September 1st, 2013

“Be a man.” You’ve probably heard that phrase and used that phrase plenty of times (even if you are a woman). But what does it mean? I believe there are two things packed into that expression. Firstly, what is masculinity? And secondly, what does society imply to men with those three little words? Let me tackle those two in reverse order. I’m going to use a TED talk I found by Joe Ehrmann, which is fantastic. If you don’t have 14 minutes to watch a video, that’s fine. ¬†Just keep reading. ¬†However, if you have the time, check this out:

Ehrmann points out that our implication with the phrase “be a man” is extremely out of line with what masculinity actually means. He says it’s the most dangerous phrase we use today, and he emphasizes that physical prowess, sexual conquest, and a number of other falsehoods accompany society’s incorrect implication with that phrase. He follows that up with a beautiful definition of what masculinity really is. He based these conclusions in large part on his experiences with counseling others, especially men on their deathbeds. Masculinity boils down to two, enormously valuable goals:
1. Relationships – to love and be loved
2. Cause – to make the world a better place
I really like using the word “legacy” with the second goal up there. I heard this talk by Ehrmann just a few weeks ago, and I remember being blown away by how simply, yet aptly, he put the true nature of masculinity. Society has really messed with what relationships and identity look like from a man’s perspective, but I can attest to the accuracy of those goals. Loving, being loved, and leaving a legacy have always been on my mind when I look to the future. When I try to imagine my life two years from now, wondering just what adulthood has in store for me, relationships and cause are unparalleled priorities.
The best part is the realization of how faith is inextricably tied to both of those goals. Relationships ought to always submit to God’s will, and cause should always defer to the destiny and direction God places in a man’s life.
Let me finish with an example. This story inspired me when I first saw it, but going back and watching it again, in the midst of training for a triathlon, it carries another layer of meaning to me. This man is demonstrating a passion for relationships and cause that I can hardly imagine, let alone describe. If you haven’t seen this video, please watch it:

To me, personally, this is one of the most Godly examples of a father’s sacrifice for his son. When I think of being a father, I pray that I might be able to show love like this. Do you want to know what it takes to be a man? Sacrifice, service, love, passion, dedication, commitment, and more. Ultimately, like Ehrmann says, it all boils down to relationship and cause.
How do you (or those you consider to be men) relate to others and live to make the world a better place?