Survivor: The Love Edition – What Makes A Man

How does a boy become a man? How does he know? Who tells him that now he is a man?


I was once hanging out among the Dinka community of South Sudan, working with local villages, clinics, schools, health education, local pastors.

And we were under a tree, the men and women under the tree were staring, whispering and raising questions about my tattoo, the story of my life and how I came back to God. I narrated the story of my life, how I walked away from God and finally my rededication to Christ. So I also asked about the scars on most of the men’s heads 5 stripes ear to ear on foreheads and they gave me an explanation of their initiation ceremony. The initiation is to prove if they can be trusted to stand there and not turn away from the pain and that the man can be trusted to not turn away from the village,their family,their herds,when painful times come.  We can trust him to do what needs to be done.

But they also raised a very interesting question to me, ‘Pastor Jim,in America,how does a boy become a man? How does he know? Who tells him that now he is a man?

And this was a life-changing moment for me because, I didn’t have a good answer. What would you have said? If you grew up in a town, a high school, a culture like me the answer was, even though nobody might say it out loud, this is what I read growing up, the dude who had the most stuff, ran the fastest, lifted the most, scored the most, drank the most, biggest muscles, biggest house was a man and everybody measured themselves against him. I am more of a man or less of a man depending on how I measured up to the standard man.

Some of us hoped that our dads would tell us, you’re a man but for a lot of us it didn’t. Some of us looked to another man, a coach, a brother, a friend, a girl, to tell us if we were really a man, enough of a man, a good enough man, and they did the best that they could to tell us what they thought of us, for good or bad. But, the truth is, most of the people and examples that we have looked at to discover what it means to be a true man, they really don’t know either, so, they just, did the best that they could and made it up as they went. The problem with all of that, is why, under a tree in Africa I didn’t know what to say. Everything was at best a good guess but nobody was coming up with a good answer, let alone something worth me as a man and worth giving my life to. When I looked around me and saw how so many “men” that I was observing were doing was ordinary, average, common, not necessarily bad but not that great either.

So that started me on a 3-year and counting journey to discover what does it mean to be a man, a good manliness, the one that God had in mind when he created me, not average…uncommon. Many men don’t know what they’re doing. They are just making it up and so often the people who are supposed to lead us, can’t or worse yet, they’re the ones that hurt us.

So a common story for many of us, our fathers are absent, divorced, breezed in, tried to buy you off, but you feel like you’re not ever going to be enough, whatever it takes.  My father was abused, there was no discipline at home, and we are afraid of being like our father. And we wonder why our world is so messed up and why we don’t know who we are or what we’re supposed to do. Something’s messed everything up and if something doesn’t change … do something different … this is where your life goes.

But we must go back to what God says is true about us. See as I have studied what God has to say about people, here is what I’m learning; God said that into every man and woman, he has placed his own masculine/feminine spiritual image and as we live out our lives, that image is reflected that say, “this is what God is like.”

Within every man is the presence and personality of the creativity of God and the desire to provide and protect whatever it is that God has put in your charge. In other words, Sovereign God who runs the universe, looked at you and said, ‘I am entrusting you with a little piece of my kingdom.” It’s still God’s but, He is risking everything by handing it to you and saying, ‘I am trusting you, to take care of it, like I would and I will hold you accountable for what you did with what I’m giving you.

Leaning on God

Everything you do, what does this say about God?

Here is where I have learnt in terms what a good man, a strong man, and an uncommon man is. I am a common man/woman with an uncommon desire and commitment to succeed, to throw off every excuse and lean into and take responsibility to provide for and protect everything that Sovereign God has entrusted to my care.   I will not quit.  I will not surrender.  I will not settle for less than everything God promised me. I will never stop fighting for what God has told me to do. I will not give up because if I do I and everybody who needs me to be an uncommon man or woman loses.

Now, about the same time as I’m processing all of this two things happened. One, I read a story that Jesus told about a man who had to protect his house against someone who was trying to come in and take what was in the house (Matthew 12) and, the take away from that story was this, if you want peace, if you want things to be the way they need to be, or if you have lost something important, you have to be prepared to fight for them, or fight to get them back.

Si Vis PacemPara Bellum…if you want peace, prepare for war, it’s gonna be a fight.

So put that together, here is what I know about whatever it is that God has said is right and true about you a man or woman, who reflects the masculine/feminine spiritual image of the God who created me, it goes like this…

You have to fight for the things that are important to you, because I am not going to hand them over to you. And do you know what the opposite of that is?…surrender and quitting, and do you know what quitting and giving up is?  Common.  It’s what most “men” do when life and circumstances get tough and feel overwhelming.

