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How to be a Man. Part 1 Family

I don’t pretend to be the ultimate male. I have a long and often painful history of mistakes that I’ve made, mostly by being naïve about the world, but along the way I gained a lot of wisdom from those mistakes and learned a lot about what it means to be a man, and I want to share those insights.

The essence of manhood centers around two main things: To be a provider, and to be a protector. These two things are embedded in our souls. We are driven beyond all reason to accomplish these two things. If we are not accomplishing these two things, or we cannot, we feel a sickness within our souls over them.

The reason why we feel this sickness is because we have been mandated to accomplish these things by our Creator.

  • “17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’

“Cursed is the ground because of you;
    through painful toil you will eat food from it
    all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
    and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
    you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
    since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
    and to dust you will return.” -Gen 3:17-19

  • If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed. If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt for his bloodshed. He should make full restitution; if he has nothing, then he shall be sold[a] for his theft. If the theft is certainly found alive in his hand, whether it is an ox or donkey or sheep, he shall restore double.- Exodus 22:2-4
  • 20 “He who sacrifices to any god, except to the Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed.- Exodus 22:20
  • But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. – 1 Timothy 5:8

The clear indication from these two core driving forces to manhood are that a man ought to get married and have children. You must have someone who depends on you for provision and protection in order to be a provider and a protector. I can’t make these assertions without mentioning that both Jesus and Paul said that it is best to live a monastic lifestyle, but they both also acknowledge that such a lifestyle is very difficult and not for everyone. In essence a monastic is a man who has transcended the basic role of manhood for a higher purpose. And indeed, if you are both unmarried and without children and not devoting your entire life to service to God, you are certainly experiencing that sickness of the soul. I know 2 such men. One is my age and he is a seething twisted troll of a man who lashes out at others in the bitterness of his impotent life. Another man is about 10 years older than I am, and while he is still a very good and kind man he is filled with a longing for the life that he ought to have had. He regrets the mistakes that he made that have brought him to the fullness of middle age without fulfilling these things. But I believe that he has maintained his goodness because he has never given up hope of achieving these things and purposefully works toward achieving them. I know yet another man who has a family that he provides for well, but he is an utter coward who is wholly incapable of protecting himself or his family.  He hides his shame by mocking others and imagining himself as superior intellectually, but the truth is he seldom leaves his home out of fear that he might have a confrontation. And I myself was once very good at protecting my family but very bad at providing for them. I remember the deep shame that I felt, the jealousy at other men whose success came so easily to them, and the despair and hopelessness that I felt about my life in general. I prayed to God, and he changed my stars, but it was a process, and it was not without pain.

So a man needs to be able to provide. We can spin our wheels all day on the metrics for that because we live in a consumer society where everyone “needs” smart phones and smart TVs and Quartz countertops and other testaments to our vanity, but all a family really needs are food, clothes, and shelter. I know one man with 10 kids! He makes less money than I do, but he made a decision long ago to get rid of things that were unnecessary and not wholesome to his family. Him and his wife garden for most of their family food needs. By reducing what his family “needs” his lesser income goes much further than mine. His family has everything that they need, they are happy, and healthy, and a model that anyone should strive to mimic. I can hardly think of any man with more enduring satisfaction for his life than this one. But if you’re a man who lets himself and his family get caught up in the vanity of our world, which I’m partially guilty of, and you find yourself unable to give your family the material things that catch their eyes, you will absolutely feel shame over it. Letting your wife and kids down, even over trivial things, feels like a knife in your heart. You immediately start scheming in your head about ways to save money on this or earn more money by doing that. And you won’t be truly satisfied until you make whatever changes are necessary in order for you to give them their trivial desires. Because it is written into your DNA that you must provide, and it is written into your psyche that provision means buying them trivial things. Learning to retrain your mind and your family on getting rid of materialism is an article for another day, and I will admit that it is something I still need to work on.

A man needs to protect. You don’t need to be some huge muscular guy or, a martial arts expert, or a gun nut, because at the end of the day none of those things mean anything without the will to fight. I’ve seen little skinny guys whoop the tar out of bigger guys because the little guys had more heart. The 10-kid man is kinda tall and skinny, but I have no doubt that if you posed a threat to him or his family that you’d quickly find yourself with a gun in your face or a shovel busting your head. This isn’t to say that you should be content to never train yourself to be stronger, faster, a better fighter, or a more skilled shooter. There are an abundance of reasons on why you should be diligent in these things, especially if you are a little guy or a skinny guy without a natural advantage for protection. Physical training promotes health in every aspect of your body and mind. Fighting and shooting build self confidence and condition your reflexes.

In conclusion, any man who is a real man is both a devoted provider and protector for his family or is actively occupied in the pursuit of becoming these. He may be unmarried, but he is working to be the provider and protector that his future family will need. If a man is not actively doing these two things, or working toward achieving them, he knows in his heart that he is not a real man, and this usually materializes in shame and bitterness. We have a mandate by God to either become a full-time servant and monastic for the Lord, or to raise up Godly families with our full protection and provision. Anything less is living contrary to what God has made us to be. Be a real man. Move beyond your self centeredness. Build something that will outlast you.

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