Every young boy at some point in his life either realizes or is told that one day he will become a man and will be expected to embrace manhood. Knowledge of what manhood is provides the road map for living our lives and helps to shape our souls and relationships as men. However, reaching manhood is a very challenging task for many young boys because the meaning or definition of manhood is very subjective. According to Webster’s Dictionary, manhood is defined as the state or quality of being manly. Women and men alike typically associate manliness with being tough, athletic, unapologetic, firm, insensitive, competitive and dominant.
On my journey into manhood, I was taught that manhood is about protecting and providing for loved ones, wooing and dominating women and suppressing emotions that made me feel weak or vulnerable. With a lack of clarity or consensus about the meaning or definition of “manhood”, many young boys venture into manhood while maintaining “boy” qualities. They are groomed into believing that the possession of money and titles is what determines one’s level of manhood. This belief system is what has many young boys and men walking around with low self-esteem issues, feeling depressed, unhappy and insecure because they do not possess material things and/or titles that they believe to define their manhood. In order to prevent this unfortunate phenomenon from continuing we must successfully answer one fundamental question: What is manhood and how does one reach it?
Defining what it means to be man is very important. How can a young boy grow up to become a man who embraces his God given role as a Conqueror and Head of Household if he does not know what manhood is or how to reach it?
Here are 6 steps to reach Manhood:
1. Learn to Acknowledge and Express Sensitive Emotions
Embrace the role of a provider and protector, but do not limit your ability to express the God-given emotions you were blessed with. Learn to acknowledge and express sensitive emotions in your relationship and understand that you get what you give. Eliminate the “tough guy… I don’t care” persona because it will only distance you from the people you love. Do not allow this male dominated society to prevent you from sharing your gift of compassion. Be okay with showing affection so that you can develop a good balance of emotional and intellectual expression in your relationships.
Do not worry about what other men think about you and do not hesitate to express affection when you feel it. The expression of sensitive emotions does not convey that you are weak or feminine; it does, however, convey that you are compassionate. Understand that God created humans, both men and women, with a full range of emotions because He understood that men, like women, could not appreciate happiness without sadness, calmness without anger, laughter without crying, empathy without judgment, and love without hate. Recognize that expressing sensitive emotions is natural and doing so will enable you to share what’s in your heart.
Manhood is about being confident and secure in your identity. Demonstrate that you do not have a problem with opening up, particularly if it will bring peace into your life and relationships. Do not be afraid to seek professional guidance if your personal shortcomings are creating distress for you and/or the people you claim to love.
2. Eliminate Prideful Thinking and Unapologetic Behavior
Learn humility, give compliments and lift up others instead of tearing them down. Apologize when you are wrong and ask for forgiveness. Be mindful that stubbornness is a sign of insecurity. You should strive to address any insecurities you might have. Lead others to influence them, not to control them.
The Bible says that pride leads to disgrace (Proverbs 11:2); produces quarrels (Proverbs 13:10); leads to punishment (Proverbs 16:5); and destruction (Proverbs 16:18). Too much pride and love for yourself will distance you from God. Once you learn humility, giving compliments and apologizing to others will come easy.
Manhood is about being humble and secure. Demonstrate signs of identity security. Be secure in your identity as a husband, head of household, protector, provider, lover and compromiser. Always be willing to compromise and apologize to those who bring fulfillment into your life. A man who is committed only to himself will be by himself.
3. Set the Tempo
“You reap what you sow” (Galatians 6:7). The seeds you plant (sow) will result in your harvest (reap). The quality of your harvest depends on the kind of seeds you sow. If you sow chaos, you will not reap harmony. If you expect others to do as you wish, exemplify that desired behavior. The old adage “do as I say, not as I do” is irrational. If you desire respect, then demonstrate it. If you desire to have others submit to you, then be willing to submit yourself. If you desire others to show personal integrity, then live righteously, admit your wrongs and strive to overcome them.
Manhood is about demonstrating personal integrity, fostering love and independence, providing guidance, and being accountable for your actions. To live righteously in this sinful world is not easy, but setting the example for others is important.
4. Surrender your life to God
Often we like to take matters into our own hands and rely on our own means, but God demands that we surrender to His will in all our endeavors. We must learn to walk in faith and know that God will provide as He promised. We must also remember that the battle is His and not ours. Being submissive pleases God and demonstrates faith. We were created to submit to and obey Him, and only Him.
Manhood is about surrendering and honoring God. Be faithful to Him and He will be faithful to you. Learn to turn to God and He will fight and win battles for you. If you live by His Word, He will protect you. Every Word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in him (Proverbs 30:5).
5. Forgive others for their Unruliness
God will deal with those who hurt, belittle, humiliate or disgrace you. Taking matters into your own hands displays a lack of confidence in God. He will judge and persecute all wrong doers. A heart of forgiveness is required of all God’s children. Forgiving others is not easy, but God requires you to do it. If you desire forgiveness, you must be willing to forgive. Refusing to forgive others is a sign of selfishness. God is not selfish.
Manhood is about removing despair, bitterness, and hatred from your heart. Jesus suffered at the hands of evil men and did not retaliate. He allowed his offenders to be judged by the One who judges fairly (1 Peter 2:23).
6. Put Away Childish Things
Stop engaging in behavior that is childish in nature. Boys throw temper tantrums – men process and act responsibility. Boys are driven by lust – men are driven by love. Boys break down when faced with adversity – men step up. Boys need guidance – men provide guidance.
Manhood is about putting away childhood things. 1 Corinthians 13:11 states, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child; I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
During my short time on this earth, I have learned that manhood is not about who you are, but how you live. Reaching manhood is possible for any young boy or man who applies the 6 steps outlined above. Remember that a REAL man does not self-destruct or harm others. A REAL man strives to improve his life and the lives of others in a healthy and productive manner. A “R.E.AL.” man embraces manhood and lives his life as a conqueror and head of his household.