Men in our culture are in trouble. Masculinity is in crisis mode. The signs are everywhere. Men are confused and wavering. The stats on fatherlessness are alarming and growing. So is the sexual violence that seems to be aired everywhere. Everyone is pointing out symptoms or pointing fingers. I want to point to something else. I want to point to a door that has been opened.
Men are predisposed to figure things out for themselves. But manhood resists all attempts to be figured out that way. To enter it, a man must do something very different. He must learn to receive. He must let Himself be given three priceless gifts, ones he cannot earn, work for, or prove himself worthy of. They come as graces given in his time of need.
1. An Identity
Men feel anonymous. They try on careers and jobs like overcoats, hoping that it will give them a settled sense of identity. But it eludes them. Whatever identity comes from their accomplishments is as ephemeral as the morning fog. But when a man’s true identity is given to him, everything shifts. Everything clears. He awakens.
2. A Quest
Men feel stuck in jobs they tolerate or hate. They feel stuck in patterns that corrupt or imprison. They feel stuck on the carousel of the next party, the next sports event, or the next vacation. What was supposed to be entertainment is now boredom. There is nothing burning inside of him to do, so he drifts into oblivion. But when a man receives the gift of a quest, his whole being snaps to attention. Everything becomes pointed. Everything becomes focused. He starts moving.
3. A Guide
Men feel uninitiated and untutored. They enter the exterior life of men with the inner life of boys. Without guides or markers through the treacherous masculine terrain, they quickly become disoriented. To manage, they hunker down and find some quick comfort. But when a man allows a guide into his life, he hears another voice telling him who he is and what he can do with his life. He hears from another who has negotiated the same treacherous terrain and knows the way. He no longer feels alone. Everything becomes tinged with hope. Everything becomes filled with possibility. He moves forward with confidence.
The surprise of the New Testament is that these gifts have already been given to men. They are there for the taking—if men will receive them. They come from the One described as the indescribable gift, Jesus Himself. He took 12 men and gave them those three gifts: an identity in Him, a quest to build His kingdom, and a promise to be their guide through it all. They entered manhood this way. They became men like Him, chiseled into His image.
Jesus is the one man in history who was truly a man. He was masculinity in its most potent form. With His Father as guide, He knew His identity as the beloved Son and took up the quest to save the world. It has never been the same.
If you are one of the legion of men who long to enter manhood, but don’t know how, take heart. There is One who knows. There is One who knows you. Ask Him to take you there. And keep asking.
He has opened the door that no man can shut—and He will help you enter.
Bill Delvaux is a graduate of Duke University and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, has served as a pastor, and a high school Bible teacher. Presently, he leads Landmark Journey Ministries to help men connect their stories to God’s story through retreats and spiritual direction. Bill also serves as content editor for Stand Firm, LifeWay's devotional magazine for men. His greatest claim to fame is being married to Heidi for thirty-three years and having two amazing daughters, Abigail and Rachel. He and his wife currently reside in Franklin, TN. Follow Bill on Twitter @BillDelvaux.