By Kenny Luck, Crosswalk.com
Our culture today has conflicting views of what it means to be masculine. Some say that being a man requires muscular strength, athletic skills, and a working knowledge of every tool in the tool shed. Classic alpha male. Others believe manhood is expressed by success in business, social status, or wealth – strong but in a different way. Yet we know these things do not reflect God’s design of masculinity. There is a better, higher standard for determining a man’s worth.
America has a crisis on its hands – male culture is broken. Addiction, depression, broken homes, poor relationships, and violence happen when men turn to the world to find their worth and purpose. Prostitution, the orphan epidemic, domestic violence, and the generational chaos and dysfunction created by fatherlessness also have their roots in broken male culture. And that is just it – we need to get to the root of the issue, which is men’s hearts. Change a man’s identity, and you change what will command his energy which will lead to a new and healthier expression. We need a movement of Spirit-empowered men to lead with character, compassion, strength, and conviction that ultimately leaves a positive impact on multiple generations.
Finding True Identity
Our society needs men to lead, but there’s a problem: many men are lost when it comes to their identity. When you know who you are, you know what to do. Sadly, the opposite is true and full of consequences. In our society, there are a lot of fake identities robbing the energy and expression of men. But when you remind a man of his true identity in God through Jesus Christ, and he embraces it, will be guided and controlled by a force that’s greater than himself.
Children often look up to superheroes, aspiring to one day be honorable and bravely stare down bigger-than-life challenges. These crusaders of what’s good and moral model strength, courage, perseverance, and a sense of right and wrong. Plus, they have awesome gadgets and superhuman abilities, and they look cool while doing it. Boys, in particular, tend to gravitate to this “stick it to the bad guy” dream of helping those who can’t help themselves. But as Spiderman’s wise Uncle Ben said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
In any good superhero movie, the hero must overcome some force or issue from his past, an evil person or substance that works against his ability to protect the innocent and bring justice. The forces working against today’s generation of men on their journey toward a fulfilling expression of masculinity are subtle but powerful, causing them to lower their standards. Over time, their dream of being and doing good for others has become lost amid the spiritual battle on earth. Heavy realities attack their resolve, and they're losing their spiritual identity.
When that happens, men begin to settle into a culturally acceptable, self-reliant faith built not on an expression but on affiliation to Jesus. They attend a worship service on Sunday, a life group, and read the Bible or a Christian book, but they’re no threat to evil.
Deep within every man is a voice he’s been trying to compartmentalize, rationalize, or mute. In his heart, he knows that he’s more than what he’s become, and you can’t become the man you were created to be by remaining who you are. Men are looking for intention. They believe they were created to do good works but finding the rails to run on – channeling it – is a spiritual battle.
Toxic Masculinity vs. Dangerous Good Masculinity
In our culture, the masculinity created by God has largely been replaced by toxic masculinity, which is strength without character and compassion. It’s guided by self – self-reliance, self-preservation and self-importance. This is creating most of the major social injustices that are rampant in the world today – sex trafficking, domestic violence, addictions to pornography and the disintegration of the family and fatherless children, among others. There’s a cycle of chaos and dysfunction flowing out of this toxic version of manhood.
The broken male culture with broken character and conduct creates a lot of suffering in our world. The greatest gift that men can give to our women and children is “dangerous good masculinity,” which is spiritually empowered, emotionally grown up, and relationally committed men.
There’s nothing more invigorating than when a man chooses to follow a dangerous God who calls him to dangerous things and then gives him the strength and wisdom to get there. When a man takes his strength and directs it for dangerous good, he’s the ultimate superhero. That’s what the world is waiting for – the world is begging to see Holy Spirit-empowered masculinity and leadership.
When you change the hearts of men; women and children are blessed by it. There are fewer sex slaves because the demand goes down. There are fewer women hit by their male partners because they no longer need an unhealthy way of expressing strength. There are fewer kids without dads resulting in single mothers bound to a life of hardship.
To know what true dangerous good masculinity is, we need to look no further than the life of Jesus Christ. He’s the perfect example of what true character, leadership, and strength look like. Jesus lived in complete dependence on, and obedience to, the will of God, and He displayed the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
The fundamental requirement for this kind of manhood is a relationship with the Lord. It will inform and empower every other responsibility he has in his life.
The most important thing to remember is that when it comes to masculinity, it's not about the physical or general strength of a man, it's about what's inside that's guiding that strength.
Micah 6:8 instructs men to “Do act justly, to love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” In this passage of the Bible, Micah genuinely wanted to know what God required of him. Paraphrasing, the Lord responded, “I don’t want your gifts, your words, or even your most prized possession. Pursue justice.” To act justly is not to be silent or complacent when others, especially the most vulnerable, are mistreated, in need, or exploited. To act justly is to walk with integrity and humble yourself before God.
The ground is shifting so quickly before our eyes, in our companies, in our churches, and in our education system. People are looking for a solid rock, a solid way to believe, and a solid way to behave. The more consistent men can be as leaders in what they know is right in the eyes of their Father, the more peace we project and the more peace that's felt in our culture.
A true man is someone who has “put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11). A true man knows what is right and stands firm in it. A true man loves the Lord first, and he loves those whom the Lord has entrusted to his care. He acknowledges his imperfections, accepts his salvation in Christ and strives for continual dependence on God. A godly man will study, learn and understand the will of God through the Word of God. This gives him the tools to meet all his other obligations.
Satan is determined to undermine men, destroy their God-given roles, and redefine the biblical definition of masculinity because he wants to see the family unit unravel and society bow before him. It’s time to use our God-given strength to fight back and redeem manhood from the clutches of a culture of passivity and misguided intention.
Photo Credit: Matheus Ferrero/Unsplash
Kenny Luck is the Founder and President of Every Man Ministries. Kenny is the leadership and teaching pastor at Crossline Church in Laguna Hills, California. He is an ECPA Platinum award-winning author of 24 books covering marriage, family, and men's issues. Kenny has been a featured guest on FOX News and is the driving force behind the Every Man Global LIVESTREAM and podcasts heard around the world.