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What It Means to Be a Man
We live in a mixed-up world. Whether you’re aware of it or not, two of the most important elements missing from today’s Western civilization are masculine men and feminine women!

We live in a mixed-up world. Whether you’re aware of it or not, two of the most important elements missing from today’s Western civilization are masculine men and feminine women!

This trend started after World War II and has become a huge problem since the 1960s. An identity crisis now plagues our culture. Gender lines are so blurred and jumbled it’s difficult for many boys and men to establish and settle into their distinct, God-ordained role—courageous, physically vibrant, thinking, spiritually-motivated leaders.

It is meaningful that we are created as either male or female. Inborn differences distinguish us from one another—not only physical ones, but also mental and emotional.

What is true masculinity? Some think masculinity means to be loud, obstinate, heartless and unemotional. These, however, are not traits to describe masculinity as God intended men to be.

By basic nature, the man is a leader. God created him this way. He appointed the man to be the head of the household—the wife is to be his helper (Genesis 2:18).

Ephesians 5:23-25 states, “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” God’s purpose, we see here, was for men and women to serve each other. His purpose was for them to work together as a team, with the husband as team leader and the wife as personal assistant.

God has modeled the male role after Christ’s! As Christ perfectly loves and rules His Church, so should a husband strive to love and rule his wife perfectly.

The great Creator of the universe who made us male and female had a marvelous purpose in doing so. He did not intend for women to take on manly characteristics; nor did He design men to be effeminate!

Yet, the pressure of our anything-goes, do-your-own-thing society is overpowering. Wimpy men and brash females have become more than simply “acceptable”—they are the norm. Many males have been persuaded to think that being macho or manly is inappropriate; instead, they’re told they should behave as overly sensitive, soft-spoken wallflowers! They have been told that it isn’t “politically correct” to be aggressive leaders anymore; men are told to get in touch with their “feminine side.” These modern attitudes are dead wrong!

Understanding true masculinity is essential to lasting happiness and success as an adult male. In this article we’ll discuss four key attributes of real manhood.

Education

In order to develop to fulfill your role as a man, you cannot neglect education. Your drive to be educated should have begun in your teen years. Education is a way of life for godly leaders. Jesus Christ set you an example here. Even though He was the Eternal in prehistory, He came to this Earth and was educated in obedience living life as a human man (Hebrews 5:8).

Education is a vital tool for a masculine man with real goals and purpose. The Bible speaks highly of knowledge, understanding and wisdom. In fact, these things are considered more valuable than gold or precious gemstones!

Another biblical example of some young men who were well educated is Daniel and his three friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. The first chapter of the book of Daniel describes them as being knowledgeable in science, bilingual, mannerly and wise. Because they were well educated, they became successful, rich, powerful leaders in the ancient kingdom of Chaldea!

One of the greatest and most educated men of the 20th century was Herbert W. Armstrong, founder of three liberal arts colleges and president of the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation. During the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, Mr. Armstrong traveled the world on public-speaking tours, speaking to and motivating thousands; he even had private audiences with kings, emperors and presidents of many nations!

In his autobiography, he defined education as having a scope far wider than just academic “head knowledge.” He wrote, “Education comes from study—from books—from lectures—from contacts—from travel—from thinking about what you see and hear and read—and from experience.”

You don’t necessarily need formalized training or a college degree to be highly educated. Some of the most successful men to ever walk this Earth were self-taught. They learned from their own daily experiences as well as the example of others around them. They read widely and thought deeply about the information they were exposed to. Mr. Gerald Flurry—educated at Ambassador College and chancellor of Herbert W. Armstrong College—sets a fine example of reading widely. He has read extensively about Winston Churchill. This has given him essential knowledge to fight the spiritual battle God’s Church has faced in this end time.

Reading good autobiographies and biographies of great leaders will help mold and shape your mind in a masculine way. Some examples of men you might want to read about are Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Douglas MacArthur, George Patton, Herbert Armstrong and Winston Churchill. A favorite book of mine, describing the early life of America’s first and greatest president, is The Making of George Washington, by William Wilbur.

