SUMMARY: As a man who has been fatherless almost all my life, I have found that defining masculinity and manhood is a deceptively difficult task. Difficult, but not impossible. Finding a clear and precise definition is especially difficult if we turn to the world, rather than the Bible. What we need is a better definition of masculinity, and who better to define what masculinity is than the Creator Himself. Why waste the time and effort turning to culture, entertainers, and marketing experts for answers? Why not turn to the Designer who gave us definition at the dawn of time? In this Resolute Podcast, Vince shares 9 commitments of God’s man.
RESOLUTE STUDY GUIDE: NINE ATTRIBUTES OF A MAN
As a man who has been fatherless almost all my life, I have found that defining masculinity and manhood is a deceptively difficult task. Difficult, but essential, not only for my sake, but for the men I serve in ministry.
Finding a clear and precise definition is especially difficult if we turn to the world, rather than the Bible. Just consider for a moment what we learn about masculinity through our cultural environment. It generally doesn’t take long for a boy to encounter an erotic image, explicit story, sexual joke, or derogatory language; even if his parents successfully shield him from inappropriate content on television and the internet, his friends might pass along what they’ve seen and heard. And so a boy’s understanding of sexuality is often distorted from an early age. Learning about sex outside of the context of biblical intimacy deeply impacts a boy’s view of manhood. Meanwhile the entertainment industry offers us one flawed depiction of manhood after another, glorifying the womanizing activities of James Bond, the stoic toughness and emotional distance of Jason Bourne, and the obsession for greed, power, and control of Gordon Gekko. As we get older we are sold a bill of goods by drug companies who suggest that if we have male performance dysfunctions, we have “lost” our masculinity and need a cure to gain it back. And of course, there is a grouping of people that argue that masculinity should not exist, regarding it as sexist, chauvinistic, immature, old-fashioned and simply a social construction. They recommend nonidentity as the best way to create less division and more equality. But how do we understand what masculinity is when it appears so convoluted?
What we need is a better definition of masculinity, and who better to define what masculinity is than the Creator, God Himself. Why waste the time and effort turning to culture, entertainers, and marketing experts for answers? Why not turn to the Designer who gave us definition at the dawn of time?
When God created life, He used a unique and mysterious process. In Genesis 1, we watch as He creates by speaking life into existence—light, water, earth, vegetation, time, sun, moon, stars, sea creatures, and animals. In contrast, and with careful thought, man enters time and space not by spoken words, but by the celestial hands and lungs of God. We watch as God reaches down to touch and mold man from the earth, at last breathing life into him. With care and intimacy, He creates man using a distinctive method, but with no less care than the rest of creation. And ultimately we learn that God is embedding His image into man.
Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. (Genesis 2:7)
In the surrounding verses of Genesis 2, we watch as God defines the purpose of this sole man prior to the creation of woman: the purpose of his work, expanse of his authority, parameters of his obedience, and even the swelling of desire—constructing a longing for companionship.
Then at this point in the creative order, God fulfills the desires of man; He creates woman by using another unique procedure. God, the celestial surgeon, performs a divine operation on man and extracts from his body the material to create woman. Here we see woman come “out of man,” unique in order and design and no less important—just different, and thus her name. While most of the world is uncomfortable with this process, order, and procedure, God is not; He bestows no less honor on either man or woman, and embosses both with His image for covenantal relationship. In union they represent one beautiful and complete reflection of God.
So as we take a step back and look again at masculinity, we can see it finds definition by, through, and in God alone. It is not the world that gives us the meaning, description, or classification of masculinity. Not the world, not culture, not the workplace. Ultimately and completely, masculinity is defined by God.
But, the plot thickens.
In reading the grand story of God and His people and searching for ideal representations of men among the kings, priests, prophets, warriors, and leaders we meet, we sense that something is amiss. Sin has damaged the reflection of ideal masculinity; one biblical hero after another is shown to be wounded, broken, flawed, prone to disobedience if not outright treachery. And yet within the same men we see small glimpses of masculine beauty: undeterred faith, unbelievable resilience, and unwavering truth. But again only glimpses.
God breaks into time and space again to give us the model man: His son, Jesus, is the depiction of divine manhood. In His life, true masculinity is defined.
As a man who lacked a biological father, I didn’t have someone around to demonstrate true and healthy masculinity. This absence has been a source of regret and sorrow within me, but this sense of longing has driven me to God for answers, fulfillment, and sonship. He is my one faithful father—my heavenly one. And in looking at the life of Jesus, I see a series of attributes and commitments that show me exactly how to live as a man faithful to the Father’s call. Within the organization I lead, we call these the commitments of the Resolute Man. If you are a man looking for true masculinity, I want you to consider whether these commitments would make a significant impact on your masculinity if actively applied in your role as a leader, employee, husband, father, and son.
ONE: A man commits to follow a greater authority.
To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57–62)
TWO: He commits to sacrifice all else in the shadow of discipleship.
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)
THREE: He commits to determined obedience.
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:66–69)
FOUR: He commits to spiritual discipline.
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. (Mark 1:35)
FIVE: He commits to abide in the word of truth.
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31–32)
SIX: He commits to growth and production.
“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:8)
SEVEN: He commits to carry out God’s mission.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19–20)
EIGHT: He commits to love faithfully.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34–35)
NINE: He commits to brotherhood and community.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24–25)