A few years ago I was invited to speak to a group of men who worked for a friend mine. My friend wanted me to come and share some of my experiences of the time that I was getting married- the challenges that I experienced, in an effort to try and encourage them and to enthuse them to make good decisions.
I arrived that morning to a small group of men, most of them around my age, and some of them closer to the age of my father. One man, in particular, who was the most respected (and I guess the oldest of the group) took his seat right in the front, in the middle of the small group and said not a word.
I began by sharing some of my difficult experience in trying to bridge the generational gap between my parents and me, the cultural views and expectations that differed radically between us, and also the difficulty in trying to live by the requirements of the faith that I professed.
The topic for the morning was “what does it mean to be a man?”.
The premise of the discussion was that there are some requirements for being a true man that we observe from other men, and that we read as examples from godly men in the Bible. Two of these requirements are:
- True men take responsibility
Taking responsibility is one of the most defining and difficult things to do. It is defining because it is what differentiates a boy from a man. Boys always want to play- they are always looking to have fun but not to own up to things. It means taking responsibility for one’s life, in totality, and not making excuses for not doing the things that are right to do.
One cannot call themselves a true man if one is avoiding doing the things he knows to be “the right thing to do”. This includes making whatever sort of excuse for not doing the right thing. One of the things that I challenged the men with, was to do right by their women- to do right by the ladies in their lives, to father and raise their kids and, in many cases, do right by their baby-mommas and marry them.
- Real men do hard things
Just because a task is difficult to do does not excuse a man from the responsibility of taking on or completing the task. Again, it is immaturity that stops men from doing things that are deemed to be hard to difficult do. “It is hard” is an illegitimate reason that must be cast away without a second thought. For those men who were seeking to get married but were concerned about the pressures that come with this venture- the financial expectations and others that from high barriers for the health of families, it was a difficult thing to hear but no less true.
- A real man is loyal to the truth
As tough as it may be to accept, I ended by saying that “as long as you are making excuses for not doing the things that are right, you have not yet reached maturity. You must know that there is still child-likeness that needs to be worked on so that you can grow up in that area”.
At the end of the talk, the old man spoke. He said something to effect of “today I came here and sat down, thinking what can I learn from this young man, but you have shown me that even I can learn something about being a better man and husband, from a younger person. Today I have learnt something”.
Of course, I was relieved and encouraged by this feedback. I do not know why, but I ended off by saying “I am very happy to hear that, but what is more important about what you say is the affirmation that truth is not loyal to age. Truth is what really is. We can hear the truth from a child if we are prepared to listen.”
I hold to be self-evident that if any male would call themselves a man, it is a prerequisite to take responsibility, to do the hard things and to commit to hearing the trust when it is spoken.