Remember that ad campaign, Real Men of Genius? It was funny, but it actually exposed a truth that I firmly believe is detracting from the growth of society – manhood is superficial. America paints a picture of manhood that includes beards, sports, and beer. While none of these things are inherently bad (trust me, I wish I could grow an awesome beard, you probably can’t find a bigger sports fan than me, and I definitely plan on enjoying beer when I’m 21…), they are far from the essence of manhood.
What is manhood? Manhood is many things, but most of those things don’t come to mind when we hear the word. One thing all people can agree on is that life is one long struggle. No matter how joyful it can be, we’re always struggling with something. As humans, we have weakness. We don’t know everything. We can’t do everything. Most of us have realized that by now. However, our society paints a picture of manhood that strays from this revelation – real men aren’t weak, and shouldn’t admit weakness. Right?
True manhood admits weakness and looks outside of the ego for strength. As I say this, I’ll have you know I’m the worst offender of this truth. I often think I can do it all on my own, that people shouldn’t tell me what to do, and that I’m perfectly self-sufficient in everyday life. But that’s dangerous territory. In my opinion, one of the best examples of a man’s man was the Apostle Paul. This guy had a purpose and stuck to it. He travelled across various terrains to fulfill the calling on his life, coming face to face with death too many times to count. He had plenty of room to brag about the true man he was.
However, the essence of Paul’s manhood was not in his strength or his ability to survive. The essence of his manhood was in his weakness.
2nd Corinthians 12:9 says, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Paul admitted weakness. He knew he couldn’t make it through the struggle of his everyday life under his own power. While today’s version of a man boasts in his bank account, the women he’s been with, and how much beer he put down in one sitting, Paul boasted in his weakness. And he was happy to do so. He knew that the more he realized his weakness, the more he could rest on God for strength.
All around, people are struggling. While huge issues like human slavery, war, abortion, gay marriage, and more receive all media attention, the manpower needed to solve the implicated issues in these topics is being lost at an individual level. Look around you. You know at least one friend who is hurting. You know at least one person who is suffering. You know at least one problem that makes you sick to your stomach. And again, with myself as the worst offender, how much time do you spend playing video games? Complaining about the three tests you have tomorrow? Sleeping in till 11:00 am?
I’m not saying you need to stop playing video games, develop a revolutionized worldview, or get up at 5am everyday. But I am making a call. A call to the boys.
Step up and be a man.
There’s a sense of urgency. It’s not time to play church, act happy when we’re not and call it good. It’s time to get knee deep in each other’s crap. It’s time to stop discouraging each other on the basis of our inflamed egos. It’s time to stop letting things happen, easing into passivity. It’s time to intervene – through prayer and through action.
Where is the true masculinity? Biblical manhood? It’s time for action. We need men to step up and understand God’s promises. To rest on His strength and boast about our own weaknesses. And how about this one: to treat women with the utmost respect. A real man isn’t some imposing figure, some intimidating beast… a real man is a lowly servant. A real man isn’t out to get anything… but to give everything. I’m sick of hearing about “men” who try every which way to manipulate women into physical objects who don’t have any true sense of personhood. That’s disgusting. But a guy who fails to love the perpetrators of this objectification is just as much of a boy as they are. How do we solve these problems? We serve each other. We allow these egos to deflate, we stop comparing ourselves to others. To use some of my favorite lyrics, “I’m no better than the man behind bars. He did with his business what I do in my heart.”
Christian guys – let’s stop babying each other when we sin. Instead, let’s train together… striking a blow to our bodies so that what we preach is not in vain (1st Cor. 9:27). It’s time to LOVE ALL PEOPLE WELL. That includes the man who objectifies the woman. That includes the other man whose sight we can’t stand. That includes the woman – the physical, emotional, spiritual woman. Not just the body. She’s a person. She’s a masterpiece of the Creator of the universe. And when it comes to this criteria for manhood we’ve been talking about, she just might be more of a man than you are.
Take to heart these lyrics by the 116 Clique (Lecrae, Tedashii, etc.) from their song “Authority”:
“On the real, I’m a man, but I guess it’s just my gender
When it comes to manhood, man we leave it to our sisters
What a tragedy, travesty, passive in our actions
Living absentee, stand and wait while asking them to marry me.
Beating on my chest and thinking I am strong, Bowflex
If you gon’ take charge for the Lord then you lead out
Being one who serves like the one who chose to bleed out
Submitting to authority, government that’s over me
And to the Father who is sovereign, real men stay orderly
I learned to submit because God gives the command
While she follows me cause I follow him with holes in his hands.”
It’s time to stop ignoring the very real suffering our brothers and sisters are experiencing. It’s time to actually seek ways to serve them instead of addressing it only when it “comes up.” It’s time to be active, responsible. To SHOW that we are grateful for what we’ve been given by taking pride in our schoolwork, jobs, and other roles we’ve been placed in. To avoid complaining, to avoid the phrase “I don’t feel like it.” It’s time to live fully. John 10:10 tells us we can do just that if we’ve put our hope in Christ… so why not partake in a full life that’s freely given to us?
We must admit our weakness and rest in God’s strength. We must serve the outcasts, the forgotten and the abandoned. That’s integrity, that’s manhood. What are you going to do when absolutely nobody is looking? Indulge yourself in the emptiness of this world or step up and be a light to broken people?
I’m calling out to the men. Like Lecrae said, don’t you want more than last night’s bragging rights?
Love other people well. Treat women better than they even think they deserve to be treated. Reach out to those who seem out of reach. You are entitled to nothing other than the responsibility of being a man that will make a legitimate difference in this world. I heard a saying a few days ago that I fully believe: Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
Nobody is asking you to singlehandedly end human slavery in the next year. But you can do your part by refusing to submit to a culture that objectifies women. It’s the same for every other issue – be a man and do what you can.
Don’t leave the women around you to carry the responsibility of men on top of what they already do. Don’t take this as a rebuke or harsh words to make you feel guilty. Take this as encouragement and as a call to action.
Step up, leave boyhood behind and be a real man. Your strength is in your weakness. The perfect example of pure masculinity daily makes Himself clear. Pay attention and follow suit.
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” – 1st Corinthians 13:11
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” – 1st Corinthians 16:13-14