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How to Be a Man

11 min
Personal Growth  ✺  Relationships  ✺  Manhood  ✺  Leadership

What does it mean to be a real man in today's complicated world? Here is the answer and the truth.

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Three years before I wrote this article, I encountered a book that changed how I viewed manhood. I received it directly following my first deployment and a year before meeting the woman who is now my wife. Stu Weber's Four Pillars of a Man's Heart is a masterwork of literature and has become my favorite book after the Bible. It inspired me to write this post. I hope that what I have to share resonates with you.

Let's start with some truths. There are many men of various ages in this world who are hurting. Of course, everyone hurts, but the man who hurts perpetuates more hurt, spreading it to others.

More men are lost now than ever before. Our society has slowly tried to emasculate men and blamed many of the world's problems throughout all of human history on masculinity. We have all heard it before, "toxic masculinity is the root of so many issues." The term is thrown around so often nowadays that it is routinely conflated with masculinity altogether.

Toxic masculinity is not the issue but rather a result of the actual problem that many pernicious and overbearing men face today. You'll quickly find that after a brief round of research on the internet, toxic masculinity begins to sound an awful lot like an umbrella term that can be thrown out and subsequently weaponized against men based on all or some of their worldviews.

Some of it is true, and some of it is not. Toxic masculinity requires careful contextualization, and unfortunately, there are so-called "medical professionals" with the backing of numerous research bodies who will tell you that toxic masculinity was born from traditional masculinity, which "supposedly" (up until around the 1980s) became incompatible with contemporary societies. Stating as much has caused the alleged "experts" to redefine what masculinity and being a man is altogether.

I'm not ignoring the atrocities of countless powerful men throughout our world's history, not one bit. But their problems were not the "old" masculinity that has seemingly been replaced with the "new." Instead, their stories are cautionary tales of what happens to men when the issue that plagues us is allowed to persist. The problems of overbearing, domineering, and destructive virility displayed by men throughout human history are attributed to the same issues men face today that can also cause them to exhibit toxic behaviors.

It is not an issue of masculinity in men, but rather, an issue of the hearts of men.

Masculinity is not the problem in our world; it is the solution. Believe it or not, there is a way to be a true man. It isn't about dressing well, being athletic, handsome, wealthy, and certainly not about having numerous women, etc. Being a real man is about so much more than all of that.

What follows are four distinct attributes that real men share and my thoughts on what a man should aspire to be. If we lived in these ways, not only would we be the best men, but we would solve almost all of society's current issues.

A MAN IS A LEADER

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A SOLEMN COMMISSION

To be a man is to be a Leader. No, not every man is born to be the leader of a country, army, company, or even traditional team, but the day that God breathed life into the first man's lungs was when He gave him a solemn commission, one that extends to every man who has walked this earth ever since.

I'm talking about leading in the home.

Men are made in the home, and it takes a man to raise a man. To fail in the home is to fail everywhere, period. As you read this, you might think of the many incredible women who raised their sons as single parents. However, look closely at the men with these backgrounds who became exceptional and ended the cycle of fatherlessness in their homes and communities. You will soon realize that it was because they had a strong male father figure in their life (perhaps even multiple figures) to help light the path for them.

Not every man is meant to be a biological father, but every man is called to be a paternal figure to someone. Like it or not, we were created this way, and the issue of fatherlessness in modern society and throughout human history has fueled many of our social problems.

TAKING INITIATIVE

In the very best relationships, men are the ones who take the lead. When there is a job to do, a man steps in and does it. The man leads, and the woman follows. Please do not misunderstand; this does not mean that women must be subservient to men; it means that men are called to cultivate and guard the women they choose to be with. Men ought to lead in our world by serving others and, more precisely, serving the women they pledge themselves to, their families, children, and friends.

TAKING RESPONSIBILITY

A man does not lead by sitting atop his "throne" and demanding things of the people closest to him. A man leads well by standing a vigilant watch in his life, ensuring that the people he loves are cared for and safe. A man recognizes the need to take charge and finds the strength within him never to abdicate his God-given responsibility. So many issues nowadays are due to men who become abdicators.

