“Just be a man.” // “Man up.” // “Grow a pair.”
Our culture has lots of messages about what it means to be a man, both inside and outside the Church.
For forty years the Marlboro Man made men of all backgrounds want to take up farming and convinced them emphysema wasn’t nearly as important as being manly. (This man pictured, Eric Lawson, was the 5th Marlboro Man to die of smoking-related illness).
The Metrosexual Man
More recently advertising companies hammered home the message of the “metrosexual” man. This man was not too insecure to wax his eyebrows, dye his hair, and get a spray tan. He might not be able to bench 250 lbs. but he can discuss fashion and shopping with the best of them.
The Lumbersexual Man
Lately the message has swung to the other end of the spectrum. The “lumbersexual” man is much different than his metrosexual predecessor. He has bigger muscles and a full beard. He wears flannel but it’s never wrinkled. His beard might look ragged but his hair never does. He’s the guy who cuts a steak not with the knife provided by the restaurant but with his own he whips out of his pocket like it’s the most normal thing in the world.
And that’s just the message(s) to men outside the church. Inside it can get just as muddled.
Just on my shelf alone are books like:
- Manhood Restored
- The Dude’s Guide to Manhood
- Act Like Men
- The Heroic Path: In Search of the Masculine Heart
- Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul
- Recovering Biblical Manhood
All of these books are written by godly men and most are pastors. Some of the books are better than others but just judging from these books (and there are many more), manhood is something that needs to be restored, searched for, discovered and recovered. Clear as mud?
5 Marks of a Godly Man, John 3:22-30
To discover/recover/restore what it means to be a godly man, we can look to a very peculiar man from the Scriptures, John the Baptist.
1. Godly men are leaders who serve. (v.22-23)
John is at a crossroads. He has a group of followers because people tend to follow godly men. His crew sees Jesus and his crew baptizing people just like John. John is not sure of much but he knows who Jesus is. Yet none of that leads to him deciding to stop being a leader who serves. John keeps leading, keep baptizing, because that’s what he’s supposed to do.
Sometimes men think they have to choose between leading and serving. The Bible shows us that the only way to actually lead is by serving. The two are inseparable.
2. Godly men know all they have comes from God. (v. 27)
John was not caught up in the illusion of ownership. He knows what godly men know, that the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. We might feel like we earn what we have because we worked hard for it and to some extent that’s true but at the end of the day, God holds your life and mine like a blank check. Whatever God asks of us is simply asking for what is already his.
Time, money, emotions – they all belong to God.
3. Godly men know what they’re not. (v.28)
John reminds his followers quite simply, “I am not the Christ.”
Godly men follow suit. They do not take credit for what’s not theirs. They do not pretend to be someone they’re not. Instead, they consistently seek to encourage and recognize others when they succeed instead of squash their success or take credit for it themselves.
4. Godly men have real joy. (v.29)
This might be the hardest one for most men I know. Many of us, myself included, had great men in our life who worked incredibly hard. The definition of manhood many of us received growing up was, “Work hard. Provide. Be faithful. Don’t show emotion.”
A lot of good will come from living a life like that. Yet John says his JOY has been made COMPLETE from pointing out Jesus to his friends. Joy leaves no room for eternal stoicism. Godly men aren’t afraid to be joyful because they cannot think of anything greater than pointing their wives, kids, friends, enemies, co-workers, etc. to Jesus.
5. Godly men decrease so Jesus will increase. (v. 30)
You ever heard a fisherman elaborate a story? All kinds of men are tempted in similar ways all day long. Godly men have no interest in puffing themselves up not only because they are keenly aware of their own flaws but because they are also keenly aware how Jesus has zero flaws.
Godly men don’t know everything, but they know they want to spend their lives making much of Jesus because they would make poor Saviors themselves.