When you think of what defines a man, what comes to mind? What does he look like? How does he act? How does he treat those around him? Does he lead by fear or by grace? The society we live in tells us one thing, but I believe that God, whose image we were made in and has called us to be set apart, has a different depiction of what a real man is.
Over the years I have been blessed with the opportunity to speak to men in many different venues. From athletes at a college world series to senior citizens at a men’s bible study, this one thing remains a constant: Men are called to be leaders and they are to do it with humility and grace. In many cases our actions will speak louder than our words.
Becoming a husband and father was a complete game changer for me. I learned on the fly how to lead them through mistakes of my own and searching for wisdom from other men around me. While I am sure that we can debate what a man needs to do for his family, I have broken it down to three main things that are near and dear to my heart.
A man prays for and with his family
Prayer is powerful and it comes in many different forms. There are times when you are asking God for help in our own life and when you are interceding for others. It happens in groups and by yourself. When you do it alone, I believe that we all need to find a quiet place so we can commune with God. This is where you spend quality time with Him and have the best opportunity to hear His voice. We all need a “prayer closet”.
When I first heard this term in church I literally went inside my closet, got on my knees and started to pray. It just felt weird to me staring at my jeans and shirts so after thinking about it further I realized I just needed a quiet place. After time I found my two spots: in the morning in our office at our home before the family wakes up and at night walking my dogs. This is where I get great time with God.
“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen. Then your father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”Matthew 6:6 NIV
While spending time alone with God is very important, we also need to get into a routine of praying with our families. Here are some things that we do. We pray before every meal. We pray before we leave for school and work. We also get on our knees and pray for our entire family and our friends before we go to sleep. This is something that my parents instilled in me and I am happy to pass it down to our kids.
“Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”James 5:16 NIV
A man praises his family
Encouragement is huge in our family. It is something I have noticed over the years that makes a big difference in the environment of our home. One of my wife’s love languages is words of encouragement so I can build her up or tear her down simply with the way I speak to her. We need to build our family up daily, especially with the little things that sometimes go unnoticed. My kids receive better from me when I practice positive reinforcement with them vs always telling them what they did wrong. My friend Jon Huizinga calls it “pumping up their tires”. Simply put- tell them how much you appreciate and love them on a consistent basis.
When it comes to discipline, we need to step up as men and take the reins. Too many men are now passing this off to their wives. In a healthy home the parents send their kids to their room while everyone cools down and discuss what the repercussions are for what happened. The flip side of this is the kids don’t listen, parents get angry and then lay down punishment without thinking clearly. As men we need to make sure we discipline our children in love, not frustration or anger.
In the book of Colossians it talks about instructions for a Christian household. Here is an excerpt from it:
“Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children or they will become discouraged.”Colossians 3:19-21 NIV
A man provides for his family
As men we are called to provide for our loved ones. The first thing that may come to your mind is finances and yes, we need to embrace this opportunity, but at what cost. Making sure that needs are taken care of is of upmost importance. After that it comes down to how much other stuff we want. What good is nicer clothes, houses and cars for my family if it means I need to stay at the office for longer hours or travel more instead of being home with them? I can tell you from experience that being present in my family’s life is more important than making money.
We also need to provide a great atmosphere in our home. Like we talked about earlier, being a positive influence in their lives is very important. Our family wants to feel protected by us. This breeds self-confidence in individuals and a strong loving bond in the home. A great quote I heard was this- “You can only give what you have and only transfer what you are.” If you are practicing being positive in your everyday life, it will show in what you do. We need to give our family an example of Christ through our words and actions.
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom.”James 3:13 NIV
Here are some points to think about this week when thinking of being a real man:
- Use Jesus Christ as your ultimate example
- Your walk will speak to people more than your talk
- Use your words to build others up instead of tearing them down
- In stressful situations remember to take a breath and respond vs react
- Remember the 3 P’s of manhood: prayer, praise and provision
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