When I moved to Texas, one of the first things I discovered while driving east on Interstate 30 was the ability to see miles ahead of me to where I was going. A clear view of the Dallas skyline confirmed that I was headed in the right direction.
I experienced the opposite extreme somewhere outside of Lubbock when a sand and dust storm reduced visibility to a level where street signs, traffic lights, trucks and cars just blended together. I had no choice but to pull over and wait for it to pass. It sounded as if the paint was being sandblasted from my car.
In my quest for Authentic Manhood, I have experienced a mix of feeling my way and finding my way. As a man, I have felt sandblasted and defeated on the side of the road; and I have found directions and clarity that is bigger than Dallas.
Accurate directions and clear vision are essential in the journey towards Authentic Manhood. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey, Habit #2 is "begin with the end in mind." The truth in that principle resonates with practical applications for manhood. It calls for clarity, direction, and intentionality at the outset. A clearly defined path will take us where we want to go in our quest for Authentic Manhood.
You've heard the saying, "If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time." That was my reality all through my teenage years and early twenties. I never had a real connection with my dad. He died when I was ten, and I grew up with a single mom. While grateful for her strength and encouragement, I was clueless when it came time to understand what it meant to be a man. With girls, cars, money, friends, sports, and matters of character, I just gave it my best shot. Manhood for me was hit or miss with a lot of misses. I either aimed at nothing or the targets I aimed at were always changing.
I put my faith in Jesus Christ at the end of the summer following my freshman year of college. I wish I could say that a switch was flipped, and I instantly became a real man. But, it's not that simple. Authentic Manhood is a process. There is no such thing as microwave manhood.
My perception of what it meant to be a Christian man had been skewed by the way Jesus was typically presented in my church experience. David Murrow says in his book Why Men Hate Going To Church, "our very definition of what it means to be a 'good Christian' skews female." He illustrates and supports this position with a quiz. Here it is:
Examine these two sets of values and choose the set that you think characterizes the values of Jesus Christ and His true disciples:
- Proving Oneself
- Goal Orientation
- Personal Expression
Murrow says that he has administered this quiz to thousands of people: men, women, Christians, and non-Christians. More than 90% of the time, people choose Set "B" as the best representation of Jesus Christ and His values.
Then, he reveals the origin of the two lists. These two value sets were plucked from the pages of the best-selling book, Men are from Mars, Women Are From Venus by Dr. John Gray. In Chapter 1 he identifies Set "A" as the values of Mars, whereas Set "B" describes the values of Venus. In other words, Set "A" represents the values common among men while Set "B" represents the values common among women.
Most of the people who took this little quiz think of Christ as having the values that come naturally to a woman! Granted, the values listed in Set "B" are some of the values that represented Jesus. The results of this quiz illustrate how confused today's culture is about the real Jesus and the kind of masculinity he modeled. Most people's vision of biblical manhood is blurred.
When Jesus and His disciples were traveling through the town of Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to Him. Jesus took him by the hand and led him outside the village. He then spit on the man's eyes, toughed him and asked, "Do you see anything?"
The man looked up and said, "I see people, they look like trees walking around." He could see; but, he couldn't see clearly. People were blurred and undefined. That's a pretty good description of what a lot of men see when they consider what it means to be a man. Their vision is blurred and undefined.
The Scriptures say in Mark 8:25, "Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly."
To maintain a clear vision of Authentic Manhood, it takes more than a brief encounter to discover what Jesus is really like. He is our model for manhood, and that demands our full attention. A close look at the life of Jesus reveals that real men reject passivity, accept responsibility, lead courageously, and invest eternally. They look good written in a journal, but integrating them into your life requires disciple, vulnerability, trust, and accountability over time.
Every man needs accurate directions and clear vision. What do you see?
This article is an excerpt from 33 The Series Volume 1: A Man and His Design. View Session 1 of A Man and His Design.