Being a Man
Growing up without a consistent image of fatherhood terrifies me. It presents a challenge of how to behave when it is my turn to be a father, a husband, or a man. All that I know about being a man is through a collective of images taken of my father, my uncle, my cousin, my brothers, many lesser influences, and the greatest influence being God. When asked about what it means to be a man, I would need more than an hour to describe it. However, I promised you that I’d keep my posts short, so here are some of the most memorable things I think of when asked about what it is to be a man.
A man is the most vulnerable one in the room. I liken it to being like King David, who danced out of his clothes in joy as he praised God the Father. 2nd Samuel 6 is a great image of who a man really is. He is one who gathers and leads men to his cause. He is one who reveres the Lord, and often doesn’t know why, but he is equally afraid to find out. He is one who knows his place in the spiritual aspect. He is undoubtedly confident in the God he serves, and willing to humble himself, even from a place of dignity, to show out for Him. He is generous, cautious, caring, stern, and wise.
A man’s vulnerability is not simply how he looks in the view of others, but how he acts. Any decent man knows in his household, everyone is underneath his authority, and thus, protected by him. He is the most vulnerable because he should be willing to give up his life to protect the others. His wife, and arguably his children, should be treated as an extension of his own body. Losing a limb puts all of the body at risk, and one should protect his “limbs” from harm at all times and at all costs.
A man protects those who refuse to protect themselves. To understand this concept, pay attention to how Jesus Christ treats those who are under attack, specifically women. The famous passage, the naked, adulterous woman about to be stoned (John 8:2-11), would be the easiest passage to turn to. How God lowered Himself to stop others from stoning the woman, who placed herself in the position to be set up and dragged out to Jesus naked for judgment, should be a blueprint on how men should treat the weak and vulnerable (or at the very least, women). We shouldn’t judge, but rather protect. Even those who put themselves in harm’s way, like the woman continuing to commit adultery, we should be protecting.
However, the passage I would like to refer to is the passage of the Samaritan woman in John 4. Their interaction is so unique because from the start, the woman thought to devalue herself, but Jesus lifted her up. She didn’t think he should want a drink from her, but he had a greater blessing for her than she could have ever imagined. He protected her from societal rules, from lies, and from feelings of worthlessness. We, as men, need to be the same with our actions and words. We need to defend those who devalue themselves, even if they refuse to uplift themselves. Most times, what we need to protect is not the physical, but the emotional, mental, and spiritual.
This is why men need to relearn why adultery is an abhorrent activity. Men do not blatantly risk the hearts, minds, emotions, and bodies of their loved ones. They are not unfaithful, because they know faithlessness will cause damage to their family, and their family is their body. You do not randomly grow extra limbs, and neither should you cheat. Any male human wanting to be a man knows he is a protector and respecter of all persons.
A man respects those who refuse to respect themselves. I get this ideology from Hosea. Hosea is the man God told to marry a prostitute. He humbled himself and did so, only for his wife to leave him and return to prostitution. He could’ve left her in that life. He could’ve called her names, treated her the way she wanted to be treated, and retaliated. Instead, he treated her better than that, going so far as to buy her back from her chosen occupation. He did not speak down on her, but he loved her.
We should all take a page out of Hosea’s book and learn. Hosea did not treat his wife like the prostitute she was. He treated her like his wife. We need to stop treating women like sex toys, even if they see no issue in playing that role, and we need to treat them like our sisters, mothers, wives, and as women, the missing bone from our bodies that God turned into the most wonderful helper. It is not loving to willing let someone degrade themselves in order to please you. As a man, you know you are more respectful than this. Operate in love. This is a mark of true manhood.
A man is loving. We’re still breaking away from the misogynistic view that men should be tough and emotionless. Men have feelings, and we need to express them without external or internal judgment. I would argue that an emotionless man is far more dangerous than an emotional one. The true essence of a man is in the opening of his heart. If we continue to stifle ourselves, we’ll continue to see emotional outbursts and fits of rage, resentment, and bitterness. We are not meant to bottle our emotions, but express them as women freely do.
In order to be loving, you must first be able to express your emotions. If you’re sad, cry, or tell someone why you’re sad. If you’re angry, vent. If you’re frustrated, speak up! Nothing should be left inside, because buried emotions only come back later in your life to destroy you and those you love. If you are a man, you know that any potential threat to your loved ones needs to be handled immediately. Don’t delay.
The best men in my life were tough, but knew when to show compassion. They felt. They didn’t close off their hearts to appear manly, but instead were truly manly in how they expressed the pain they felt. It wasn’t weakness. It was recognizing a place of vulnerability, expressing that vulnerability, and responding as men do. This requires wisdom, which leads me to my last point.
Men are wise. The best of men refuse to operate in ignorance. We are calculated, logical, and discerning. We aren’t capable of discernment as women are, but our way of discernment is equally important. Any man willing to remain a fool is a waste. Men, at their core, want to be efficient. We do not sweat the details. We look for the fastest way to get the job. We do things. If we are not actively trying to find better ways to do the same things, we are wasting the brilliance God gave us. Age and intention increase wisdom. It is not wise to remain in the mindset of your youth, nor is it wise to be unintentional about getting wiser. You harm those around you when you do so, and as protectors and respecters, it should be a man’s desire to grow in wisdom.
Being a man requires activity. It requires strength. It requires wisdom. It requires patience. It is not about growing old. There are plenty of older men who I’ve outgrown. There are men currently in their 50s trying to live like they are in their 20s. Being a man isn’t about age, but character. We do not cower, but we fight. We do not lounge about, but we engage. We do not take advantage of our authoritative positions but we act with consideration for those around us. There is a reason God placed men as head of the household. We are long overdue in having the majority of us take on that role with intention to better our communities.
Bettering our communities involves men holding each other accountable. Men are loving. We do not rape women, children, or the elderly. We do not blame the women for causing us to lust, but we work with the women by working on our own self-control so that we do not think of them as objects of our lust. We do not blame the victim for the trauma they endured. We are protectors. When there is a pedophile, abuser, or rapist in our midst, we turn them in. We do not create avenues for bad male humans to thrive. We do not leave our men lost, confused, or without aid or enlightenment.
There is much more to what makes a man, but hopefully what you’ve read will make you consider relearning what those values are. For every statement made, there are hundreds of others and thousands of reasons as to why a man should be and do these things. If you want to learn more, humble yourself and ask. Ask men what their greatest mistake was. Ask them what their greatest achievement is. Ask them what hurts them. Ask them what they fear. The militant man isn’t needed in times of peace. The peaceful man cannot be afraid to go to war. If you are a man, what do you value?
 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Samuel+6&version=NKJV  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john+8%3A2-11&version=NKJV  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john+4%3A1-26&version=NKJV