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.

Joy In God's Presence

Steve Arterburn

Do you spend time praying to God, singing praises to him, and bowing before him?

Do you feel too macho or to proud to bow or sing to God? If that’s the case then look with me at a real man in the Bible. The psalms of King David are songs that still give us direction and hope. David was a man who knew his own sinfulness yet was able to sing to God.

God wants you to know you are welcome and valued. The joy you find thinking about and experiencing God each day will help you stay tuned in to his desire for you.

Worship and prayer will remind you of how great and holy God is. You’ll gain a new appreciation for how gracious God is to forgive you and allow you into his presence.

Relinquishing the Debts Owed Us

Steve Arterburn

Do you tend to keep a mental list of all the wrongs that have been done against you’an accounting of what you think others owe you? You may feel they owe you an apology, a favor, a sum of money, or something else. If every time you’re hurt, you’re mentally adding to the ledger of debt that others owe you, I want to help you see how and why to let go and erase that ledger of debt.

Jesus told this story to address what I’m talking about: ‘A king’decided to bring his accounts up to date’In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars.’ The man begged for forgiveness. ‘Then the king was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.’ This was reported to the king. ‘Then the king called in the man he’d forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant. I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?” (Matthew 18:23-35).

When you look at the enormous moral debt God has forgiven you and the price Jesus paid for us to be forgiven, you should be compelled to forgive others. Forgiveness will free you from the torture of festering resentment. You can’t change what others have done to you, but you can write off their debts by handing the accounting process over to God.

80/20 Obedience

Steve Arterburn

One man is silent when called to speak. Another’s speech is seasoned with anger, bitterness and everything negative rather than grace.


Men, the gospel of our Lord calls each of you to a higher standard. Each of you, however, has become too highly skilled at setting aside God’s clear instructions for our lives, are choosing a path of disobedience instead.


Don’t amend God’s word with the latest trends, and don’t ignore the call of God’s Spirit to our own plans and purposes. Selective obedience isn’t true obedience. In fact, it’s a recipe for disaster. Even if you seek to follow God 80 percent of the time, the 20 percent of the time you don’t will sink you every time.


As the apostle Paul warned Timothy, many men serve their own interests by having ‘a form of godliness but denying its power.’ For instance, men know when they are sexually violating God’s will, but they continue to indulge their sin anyway. Husbands know when they’re tearing down their spouses, but they continue the verbal tirades. Fathers know when their kids are just dying for some time with Dad, but other demands always take priority.


By way of contrast, when God’s man is tempted to enter that 20% zone, he does what God would have him do’even if it’s less convenient or not as immediately gratifying. Guys, one of the great ironies of the Christian life is that freedom comes through obedience. Dare to live freely in joyful submission to your Lord today!

Get It? Good!

Steve Arterburn

When Rick Warren, my pastor, finishes making a point, he’ll often ask the congregation, ‘Get it?’

To which everyone responds, ‘Got it!’

He then punctuates his point with a hearty, ‘Good!’

The most important word picture Jesus painted of God is that of a loving Father’merciful, yet strong. That’s why God, at times, appears unconcerned with preserving our dignity or catering to our emotions. He’s in the character carving business, and if there is some discomfort along the way, then so be it.

For the man who is willing to trust God’s way and be God’s man, even when it hurts, great reward awaits. It’s important to God that we understand this part of it too. It’s like the experience of a big win in sports’a hard-fought victory that sticks with you. You’re changed by it. And the next time you’re in the heat of battle, you know what to expect. You’re better for the experience.

Throughout your life, you’ll inevitably come to forks in the road. And sometimes, one path may look easier than the other. Never make your decision based on that. In fact, when standing before that fork, it’s often the more challenging path’that is, the path that’ll test your character more’that’s the better path.

Those paths that look so daunting at the start are often the same paths we’re later glad we took. For as Romans 5:4 assures us, perseverance creates character, and character produces hope.

Get it? (pause) Good!

Integrity Equals Security

Steve Arterburn

Proverbs 10:9 contains a wonderful promise for you’a promise worthy t think on. The text reads like this: ‘The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.’


In other words, the immediate, day-to-day benefit of the man who walks with an undivided heart before God is security. 


