What Defines a Man?
I have no intentions of this post being a political stance and am not writing this to offend. I also use the term “man” because that is what I am but feel the post offers wisdom for women as well.
As I grow older I find myself in situations where I never expected to be and at times it has messed with my self-image. I hope that my struggles and path to recovery might help others in similar situations. Therefore, the main question: What defines a man?.
One might start with a list:
– Financial Portfolio
– Stance in Community
I contend that this list may be a little short-sighted. I don’t hold that belief to make me feel better about myself or my current station in life but because it is not based on any long-lasting foundation. I believe what defines a man is what he leaves in his past as he travels through life. In addition, how this past might or could affect the future as well. You might call that Legacy but I feel it goes much deeper.
The first obstacle to overcome is: Who has the right to define the answer? Does the definition come from inside or outside the man? Does each man get to make his own definition or must he conform to other’s ideals? If one believes that each individual gets to define themselves then we have the problem of improper self-awareness and conceit. If one believes that family gets to make the definition we run into the problem of objectivity. If one believes the world gets to make the definition we run into the problem of multiplicity and the error of the crowd. So who, in the world, has the right to make the definition? No one.
The only person who can define what makes a man is the creator of man and that is God.
The main problem with people making the definition is that they can only judge on what they are able to see, external. God sees the heart which judges the motivation of a man. Our heart drives the kind of man we are and are becoming.
Let me provide an example:
Let’s say that a wealthy man provides shoes for an entire community of under-privileged children. A great act to say the least. But lets also say that he invites the local news to cover the event and then stands by while others sing his praise and then he does the same in a final interview. Still a great act but without much heart.
Now lets say that a man provides shoes for the children of one under-privileged family by leaving shoes on the porch with no indication of who gave except a small note that indicates the shoes were given to fulfill a need. The man took the time to learn the proper types and sizes necessary to fit both the boys and girls in the family. Each pair of shoes specifically chosen for each child. Not a huge act, in and of itself, but an act the shows the size of the provider’s heart.
I ask: “Who is the better (more complete) man?”
In letting God be the only one capable of defining what makes a man it must change our outlook. It changes not only how we see ourselves but how we see others and how we see the world. It also changes how we interact with others and how we interact with the community in ever-expanding circles.
Let me bring us back to my own personal situation. I never thought that my work position or my income had a huge impact in how I saw myself as a man. That should have been true but when all that was taken from me I felt like far less of a man. My ability to provide for my family, in the manner to which I had become accustomed, vanished. My position, where I was in charge of the larger majority of the company employees, vanished. I no longer had means or position and I became depressed. Why? Because I let my definition and the world’s definition of a man cloud my judgement. Do you see how many times the word “my” occurs in this paragraph? I neglected to focus on God’s definition.
I was in the midst of heart failure. Remember, God judges the heart.
My heart wanted what was best for me based on my own opinion. My heart wanted self-reliance. My heart wanted a comfortable future.
God wanted to re-claim my heart. He wanted dependence and trust. He wanted to provide a fullness of joy not found in finances or position. He wanted to show me truth that I was not that interested in seeing.
I am slowly coming around to God’s way of seeing me but it has not come without struggle. Even while writing this post I find it difficult to suppress my wants to give way to His will. God has provided financially to meet our needs but no more. He has provided shelter through family and friends that is affordable. He has provided opportunity to work for His glory. He has also provided the ability to see the lasting produce of my past. That which outlasts the temporary. He has allowed me to see that which is significant.
I have a wife who has never stopped loving and encouraging me. Helping me to see the positive in the life we live. I have two children (adults) who strive to serve God to the best of their ability and are active in their churches. I have a daughter-in-law who chose to love and cherish my son and serve God. Together they have produced my first grandchild, a granddaughter, who lights up my heart. I have a mom and brothers and sisters-in-law who never doubt that God has great plans for me and keep me in their prayers. I have a mother-in-law and father-in-law who never hesitated to provide support when I was at my lowest. I also have additional family on my wife’s side that did likewise. I have friends, both old, new, distant and close, who have chosen to come along side me and support me through these struggles.
I have a God who never fails and carries me through the darkest nights and toughest struggles.
So, how does God define a man? By his heart for God’s heart.