watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be
strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
exhorts the Corinthians in his first letter (16:13-14).
We live in a
day that often lacks a clear understanding of biblical masculinity. Society does not
offer a strong definition to boys of what it means to be a man.
The examples in pop culture, sports, and politics often show weak and pitiful models of sensuality, selfishness, and foolishness.
However, the church,
and more specifically, Christian fathers, can carry the torch of challenging
the next generation to be godly men.
So if the
Bible challenges us to “act like men,” we should be able to answer
definitively, “What is a man?”
Lewis’ excellent work challenging fathers to raise their sons to be godly men
influenced me a great deal several years ago. Focus on the Family airs Lewis at
least once a year, and I commend his resources to you:
For my sons,
I crafted the following definition of manhood (modifying Lewis’ definition and
making it my own):
What is a
1. A man reflects God’s image consistently.
2. A man relates to his family and
3. A man rejects passivity.
4. A man accepts responsibility.
5. A man initiates and influences his
culture and world positively.
6. A man draws his strength from the
And for the
Wilson family, I came up with this acrostic to define manhood:
Initiates and influences others for God and good
S – Sharpens
his character, skills, and strengths
O - Open to
God and meaningful relationships
N- No to sin,
selfishness, and Satan
Teenagers or Young Men?
of teenager never appears in the Bible.
American culture created an entire sub-culture for what we call
teenagers, but the Bible speaks only of children and adults, or men and women.
The book of
Proverbs, written to young men probably ages 12 and above, challenges these
young men to grow up to be godly, wise, and responsible.
Understanding this transition, Jewish tradition practices the bar mitvah. When a boy turns thirteen, the community celebrates
this passage, marking the milestone of beginning the slow but sure
transformation from boyhood to manhood.
son Dawson turned thirteen two weeks ago. As part of the rite of passage, I
invited several men I consider to be good, wise, godly, and responsible. These
men’s lives have intersected with his in different ways.
for supper at the restaurant of his choice – Milano Pizzeria in Simpsonville,
South Carolina. After a great supper and enjoyable conversation, I challenged
Dawson with the above definition of manhood.
asked each man to prepare a few brief remarks. We went around the table,
allowing each man to share Scripture, challenge, and/or exhortation with
Dawson about what it means to follow the Lord and become a godly man. What a joy to hear each of them encourage and exhort Him from their lives and from God's Word.
supper, we gathered around Daws in the parking lot, laid hands on him, and
prayed over him.
I hope he
looks back on the evening as one more solid memory that encourages and
challenges him to be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like a man, be
strong, and let all that he does be done in love.
And, if the Lord tarries, I hope that 200 years from now there will still be Wilson men who know what it means to be godly men and who challenge their sons and grandsons to become such men.