In a world where there has already been much confusion – gender confusion is unsurprising. What does it mean to “be a man?” There is no shortage of opinions. What do we do when we need to know truth? We go to the source of truth. God’s word – the Bible is where God has revealed his truth to us.
We read in the opening chapter of the first book of the Bible that God creates humans “in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.” [Gen 1:27]. We know three things right off the bat – (1) God created humans, (2) He created them in his image, therefore every single human has dignity, value, and worth, and (3) He created male and female to be distinctly different.
So, this being true [God’s word…remember?] what does it mean to be a man? Someone who is rough, gruff, physically intimidating, superior in sports, makes tons of cash, or has been with scores of women? Are there any differences at all between men and women? I’m going to suggest that perhaps one hopefully helpful way of defining a man is “leader.” All over Scripture we see men as leading – and let’s maybe look at 3 ways men are called to lead in particular:
- Sacrifice. This has to be said first, because it is the attitude that undergirds the leadership. Men should lead in service. Selfless service. Considering other’s needs above his own [Phil 2:3-4], in humility, [Eph 4:2] in love. This includes helping others, honoring others, and being patient and gentle with others. Think of how Christ sacrificially served others! [Galatians 2:20, Romans 8:32]
- Sustenance. Men should lead in providing for themselves [as in try not to be 28 and still living with your parents] or if they are married, providing for their wife and family. God commanded Adam, before the Fall, to work the garden. [Gen 2:16] This means financial security, but also physically – taking care of the house, the cars, protecting, helping [see #1] in all aspects of housework, [not just “Man’s Work”] and taking care of themselves physically. Truth hurts – so many men are just unhealthy and undisciplined!
- Spirituality. Men should lead in knowing God, but this should be done in service too others and sustaining their own spiritual growth. Husbands are called to love their wives in such a way that it makes her grow more mature as a believer. [Eph 5:25-27] Much is made of the wives’ submission to the husbands – but before that happens a husband must submit to Christ. We are also called to bring up their kids in fear and instruction of the Lord. [Eph 6:4]. Single dudes: you need to be growing in Godliness long before a wife and kids to do this well when the time comes.
One summary “truth hurts” comment perhaps – men have largely punted on leading, or restricted it to one or two areas of their lives. [Leading in Fantasy Football is not what we are going for here…] As a result, we see the devastating results in marriages, families, and a glutton of young men drifting without direction or passion. Being a man isn’t a secret trait, or something that you either “have it” or not. I’d challenge us all to give serious consideration to what the Bible calls men to and ask God humbly to give us the grace to live it out!
PS: Many thanks to the men that I had review this and add their thoughts!