A PROVIDER (IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE)

Most men believe that their sole role in the home is to provide. To earn a paycheck and give their children a comfortable life. Most men leave it there, but it's never enough. I'm here to tell you that while this is the fundamental function of a man, more is required of him.

To be a provider in the home means a man must also provide for the emotional, spiritual, and psychological well-being of his spouse and children. If something is wrong, he must take the initiative and formulate solutions. The man who provides monetarily to his children but remains absent at ball games or during family meals is a man who misses the critical opportunities to instruct, lead, and be intimate with his family.

Why do men become this way?

Because the same thing happened to them when they were growing up; real men endeavor to break the cycle and learn to seek and accept the undeniable truth... to fail in the home is to fail everywhere.

A STEWARD

Good men lean on the strong women in their lives and work to complement the strengths that only women possess. To be a man is to understand that God put us on this earth to cause life to flourish and thrive. Every man is meant to be a good steward of his family and an honorable teammate to his lady. A man must honor his bride by remaining there for her when she needs him most and meeting her emotional, physical, and psychological needs. In turn, the two of them should work together to be good stewards for their children, but it all starts with the man. Success for any family lives and dies through the involvement and dedication of the man of the house.

"So take charge. Organize and lead. A fundamental part of being male is taking initiative. Considerately? Yes. Thoughtfully? Yes. Lovingly? Yes. Putting the other person's interest above your own? Always." - Stu Weber

A MAN IS A WARRIOR

A PROTECTOR

Men fight to protect the ones they love. Men fight for what is right. Men fight for the truth. Every man has a Warrior spirit blazed in his heart. He recognizes that our world is both a wonderful and terrible place; after all, there is a reason that it resides between heaven and hell. I learned this fact myself during my first deployment to the Middle East. We need strong men who lead well and leverage their Warrior spirit in constructive and honorable ways, never using their God-given strength or ability for abuse or turmoil.

A DEFENDER

To prey upon the weak and defenseless is not the mark of a true Warrior; it is the mark of a coward. Sad excuses for men are those whose Warrior spirit is so poorly calibrated that it has enabled them to engage in vile and abusive behaviors. Children lash out and remain incapable of keeping their hands to themselves when they don't get their way. Men remain steadfast and are judicious with how they administer their hands.

When the time calls for fighting, either by words or deeds, the man springs into action and delivers swift justice to defend the defenseless, never for personal gain or a twisted sense of power.

MERCIFUL

The Warrior in a man knows when to fight but also when to sheath his sword. A little bit of mercy can go a long way these days, and the mark of a true Warrior in a man is knowing when to drop his fists and showcase tenderness.

FULFILLS HIS DUTY

To be a man is to be a Warrior who fights for justice and maintains his honor and the honor of those he loves. Faithful men will be called to fight and defend their loved ones, and a man must remain ready and maintain the readiness of those he is responsible for. A man is always on watch, patrolling the outer regions of his kingdom and considering the safety and security of those in his care. It is his duty.

"We need passion. We need challenge and risk. We need to be pushed to our limit. This is just what happens when we accept a warrior's code, when we try to live each moment, whether in education, job, marriage, child-rearing, or recreation. The truth is, we don't have to go into combat to go to war. Life is fired at us like a bullet, and there is no escaping it short of death. All escape attempts such as drugs, aimless traveling, the distractions of the media, empty material pursuits, are sure to fail in the long run." - George Leonard

A MAN IS A MENTOR

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PATERNAL NATURE

Men use the same "muscles and mechanics" to teach, coach, and Mentor others in the workplace or at home as they do when they often fulfill the roles of father figures. I learned this well during my last deployment. The youngest junior officer onboard my ship worked tirelessly to achieve his qualifications to become a Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) and earn his warfare pin. A large part of this was gaining the trust and confidence of the Captain so that she would trust him to pilot and navigate the ship on his own. Over those six months deployed, that young man clung to me in ways that I will never forget, and in doing so, he reminded me of how critical it is for men to be good teachers.

