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.

Working Toward A Career

Steve Arterburn

More and more women are now working outside the home. Therefore, a growing number of men are being called upon to help their wives prepare for and manage this aspect of her role. This, of course, constitutes an important area where husbands must learn to think and act sacrificially for the good of their marriages and families.

Listen to this testimony by Joanne, a wife and mother in her third year of graduate school: ‘I couldn’t succeed in this challenge if it weren’t for my husband’s constant support when I’m in class and when I have to barricade myself in my room to do homework. He feeds the kids, helps with their homework, and runs them where they need to go. I can’t explain the relief I feel when I know he’s stepping in’He never ever pouts or acts put out that he has to do more. I feel so responsible for my family that if he did these things for me grudgingly, I would feel defeated very quickly. Because he helps me with a cheerful attitude, I feel a lightness inside that help me get through the day.’

Joanne’s husband is a wise leader. They’ve made a decision that, in their particular situation, her return to school is in the best interest of their family. And this decision requires him to think and act sacrificially. He knows his family’s needs, and his wife’s insecurities, and tends to them accordingly. That’s a real man.