Have you heard this phrase before? It is often used in conferences to get guys to “man up”. It is used as a catchy slogan for men’s ministry events. Pastors use it to motivate the guys in their congregations to grow up.
I hate it!
Why? Because how we are told to “man up” is based on a particular understanding of what it means to be a man. This often includes eating a lot of meat, bashing cars, shooting things, etc. Also, the motivation is often focused on externals not the heart. Over the next few months, I plan to write on this topic as it relates to being a man (this post), a husband, and a father.
What is a man? Besides the physical characteristics, what qualities make up a man?
For many it is strength. What if you are a skinny guy with pea-sized biceps? For others it is leadership. What if you did not have a father (either physically absent or emotionally absent) help you learn how to lead? For others it is doing guy things like eating lots of meat, drinking beer, shooting things, bashing cars, watching sports. Who decided these were macho things to do?
For others, their definition of being a man comes from imitating characters in the Bible such as be brave like David, take a stand like Noah, or be strong like Samson. However, the problem is David, Noah, and Samson were sinful guys who killed someone, got drunk and lay naked in his tent, and made poor choices regarding women. The point of these characters is not to imitate their characteristics or morals. Instead, we are to see how the all-powerful God works through these men.
So, instead of letting guys define manhood or imitating Bible characters, let’s listen to God Himself. God says, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Our culture, our churches, and our homes need to stop defining men and men’s ministry by the externals and instead speak to the hearts of men. This does not include guilt trips or shame to get us to do things. It starts and continues with helping us know who God is and who we are in Christ.
How would you define masculinity? What if masculinity is not what you were told?