All of creation needs men to be men. If a male doesn’t accept his design to be a man, bad things happen. Essentially that is what Genesis 3 shows us, sin entered the world because Adam refused to be a man. If the world needs men we need to ask ourselves the question: What makes a man a man? I hope that you will share your thoughts as well, because what I am going share is in no way exhaustive. These are just a few thoughts I have had over the last few days.
I believe that the Church needs to do a better job at teaching our young people what it means to be created in God’s image and what it means to be a man or a woman. I know this becomes a touchy subject because sometimes it seems that in doing so women are reduced to second class citizens. Before I get started I want to remind us of two very important things. First, women are the crown of God’s creation. God started with plant life, then it was fish and birds, which then paved the way for the animals on the land, and finally it came to man. After a time when Adam realized he needed a helper God created Eve. The second idea is connected to the first idea: being a helper shouldn’t be considered inferior. This word is also used for God as He helps people, and God is not inferior to man. Eve was Adam’s helpmate, not because she was inferior to Adam, but because she was to join Adam in fulfilling God’s call to rule over creation.
With that being said I think there are three areas that we need emphasize if we are going to properly train boys to be men. These are areas which cannot developed simply by teaching a lesson, rather they have to be experienced. In other words if the Church is going to do this it will not be the result of Bible Study, but the result of discipleship.
The first area we must develop is courage. I believe this a basic difference between men and women. That is not to say that women cannot be courageous, because they can be, and are. It is to say that it is a man’s responsibility to be the first to take the stand. He has to be the one who takes the punishment so his family and friends don’t have to. If a man only stands up in support of the stand his wife took, allowing her to be the courageous one, then something is wrong. Men need the attitude that Jonathan displayed 1 Samuel 14:6 “Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer. “Perhaps the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!” (NLT). Perhaps the Lord will help, Jonathan says. He had no guarantee of victory or life, but he did know what God desired, and so he stepped out in courage to do it.
The second area we must develop is leadership. The apostle Paul wrote; For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of his body, the church; he gave his life to be her Savior (Ephesians 5:23; NLT). God has ordained men to be leaders. This does not mean men are to be dictators, getting their way, but it does mean that they are to seek to lead their family or church into God’s best. In this Jesus is to be our example. Jesus led by serving, He led by teaching, He led by praying, and He led by dying. Jesus led by doing those things that would bring God’s best into the lives of people. We need to train boys to be a leaders, which will require laying down their wants and desires to do what is best for others, just like Jesus. We need to show them how to listen to the concerns of others and how to make a decision. We need to help them hear God’s voice so they can lead from His guidance.
The third area is responsibility. I think this is the biggest weakness men in our culture have. We have misplaced priorities which leads to a lack of responsibility. Too many men neglect their responsibilities at home and instead focus on their responsibilities at work. This is actually the best case scenario. The worse case scenarios include men who neglect their responsibilities at home and hide away in the fantasy world of sports, pornography, and video games. We need to take a lesson from Boaz. Boaz was a wealthy land owner we read about in the book of Ruth. When Ruth and her mother-in-law return to Israel, it was to Boaz’s field Ruth went to in order to collect grain so the two women could have something to eat. While Boaz wanted to marry Ruth he couldn’t because there was another relative closer to Ruth’s family who had that right. Yet Boaz wasn’t going to leave it at that, so Naomi told Ruth; "Just be patient, my daughter, until we hear what happens. The man won’t rest until he has followed through on this. He will settle it today" (Ruth 3:19; NLT). Once Boaz decided to marry Ruth, he left his responsibility of the harvest in order to settle the matter. In Boaz’s mind his business could wait while he fixed the problem in his relationship. The responsibilities in our relationships are more important than our responsibilities at work. Men need to understand the difference and be willing to make the appropriate sacrifices for his family.
We need to remember that it is not enough just to educate our young people, but we also have to train them. Our society has dropped the ball in developing true men and women, and it is time the Church stepped into the gap and begin to do what we can to train men and women to be the people God created them to be.
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