The real foundation of any education, of course, is the Word of God. Don’t neglect to study the best textbook for living—the Bible! Read for yourself the laws, statutes and judgments contained therein—these are the principles that produce a real sense of fulfillment and true happiness as a man. Study the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes especially—they make excellent, inspiring and helpful reading, and they’re practical. Make it a goal to read a chapter a day out of the Bible.

Make it your goal to learn all you can. Take extra time to become knowledgeable about the current events of this present evil world, especially as they apply to prophecy (Galatians 1:4; Luke 21:36). It will be the work of God’s born again sons to help solve the massive human problems created in Satan’s world.

Physical Fitness

Education comes easier when you are in peak physical condition. Physical and mental fitness go together like a lock and key! A sluggish, weak body usually means a logged mind—a mind not as receptive to learning new things.

A masculine man is tough—his body is strong and elastic. Look around you. Notice how many men look unhealthy and weak. How many of them can do 20 chin-ups or 50 pushups or sit-ups? The shameful truth is, many have no interest in developing and maintaining strength or athletic skills.

Your teenage years were the prime physical years of your life. Yet, to be out of shape, skin and bones, chubby and fat, or weak and effeminate is not true masculinity! A soft, flabby, degenerate body in your mature years will surely detract from your manhood. God’s men should be vigorously healthy, have a vibrant countenance and look fit.

A good exercise program can help toughen your body. It’s not easy getting started—but a real man can see the benefit in taking care of his physical fitness and will push himself to exercise. He is able to put up with temporary pain and discomfort and is tough on himself.

Make it a habit to go to bed early and get up at a certain time in the morning. Force yourself to exercise at a set time, no matter how you feel. Don’t give in to tiredness. Most tiredness is in the mind. You will be surprised to discover the wellspring of energy waiting to be unleashed while you are growing fit and stronger through exercise.

Take part in vigorous physical activities such as hiking, swimming, cycling, racquet sports—even running. Team sports are especially important to participate in, if you can. They teach you government, teamwork, selflessness and leadership skills.

Don’t worry about being a star athlete, you can still take part in a variety of sports, athletics and exercise programs that will get and keep you in good physical condition. Not only will it reap immediate benefits, but also it will make you a more flexible, poised person.

One thing that will help motivate you to stick with a certain exercise regime is to choose physical activities that you enjoy. You’ll be more likely to push yourself to excel in this area if you like the sports or exercise programs you’re involved in. Even just going for a walk outdoors is better than wasting time on tv or video games.

Remember that you don’t have to be an Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jean-Claude van Damme to develop masculine qualities. Every man—young and older—can profit from sports, developing coordination and, through proper exercise, stimulate mental skills. You have to begin somewhere.

Realize that physical fitness is another key attribute of a successful, masculine man.

Work

There’s a proverb that says, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might …” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Unfortunately, too many men in modern society simply haven’t been taught this principle when it comes to working. Young boys and teens need to be taught how to work efficiently, hard and quickly. Having a good work ethic is essential to masculinity. Here’s where you can put your mental and physical muscles to use!

The Bible says that a truly masculine man provides for his family (1 Timothy 5:8; 2 Thessalonians 3:10). When a young man hits 25, he will have about 50 full years of work ahead of him as a man, a husband and a father. No matter what your career is during these years, continual development of basic work skills will always pay off. Work is one area where continuing education is a necessity.

Prepare yourself for success by working hard at whatever job you undertake. For young boys and teens, skills and good work habits are developed even by doing chores around the home and can be helpful in finding and keeping part-time jobs. Hard-working fathers should encourage their teenage sons to find at least a summer job, especially after age 16. Having a part-time job and learning to pay his own way will help develop your son’s independence as a masculine male teenager.

Of course, all teens should have a specific career goal as well. Some jobs will require university or vocational training. However, your son may choose not to attend an institution of higher learning. Perhaps his talents and interests will lead him to obtain an education through practical, hands-on experience. For example, he might pursue the opportunity to work on a farm or apprentice himself to a carpenter, plumber or electrician.

