Doug Wilson stated that “Males will necessarily be dominant in any given culture, and the only question before that culture concerns whether or not that dominance will be constructive or destructive.” If this is true, then we had better have a firm grasp on what it means to be a man. Ask the average man to define what he does for a living, it’s almost guaranteed that he can quickly give a clear description in one or two sentences. But ask him to define masculinity for you, and you might experience silence, a puzzled look, or a string of shallow characteristics.
In light of today’s crisis of masculinity, and as a man raising four sons, I’ve worked out a definition that is – prayerfully - shaped by the commands, priniciples and examples found in God’s Word. Here’s the definition, followed by a dissection of each word.
Masculinity is… the God-ordained, primary responsibility to humbly imitate Christ’s love and leadership, wisely demonstrate strength and security, and boldly initiate protection and provision for those within your circle of influence.
God-ordained – Male leadership is God’s design (1 Tim 2:12-14; Eph 5:23), not an invention of the church or, as some would argue, an outdated culture.
Primary – While women demonstrate these qualities, it is man’s chief role to live them out.
Responsibility – Although Eve originally sinned in the Garden, God sought Adam first (Gen 3:9) and held him responsible for sin entering the world (Rm 5:12).
Humbly – Humility is a quality that God honors and blesses (Isa 66:2; Prov 3:34). Lead in the awareness that this is not earned through superior qualifications, but is an assignment from God.
Imitate – Following Jesus means looking to His example, not our culture’s conception (1 Cor 11:1). Husbands are to love their wives “just as Christ loved the church” (Eph 5:25).
Love – Ephesians 5:2 says to “live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.” Christ’s self-sacrificing example (Jn 13:14-15; 15:12-13) means everything is done in love (see 1 Cor 13:4-8; 16:14).
Leadership – Jesus countered the world’s view by stating, “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave” (Mt 20:26-28).
Wisely – How you wield your responsibility is crucial, so your wisdom must come from God (2 Tim 3:15). Words, for example, have the power to devastate or heal (Prov 12:18). Wise words come from a wise heart (Prov 16:23; Mt 12:34). Fathers, words speak identity or discouragement into your children (Col 3:21).
Demonstrate – Since 80% of what we communicate is through behavior, others must see the life of Christ in person and the love of Christ in action (see 1 Cor 11:1 and 2 Tim 3:10).
Strength – This is consistently linked with manhood in Scripture (Prov 20:29; 1 Jn 2:14). He must be mighty in spirit, strong in convictions and character, and must accurately wield the sword of the Spirit (2 Tim 2:15).
Security – A biblical leader creates safety and confidence for others when his security is in the Lord (Prov 14:26). Psalm 15:5 promises that a God-honoring man “will never be shaken.”
Boldly – A man doesn’t turn back in the face of fear or compromise his beliefs. Because he is completely accepted by God, he has nothing to prove and isn’t swayed by mans’ opinion (Prov 29:25; Jn 12:42-43).
Initiate – Christ took the lead to rescue His bride (“We love because he first loved us”). A man must do what is right without being asked, including being first to reconcile with others.
Protection – Christ sacrificed for His Bride, providing the basis for chilvalry. A man opens doors, offers his seat, and carries heavy objects for her. He guards her heart, defends her honor, protects her modesty, and fights for her safety. He protects spiritually through prayer, discernment and strong convictions.
Provision – Husbands are to sacrificially nourish and care for their wives (Eph 5:29). In addition to providing physically, spiritual provision comes through Bible reading, encouragement, and accountability.
Those within your circle of influence – Leading includes immediate family, younger believers, and anyone God brings across your path, which was Jesus’ point in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10).
I pray this definition helps you practically and boldly be the man God has called you to be. I close with Preston Gillham’s words: “A man is created for challenges. He is equipped to overcome, to run the gauntlet, to stand firm as a well-anchored corner post. Men are the benchmark in life, society, and family.”
This was a guest post from a good friend of mine, Chris Sherrod. He is an incredible guy, and is passionate about teaching his boys what it looks like to become Godly men. Go here to connect with him on Twitter. I'd encourage you to get him to speak at an event for you. He is that good.
If you liked this post, check out Kevin's personal blog, Following to Lead, where he regularly writes on following, leading, fostering and family.
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About Kevin East
Kevin East is the Executive Director of Family Matters. He and his wife Stephanie have five unbelievable kids, two of which they most recently adopted. If Kevin isn't busy with work or family, you'll probably find him in the woods near his house with a power tool. He writes at his blog, "Following to Lead". Connect with him on Twitter at @kevinteast.
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