“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do, be done in love.” -1 Corinthians 16:13-14
What do men do?
I recently spent an extended weekend camping in the water, wind, earth and fire with other men. I witnessed many things that are examples of what it means to ‘act like men’, here are a few observations.
Men serve others:
They pay to go camping and then spend the whole time cooking 5 star breakfasts and dinners for everyone at camp. They prepare menus, purchase items, gather all the needed cooking utensils and spend hours of their time making food that you will think about days after you leave camp.
The kind of laughing that goes far beyond ridicule, sarcasm or bullying. Sure there’s the innocent jabs that friends do, but it’s not malicious or meant to exert power over another. It’s joking around, poking fun, making connections and observations that make you laugh out loud, not just chuckling or a smirk, but the kind of laughter that comes from boyhood. The kind of laughter men too often forget.
Men get honest:
They speak truth to one another, they confess, they admit their weaknesses and are willing to ask questions. They will say “I have no clue what I am doing.” when discussing parenting challenges. They will share their struggles with addictions, failing marriages, the death of their loved ones, not measuring up to other men, feeling lonely, inadequate and the odd man out. They will weep in front of other men.
Men share one another’s burdens:
They watch, listen and come alongside other men. They speak words of encouragement, they make you feel you can do something you thought you couldn’t. They cheer when you accomplish something worth celebrating. They pray for you, will hug you and give you what you need, to do what you need to do.
Men will challenge you:
They will push you, either by words or by their example. They won’t coddle you, baby you or do stuff for you that you should do yourself. You will have to ‘man up’ in their presence. Men don’t honor complaining, excuses, whining, giving in or giving up. They expect other men…to be men.
Men take risks:
They try new things, challenge themselves and others to take steps out of their comfort zones. They have courage and are not afraid to try, even if they fail or are not good at something yet. They may end up sore, bruised and bleeding but those are signs of developing mastery not the misery of lives of banality and boredom.
Men extend grace:
They know where they have been, so they are merciful and gentle with men who are not where they need to be. They carry men who are wounded and stand with men who are prone to hurt themselves or others, not to condone, but to correct. Men are peacemakers, because they know the cost of necessary and unnecessary wars. They are bridge builders more than burners, though they know some people need to be walked away from for our own survival.
Men are not angels or devils:
They are men of earth and heaven, flesh and spirit. They are not ashamed of their desires, passions and power but they know the time, place and limits of them. Men kindle the sacred flames of earth and eternity. They can feast and fast, they no how to enjoy something, but not be mastered by it. They are sons of God, not slaves, prisoners or pigs.
I am blessed to have seen and heard all that I shared above in the clan of men I walk with in my life. My prayer is that every man reading this will find their place among a group of men who will be and do, all these things for one another. You can not do life alone, you may survive, but you will not…thrive.