I don’t want to preach. Yet, this is something that has been in my mind lately. This is about what it means to be a man.
In my many years of being a brother, single man, married man, husband, uncle, friend and now a grandpa, I have come to see that many of us men have taken for granted our role. I have also felt very sad seeing homes that are fatherless. I am not talking about fathers who left their homes but fathers who are still with their families but remarkably absent. Either dad is not in the picture or is emotionally unavailable. The result is blurred boundaries, low self worth, and very little awareness. It causes anger, and emotional voids that are filled with unhealthy habits.
I have seen children struggling with life as a whole, some drawn into drugs and dangerous vices because of the absence of a father. I have seen wives who seem to have lost any reason to be joyful because their husbands have become self-absorbed and just plain selfish.
Today in my line of work, a common thread with many of the ladies I work with is the way they are treated by men and the effect it has on them. Perhaps we men underestimate the impact we have in this world. Perhaps what I am about to write is a challenge. Some men who read this may become upset and defensive. I understand because no child, wife, sister, mother is perfect either. We all fall short of the ideal standard. However, this is very personal with me as I am hoping for a change (beginning with me) with those who read this further.
Men take responsibility.
For the decades living in this world, I have generally (and I emphasize “generally” because I know not all guys are like this), observed that most males don’t think of how their words and actions affect others. An example of this is a husband who carelessly demolishes his wife’s character or verbally abuses his children. I know of men who get into physical or verbal altercations to prove something. There is always that man who pulls from his ego instead of his heart. In short, men who are immature and acts like little boys. Instead, I believe, we men should be responsible.
It takes discipline, patience, and maturity to filter oneself and think about others before one responds. A response requires thought, maturity and lots of love. A reaction is instinctual. Boys are reactionary. Men takes responsibility.
Men examine self first.
Instead of being quick to blame others, we men should be willing to examine ourselves, especially our own defects. Instead of wearing masks and trying to hide ourselves, should we not practice transparency and be non-defensive? Should we not be real and authentic? And not try to be someone we’re not? If we walk with a “mirror”, maybe we won’t get caught up in heated arguments. When we see who we really are, especially in the inside, we can handle confrontations with greater maturity and calm. We will take responsibility, make wise choices to build good relationships. We will move forward and be changed men.
Men live with a purpose.
We have something good and noble to fight for. It doesn’t have to be to end poverty or world hunger. It can be to save a marriage. To build bridges in human relations. It can be fighting for someone else’s position in life. Expressing art. Sharing gifts. Being a better version of one’s self. Something he believes in, even if others don’t. Something we champion even not popular. Whether it’s one’s character or an empire, real men build. Immaturity deconstructs.
Men take action.
Honestly, I admit that it is only recently that I made a choice to stop complaining when things don’t go my way in life. Many habits like complaining and losing one’s temper stem from undisciplined thinking and the inability to deal with emotions. I know many men who talk about changing themselves. Who talk about wanting to “fix” their relationships. Who want to lose weight. To be a better father. To stop drinking, cheating, spending, hiding, and numbing. But only a few take action and climb that mountain daily. Only a few who fall down over and over yet keep getting back up. Only a few take real action.
Real men do not happen by accident. Real men are not determined by how much money they make, where they live, the color of their skin, or how much education they do or do not have. Real men are not determined, by how well they play basketball or any sports, how many girlfriends they can have, how good of a voice they have to sing or to rap, how well they dress, or what car they drive.
Real men are determined by the choices they make, the stands they take, the commitments they complete and the relationships they build. A real man is one that others can depend on to do his part. There is a commitment to finish what has been started. Can we be depended upon to be men in our circumstances? Are we willing to take a stand for what’s right as a man or do we seek to blame somebody else for why we’re not doing what you know we should be doing? Real men do not go around blaming others. They make up the difference needed.
One thing I have learned from all these is that, we cannot do this on our own. No man, son, brother, husband or father can be all that he is capable of being without a personal relationship to God. This relationship can only come through having Jesus Christ living in us. Every man needs a role model that will never let him down. There is only one who can fill those shoes. This is Jesus, the real man. Jesus was both a real man and God all at the same time. As a man he understands the great challenges and struggles that we have go through. As God, he knows the victory he wants us to have in the midst of these struggles. He is the one that can make it happen.
Yet, this is not just easy “believism.” While Jesus has made possible the forgiveness of sin by his grace, yet, the price for becoming a real man is not cheap. It takes discipline. It will cost you a lifetime of commitment to saying no to your own selfish desires, and yes to God’s plan for your life day in and day out. It is surrendering our will to Jesus whether it is easy or not. Only real men can accept the cost of the call to follow Christ. Most men are not able to pay the price. Real men are able to say, enough is enough. I want a change for myself, for my wife, for my kids, for my community, for my role in the body of Christ. Men, let us forget the image thing. Let us forget the world’s lies. Instead, let us be a real man of God and a real man for our children, spouse and community. Let us be known as men who care.