3 Ideas to Empower Boys to become Men of God
In today’s society modern media circulates a subtle message of negativity and disgust towards men.
It is starting to seem as though this trend is growing in popularity. We all start to see how media affects and transforms the current young boys into the womanizing, selfish, and prideful men of today. The crazy thing is that it is especially seen in the Christian realm. I start to wonder to myself, “what does being a man actually mean?” As Matt Chandler says in his book The Mingling of Souls:
“Is it any surprise that in the dizzying lust of the broken male perspective toward women we wouldn’t become confused about what it means to be a man? (p. 31)”
I found it super important as a Pastor of Students to focus on equipping boys to become men of God, and girls to become women of God. This article is specifically written towards the boys’ side, but they are both a huge deal.
Boys should be told that being a man isn’t about the pride, the strength, or even the activities. Being a man is about surrendering yourself to something much bigger, much greater, and much more powerful than you can ever be. If I was brutally honest with myself, Jesus wasn’t that to me until the middle of college.
You see, there is a difference between doing “manly things” and being a man. I would argue that lots of guys create a facade of “manly things” to cover up true fear and immaturity. Now don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with drinking a beer, wearing flannel, chopping down trees, and growing beards. However, that is not how true manhood is acquired or achieved. Just as “not all Heros wear capes”, not all men “wear flannel, drink beer and are even capable of growing a half-decent beard (totally me, I can barely grow a dirt-stache).” We need to teach and train boys to understand that society isn’t showing true manhood. It is a fake and shallow veneer.
The reason they aren’t real men is because they aren’t living up to the design that God created for them.
Some of the most manly men that I know aren’t capable of growing a beard, or even have any attraction towards watching football. But they are capable and passionate about their surrendering to God and his provision.
In todays culture, the difference between a man and a boy is often blurred or indistinguishable. However, there are three paradigm shifts that I believe can begin to remove the fog that clouds our vision and train boys to become men of God. As a caveat, I don’t just mean adolescent boys, there are plenty of grown adults who are still boys. This world needs a lot less 30 year old boys and a lot more men of God.
1. Boys are consumed by their image and pride. Men are consumed by emulating Christ’s image.
I’ve seen this time and time again. Manhood is not determine by image, but by heart. Guys constantly think that the hobbies they enjoy, or the way they look or act makes them a man. It creates a life of shallow pursuits and unrealistic depiction of what manhood truly is. It also never actually helps or facilitates personal growth. Rather than “presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God (Rom. 12:1)” we get really good at creating a facade whereby people can perceive an outwardly view of “true manhood.” A facade that presents itself as a living sacrifice to ourself rather than God. This hinders the humility of recognizing ourself as the bride of Christ that is necessary for us as men to become sanctified, grow personally, and “work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12).”
We as men need to learn how to surrender.
They surrender their will to something so much better than anything they could imagine. They are willing to drop their pride and assume a posture of humility. This creates a man who is willing to sacrifice himself and care for the needs of others over himself. These are the men we want to see in society. Manhood is centered around dependence. Dependence on Jesus Christ, he is our loving Savior. Jesus modeled this is his countless words of “dependence on the Father”, David cries this out in many of his Psalms, and even Solomon realizes faith and dependence in God is the only lasting thing in life. A man who isn’t able to surrender himself to become a follower of Christ can never truly be a man of God. Being a man is about following the mandate of being a part of something much bigger than yourself. The beautiful part about this is the man doesn’t sit in guilt, shame, or fleeting pleasures because he is dependent on something constant that will never leave him. A man can be confident in his identity because it is secured and fulfilling.
2. Boys use relationships to get, Men have relationships to give.
Boys have relationships based solely upon how they can look better, and/or feel better. The whole point of the relationship is actually about them. This can mean either guy friends that they may have, or even relationships with girls. They have certain friends to achieve benefits from them such as wealth, status, or even shallow confidence.
The sex industry is a perfect example of what society deems “manhood” to encompass, when they are in fact teaching a shallow and selfish understanding of being a man. Pornography is a prime example of “what can I get”, and it ultimately leads to abusing women and seeing them as mere objects created for your pleasure.
It’s a somber and infuriating reality that women have to deal with men addicted to pornography.
A woman should never have to experience the feeling of being used, nor should they have to anxious about their worth being measured by a guy’s selfish opinions. When true men focus on the needs of others, women feel respected and loved. This facilitates other men gravitating towards this man of God because it allows them to be a part of something much more fulfilling than “what can I get out of this”. Men give regardless of what they receive. They understand that it isn’t about them because they are dependent on something much bigger than themselves. Out of this they choose to love and honor each other as they grow. They find value in serving other people. Their friendships with men become a competition of outdoing each other in love instead of outdoing each other in pride and status. Jonathan was probably the most epic friend in the Old Testament. He was fully committed towards the well-being of his friend David, even when he knew that it could cost him his kingship. He was concerned more with honoring and serving David than he was to himself. That is what a true friendship of men looks like. They focus on building each other up instead of building themselves up. They are willing to save others over themselves.
3. Boys talk, complain and make excuses, Men embody a life of active service and action.
One of my favorite quotes is written by CJ Jung. He says: “You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” Now I don’t know if he is specifically talking about men in this situation, but I can’t find something more true. Boys like to talk themselves up, they like to intimidate others with their words. They seek to build themselves up in any way possible even if it belittles their peers. They may even use words to manipulate and cheat. But men actually act. They aren’t concerned with the trash talking or the need for approval or even affirmation. They act because they know their purpose and their calling is driven towards the action of serving. They serve to get nothing out of it because it isn’t what they get out of it that matters. It’s what Christ gets out of it that matters, and that is His glory thats revealed through mens’ relentless pursuit of Him.
If I had to say why I think the most manliest man I know is manly, it would be because he is always doing, he is always serving and he is always putting others’ needs above himself. He doesn’t seek approval or beg for affirmation because he is rewarded with something much better. He finds joy in fulfilling his calling of being a man of God. He doesn’t complain or make excuses, he accepts his duty as being a man and there are hundreds of people inspired by his hard work. Even in his words, he follows it with action. He is a “man of his word”, fueled by integrity and humility.
This is the type of man that boys should strive to be like.
Youth workers should strive to engage with these type of ideas with their adolescent boys. I truly believe that if we empower and equip boys they will become strong and fearless men of God, who will change the world.
Trey Gilmore is the Pastor of Students at Vail Christian Church in Tucson, where He is currently working through his first year of full-time ministry. He seeks to empower students to become lifelong Christ-followers and to teach, write, and inspire in a way that exhibits the gospel in a profound but simple way. Apart from ministry, He loves fly-fishing, Taco Bell, and thrifting. You can follow him on Instagram, @treegilmore.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.