What it means to be a man

I’ll admit it: a month or so ago, I went through a few-day crisis, succumbing to lots of enemy accusation. The lies I was giving ear to were that I wasn’t really much of “a man” because I had never done a, b and c and would never be able to do x, y and z.

If you’ve ever read John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart, you may remember that he feels the looming questing haunting every man is “Do I have what it takes?” Or, in other words “Am I really a man? Will I be able to come through when it counts?” Questions like those; questions in which every man longs to answer “Yes!” to. And he wants to feel like others would say the same about him.

When I was debriefing my mini identity crisis with my pastor, he challenged me to take the opportunity, now that I had regained clear thinking and was no longer my own worst enemy, to define what being a man really looks like according to God’s Word. Because when the lies and accusations would come again, and the certainly would, I needed to be able to compare myself to God’s standards, not the world’s. That’s the trap I had fallen into.

Anyway, lately I’ve become increasingly aware of our country’s dire need of real men. No, not Real Men of Genius (though, I really do appreciate the real genius behind Budweiser’s ad campaign), but real men of God who will truly take up their cross and follow Him, never looking back.

I have yet to fully complete my pastor’s challenge and firmly establish what the Bible says a man is, but I was grateful for AW Tozer’s thoughts on the topic, which I can add to my resource bank of Godly wisdom and council on the topic. This came through in my daily devotional just yesterday.

But the thinking, worshiping man is still short of perfection until he becomes also the working man. In a world like ours there is and always will be plenty of important work for the thoughtful, reverent man to do. Morally the world is like a bombed city. The streets are blocked, the buildings lie in ruins and the wounded and homeless wait for the healing services of men and women who can help them in their distress. No man can be said to be truly educated who cannot relate his intellectual gifts to creative work. And no work, however sacrificial, will be permanent unless it is geared to eternity. Only what is done in a spirit of worship will last forever. When the man becomes a thinking man a great deal has been accomplished. When the thinking man goes on to become a worshiping man a longer step has been taken toward full and perfect manhood. When the thinking, worshiping man has found his hands and has put his whole personality to work for the high honor of God and the blessing of mankind, some modest approach at least has been made toward Christlikeness and the restoration of the heavenly image ruined in the Fall.

While I certainly haven’t arrived, I can see how I’m making progress. I’ve had the thinking thing down for as long as I can remember, though I’ve obviously had to grow in wisdom and knowledge over the years… and must continue to do so. And the worshiping part I’ve entered into these last few years, though I know I’ve just scratched the surface on what it means to be a worshiper. Now the working part… I think that’s one of my next growth points. Sure, I’ve worked, and often as unto the Lord. But have I “found [my] hands and put [my] whole personality to work for the high honor of God and the blessing of mankind”? I surely can’t say that.

That whole quote is rich, but the phrase that really sticks out to me is “has found his hands.” That’s the looming question… What were my hands made for? To open a camera’s shutter for the right length of time, set at the right aperture? To press the right keys on a keyboard, in the right order, to construct the right paragraphs? To repeatedly click a mouse on the right part of the screen? To swing a hammer, saw a board, measure a span and lift a truss? To heal the sick, worship my King, hug a friend, hold a baby, pet a cat?

Grant me wisdom, O Lord, as the working man is birthed from within the worshiping man.

By Joel Maust

Joel Maust is a marketer, blogger and photographer living in the beautiful Flathead Valley of northwest Montana.

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