Men are experiencing an identity crisis. And we’re short on role models.
We’re caught between Don Draper as the alpha male and a whole crew of omega males like Judd Apatow. One tries to express masculinity through power, possessions, and promiscuity. The other group has stopped trying altogether. Unlike us, these other guys seem to be getting something out of their isolation and discontentment, their rebellion, and their lack of discipline. We’re stuck with pain and hardship.
We need a more compelling vision for masculinity. We need to see a man so utterly rooted and secure in his identity that he can actually embody masculinity for us. A man with no crisis of identity, pursuing his calling with passion and persistence. A man whose masculinity is not vain and self-serving.
We need to look to Jesus, the true and perfect Man.
Content and Coachable
Contentment propelled Jesus. Before his incarnation, he had all that anyone could possibly imagine. Yet he relinquished everything for our sake, entering into a world of hardship, limitation, suffering, and death. His contentment didn’t come from his circumstances or location, but from his ongoing, eternal relationship with the Father. Before Jesus entered into public ministry, preached a single sermon, performed any miracles, or healed anyone, the Father spoke these words: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
Because Jesus was content and secure in his identity as the Son of the Father, he was coachable. He was the perfect teacher, but the Gospel of Luke describes him being led by the Holy Spirit. He said that he did on earth whatever his Father did (John 5:19), even learning through his ordained suffering (Hebrews 5:8). He modeled humility, making it clear he was under the guidance and authority of God the Father. Even when he was tempted to avoid the suffering of the cross, Jesus said, “Not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).
Disciplined and Determined
He was disciplined. Knowing that once the sun came up he would be mobbed by the crowds, he made it his practice to get up early to be with his Father and gain instruction for the day. He had focus and a clear sense of timing. He moved on to the next thing when needed (Mark 1:37–38). He lived in the moment: “And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I have come to this hour” (John 12:27).
He dealt with the weaknesses of living as a man in sin-soaked society (Hebrews 4:15). People opposed his mission and message at every turn. Yet despite every obstacle, Jesus remained focused on our good and his perfect sacrifice on our behalf (Hebrews 10:14). Jesus was a determined man.
Connected to Family and Friends
Jesus was driven, but always had others in view, even making room for his family (John 2:3–5). He was aware of his responsibilities as a son, knowing that, even as God, he needed to fulfill them. Before entering public ministry, he took up carpentry like his earthly father Joseph. And in his final act, while he was on the cross, Jesus entrusted the care for his mother to a beloved disciple (John 19:26–27).
Jesus was connected to his followers, revealing himself to them. He coached and trained them, encouraged and challenged them. He was a teacher to them, but much more. Their job was to soak up as much as they could, to imitate him, and obey his commands. But in a remarkable statement, Jesus made them more than followers. He invited them to be friends, to be equals with him in his work, in his rest, in all the benefits and joys that are his — even as the Son of God (John 15:15).
Tough and Tender
Jesus was both tender and tough. He grieved and wept over the death of his friend Lazarus. And when the religious leaders of his day were selling things in the temple, Jesus overturned their tables and angrily whipped them with cords (John 2:15)! He wasn’t ruled by his emotions, but did not deny or suppress them either. Jesus felt things both deeply and rightly.
Jesus fought the right battles. He stared death in the face and overcame it. He conquered his enemies and ours. And he continues to vanquish anything else that would dare oppose him (1 Corinthians 15:20–28). He is ever victorious, always triumphant, and glorious in his strength. And he fights on our behalf, coming to our aid and triumphing over the one who would destroy our souls.
Uncover the Manhood
As we look to Jesus, we see much more than an example. He is the one who enables us to become like him because he frees us from the guilt we feel when we see how short of his perfection we have fallen. He is not only the true man. He is the only true Savior.
We were created to be true men — men of courage, industry, and goodness. That glory has been buried because of our ongoing rebellion against our Creator. Jesus offers us forgiveness and a chance to be made new. If we open ourselves to his mercy at the cross, we can begin the painful, but healing, process of letting Jesus dig through our bitterness, anger, pride, envy, and desire to control others — to uncover the true and glorious manhood that lies somewhere deep within every one of us men.