A CLEAR VISION FOR AUTHENTIC MANHOOD
by Tierce Green
One of the first things I discovered when I moved to Texas, while driving east on Interstate 30, was the ability to see miles ahead to where I was going. A clear view of the Dallas skyline confirmed that I was headed in the right direction. I experienced the opposite extreme outside of Lubbock when a sand and dust storm reduced visibility to a level where street signs, traffic lights, trucks and cars just blended together. It sounded as if the paint was being sandblasted from my car. I had no choice but to pull over and wait for it to pass.
In my journey toward authentic manhood, I have experienced a mix of finding my way and feeling my way. I have at times felt sandblasted and defeated on the side of the road, and at other times I have found direction and clarity bigger than Dallas.
Good directions and clear vision are essential in the journey towards authentic manhood. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, Habit #2 is “begin with the end in mind.” The truth in that principle resonates with practical applications for manhood. It calls for direction and clarity from the outset.
If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.
I never had a real connection with my dad. He died when I was ten. While grateful for my single mom's strength and encouragement, I was clueless when it came to understanding what it meant to be a man. Through my teenage years and early twenties, I either aimed at nothing or the targets I chose were always changing. With girls, cars, money, friends, sports, and matters of character, I just gave it my best shot. I had a few hits and a lot of misses.
I put my faith in Jesus at the end of the summer following my freshman year of college. I wish I could say that a switch was flipped, and I instantly became a real man, but it’s not that simple. There is no such thing as microwave manhood. Manhood is a process.
My perception of what it meant to be a Christian man had been skewed by the way Jesus was typically presented in my church experience. David Murrow says in his book Why Men Hate Going To Church, “Our very definition of what it means to be a ‘good Christian’ skews female.” He illustrates and supports this position with a quiz. Here it is:
Examine these two sets of values and choose the set that you think characterizes the values of Jesus Christ and his true disciples:
- Proving Oneself
- Goal Orientation
- Personal Expression
- Loving Cooperation
Murrow says that he has administered this quiz to thousands of people—men, women, Christians and non-Christians. More than 90% of the time, people choose Set “B” as the best representation of Jesus Christ and his values. Then he reveals the origin of the two lists. These two value sets were plucked from the pages of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, by Dr. John Gray. In Chapter 1 he identifies Set “A” as the values of Mars, whereas Set “B” describes the values of Venus. In other words, Set “A” represents the values common among men while Set “B” represents the values common among women.
Most of the people who took this quiz think of Jesus as having the values that come naturally to a woman! Granted, the values listed in Set “B” are some of the values that represent Jesus. But, the results of this quiz illustrate how confused today’s culture is about the real Jesus and the kind of masculinity he modeled. Most people’s vision of biblical manhood is skewed by culture and blurred by ignorance.
When Jesus and his disciples were traveling through the town of Bethsaida, a blind man was brought to him. Jesus took him by the hand and led him outside the village. He then spit on the man’s eyes, touched him and asked, “Do you see anything?”
The man looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” He could see, but his vision was blurred and undefined. That’s a pretty good description of what a lot of men see when they consider what it means to be a man—blurred and undefined.
The Scriptures say in Mark 8:25, “Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.”
What do you see?
It takes more than a brief encounter with Jesus to discover what he is really like. He is our model for authentic manhood, and that demands our full attention. A closer look at the life of Jesus reveals that real men reject passivity, accept responsibility, lead courageously, and invest eternally. Those principles look good in your journal or on your wall, but integrating them into your life requires discipline, vulnerability, and accountability with lots of time and practice.
How clear is your vision of authentic manhood?
[This is an excerpt from an article in the Training Guide for 33 The Series Volume 1: A Man and His Design.]