My boys are obsessed with the term “manly”. They use it to describe things that are just normal everyday things. I guess it sounds that much more exciting to say that something is manly or someone is being manly. The other night I was building a camp-fire and my 5 year old son greeted me with, “hey, manly dad.” I returned from fishing with my 7 year old son and heard, “hey there manly dudes.” Manliness is a cherished virtue in my home.
As I think about it, I want my boys to understand what it means to be a man. No, I am not talking about teaching them that they are greater than anyone else because that is ridiculous. What I am talking about is helping them see who they are and what their role is. The way I see it, there are two words that today’s young men need to be taught: responsibility and courage.
“When the time drew near for David to die, he gave charge to Solomon his son. “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go,” – 1 Kings 2:1-3
It doesn’t take much to notice that young men these days don’t typically look like that. Instead of following the ways of God it has become about how much someone can get away with. The truth is that when someone ignores God, while seemingly fun, it will end in pain and emptiness.
What dies it take to show responsibility for a task? It has more to do with how something is done than it does with just having completed a task. The same is true for obedience to God. When someone disobeys God, do they own it?
David tells His Son to be responsible. Of course, we know that David had experience with this. He knew what it was like to hide something and then own the consequences of sin.
What does courage bring to mind? If you need courage or something it would indicate that the task is not easy. Solomon asks for wisdom from God and God grants it to him.
Thinking about what we believe, it does take courage to speak up about issues or beliefs. It takes courage to be honest about what God has done with our lives. But, being manly, as my kids would say, means being who you are no matter who is looking. It means telling people without pause that you love God. Courage says, “I don’t care if my friends are not doing the right things, I am not going to do the same things because they are wrong.”
Courage also means treating women with dignity, respect and integrity. The constant way women are objectified is absolutely unacceptable. To stand up against this is counter cultural and takes courage, but we need to teach our children to look away instead of lusting after women. Courage also means to help other people love one another. It means setting aside petty issues in order to live in unity with each other. It also means calling friends out when they are doing something harmful and letting them know that you care for them.
Jesus Christ knew all about courage and responsibility. He does not ask us to do something He did not do. Jesus did not sin and did what pleased God. We struggle with this, but He did not. He died for us and provided a way for us to be with God. The real result is that in order for us to really reach our full potential, we must first follow Jesus. Anyone can be a guy. It takes more to be a man.
What about for women?
The same principles hold true for women also. My focus was on boys because I have three of them in my house. However, it would seem like women today need to understand their identity in Christ and their value as people made in His image. Guys don’t validate women, God does. There is too much vanity and drama. It takes courage to stand up against that. It takes responsibility to own the sin that each person is guilty of.
No matter who you are. You can make a difference in this world today if you live out responsibility and courage.