And why wouldn’t it be? The man this text describes has undivided loyalties. His choices are clear. He has no hangovers of character to nurse. When he’s away on business, he’s the same person as when he’s at home. He’s the same guy on Friday and Saturday nights as he is on Sunday morning. He’s a father who says what he does and does what he says. He’s a husband his wife can trust, respect, and follow.


This is a man who has matured beyond the point of needing instant gratification. Imagine it! Feeling good is replaced by feeling right about yourself before God. And when you feel right about yourself, no matter what your circumstances or your mood, you are content and connected to God, your family, and your purposes as God’s man. Now that’s security without stress. That’s the blessing of walking with integrity before God.


Now let me ask you this: does that sound as good to you as it does to me? It’s God’s desire for your life, men. So let it become your desire as well. Let it become your prayer, your passion, and your pursuit.

Finding the Balance

Steve Arterburn

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” But wisdom is proved right by her actions. Matthew 11:19

Have you ever flirted with danger? Recently six officials in the White House were told by their doctors that their “stress levels were so high, they were flirting with danger unless they slowed down.” While actual people were not named, it reminded me that each of us flirts with danger at times.

Like when driving your car, you step on the gas and fly down the highway towards your next meeting risking your safety and risking that you won’t have a tire blow out, let alone see a policeman with a radar gun. Or maybe you put your money in some volatile investment, or you keep piling on the work and don’t know how to say “no”, and risk burnout.

One of the key ingredients to lowering our stress level is finding the proper balance in our life. It keeps us from flirting with danger. In the Bible, wisdom and folly are described as two different women. Folly calls out, “Let all who are simple come in here! Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious! But little do they know  that her guests are in the depths of the grave.” On the other hand, Wisdom says, “Instruct a wise man, and he will be wiser still.”

Each day, we choose whether to flirt with danger by living in an imbalanced state or to walk in wisdom. I challenge you today to think about what you are doing and to walk in wisdom.  

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony.” – Thomas Merton (1915-1968)

Helping Your Man to Communicate

Excerpted from the book The Secrets Men Keep by Steve Arterburn

When Esther started dating Robert, she felt there was
something different about him.He was
quiet and stoic, never really getting excited about too much of anything except
when it came to his favorite West Texas football team.When they were playing, he became a
different person, full of energy and expression, yelling his lungs out whether
they were winning or losing.But other
than those games, very little sound came out of Robert.

It was his lack of expression that caused his proposal for
marriage to mean so much.Robert
planned the evening out on a ski boat in the middle of a lake.He had flowers, wine, and fried chicken he’d
picked up at a local diner.After they
ate, he held her hand and said three words she’d never hear again: ‘I love
you.’Then he asked her to marry him
and she said yes.She was saying yes to
a life of quiet devotion.

Over the years that followed, Robert was faithful to Esther
and provided her with a comfortable living.
He worked hard, took her on two vacations a year, and was generous with
how much he budgeted for her clothes and other personal needs.When she was sick, he took care of her, and
when she was excited about something that happened that day, he listened
intently.But up until the day he died,
he had only said ‘ I love you’ one time’the night he asked Esther to marry him.

Esther and Robert are an extreme case of a man’s difficulty
in expressing himself’and in particular his feelings to his spouse.Their story is radical in terms of Robert
never telling his wife he loved her, but it’s not that far out when we consider
the number of men who struggle with how to communicate with women.Like Robert, many men choose to express
their feelings by working hard, remaining sexually faithful, and being a good
father and husband.And while wives
appreciate those efforts, they still long to hear their husbands verbalize not
only their love, but also what they think about and feel.Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen as much
as it should.

If you’re married to a man like Robert, what can you
do?Here are three secrets for
communicating with us guys Dr. Barbara De Angelis wrote in her New York
best seller.I’ll share my
thoughts following her main points:

  1. Men
    communicate best when they have a focus for the conversation.
    Most guys feel at ease in conversation
    when there’s a clear reason or context for the dialogue.At work, we converse to get a project
    done.At home, we talk with our
    children to help them out with a situation.Obviously, this doesn’t mean we need a clear-cut purpose
    every time we speak with others’that’s both unhealthy and absurd.Communicating is one of the fundamental
    elements of being human, and that connection with others includes simply
    shooting the breeze.Yet De
    Angelis’ point suggests that, within the context of relating to women, we
    are often at our best when the point of the conversation has been clearly

