As we finished up dinner, my friend turned to me and said, “Just follow us over.” We planned to go to a party, but I had no idea how to get there. I was single and in my early twenties, but our group was filled with couples. Yes, I was that guy. So I prepared to drive myself and follow my friend’s teal Toyota Corolla. I pulled my car out of my parking space, spotted the teal Toyota Corolla, and followed it. What I didn’t know my friend’s teal Toyota Corolla wasn’t the only teal Toyota Corolla at the restaurant that night. Twenty minutes later, I realized what I had done when the Corolla turned in to a Home Depot parking lot, and I saw that the people in the car weren’t my friends. I’m sure I turned into a story they tell: “Remember the time some weirdo followed us to Home Depot?” This was before we all had cell phones, so I never made it to the party. I ended the night alone in a Home Depot parking lot, feeling even more single.
When we pursue the wrong things, we end up where we never intended to be. That’s why we need to go after the right things—the things we pursue will define who we become. As men, this will have an impact on the people we love the most, and as dads, that means our kids. In a previous article, called 5 Things That Should Never Define Your Manhood, I shared what we shouldn’t pursue. In this article, I’ll explain what masculinity characteristics we should. Here are 5 things that should define your manhood.
Life is filled with obstacles, but they aren’t a curse—they’re a blessing. They make us stronger, as long as we persevere. Angela Lee Duckworth has studied grit in kids. She’s said that the kids most likely to persevere don’t believe failure is a permanent condition. That comes with the experience of overcoming obstacles rather than being stopped by them. The apostle Paul faced hunger, a shipwreck, imprisonment, and many other life-threatening dangers. But in the end, he said in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.” An important part of manhood is continuing on despite the intensity of the struggle. I recently started playing chess with a younger coworker named Reggie. Whenever a game ends, he immediately challenges me to a new one. “Let’s go again. I want to get better,” he said. As men, we all need that level of perseverance.Life is filled with obstacles, but they aren’t a curse—they’re a blessing.
Ingrained in our beliefs is the idea that being a man is about showing force. There are times when it’s necessary, and it certainly makes us feel more powerful. However, it takes more strength to be gentle and restrain ourselves. Gentleness is one of the masculinity characteristics we tend to overlook. A man who is gentle thinks of others first. He doesn’t need to win arguments, conquer people, or inflate his own ego. Rather, a man who is gentle seeks to help others with humility.
Most people would say they desire to do what is good and right. Yet, when we turn on the nightly news, we consistently see unspeakable acts of violence, hatred, and destruction. Being a man entails knowing right from wrong and having the conviction to live it out. But how can we determine right and wrong? Each man can’t decide for himself. And we can’t base it solely on how we feel because we don’t always feel what’s right. Jesus said, “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.” We can’t trust ourselves, so we have to appeal to a higher source. That higher source is God.
When I look up definitions of the word love, they’re all so inadequate. Most center around feelings. Feelings just happen. Real love is active. The best definition I’ve ever seen for it is 1 Corinthians 13, which says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” All of these masculinity characteristics take thoughtful decisions and effort. Love involves being selfless and faithful.
Where did we come from? How did we get here? We’re either a cosmic accident or we were created by an intelligent being. Either one takes faith, but if we were created by intelligence (God), then we were made with meaning and purpose. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” God has a purpose for each of us, and as we get to know Him, that purpose becomes clear.
Sound off: What are some other masculinity characteristics that should define our manhood?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What type of person do you want to be when you grow up?”