Growing up I had a father, but he was not around and when he was, he was not interested in me. Conversations around becoming a man didn’t occur in my home. The only nugget of wisdom passed onto me was if I wanted a large family I better get a good job to support them. The concept and ideas of what it meant to be a real man were somewhat foreign to me. I really had no good male role models; those around me did not discuss it or consistently demonstrated through their actions and words how something I would not describe as being manly. The small country town, white is right, there is only one-way to do it culture I lived it shoved worldly ideas in my face about being a man and I was repeatedly reminded of how I never measured up.
As I left my family, began establishing who I am as a man and what I was about, I began looking at the world around me, observing the ideas and concepts that most men used to define themselves as men – someone who does it all on his own, has no need for anyone else and lives a life filled with money, cars and women. Many of the men I knew were not living their lives the way I thought it would look like. I observed men not discussing their thoughts or feelings, used women in unhealthy ways and could only relate to one another through sports or drinking. None of which appealed to me and it certainly was not how I was going to define myself as a man.
As someone who has been a follower of Jesus since I was 7 years old. I began looking at examples in the church of what it meant to be a man. I discovered morals preached and rigid guidelines followed. Few men in the church discussed what it meant to be a real man. Most of the men I saw in church did not want to be there, were unhappy and appeared to be living their lives, just existing, but never having much passion or desire. Once again, I found it hard to find what it meant to be a real man. There are plenty of examples in the Bible of regular men who God has used to do amazing things. For myself the one person I most admire and look towards in being a man is Jesus. Granted I am by no means Jesus, but his life and how he lived it demonstrates so many characteristics of what a man can and should do.
When my wife and I got married the first things that actually made me feel like a man was finding out I was going to be a father. When it was confirmed, something inside of me said, “You’re the man.” Prior to that, every time I looked in the mirror all I could see was a 16-year-old boy who was lost and had no clue what it meant to be a man. Finally, I felt like I was joining the ranks of others and becoming an official man.
As I closed out my 30’s and start my 40’s I finally am beginning to feel like I am fully a man. My journey into this has been a long and difficult one. It has taken me going from not allowing other guys to be a part of my life to finding amazing men who have spoken volumes into my life. Evaluating events that have shaped who I am today, seeking out, and understanding God’s purpose in my life. I can tell you as someone who is a deep processor and thinker; there have been many days where my brain just never turned off.
A few years ago after reading a couple of books and completing some profile tests I took a week and came up with what I believe defines me as a man. To me a real man means you are honest and true about who you are and where you have come from. A man is not afraid to share his feelings, admits when he needs help and someone who takes care of his family and not just through monetary means. It also includes spending time with each person, getting to know who they are and what you can do to build them up and influence their lives. Having other men in your life you can go to and talk with, men who will hold you accountable.
For myself being a real man is defined by my core values:
Knowledge – continually striving to be better than I am, through various means, which allows my words to be honest and wise, and my actions filled with insight and discernment
Honor – living a loyal life of commitment to God, my wife, kids, family and friends that includes faithfulness, commitment, responsibility and integrity
Fulfillment – living a courageous life filled with passion that allows me to serve others out of love and devotion
Impact – all that I do I do for the legacy I will be leaving behind me
Truth – seeking to live a life that stands up for what is right and just and using my voice to silence injustice, evil and wickedness in the world
For whatever reason men still today do not feel the need to talk about this. It greatly saddens me to see men in church who are walled off, hurting and do not know who they are or what they are about. Men who have been so wounded and hurt they do not even know which way to turn. It is for this very reason I write about these things and use the gifts I have been given to try to build relationships with other men. For me I strive to live an authentic life, which includes being a real man to everyone I meet. Pouring my life into other men and asking the questions that need to be asked. In doing this I hope I not only will be the example but it will help other men in their own journey.
What about yourself, what values define you as a person? How long has it taken you to feel like a fully grown man? How do you see yourself today?