  1. Men
    internalize their thinking process and only communicate the end result.
    Women tend to think out loud by
    talking; men tend to think silently by considering.Problems arise when both sides forget
    this mode of operation.To avoid
    broken communication lines, talk with your husband.Ask him if he’d prefer a time gap
    between the presentation of a subject and the conclusion you may be
  1. Men
    don’t have access to their emotions as easily as women do.
    It’s not that we aren’t
    emotional.We just don’t wear our
    hearts on our sleeves the way most women do.Because we’re generally more logic based, we’re often slower
    to react with emotion.But don’t
    buy into the belief that you don’t truly feel something unless you express
    it outwardly.If you often thrust
    this expectation upon your husband then you need to realize that just
    because he may not show emotions the same way you do doesn’t mean he
    doesn’t care or is unimpassioned.

‘Every living person, man or
woman, is good at communicating about what’s interesting to them,’ writes
Patrick Morley.I’ve never met a man
yet who couldn’t communicate articulately, thoroughly, and for extended periods
of time that for which he possessed a passion.
Same for women.Men and women
both like to talk about what they like to talk about.If those don’t happen to be the same things at the same time
(what are the odds?), then someone has to yield.

Maybe men and women need to make
each other the focus of their interests.
If both sexes like to talk about their interests and passions, then
maybe they’d spend more time talking and listening if they were more interested
and passionate about one another.When
a wife says, ‘What do you want to talk about?’ the focus is on the wrong
objective.Communication is a
by-product of passion, something that happens without effort.

When husbands and wives purpose to
become more passionate about one another, communication will take care of

To gain a better understanding of your husband, I recommend
the book The Secrets Men Keep.
Also I strongly recommend you attend a marriage workshop or a seminar
together.A seminar can be less
intimidating than counseling and it can provide a channel for better communication
and intimacy within your marriage.Try
our Healing is a Choice Intensive.

Communicating With Women

Steve Arterburn

When Esther started dating Robert, she felt there was something different about him. He was quiet and stoic, and never got excited about too much of anything except when it came to his favorite West Texas football team. When they were playing, he became a different person, full of energy and expression. But other than those games, very little sound or passion came from Robert.


One day Robert took Esther out on a ski boat. He had flowers and wine. And after dinner he held her hand, and while processing said three words she’d never hear again, ‘I love you.’ Esther said yes to a life of quiet devotion.

Don’t get me wrong: Robert was a good man. He was faithful, hardworking, and generous with his wife. He cared for her when she was sick and listened intently when she told him of things that happened to her. But until the day he died, he’d only said, ‘I love you’ one time’the night he proposed to her.

Robert’s an extreme case of a man’s difficulty in expressing himself. But Esther and Robert’s story isn’t that far out when we consider the number of men who struggle to communicate with the women in their lives.

Do you choose to express you feelings by working hard, remaining faithful, and being a good father and husband? Your wife may appreciate these efforts. But remember: she still longs to hear you verbalize not only your love but also what you think about and feel.

Help Him Be That Man

Steve Arterburn



A man once said to D. L. Moody, ‘The world hasn’t yet seen what God can do with a man fully devoted to Him.’ Moody responded, ‘I’m that man!’ One of the differences between Moody’s generation and young men today is that sexual temptations are much more intense now than they were then.

Dads, what if your son were kept free from this draining struggle in the first place? What if his spiritual energy could be spent on God’s call and His Kingdom?

It can be done. Our generation hasn’t seen what God can do with an army of young men free from the burden of sexual temptation and sin. Have you worked hard enough to keep your son pure so that he might qualify for such an army in such a time as this? Can you yourself answer as D. L. Moody did when he said, ‘I’m that man!’

When your son questions what he should watch, how he should respond to the pornography surrounding him, and why he shouldn’t accept the opportunities he’ll have to experiment sexually during his teenage years, will you be there to give him the guidance he desperately needs? It won’t come from his classmates!

Dad, make your voice loud and crystal clear because it’ll likely be the only one which says, ‘Flee immorality, my son.’ And make sure your example matches your message. Stand in the gap, and help your son be God’s man.