stand firm in the faith,
act like men,
Let all that you do
be done in love.
-1 Corinthians 16:13-14
“Act like men”
What is a man supposed to act like?
Throw a bunch of dudes out into the wilderness together and you will discover what each of them to one degree or another, considers what a man ‘acts’ like. It can be a tense experience at times, because sparks fly when iron clashes with iron. Men respond very differently to conflict, contradictions and confrontations that arise when all these different definitions collide.
Bring thirty guys together and the answer to that question gets complicated. What standard do we use as our guide to what acting like a man looks like? Each man has a context, a story, a father and a family from which he formulated those answers for himself. Add the layers of friendships, teachers, team-mates, mentors, employees and employers or brothers in arms and the definitions multiply.
Men are often called animals and not without reason! There’s a brute beastliness about all men that needs civilized. There’s a real toxic masculinity that needs to be dealt with in men, but it’s not the anti-male blather that’s being pumped through the public media sewers these days. All men need to be sanctified, which is a biblical idea that doesn’t mean feminized or shamed for being or acting like men, it’s means maturing men into the men God created them to be.
I love working with men, and I have observed over the years that there are definitely different types of men and how they act are very similar to animals in the wild. So here are eight ‘types of men’ and what ‘acting like a man’ means to them:
The Ram…he talks tough and rough, punctuates every comment with a jarring cuss or curse word. He’s the dude that has to make others feel small, in order for him to feel big and thinks he has to establish dominance by diminishing others. He’s often alone because he pushed everyone away by his behavior. He’s hard-headed, confrontational and usually a jerk. He’s the type of guy that just doesn’t know when enough is enough and when to shut up and his mouth more than anything is what always gets him in trouble.
The Peacock…this guy parades his plume of abs and biceps like some women use their breasts, butts and legs…it’s all bait and tackle. He’s shirtless most of the time, size matters and towels are optional. He’s plucked, perfumed and performs with perfect Instagram angles. He’s beautiful like a picture but as deep as the Starbucks macchiato he’s sipping.
The Mustang…this guy is all about horsepower!
Money is masculine to him and he uses his bling to dazzle dudes with all his motors, toys and trinkets. Cash is king and he has to be at the front of the herd no matter what it costs. He’s the one who has everything, anybody wants…first. Grease, gears and gadgets are his language and if you don’t speak it, you are bucked off or trampled.
The Octopus…these guys are all sticky, gangly appendages. Their whole existence is about grasping body parts. Acting like men involves objectifying women and titillating tales of sexual conquest find their way into every conversation. Tits and dicks is how this guy quips, creeps and crawls through every crowd. He spews his black ink of penis pontifications to hide his stunted growth and out of control appetites. Eight tentacles still can’t capture enough prey for this guy.
The Cheetah…these guys have only learned community through competition. The only way to interact with them is to beat them or be beat by them. Everything and everyone is processed through the grid of conquering and achievement. Success is determined by if they ‘can beat them’ in one way or another. First place is everything to these guys and they wear every ribbon, medal or trophy to show how great they are.
The Owl…some guys have been formed in the crucibles of conversations and their whole interaction with others is intellectual. They are men of talk and ideas, they judge each other from their high, isolated, academic perches of mind. They are often the quiet ones, just sitting there…judging you. Heads spinning all around, gazing, watching, measuring, silently tearing apart your meager minds like small rodents in their sharp talons. They like to swoop in on conversations and sink their beaks into the mushy thinking of dudes and show off their intellectual prowess and then retreat as quickly as they came, licking the blood of their prey with pride.
The Hyena…these are the party animals and acting like a man means getting wild! These loud mouthed hecklers, must use intoxicants, because it ain’t a party until a bottle or a blunt is in their hands and it isn’t fun unless they are blitzed, buzzed or blazed. They incessantly bark laugh at everything but there’s always always a bite behind their gaggle. They often run in ‘bro packs’ but they can be loners too. They dominate the moment but are often driven off by other dudes because of their odd antics and boisterous buffoonery.
The Gorilla…these guys see masculinity as muscle and mastery. They are the fighters and killers and a trail of blood is the scent they leave behind. These men only admire brawn, battle and bravery. Courage is capital in their bank and only men who are dangerous matter to them. If you can’t die doing it, it ain’t worth doing. The are the types that throw the first punch. These men only respect what they can’t take down. The size of someone’s balls is measure of a man to the Gorilla.
The Lion…these are kingly men.
They are powerful men, who don’t need to prove themselves. They bear scars and are often missing parts of their manes, an eye, claw or fang but they are strong. These men can be present, but do not have to present themselves. They can roar, but don’t often need to do so. These men could pounce on you a hundred different ways, but feel no need to dominate. Who they are and what they have done, speaks for itself. These men lead by example, by history and by inspiration. They are the warlords, story tellers, sages, bards and saints. They are the shadows that most young men try to get out from under but older men seek their shade. They are the echoes of masculinity worth listening too and the quarries from which to build.
All these types or sides of men will be encountered in men’s work but all of them can learn to change, harness or transform. All of these men matter, even though encountering them can be a difficult. Love accepts men as they are, but doesn’t leave them there. Authentic ministry to men helps them see themselves as they are and walks alongside them to become better men.
“Acting like men” is a call to be strong and courageous, to do and be who you were created to be. To become a mature man, one who has risen above nature and nurture and strives to be the man God has created you to be and calling you to become.