So, let me set a stage and we can elaborate from there…
I am a young man, who was raised by his mother who worked two and sometimes three jobs trying to clothe and feed her family. There was no prominent male figure in the household and most of what I learned about being a man, I learned from watching television, movies and video games. I learned that men are often rough and coarse, whose language is vile at best. I learned that men take what they want, no matter who opposes them or what moral dilemma that creates. I learned that men use women as objects of desire and lust rather than becoming life partners. I learned it doesn’t matter what you say as long as you get what you want. I learned that it is better to be quick and decisive, even brutal when reacting to others because he who throws the first punch usually wins.
I also learned that society owes me the things I want and that it is ok to lie, cheat or steal to get my way. I learned that there is no right or wrong – as long as I am happy. I learned that human life is really pretty cheap and is not sacred. I learned it is easier to kill an opponent than to convert them to my thinking. I learned that I came from a monkey and when I die, it is over. I learned that he who has the most toys wins – no matter how they are attained or who is hurt in the process. In all this, there was no thought or notion ever given of honor, loyalty or integrity.
Now, I may be in jail, in prison or simply bound by a lifestyle that does not bring any peace or rest. And, I am tired of the rat race and the constant battles. Or, maybe I’m not tired of all that. Instead, I thrive on all the drama and I live for the thrill of the chase. But, I still struggle with the whole idea of being a man. When did I become a man? Am I really a man now? How will I know when I have reached the pinnacle named ‘being a man?’
I hear about men, both young and old, who are in this same predicament all the time. They haven’t had adult male leadership, or perhaps inadequate male role models. They have had no training for reigning and they do not know how to make the transition to real authentic manhood. While teaching in the local county jail, I meet men who have never had a man tell them he loved them, or that he was proud of them or that they had made it and were now a man. When they hear that God loves them, and that He is proud of their efforts – they break down and weep. I once held the hands of a mountain of a man in an open bay with two hundred men present who wept like a baby when he learned that God loved him and accepted him just as he was. He was easily twice my size and had a fierce and wild appearance. He received Jesus as Lord and God as Father – and it changed his life forever!
In days of old, men became apprentices or squires, or served some other type of apprenticeship before they would be turned loose to serve in their chosen or appointed profession. This helped to groom them and train them for their roles as men later. They had a series of things to learn, behaviors to emulate and display and a general code of conduct they adhered to in order to meet the standards of their mentorship. All of this served to give men a roadmap of how to become a man.
Today, we have very little structure around this and almost no formal recognition of the attainment of this rite of passage. Men need a code of conduct that sets boundaries and instills values and morals. Men need to understand what the rules are before other men will recognize their achievements and they can join their ranks. And, men need recognition that they have arrived!
Again, here are the four criteria we are using to measure what a man is
- A real man rejects passivity
- A real man accepts responsibility
- A real man leads courageously
- A real man expects the greater reward
Next, we’ll begin to illustrate the steps necessary to implement a plan to help men become comfortable as true men.
Father, I thank you and praise you for your loving kindness and your generosity. I thank you that you have given us the perfect example of a true man and that you are our perfect Father. I thank you that we can trust you to help us find the true path of manhood. I thank you that we can be assured of coming to an understanding of what it means to become men of honor, men of integrity and men of valor. We praise you for Jesus who is the only perfect man as you draw us into an ever closer and more intimate relationship with you, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We adore you Lord! In Jesus’ name we pray! Amen!