How do we raise our boys to be real men? From what little I have read there seems to be a consensus among evangelicals that the idea of manhood has been all but lost in our society today. It has no real meaning. Consequently, we don't know what it means to be a real man and sadly the church is not much different. There is a lack of masculinity in our culture as men have become passive, irresponsible and downright wimpy. So the problem is clear, but how do we fix it? How do we raise our boys to be real men? I'm concerned that in an effort to raise our boys to be real men, we have swung the pendulum too far and forgotten our goal is not for them to be like Superman, but to be like the Godman-our Savior, Jesus Christ. Perhaps an illustration would help.
You see it quite often where a little boy scrapes up his knee and his daddy quickly tells him, "Get up, son. You're fine. Rub some dirt on it. Be a man!" Now being brave and being strong isn't wrong. It's a good thing. We don't want our boys to be sissies! After all, Jesus was strong. Mark Driscoll says it best:
Jesus was a dude. Like my drywaller dad, he was a construction worker who swung a hammer for a living. Because Jesus worked in a day when there were no power tools, he likely had calluses on his hands and muscles on his frame, and did not look like so many of the drag-queen Jesus images that portray him with long, flowing, feathered hair, perfect teeth, and soft skin (Vintage Jesus, 31)
Yes, Jesus was a real man. He was a hard-working carpenter. He offended lots of people. He even made a whip of cords and drove out the money-changers in the temple. Yes, Jesus was (and is) a real man. But is this the full picture of Jesus? And is this the full picture of what it means to be a man?
As I took a cursory look at the Gospels, I saw a picture of Jesus that may not seem very "manly" in our culture today, but nevertheless must be taught and modeled to our boys if we want them to be real men--men like Jesus.
- Jesus was humble and gentle (Mt. 11:29)
- Jesus was compassionate (Mt. 9:36, 15:32)
- Jesus was dependent on his Father (Mt. 24:42)
- Jesus cried (John 11:35, Isa. 53:3)l)
- Jesus was a servant (John 13, Phil. 2:7)
- Jesus hugged children (Mt. 19:13-15)
- Jesus loved his mother (John 19:26-27)
- Jesus needed the fellowship of others (Mk. 14:32-33)
Jesus is the man we want our boys to be like. So if Jesus is humble and gentle, than I want my son to be humble and gentle. If Jesus is compassionate on others, even willing to cry for others, than I want my son to feel free to do the same. And I want him to know that being a real man is not having to choose between being brave and strong and gentle and meek. It's both, because Jesus is both. After all, he is the lion-like lamb and the lamb-like lion. He is tough and tender. And he is safe and strong.
So, instead of being so concerned about whether my boy grows up to be brave and strong like Superman, I want my boy to be like Jesus. He may not be your typical "man's man" but hopefully he'll be a real man.