We have had an ongoing conversation on the topic of Real Men™ and most of that conversation has taken place offline. Around a fire, on the back porch, standing around the patio, over cigars, or even over a glass of scotch (Tommy had rum). Tommy took the conversation online with his post (Manly?) and there are certainly some good conversation happening in the comments there. Take a minute and go read it if you haven’t.
For those that are new to the topic, the essential question is “How do you explain to a young man what it means to be a man?” The answers various individuals have put forth are wide and varied. Some of them focus on the very practical aspects of this day and age, others have attempted to come at the question from a more philosophical and timeless perspective. As for me, given how solemn and timeless the question is, I’ve decided to search for an answer that will be just as valid when the young men I train are old men, as it is today, as it was when Solomon was considering the answer.
After much consideration, I’ve decided that there are five things that every man must know in order to be a Real Man™ (as defined by Bubba). I believe that these five things fully encompass all practical aspects of manhood and are of use in beginning the conversation. There is certainly room for developing much more under each of the five points, and there continues to be an ever changing need to adopt these five to the culture and time one is living in; however, I feel confident that if given no more than a few minutes to communicate what I believe the essence of “Being a Man” is, that these five points nail it.
1. Glorify God
This is the ultimate purpose of man and all else is subservient to this. Ultimately, this item is the one that will most affect a mans character, personal & private life, vocation, and random episodes of life. If a man has failed to pursue a proper understanding of his relationship to God, then he ultimately fails in all other aspects of life. Even non-Christians have historically and globally recognized a requirement for Real Men™ to have a strong sense of spirituality that drives morality and ethics. How much more so does the Real Christian Man™ embrace this reality?
This is the deepest and most practical truth that I can possible communicate to young men (or anyone for that matter). Pursue God! Bend yourself to become a scholar of scripture that you might be prepared, at all times and in all ways, to bring glory to the name of the Lord. Do you grasp the Godly command towards labor? Really? Do you take pleasure in seeing the callouses form on your hands? Or do you resent that you must rise each day and work?
Perhaps you would do well to go research God’s original mandate to Real Men™ (ref: Genesis 1:28, ESV) and consider. If it is true that the ultimate purpose of man is to Glorify God, then the original mandate must in some way reflect that. I would submit that the original mandate does indeed reflect this. Real Men™ would do well to reflect on it and come to a clear understanding of the matter.
If a man can not get the pursuit of God’s Glory correct, nothing else he does is of any worth.
2. Pursue a Woman
Real Men™ know how to pursue a woman. Singular.
This pursuit might necessarily begin with less of a singular; but no more so than a wolf cutting one out of the herd. Most men pursue women, and this is primarily due to a failure on their part to understand point number one, which leads to a failure in the second most important aspect of their life. I do not know who to attribute the statement two, but this saying is true, “Man does not marry to cease the pursuit of women. Real Men™ marry to perfect the pursuit of one woman.”
Some (relatively small) portion of men, who are called to a single life, will perhaps raise the objection that this is not necessary knowledge. Particularly in their (marginal) case. They will perhaps point us to Christ or perhaps the Apostle Paul as examples of men who did not marry and thus …. yada yada yada. For those, I would simply point them back to the fact that we are proposing that Real Men™ are knowledgeable about this, not necessarily that they have “succeeded”. Then, I might chuckle a bit as I begin to point out how much Paul knew on the topic, as demonstrated by his writing with authority on said topic. Then, with an outright belly laugh, I’d point out Christ’s Epic Pursuit of His Bride.
If a man does not grasp how to invest his life in the pursuit of his bride, then everything else will fall apart.
3. Raise a Family
Real Men™ raise up other Real Men™ and Real Ladies™.
I ran across another true saying recently, and I can’t remember it precisely, but it was something along the lines of “If we tell our children about the gospel, then fail to pursue our wives; we effectively take our children by the hand and lead them into hell.” How can I stress enough that you need to be hard on the pursuit of God’s Glory and Your Wife before you have any hope of success in this arena?
