these and began praying for him? You would find a path opening before you, that though challenging, will breathe life into you and into your relationships.