What It Takes To Be A Man
Men have what it takes but many don’t know it. Today, there is a resurgence of interest in what it means to be a man. Being a man is essential to the identity of any man. Without that assurance and ownership, men will secretly believe they are living a lie. We men must stop believing the lie and believe the truth. We have what it takes.
Since the turn of the year, I felt prompted to subscribe to various new sources where the focus is about men. Men as men. Men as husbands. Men as dads. Men as leaders. Men as followers. Men in sports. Men in business. All have one thing in common. Men are exploring what it means to be a man. There’s a lot of debate out there about what it means to be a real man – from men and women. Men today appear to be having an identity crisis.
I can relate to the debate. As a driven, ambitious, task-focused high achiever I’ve always thought there was something better, something missing in my various roles as a man. Whilst I’ve never doubted my masculinity, I have doubted that I’m making the grade as a husband, as a dad, as a man. Can you relate?
You are not alone.
Many men project a false persona whilst they wrestle with inner battles of who they are, what’s their purpose and how to be the man. I question myself as a man, as a father, as a dad, as a business owner because I feel things are spiraling out of my control. That makes me feel inadequate. I feel that I don’t really know what I’m doing. Worst of all, I’m afraid I’ll be found out as a fraud. I don’t like making mistakes. I don’t like failure. I don’t like being made to look like an idiot. Ask any man. None of us do! Then I get a reality check. I’m not alone. There are many other men out there like me. From what I’ve read, the issue is very prevalent amongst young men who have grown up without a father.
As John Eldredge describes in his book, Wild At Heart, the mantle of manhood is passed from man to man. Ideally, it should be from father to son. However, in today’s world, many fathers are absent physically and or emotionally. As Eldredge describes there is one question, THE question, which every man is driven to answer.
Do you have what it takes?
That is a question that dogs my thoughts daily.
It confronts my failures.
It confronts my mistakes.
It confronts my doubts.
It confronts my fears.
It confronts me as husband.
It confronts me a father.
It confronts me as a leader.
It confronts me as a man.
It confronts me at work.
It confronts me at rest.
It confronts me at play.
It’s a question to which every man wants to hear and know the answer…YES!
What is “it”?
The challenge for most of us is knowing what “it” is. My immediate thought is you will know when the time comes. Having what it takes doesn’t necessarily mean that you jump into a burning house to rescue a child or jump on a grenade to protect others. Taking the lead from Jesus, I believe the essence of being a man is living with courage, living your life for the benefit of others and being prepared to make sacrifices doing it. To me, “it” is greatness. And that too is down to personal interpretation.
To have what it takes you must first give what it takes.
I love to watch my son, Jensen, just do what he does. He is SO different from his sister, Dreanna. He has a boy’s hallmarks. He is rough, ready and reckless. Everything is an adventure. If there isn’t any danger – real or perceived – what’s the point? Why just walk down the hall when it can be a obstacle course at full speed. Did I mention he likes to be timed? The times I have wondered how he has not cracked his head when he squeals to a halt at the bathroom sink. He loves to test his strength with me. His favorite is bed-tackling (and his sister’s). Anything goes. He is getting to a size and strength now where he can hurt me. I just make sure I cover my vitals! Just like lion cubs that learn to hunt and fight through play, these wrestling sessions and others like them are equipping and preparing Jensen to be the man he is meant to be. Every day my focus is to help him build a deep and strong foundation so his life is built on solid rock not sinking sand.
An honor bestowed.
Throughout our play I’ll bestow badges of honor upon – “Bring it tough guy!“, “You are one bad dude!“, “You’re a wild man!” He just smiles or laughs and takes it up a level. When he gets hurt, I help him dust down, give him the once over and assure him, through the tears, he’s okay and he’s growing up (thankfully slowly). I am intent to affirm him that he is made of sterner stuff just like my dad did. My focus is to let him know he has what it takes, even now. I am intent to lead by example. That in itself is a challenge. My example keeps me accountable.
My dad worked hard and was highly respected as a businessman. Whilst he threw himself into his work, he was always there for my brother and me when it counted. He always affirmed us that we were capable of anything we set our mind to. He’d watch our early Saturday morning swim practices. He’d be the loudest dad at our ice hockey games. He’d take us fishing. We’d love to hear his stories of when he was in the army and some of his laughable escapades. We loved to watch him play rugby and come off the pitch muddied, bloodied and bruised. To us, he was a man’s man. One of his favorite mantras was, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” (Well before Billy Ocean made it into a song). My Dad has blazed a trail for me to follow as a dad, as a husband and as a man. I know he wasn’t perfect. But to me, he had what it took. So too, must I.
Maybe you were never told, but I’m telling you now, God wants you to know you have what it takes. Together, we must assure and equip other men and boys to know that they too have what it takes. Within you, me and every man is greatness and the world needs it. Find it and share it.
Ask THE question. Be honest with yourself. Note your answer. Address any shortcoming.