Defining Manhood

Steve Arterburn

Tony’s father died when he was a young boy. The event devastated him, and he plummeted into a yearlong depression. He eventually pushed the depression aside, however, through his achievements. He poured himself into his schoolwork and athletics, and excelled in both. He went on to college and into business knowing nothing but success because of his commitment to hard work and achievement.

As a young man, Tony, somewhere deep inside him, asked himself, Am I a man? But he couldn’t come up with an answer. His father, the main man in his life, was dead. Young Tony didn’t know by example what a real man was. The question persisted: Am I a man? Without the example and instruction of his father, Tony saw the achievement-oriented men in his culture and deduced that a real man was someone who worked hard, earned lots of money, and climbed the ladder of success. Any threat to his achievement, therefore, was a threat to his manhood, and that kept him perpetually angry.

In his ignorance, Tony wrongly defined manhood as something he did, not something he was. Are you like Tony? Maybe you’re like many men who were abandoned physically or emotionally by their fathers. If your definition of masculinity is linked to doing something there’s a good chance you often don’t feel like a man. And if you’re a dad, I encourage you to reflect on what message your sending your kids on what it means to be a man.

Confronting Wrong

Steve Arterburn

God has given us the responsibility to honestly confront those who do wrong. For most of us, confrontation is a difficult task. For a few, it’s much too easy. I hope you don’t delight in finding fault in others. If you do, stop and consider if you do this as a way of overlooking your own faults.

I think God wants us to help others see the truth. You can hold up a mirror to your good friends, and they hopefully will do the same for you.

Help others see their faults but do it with great humility. You’re not responsible for the behavior of others, but you are responsible to gently and tactfully point out areas of misbehavior that may cause them to stumble, fall, or lose their way.

Are you avoiding some tough conversations? If you have kids, are you confronting them’and when you do, are you doing it with gentleness and humility? Check yourself. Is your tone respectful? Is your word choice uplifting or condescending? God calls you to show courage by addressing wrong, but remember the goal is always to see the other person restored, not belittled. Help that person turn back to God.

Two Changed Men

Steve Arterburn

What words would your friends or family use to describe you? Jesus referred to two brothers’James and John’as Sons of Thunder. Why? We’re given a glimpse of their fiery personalities in the Bible. After some people rejected them, James and John asked Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven to consume the village. Jesus rebuked them for their impulse to retaliate.

Yet that’s not the end of their story. Jesus worked in these brothers’ lives so that they became known for love and forgiveness.

Though the two brothers had once been ambitious for their own personal gain, they became ambitious to share God’s love with others. The brothers discovered that when you understand and experience God’s love, you are free to live and grow. And as you grow and share with others, you be used by God to touch the lives of many in need of God’s healing help.

Can you relate to the anger and selfish ambition of these men? If so, be encouraged by God’s work in their lives. He wants to do the same in you!