There’s a question that every boy asks his dad. Whether he actually uses words, whether his dad is even around or not, every boy wants to know what it means to be a man. Boys learn these traits by watching and listening. For every young boy, the elusive goal is to “be the man”…whatever that means.
When you hear the word “man” used to describe someone, it generally refers to their gender or age description. This person is a “man” because he’s of the male gender or over a certain age, but being a man is so much more than that. A real man is a description of a male persons focus and passion is in life. If his passion still all about self, like it was when he was a child or teen, then he’s a man by age and gender, but certainly not by maturity. If he has changed to a passion about doing the things God has created him to do, then he has become a man! Where does today’s boy go to get this important job description? If dad is not actively helping his son with this education, then a boy is left with one of two assumptions: First, that he himself is not worth investing in or second, that being a man means being an irresponsible drifter.
One of the challenges of being a man in our culture is that there is no rite of passage. There is no formal time when someone looks a boy in the eye and says, “You passed the test; you are now a man.” In fact, if one of the immature attributes found in children is displayed by self-centeredness, then a lot of forty year olds must still be boys. If we don’t define what it means to be a man, how will our boys know what to shoot for? If a dad doesn’t display how a man is supposed to live, then how will our daughters be expected to recognize one when they meet him? Even worse, how will they recognize a twenty-five year old boy when they’re dating him? If a dad or role model doesn’t describe and live out what it means to be a man, then our children are left to look to our culture for definition. The media portrays a man as someone who lives life to the fullest and lives life for himself. He has sexual conquests and wins every battle by conquering others rather than contributing to others. He is the center of his own world. But that’s not what man was created to be. Man was called to be a leader, a sacrificial leader. Men that are married were called to love their wives passionately, that means like Christ loved the church and died for his church … His bride. He sacrificed everything in Him for His bride (Ephesians 5:25). That’s a calling of total, no excuse accepted and sacrificial leadership.
Today’s child is bombarded with the idea that life is all about them. Today’s boy is marketed to believe that life is there for the taking so “take your own pleasures and happiness”. Today’s boy is desperate for a role model who displays total sacrifice for their family. That’s the calling for a man of God given to us in Romans 12: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship,” (ESV). The call for the brothers is to live as living sacrifices. Live in a way that honors God instead of self; a warrior that fights the battle of “me” for the benefit of others. The heart of every little boy and every teenage boy is screaming to see a man live this out in life. And when he doesn’t, when that man fails, when a real man doesn’t fulfill his role perfectly, a son needs to hear him say that he was wrong. A real man does say “I’m sorry, I was wrong. Will you forgive me?” Our sons need to know there is no shame in being wrong, because no man is perfect. Everything we do is setting the stage for the next generation. There’s a generation of boys growing up with no idea of what it means to be a real man; the man the Creator created each of us to be.
Generations of the past saw men who remained at the Alamo or landed on Normandy Beach, and died so others might live. This generation of boys needs to see this generation of men, willing to sacrifice themselves every day for the sake of the future. If the boy watching me doesn’t learn from me what it means’s to be a man than he is left with the media and the frustration of missing out on the life he was meant to live. To be a man is to live a life dedicated to Christ and to be willing to sacrifice for the cause of Christ. Men, don’t miss this! What you do today will impact generations to come.
Dr.Bob Barnes is the president of Sheridan House Family Ministries. He and his wife, Rosemary, are authors and speakers on marriage and family issues. To learn more about Pastor Bob Barnes, go to www.sheridanhouse.org.