So the Bible opens with, In the beginning, God created the Heavens and Earth…

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man(kind) in our image (masculine noun), after our likeness (feminine noun). And let THEM have DOMINION over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 

So, right here, we have a huge clue about what it means to be created in the image of God. There is the masculine and feminine nature of God that is wired into our unique genders.  But right here we see another characteristic of the image or likeness of God that is reflected in THEM, as in BOTH of them are meant to reflect God, and, it is that word…Dominion

 And let them have “dominion” over, everything that God had given to them, and some versions of the Bible say, let them “rule” over, which isn’t a bad translation either but as I’m studying this over the past several weeks, there is another word that could be used here that both “dominion over” and “rule over” point to, but I think paints a better picture of what God is intending when He shares this part of Himself with us and it is the word…Responsible.

Genesis 1: 26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, after our likeness. And let THEM take responsibility over everything that I have entrusted to them.” 

So, right here we see a God-image charge or command that is given to and reflected in men and women that is unique from all other creatures and that is the word dominion or rule or responsibility. 

Because with responsibility comes accountability meaning we must address the question, what did you do with what was entrusted to you? and if you really want to push this and put it all together, it would be this;

Sovereign God has entrusted me with part of His Kingdom. 

God is God, He’s Sovereign which means that He can do anything that He wants, any way he chooses, but, Sovereign God has entrusted you with part of His image and part of His kingdom.  It’s still His Kingdom (he is King of kings) but He has chosen to hand part of it to you and say, take care of it, have dominion over it, rule it, take care of it for Me, in the way that I would take care of it, reflect Me as you take responsibility for what I have entrusted into your care.

Don’t miss this.  It’s still HIS kingdom.  He’s just handed part of it, entrusted it to you.  Now what are you going to do with it?

Let’s just say that out loud together, because, if you understand what God intended by doing this…it will change how you see EVERYTHING in your life.  Here we go…Sovereign God has entrusted me with part of His Kingdom.

Responsibility in Life 

What does that look like?

Well, for me, Sovereign God has entrusted me with my body and my mind and says guard it provide for it and protect it.  And God has given me my wife and my family.  Sovereign God has entrusted me with leading my church and protecting what is taught there.  My body, my mind, my wife, my family, they all belong to God but He chose and entrusted me to take responsibility that they and it stays in line with what God says is right and true. If I don’t responsibly “rule” well, God should take everything away from me, if He loves me, my wife and my children, right?

Today we are trying to understand and apply this truth in the area of a man and a woman joined together in a spiritual union called a “marriage”. Sovereign God has entrusted you or may someday entrust to you a part of His Kingdom in this case, a marriage, a wife, a husband.

So if a man and a woman have any hope of joining together in a God-honoring and God-image-reflecting marriage, what are the truths that must be known, acknowledged and held onto? If that marriage is going to last let alone flourish, how do we “responsibly” approach marriage? Let me say it a different way if a man and a woman decide to take on the roles of husband and wife to one another…what are the key “must-haves” that must be in place?

What are the if he doesn’t understand and do this and if she doesn’t understand and do that this marriage doesn’t stand a chance?  What are those…most important “this and that’s”…not the ONLY ones…but…the most important elements that must be in place…or this thing will never, ever work?

Skip ahead to a letter that Paul writes to some people that live in a city called Ephesus.  Paul is talking about the roles and responsibilities of a husband and a wife who are attempting to image Christ in their relationship…sums it all up…

Ephesians 5:33 However, let each one of you LOVE his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she RESPECTS her husband. 

So, here are the two primary commands from God for the husband and wife…if this marriage has any chance. Husband, you must LOVE your wife. Wife, you must RESPECT your husband. And here come the conversations in your head…it’s that chicken…egg thing.  Well, I would love her if she showed me some respect…well, maybe I’d respect him if he acted more loving…which is why… First, both love and respect are COMMANDS to be obeyed, not emotions to be responded to.

Love and respect very well might often lead to an emotional response but they are not and cannot be emotions that determine whether or not you will love or respect someone else.  You won’t hear that anywhere in our culture not TV, not movies, not from your school buddies just God; this is love; this is respect.

Second…Love is the DECISION to provide and protect.