In any case, you will do well to have your son take an aptitude test to determine where his strengths and abilities lie. Since he could be spending about two thirds to three quarters of his life working at this profession, it had better be one he enjoys. Most high schools and colleges offer free job-placement testing; and most libraries have guidebooks on how to educate oneself toward a career. It’s important to be decisive and plan your career in a boy’s middle teen years.

What if you want to change your career? It is hard to change careers once a man enters his 30s, 40s or 50s, but it can be done with careful planning and education. It is imperative that you get counsel and advice from not only professional career counselors, but from your local minister as well.

No matter what your job is, work at it to the best of your ability. Resist the temptation to “take it easy.” Never lose sight of where you’re headed. Keep your eyes fixed on your goal; only then will you be driven to never give up, even when times get tough. Realize that a truly masculine man is not lazy, shiftless or idle—rather, he labors with all his might!

Character

Someone once described a real man as “a steel hand in a velvet glove.” A masculine man sets his mind to attain the steel qualities of sound character, rock-solid confidence and strength. He is an unselfish, stable, dominant (although not domineering) and decisive leader. Yet, he is unafraid to develop the velvet traits of humility, attentiveness, gentleness and refinement. In short, a masculine man strives to live as Jesus Christ did!

True masculinity starts in the mind. It requires, above all, a balanced perspective on life. A positive, upbeat outlook is the first thing you notice in a truly masculine guy. He has a “can do” attitude and is eager to accept challenges and responsibility. He is not egotistical or arrogant—yet, he doesn’t put himself down or worry about what others think of him.

A real man allows God to use and develop what talents he has been given, not coveting or envying those with different abilities. He cheerfully refuses to compare or judge his worth by the accomplishments or positions of others.

This attitude of balance combined with acceptance of your circumstances will forge strength of character. It will pump your mental “biceps” and add joy to your life. With God as the focus of your life, you will find a new kind of self-esteem. Far from being based on human abilities, this new godly self-esteem arises from the knowledge that a Christian “can do all things through Christ” (Philippians 4:13). This knowledge, coupled with experience and practice, gradually replaces the negative, non-masculine traits of needless fear, painful inferiority complexes and envy.

The masculine man knows how to express both joy and pain. Know this: Real men do cry—when it is appropriate to do so. They don’t hide their emotions like the stereotypical “strong, silent types” do, but control their tempers and are skilled in the art of diplomacy.

A real man has strong conviction, which produces a non-compromising attitude. He can take correction but is not destroyed by criticism. A masculine guy doesn’t cave in under stress and pressure. He has the “guts” and mental fortitude to abstain from drunkenness, premarital sex, illicit drug use and the sundry other vices that tempt him.

A real man faces challenges straight on and is alert to new opportunities. People around him sense a winning spirit of right leadership.

Every man has strengths and weaknesses. Do some self-examination in prayer with your Father in heaven. Where you are weak, begin developing and exercising those masculine traits now! You can look to the Bible, God’s inspired instruction manual for right living, and discover real men who had the courage to make history! Build on your strengths. Here is a list to help you in your self-examination: A real man …

  • Obeys God
  • Has inner strength, character and stability
  • Is self-assured and confident
  • Has purpose, drive and initiative
  • Is intelligent and decisive
  • Practices self-control
  • Is emotionally mature
  • Is law-abiding, conscientious and responsible
  • Uses common sense and good judgment
  • Takes charge when necessary
  • Maintains vigor, vitality and good health
  • Demonstrates self-respect, as well as respect of others
  • Appreciates the role of women
  • Abstains from sexual activity outside of marriage

Now is the time to exercise yourself in the gym of life by applying these four points. Examining these areas will help you better establish a solid foundation for real success. You will make an impact on society when you accept the challenge and responsibility inherent in true manhood.

Life itself is a tremendous responsibility. To find the real purpose is an obligation every male has. Don’t be satisfied to sit back and be weak or effeminate—set your course; be a man!