THE HEART OF A TEACHER

To be a man means understanding the difference between sending people up and bringing them up in the world. To SEND someone up in any instruction is to throw the "book" at them and point in every which direction, using floaty language and inauthentic deeds while attempting to "direct" their actions. To BRING someone up in any instruction means to lead by example, and that is precisely what a man ought to do as a fellow Mentor to others.

We must be kind, willing, and patient to grab others by the hands and embark on a learning journey with them.

A pretender of a man makes lame excuses such as "I suffered, so you have to." Or worse, they might even profess that they "don't care" and "shouldn't" because they have already "arrived" in life for themselves. This is no behavior for a genuine man; it is the behavior of a lazy charlatan. Faithful men take teaching seriously. They are in touch with their inner Mentor and see the big picture:

Success and progress can be better preserved when men take the necessary actions to develop and instruct those who will eventually replace them.

A TEACHER AT WORK

As men, we were created with the capacity to teach so that we could become good fathers or father figures. I recognize that not every man wants to become a father eventually, and I certainly won't compel you to want to be one. But understand that real men are teachers at heart; we will ultimately be placed in a position to influence someone. Just as a man can raise children, so can he raise those under him in a specific instruction or area of life.

"The mentor in a man teaches life, sometimes in a spiritual, mechanical, technical, recreational, or intellectual capacity. Mentorship from a man is consistently personal and familial, and it is always transformational." - Stu Weber,

We can try to refuse this truth, but to do so is to refuse to accept the true nature of what it means to not only be a man but a good man.

A MAN IS A FRIEND

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CONNECTION

What we make the most in this world is connection. Forming strong bonds with others is part of what it means to be both a human and a man in the purest sense. If there is to be one of these four attributes that ought to be most important, then it is this one: a man is a Friend, first and foremost. If the Leader, Warrior, and Mentor in a man are solely focused on providing, protecting, and teaching without connection, then it is no good.

So many young men have grown to become troubled and directionless, perpetuating pain and never knowing how to connect with others in meaningful ways. And how could they? They lacked a Friend who they needed to provide for their physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological needs. They lacked a Friend to protect them when it mattered most. They lacked a Friend to teach them, often between right and wrong, so the cycle of pain could cease.

FRIENDLY PROVIDER

The Friend in a man connects with his son when he struggles to get in touch with his manhood, just as he connects with his daughter as she navigates the tumultuous world of adolescence. He is there to listen and provide direction with a tender heart.

FRIENDLY PROTECTOR

The Friend in a man is there to spring into action when injustice ensues. With the heart of a lion, he is swift in defending his friends and family when the time calls for action... and when the time calls for calm, the man drops his fists and shows mercy when it is warranted.

FRIENDLY MENTOR

The Friend in a man is there to guide the young mariner as he learns to navigate the ship and earn the trust of the Captain. While every other would-be teacher is standing silent, reluctant to provide encouragement and praise when necessary, the man who connects with his pupil and demonstrates the heart of a teacher is a Friend in the moments that count the most for the team and in life.

"True men are not cowards who give up and quit when the task seems overwhelming. They are not so concerned about their own personal rights, freedoms, and happiness that they sacrifice the sacred principles of manhood. They are men who have known failure but not defeat, disappointment but not despair. They are men who can see through these hard things in life because they have their compass set on truth, not on the fancies of a fickle society. True men are those who are willing to live, and if necessary, die for principles far bigger and greater than they." - Stu Weber

A MAN'S COMMISSION

Men are hurting today more than ever because of fatherlessness in the home. To be a man is to recognize that God gave us tremendous power and purpose to do good in this world, connect with others, provide for them, protect them, and teach them. To cause life to flourish and thrive.

It's time to break the cycle, men, and get in touch with our inner Leader, Warrior, Mentor, and Friend. Let's become the men we know ourselves to be and work hard to fulfill our duty until no more breath is in our lungs.


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