I was recently asked to write an entry for a journal that a father was collating for his son who was about to turn 13. This journal was going to be presented to the young man on his birthday at a ‘coming of age’ event.
I was truly honoured to be part of this young man’s journey into manhood, but I really wasn’t sure what to say. That is until I asked myself, ‘What did I wish someone had told me when I turned 13?’
So this is it.
Be A Man
There are approx. 3.5 billion males on the planet at this very moment in time, yet there are far fewer men then there aught to be. Even if we were to not count all the boys 12 years and under, there are still far fewer men than there should be.
Why is that?
Because there is more to defining manhood than what type of underwear you pull on in the morning. Just because you wear ‘jocks’ rather than ‘panties’ doesn’t make you a real man. Being a real man is much more than the gender you were born with.
That is why I don’t want you to take your ‘manly-ness’ as a given – simply because you are a male.
Be more than a male.
Be a man.
What makes a Man?
Being a man is the hardest task you’ll ever have to accomplish. Yet it is also the most glorious and wonderful life you could live. After all, God made man in His own image.
So if we are the image-bearers of God Himself, why is it so hard? Why do so many ‘males’ fail to grow up into men?
I have three reasons:
- Real men are strong
- Real men are weak
- Real men must be both strong and weak simultaneously
Real Men are Strong
Men – real men – have to be strong.
Men must be strong, because it takes great strength to carry responsibility.
When sin entered the world, responsibility was the first thing that was dropped. Adam’s strength ebbed away and he stood with knees shaking before God and said, “She made me do it!”
Real men take responsibility for their actions.
Not only for their actions, but real men take on the responsibility for the lives of others also.
Real men make strong husbands, strong fathers, and strong leaders. But these men have learnt that strength does not equal force. Mere males and boys grasp at greatness by using force, but not real men, real men hold strength carefully, knowing that responsibility is a precious gift.
To be a real man, you have to be strong.
Real Men Are Weak
Men – real men – have to be weak.
Men must be weak, because it takes great humility to live in dependence on God.
The bible calls Jesus the second (and better) Adam. It does this to show how Jesus is the the Father of all who follow Him in faith, just like Adam was the father of all who followed him in the flesh. Now Jesus was a real man – and not just in the fact that He was human – he was a real man’s man. Jesus was strong – unbelievably strong. But Jesus was also willing to be weak – unbelievably weak.
Just like Jesus humbled Himself, real men must learn to be weak also. Weak enough to put aside your own ambitions. Weak enough to bow your knee to the will of someone greater than you. Weak enough to stay quiet when you could set things straight. Weak enough to serve others when others should be serving you.
Real men must live in the weakness of their own shortcomings and brokenness.
Real men must be weak enough to daily take their place at the foot of Jesus’ cross.
Real men must be weak enough to take their place behind Jesus, placing their feet in His footsteps, rather than blazing their own trail across life’s horizons.
To be a real man, you have to be weak.
Weakness and Strength Together
Men – real men – must be strong and weak together at the same time.
Not sometimes strong, and sometimes weak. But always strong, and always weak.
We must always carry the gift of responsibility well, and we must always live in humble dependency on God.
I was thinking of a place in the Bible where strength and weakness come together as they should in a real man’s life, and I thought of this story about Paul.
Paul was struggling with something. It was really bothering him. Maybe he had carried it on his own for so long, but felt like he couldn’t carry it any longer. So he calls out to God and pleads for Him to take it away.
This is how Jesus responds.
“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”
As Paul thought about what Jesus said to him, this is the conclusion he came to.
“So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Become A Man
Some people say, ‘act like a man’. I like to say, ‘become a man’.
The world has enough actors.
But the world doesn’t have enough men – real men.
So here’s my advice:
- Take your time, but make your time count. You do not become a man over night, the same way a tadpole doesn’t become a frog in one moment. Let nature take it’s course. Let God have His way in you. And what seems far away now, will one day become a reality. So take your time, but make your time count. A tadpole can’t stay a tadpole – it was born for greater things. It will help to grow where you can see other men – real men – living their lives so that you know what to aim for.
- Start taking responsibility for the little things now. Having the strength to take responsibility for the big things in life is really hard – really, really hard. You need heaps of practice. So start now. Choose a few things that you’ve never taken responsibility for before – and own them; say, ‘they’re mine’. Then stick with it. It will help to tell someone so they can help hold you accountable.
- Get into the habit of spending time on your knees. Real men are not perfect, in fact, they are far from it. If anyone tries to convince you otherwise, he isn’t a real man, he’s just a boy playing dress-ups; don’t fall for the lie. Daily come to the cross of Jesus on your knees. Daily display your dependency on God. Practice saying these three things, ‘I’m sorry’ – ‘I was wrong’ – and ‘Will you forgive me?’ It will help to meet with other men to help you do this, combining weakness with strength is never easy, and you will need all the help you can get.
 Quoted from the New Living Translation
 You can read the story for yourself in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10