I have DECIDED and I promise that from now on, I will do everything within my power and ability to provide all that she needs so that she can take hold of and experience all that God has for her. I will do everything within my power and ability to protect her from anyone and anything that might try to take that away from her, including protecting her from or in spite of ME, my own selfish wants and desires that have the potential to hurt her.  I’m going to work on myself for the purpose of loving her better. Men you don’t have to choose to love and protect any woman and you don’t have to get married. But if you decide that you are going to make her your wife this IS the responsibility that you are promising to take on…

Sovereign God has entrusted me with my wife.  I will take responsibility to do everything within my power and ability to provide for and protect her.

No pressure, men, but that’s the comparison and the bar. If you aren’t ready to do that and prioritize her like that don’t marry her.  If you are already married to her, this is what God is already?…COMMANDING you to do or to START doing from this point on.  If she is your wife love her like that.

Third ladies…Respect is the DECISION to join yourself to and follow this man because you TRUST that his intentions for you are good. Ladies, you don’t have to trust anyone or get married at all, let alone get married to a man in order to be a whole person.  But, if you decide to marry a man you’d better respect him and trust him because, if you join yourself to a man that you can’t trust, you won’t follow him very far or you will follow him but he will lead you down a bad road and destroy your life and the life of your children, won’t he?  So don’t get married unless you can say…

Sovereign God has entrusted me with this husband.  I will respect him and follow him, trusting that his intentions for me are true and good. 

If you can’t say that and believe it then…DON’T MARRY HIM.  Because the stakes are too high to put your trust in the wrong man.  If you know that you can’t trust him, stop dating him.  Make the wise call, do the right thing because you know in your heart, YOU CAN’T TRUST HIM!!!  Run the other way.  Here is a wise saying…

It is better to be single and wish that you were married to the right man than be married to the wrong man and wish that you were single…right?

Again ladies looking back at some of the disasters that you used to call a relationship, a marriage, you always knew that you couldn’t trust him, but, you were hoping that maybe something could or would change in him and he promised he would change and then he didn’t change at least for the better and you got hurt.

But be honest looking back, you never trusted him and deep down even though you knew it you kept on dating him and then you married him and you found out you were right because he proved what you already knew was true, he couldn’t be trusted and now you have the scars to prove it.

Now, let me show you an example of what happens when either one of the two, let go of or abdicate the responsibility that Sovereign God has entrusted to them and where it goes and what’s at stake.  Genesis 3:1 – 6 …

Where was Adam during this whole conversation between the serpent and his wife? Answer:  Right there with her.

And, what was the primary responsibility that God had given to Adam when it came to his wife?  To PROVIDE for her by leading her towards life and to PROTECT her from anything that would lead her towards death.

What was the conversation that Eve was having with the serpent?

First, she decided that in spite of what God said was true, the fruit of that one tree actually was good for food, which means God hadn’t told her the truth or God was wrong about what works and doesn’t work.

Second…She saw something with her eyes that she was told that she couldn’t have and felt that she was missing out on something and she wanted it so in spite of what God said was true, she wanted to decide for herself what was wise and unwise, what was best and true, for her.

In other words she didn’t respect God or trust that God’s intentions for her were good and she didn’t respect or trust that her husband could or would provide what she had decided that she really desired and needed to be fulfilled and satisfied so she stepped outside of God and her husband and she had a conversation with an outside voice to see if this other voice this other person, could supply her with what she didn’t think she could trust to get from God or her husband.

Genesis 3:7 Then the eyes of BOTH were opened, and they knew that they were naked.

And naked here is a metaphor for that the lights came on and there you are it’s that oh no, panic moment that you feel when you realize that something just happened and now something really bad something really embarrassing something really shameful, something really, this is going to change everything, just landed on you or on your marriage, and it’s so big and so powerful, that it has the potential to blow everything apart. When that happens,what do we do now?

Well, what we are going to look at today is this.  What we USUALLY DO now and what we NEED to DO now if we have any hope of surviving, healing and recovering from what just landed on us usually aren’t the same thing.

But we’re looking for a better way, right?  That is why we came to church today.  We know what we typically do but is there a better way? After the fact, it’s not hard to look back and see what we did wrong, how we screwed up or what we should have done better, right?  It’s that 20:20 hindsight thing, oh, now I see what was I thinking?

Even when we have made a mistake, we can still go back to God. We can count on him to correct what has gone wrong in our lives because Sovereign God has entrusted me with part of His Kingdom.

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2 Responses to “Survivor: The Love Edition – What Makes A Man”

  1. Reblogged this on kimila and commented:
    To all of you but especially Men, before you ask her to a date , this is something you need to know !
    Amazing read


  2. Reblogged this on steve kyalo and commented:
    Ever wondered what makes a man?Here is an elaboration.


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