What does it mean to be a man? I have asked myself that question many times over in my life. Without fail, I find there is no single answer but a complexity of ideas.
Being a man is more than just having the anatomical structure of one. To get to the answer to “what it means to be a man”, I find myself traversing backwards in time – to the genesis of man.
The Genesis of Man
If God created man in his own image and we make the assumption or hold the belief that God is good, then man must have been assigned, at least originally, with every characteristic of “good” possible. With that assumption or belief as the backdrop, I believe we can find the basic characteristics of what it means to be a good man.
Before I lay out these characteristics, let it be said that I am not perfect. These characteristics are some in which to strive as an example of ideal manhood. However, I am sure going to practice these characteristics as perfectly as possible!
- True manhood is defined in love.
This love is a sacrificial and exemplary love. It is a love that covers over all deficiencies and is, in itself, unexplainable. Practically speaking, it is a love for mankind, even though mankind is not perfect.
A real man will not love his life so much that he will not give it up for those he loves. This kind of love leads silently as an observed benchmark. It does not order but exemplifies.
- Manhood is described as the desire to provide.
Real men provide for their families, children, and other causes they deem beneficial for the love of mankind. This is why men go off to war to fight for something in which they believe. It is why men go to work daily, even though sickness or fatigue may be a temporary part of their lives. This mentality of provision never stops deepening and growing in the heart of a true man.
- Manhood is permeated by sacrifice.
He will go without so his family can have plenty. He will take the least, so that his family can have the most. He will give up his coat, and find himself cold, so that his wife can be warm. Real men cannot waiver in this sacrificial mentality as it is ingrained deeply in their core being.
- Manhood is characterized by unwavering leadership.
He is the leader of his family emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Simply put…he is calm and reassuring under pressure; he is solid in his faith; he eats wells, exercises, and gets great sleep.
- Manhood understands the power of his word.
Real men know that words matter – specifically the words “yes” and “no “. Therefore, real men understand the obligation of agreement as well as the gravity of a decision. They do not waiver and are not blown about by changing emotions. When a man makes a decision, he does not do it rashly or abruptly, he does it with much thought since the decision puts a permanent mark on his word.
So I ask myself, and all of you, the following questions:
- Do I really exemplify love even when mankind does not?
- Have I maintained and lived out a provider mentality?
- Do I willingly sacrifice, or do I do it begrudgingly?
- Do I exhibit unwavering and predictable leadership?
- Does my word mean something, and do I honor it?
These questions must be answered honestly if we, as men, truly desire to be a real man. I am sure there will be little doubt as to the veracity of these desirable characteristics of manhood.
Are the characteristics of true manhood challenging to live out? You bet they are! However, in a world where this type of manhood appears to be becoming rare, I truly believe the pursuit is worth it.
If men will simply stand up and become real men, admitting their many imperfections and flaws and never wavering from their pursuit of true manhood, the world, as well as their families, would be in a better place.
So, here’s to manhood. Men, let us embrace these characteristics and truly begin the change this world needs.
By the way, for all you ladies reading, you have my permission to show this to the men in your life, but you do not have my permission to “beat them over the head with it” telling them what they are not doing or being. I ask you to pray for them, encourage them, and love them as they grow through the process of manhood.
Additionally, this would be a great start for the young ladies as a checklist for the spouse you deserve.
By Doctors Mark and Michele Sherwood
Mark is a doctor in nutrition and Michele is a medical doctor. They are authors of a number of best-selling health and wellness books and lead The Functional Medical Institute, a wellness-based medical practice in Tulsa, OK.