(submission to actlikeaman.org)
This seems to be the question of the ages. When I was growing up, I always thought a man was simply the older guy that sat behind the wheel, wore short-sleeved button-up shirts, laughed seldom, and carried a wallet so thick that when he sat down he nearly tipped over. Okay, maybe that was just my father. And though he passed away when I was seven years old, that image of Dad was what I considered to be a man. Now, with the worldʼs view of a real man transforming with every new season of some reality television show, itʼs almost impossible to pinpoint a single definition.
If we look uptown, weʼll find someone who has a mountain of cash, a complete wardrobe, maneuvers a Ferrari, with a stunning beauty on his arm. He has it all. He must be a man. Maybe. But letʼs go downtown where we find someone who doesnʼt have much money. He doesnʼt have much of anything. Yet, he pays all of his bills on time, is active in his childʼs life, and loves his wife. He has a lot of responsibilities. He must be a man. Both perspectives are quite debatable.
As Iʼve gotten older, my idea of what makes a man has changed dramatically since the lone memory of my father. During my impressionable years in the United States, being a man meant being “the” man: car, clothes, girls, and doing whatever I desired. I followed that plan to the T, achieved it, yet was left as empty as I was before I had any of it. When I relocated to the Philippines and started paying my own bills, being a man meant properly handling all of my responsibilities. The biggest perspective shift, however, came a month prior to moving to the Philippines when I committed my life to following Christ. As I read in the Bible more about how Jesus was calling me to live, I began to realize how superficial my definitions of a real man were.
Today, as a man with a wife and two children, I believe a real man not only loves his family and handles his responsibilities, but he also tries with every part of his being to conduct himself in a way that honors the Creator. In the same breath, I can easily confess that I make more mistakes than Iʼd like to share. Just ten minutes before I began typing this blog entry, I was repenting for all the people I mentally killed in the Manila traffic on my way home. Walking with Christ is a daily battle and itʼs never easy. ! So, being a real man starts with dealing with the issues of self. My issues have been and are being dealt with through my relationship with Christ, with the help of other men in my circle that seek the same perspective switch. Hereʼs my personal checklist:
•A real man loves his wife through thick and thin, sickness and health, til death do they part.
My wife and I go through battles like nobodyʼs business, and itʼs tough for us both at times to love each other during the thin with the same intensity as we do during the thick. Yet, we wonʼt give up.
•A real man respects his authority.
As a basketball player, Iʼve been under both great and terrible coaches. Iʼve had to learn to keep my opinions to myself at times, as well as be able to communicate respectfully during highly frustrating moments. “Coach, I am your leading scorer and I have twenty-eight points tonight. Iʼm just curious as to why youʼre taking me out with six seconds left when weʼre down one with ball possession, sir?” Maybe I havenʼt reached that level of zen, but even when I donʼt handle situations the best way I could, I wonʼt quit trying to get better at it.
•Finally, a real man submits to Godʼs Authority.
Of all the difficulties Iʼve dealt with, completely submitting to and obeying God has been the most complex. Complex because we will never be able to figure out Godʼs mind in matters of sickness, poverty, sexual abuse, or whatever we might deal with on a daily basis. With that, is the fact that we all fall short and mess up (Romans 3:23). But will you do when you fall? Will you lay there and sulk in your sorrows? Or will you stand up, repent, and charge forward like the overcoming warrior God has called you to be?
“for though a righteous man falls seven time, he rises again” Proverbs 24:16
So whatʼs a “real” man?
Well, as much as Iʼd like to hold on to the image of the man behind the wheel, sporting a short-sleeved button up shirt whoʼs leaning slightly to the left, I canʼt. Nor is it merely the guy who pays his bills or the other guy who lives in luxury. No. It takes more than the external or material to make the judgement on who's a “real” man. And thatʼs what I will teach my two sons. They will learn that a “real” man is the one who takes care of home, follows The Lord and doesn't quit until he meets Him.