GRUNT: A Quest for Manhood

Something key happens in your twenties. It seems as though earlier years have been spent extensively executing what others had planned for me. For some reason or another when we are younger, we are able to simply just do things. Spending hours blindly completing tasks that if we asked why we were doing them a sure answer would be, “because I don’t want to get in trouble” or “ what do you mean why?”. The doing was the important thing not the reason for the doing.  When the twenties arrive however, the internal question changes from what am I doing? To, why am I doing it? We ask ourselves the “why” because we have just been introduced to a new idea…time is short, and I need to use the little bit I have effectively.
I would prefer to spend the rest of my time here on earth not as just a male, but as a man. Being a male is easy, but being a man takes some serious work. I must say, this is a confusing quest. In order to become what you want, you have to be able to see it, talk to it, listen to it, and spend time with it. However, our society has made this all the more difficult to develop authentic manhood – let alone a Christ centered view of manhood. Where does one look? The media has now portrayed men as anything but masculine. The mother often leads in family shows.  She is the one who brings the wisdom, leadership, and reconciliation in the household. Meanwhile, the Dad, often played by a clumsy and slower-thinking individual gives little voice to reason. He usually provides the exact opposite. He is the one who createshavoc in the house, or is only there to give a good punch line.  According to television, men have essentially become older children. Being dragged around at the grocery store, usually looking tired, hoping that they won’t say anything around their wives that might get them in trouble. The sad part is, this neo depiction of the male is not that far from the truth.
In fact, I can’t remember a “masculine” figure on a family show since Uncle Phil! He was the one who kicked people out of the house if they got out of hand, he provided for his family, he stuck up for his lady, and served as an excellent father to his children. If there was a problem, you knew Uncle Phil was going to step up and handle business.  He always took the time to give advice and direction, and most importantly correction. He was respected. Where have the Uncle Phil’s gone?How did we go from Uncle Phil to Phil Dunphy? Most “men” will blame the women of our former generations. You will hear that the feminist movement has castrated men, and because of their progression it has left men confused and impotent.  It has been said that the feminist movement did not liberate women it just made them masculine. That would be like saying, “civil rights didn’t make black people more free,it made black people become white” a ludicrous concept.
Black people and women never had to “become” anything. We just needed humanity given back to us. So in a country where men still make more money than women on every dollar, still hold 95% of all political offices, and 97% of all CEO’s are men, how do we get off blaming women for our shortcomings? Such an idea is ridiculous and wrong to entertain. As someone raised by a “man’s man” I must say, I do love sports, cars, the outdoors, fishing, suits, and enjoy an occasional cigar. I also idolize historical sports stars, secret agents, and war heroes. My cooking sucks, and if I am sitting in the right position my fart can hit a “high C”. Such shallow and maybe offensive gender generalizations have everything to do with being male, but absolutely nothing to do with being a man. Have we got it radically wrong in our teachings and discussions on manhood? So again, what is the blueprint? Where does one look if the goal is to attain true manhood?

Even though Uncle Phil possesses traits that i feel are much needed and have been lost in todays new era of men, we still may be missing our central figure in the conversation. I would choose to look at the man that has had more influence on history than any other person. He has changed language, influenced policies, and rewritten our ultimate future and hope. This man is none other than Jesus Christ. Huh? I’m sorry, was that Jesus you said? A name that has never really been synonymous with manhood or masculinity for that matter, but I believe he possesses the essential elements for revival in the male community. We have all seen the “Real Men love Jesus” bumper stickers, an attempt to de-feminize Christ by insinuating that even macho guys can succumb to following a meek and “hippie” kind of God. In my opinion, the ad seems to give more praise to “real men” instead of canceling out any misconceptions about the male hood of Christ. Christ like so many of us at one time in his life was a doer. He was an infant, a toddler, an adolescent and a teenager. There did come a time when even Christ, all-human and

all-God needed to make the move from male to man. His 40 days of fasting and being tempted was his rite of passage – or as the Masai tribe would say, his lion.

In those 40 days  Jesus had a metamorphosis . Jesus became a man, as soon as he knew why God had him here. It seems, the first depiction of manhood is being receptive to Gods call on your life. Scripture says, “ he returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread…he taught in their synagogues and everyone praised him”. Not only was Christ receptive to his calling, he was willing to respond. Jesus knew who God was, he knew what God had asked him to do, and had the courage and love to do it. Being a real man is about courage. It’s about using our gifts to do what we know we should do, before we will no longer be able to. Practicing, perfecting, and probing through our gifts, and our God-given passions is a testament to our willingness to become men and adults. Having an understanding of who God is, being receptive to the things he has called me to do, and having the courage to do them. For Jesus, pursuing the decision of manhood was the heaviest of the heavy, for he knew it would end in his death. Choosing manhood over male hood will always involve a sacrifice – a sacrifice of time, a sacrifice of energy, and sometimes even a sacrifice of our own livelihood. This week, I promise to look for areas where I can be receptive, responsive, and courageous as the journey of manhood continues. Man up.

Love.

Justin

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