November 19, 2018
Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, my dad was the most important example I had in my life to help me become a man. My dad was a World War II veteran. He joined the army during WWII and went off to boot camp before being sent to France. His service took him through France, Austria, and Germany until the war ended and he came home. He was a very typical man in the era in which he lived. He was the hard working head of the family who took his spiritual leadership role very seriously. My memories of him center around our family and his work. It seemed to me he was always working as he was a piano technician during the day and on the weekends and some evenings, he was the choir director at our church. I also remember his devotion to our family, his faithfulness and love for my mom, and the good times we had traveling, especially at the holidays and summer vacation. My dad passed away when he was about the age I am now. He was part of the “Greatest Generation.”
As a Baby Boomer, I grew up in a different world than my dad. In my lifetime, the hard working anchor of the family unit and spiritual leader of the home began to be replaced in America by the stereotype of the Macho man, the good ole boy, and the power broker. Baby Boomers pursued the American Dream and the goals were to be successful enough to give his family a home, comfortable lifestyle and a college education for the kids, even if they weren’t present to see their children grow up. Baby boomers believed that men aren’t supposed to cry and show emotion no matter what, and considered it an insult if their wife had to work to help support the family.
Fast forward to the 21st Century where there is a whole new list of male images that dominate societal thinking. Today there is a little bit of everything, as we have stay at home dads, involved dads, single dads, two dads, the emotional man, the happily married man, and more. There is a mix of ideas about the role of a man in our society. Today’s man is more hands on with his family than the previous generations, more comfortable with a spouse who is more successful in business than he is, and wants to be with his children more, and most young men today don’t consider showing emotion a sign of weakness.
In his book, What is a Man? Dr. Joaquin Molina, pastor of Spring of Life Fellowship Church here in Miami, talks about being a “real” man, as defined by the Bible. Dr. Molina said, “To become a true man is prerequisite to fulfilling God’s call for every male. But each man can be disqualified or terminated from his vocation (divine call) the moment he refuses to grow up and mature. Any man who attempts triumph in this life without following God’s true plan is pursuing a fantasy, from which he will be rudely awakened, sooner or later, to face the reality of having fallen utterly short of his true noble and significant glory. Outside of this framework, any prosperity achieved is only temporary and without any long term satisfaction and fulfillment.” I agree wholeheartedly with Dr. Molina.
I believe that to find an example of a true man, we need look no further than the life of Jesus, who came to this earth to do the will of the Father. He was a true example of what a mature man should look like. Jesus example teaches us that a godly man is filled with the Holy Spirit, completely dependent on the Father, and fully obedient to the will of God the Father. The Jesus that is often portrayed in pictures and even movies as effeminate and long haired, is not the Jesus of the Bible. In the Bible Jesus is a masculine man who wasn’t afraid to work or to overturn the tables of money changers in the Temple. At the same time, he was deeply compassionate to the poor, the sick, and the lost. In a time when men did not respect women, Jesus example was to respect all women and treat them with honor. Jesus also loved children and wasn’t afraid to take time to listen to them and answer their questions. Because Jesus was a man, he also experienced temptation to sin, but resisted every temptation that confronted him. Jesus is truly an example of a man for all times, including the present era that we live in.
Paul described a godly man in I Timothy 3:2-4,7, “…. he must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap” Paul also said that a man was someone who had matured. “When I was a child I spoke as a child, and spoke and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.”
The challenge for men today, in a world rampant with temptation and distractions, is to model their lives after the perfect example of manhood, Jesus Christ. We need godly men who are humble and thankful for all that God has done for them. We need men who do not seek the approval of society, but approval from God.