You want to know something else? Other men (real or otherwise) will (are) judge(ing) you by your ability or failure to raise a family. I judge men by their children regularly. Dad is clever, he can perhaps hide his bad habit from me, and put on a face to manipulate my perception of him. His kids aren’t yet so mature, they tend towards just being who they are. Then, add in the observation of how Dad interacts with said children, and you can quickly get a Cliffs Notes understanding of the man you are looking at.
You want to get this one right, primarily due to the fact that YOU, FATHER, are responsible for each of these souls from day one. They are in your hand to mold, train, teach, educate, protect, love, discipline, cherish, and a string of additional verbs that a father must familiarize himself with. Start getting familiar.
Our culture is one that lacks Real Men™ and lacks Fathers. So all you marginalized, single for life, celibate dudes; don’t believe for a minute that you get a pass here. Adoption, Fostering, Big Brothering, <insert other pseudo father figure role here>. Get some!
4. Live in Community
How do you manage your relationship with your boss? Your co-laborers? You next door neighbor? The waitress at your favorite restaurant? The bartender? The barista? Your barber? The snot nosed kid(s) from down the street? The guy who lives next door?
Real Men™ have a mandate to live in community, and practically, you can’t escape it unless you are a hermit. You need to understand how to do this, how to love, care, and provide for people around you. Who do you extend your favor to? Who do you provide protection for? Who relies on you? How do you bear the weight of that responsibility? How do you show compassion to people that you don’t particularly have an innate desire to be around? There are as many questions and answers as there are people in your life.
The beginning of all the answers is in the first three points. Knowledge in those areas will bleed over and prepare you for getting this correct.
5. Wage War
At odds with the first four points, and perhaps some will say this does not belong on the list, but I can kick their rears. Strategy! Tactics!
When war is waged, someone is wrongly pressing their own agenda, aggrandizing themselves, or otherwise seeking their own desires at a cost to others. War is a hideous thing, and as one Real Man™ (General Robert E. Lee) once stated, “It is good that war is so horrible, or we might grow to like it.” However, it is a necessary knowledge for every man.
There are those who will say “But Bubba, shouldn’t we be peace loving, cheek turning, compassionate people? Isn’t this what your Jesus Christ taught.” To which I would respond, yes … that is a portion of what he taught, and taken in context it is precisely what Real Men™ aspire to. However, if I come around the corner, and find a rapist pressing a young lady into his service, my Jesus Christ isn’t calling me to turn the other cheek on her behalf. My God requires me to protect her, and I reckon I’ll bend all of my knowledge towards the most expedient and pragmatic approach to disabling said rapist. A man who does not know how to wage war has no recourse in this situation, other than going and finding a Real Man™ to handle the situation for him.
We would go further to caution here that being a bully isn’t being a Real Man™. Using any, much more so this, knowledge to manipulate others and/or force them to your own service is a despicable thing, and if I catch you doing it I won’t be turning the other cheek on behalf of those you are doing it to. The balance here is that when a man is himself wronged, that man is called to be peace loving, slow to anger, cheek turning, and compassionate on his own behalf; but woe to those who would do harm my wife, my family, or my community.
This is a never ending learning process. None of us have arrived, we haven’t got any of this nailed, we fail. However, the difference between Real Men™ and adult males is that the adult males either do not improve or make such marginal improvements that they are nigh on imperceptible. Real Men™ strive with their entire being, all the force of the their passion, they hammer their own character out on the anvil of life, and they progress, the take manly strides forward, they become, by the grace of God, the man God has called them to be.
There are certainly practical and pragmatic considerations that are to be taken into account. Culture, age, era will more or less define things like how important is it for a man to understand how to leverage the internet (recommended knowledge in 2010 as opposed to 1810) versus how to hunt for food (I reckon that one is timelessly relevant). How to change a tire if of little use if you have never seen a vehicle and have no tires. But I am convinced that these five things remain true, that all else can be called into service under one or more of these, and that if I only have five minutes to tell someone what it means to be a man, that this will cover all the bases.
October 04, 2017
October 03, 2017
September 26, 2017