Our culture seems to put a lot of stock in accomplishments, strength, toughness, physical ability, success, and things of that nature. When a person is told to “man up” he is being told to be tough, shake it off, dust the knees off and keep going. A person may claim to be the consummate man upon achieving a certain desirable goal or feat. A man might achieve dominance of some sort over another, and this may be the very thing used to establish his claim to manhood.
I believe that there are aspects of manliness to be found in all of the characteristics above. I believe that all can be right as far as pursuits are concerned to a degree. The problem I have with them as the litmus test for masculinity is the fact that all center upon self. There is a self-gratifying nature to all of them. I believe all of them can contribute to real genuine manliness, but none of them are complete.
We have the real example of consummate manhood before us in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus was a man committed to fulfilling His duty while on earth. His meat was to “do the will of the Father.” There was nothing self-rewarding in his pursuits. What he did on the earth as a man required strength, toughness, and things for that nature. In the end He was a success, but His pursuit of success was not about success, it was about obedience. When tempted by Satan to basically prove to all who He was, which would have been possible for Him to do by the way, He subordinated Himself to the Word. Jesus, of all people, regarding ability was not lacking, and yet we see Him choose to endure, time and again, undesirable trial after undesirable trial in obedience to the will of the Father.
There are many things in life that offer little by way of glory, and yet responsibility requires that they be done and done well. That is the measure of manliness. It is having the strength to subordinate. It is the ability to lay aside selfish pursuits. Your friends may say a lot about you because you stay home with the family instead of going out with the guys every weekend. I would say that makes you a man. You may have to go to bed early instead of staying up late in order to get up in time to spend time with the Lord, and others might give you a hard time because you don’t stay up as late. I say that makes you a man. You might be tempted to let your wife “handle the children” and you might feel pressure to that end from your peers, but instead you choose to be the leader of your home. I say that makes you a man. You may get heat because Sundays are spent in church and not on the lake. You have shown that you are able to lay aside self and live instead for something greater than yourself. As a matter of fact the action of living a life that is built on the truth of the Word of God cries out, “I believe that there is something that is greater than me to which I owe my allegiance and that something is a someone that exceeds everyone in the realms of worthiness and greatness. Therefore I will seek to glorify He who is worthy and that isn't me!”
The human attention span could not endure all that I believe the Lord would have to say concerning such a matter, or on any matter for that matter, but especially on this one. What I will say is this. If we want to see the measure of a man we need not look to celebrities, or successful business men, or pro athletes, or some war veteran. It’s not that none of the men in these categories could qualify, but I feel like these are the default types of categories we search when looking for some manly example to compare ourselves to. The fact is you can look anywhere. It’s not about where you look it’s about knowing what to look for! You look for someone who looks a whole lot like Jesus Christ! Paul said “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” I could talk about what a father means to his son or his daughter, and how that being a good father is a result of real manliness, and so on. There isn't space. Suffice it to say we become real men by subordinating self in pursuit of the mind of Christ. We develop the mind of Christ by following Him through the leadership of His Word! That is the measure of a man.