This post is for the men, because it has laid heavy on my heart for a while. I feel a sadness because I see so many younger men who are struggling with the issue of manhood–real manhood. So many are just winging it. Many are faking it. Many just don’t know. Some give up. Two questions arise out of that observation; “Why?” And, “What is a real man?”. Volumes have been written on the subject, most of them by folks far smarter than me, but since I got my PhD from the University of Hard Knocks I felt compelled to add my comments to the mix.
Years of women’s lib, sometimes equal rights gone awry, howls for the emasculation of men to reduce them to anything but who they are, and now woke-ism and shaming in vogue. I don’t doubt that there are some men who wonder just who they are and what they are. Add to that with what seems to be a drastic decline in male role modeling over a period of decades, coupled with mixed messages, and it is no wonder many men, especially of the younger generations, don’t really know what a real man is or should be. Equally disturbing is the effect that is having on the boys and young men they are raising. That’s another topic for another time, however.
I think it is safe to say that we’ve all seen at some point a man who we saw as a mentally, emotionally, and spiritually strong man. As we came to know him, we realized that the man behind the mask was the same man everyone was seeing. There were no pretenses. There was no doubt that he was a real man. If you’re like me, those men always strike us as being admirable men, men we instinctively knew were special. Truth be told, most of us probably thought to ourselves as some point, “I wish I could be like that guy.”
What is it about those men that make them what they are? Here are some character traits that I believe are at the core of a strong man, a real man.:
They move on. They don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves. They don’t let adversity control them. They look past the adversity toward the future
They embrace change. They welcome challenges. They don’t fear change nor let it paralyze them. They adapt to change.
They stay happy. They don’t waste energy on things they have no control over. Their cup is half full, never half empty. Better yet, they may wonder how full it can get. They look for the good, not the bad.
They are kind, fair, and not afraid to speak up. They are not sarcastic, and they don’t put others down. They refuse to gossip. They speak truth.
They are willing to take thought out calculated risks. They are not impulsive. They focus on the big picture. And yet, they can be spontaneous to engage others in warm laughter and feeling comfortable both around them or in unfamiliar settings.
They celebrate the success of other men. They don’t resent that success. They are humble about their own success. They share their success. They treat their success as a blessing and not something they earned. And they are never “big” successes. They were simply blessed and they are thankful about any success they might have had.
They have the capacity to love, and it is never fake love. It is real. It is a love from their hearts and not from their minds, and they want to share that with everyone. They also have the capacity to be loved graciously and humbly.
They don’t fear their emotions or what anyone may think of them should they show them. In fact, they consider their emotions both as a blessing and as a sign that their heart is in the right place and not crusted with barnacles.
They don’t let their pasts define them. In doing so they refuse to allow any residual shame or guilt drive their current actions, verbal or otherwise. They are secure in both who they were and who they are now, and their focus is on the present, never the past.
They are mature enough to allow others to make mistakes without judgement. They accept others as they are and always hold out hope and encouragement for a better tomorrow.
There is one key quality of a strong man that I have noted in each that I have come across–he was a God-fearing man, very secure and sure in his walk with Christ. Jesus Christ was the perfect model of what a real man is and should be.
And that’s my 2 cents.