Most people wouldn’t call me a man.
I’m about to be nineteen, so the government sure seems to think I’m man enough to vote or join the military. I also pay taxes, and though I usually choose not to, I have to shave my face or else a poor excuse for a beard shows up on my neck. Still, though, most people wouldn’t call me a man.
Lately, I’ve been asking myself: Am I that much different than other men? How many of the supposed “men” sitting in pews week in and week out could still be called a man when we hold their manhood against biblical standards?
Not many. Instead, we often take boys and put them in the shoes of leaders, fathers, and pastors, dressing them up as the men that they aren’t. Most people, both inside and outside the church, make the assumption that by advancing in your career, getting a house of your own, or growing a beard (unlike mine) you have become a man.
While I can’t speak from experience, I can speak based on the authority of Scripture. I can’t tell you how it feels to work a nine-to-five or be a father of two, but I can tell you what God is revealing through His Word as He prepares me for all of those things in the ever-nearing future.
Here are four biblically rooted pieces of advice for young men that God has been showing me lately:
1. Go Get a Job.
In Genesis 2:15, we see the first thing that God does with man. God takes him, puts him in the
Garden of Eden, and then commands him “to work it and keep it.” Men were made to work hard. It’s important to note that this command was handed down to Adam before Eve was even brought into existence. God didn’t create Adam and Eve and then say, “Hey chief, you’ve got to look out for her now!” No, man was working the Garden before he even had anyone to support him. Go out and get a job. It doesn’t have to be your career or a lifelong vocation, but you need to be learning how to manage money well and be a good steward of what God has given you.
2. Go Pursue a Wife.
Quit being complacent about finding somebody. Looking again to Genesis 2, God states what moms have been saying for years: “It is not good that the man should be alone” (v. 18). It’s essential for a man to find a wife. Matt Chandler, in a recent sermon, discussed the dangers of a bored man—I think the same principles apply to a single man. The longer you wait to look for your wife, the longer you’re subjecting yourself to, “sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:5). While these are certainly strong words from Paul, I think most young men would agree about how easy it is to let these sins slip into our lives. Singleness can be a means of service for God, but when we abuse it, it becomes a bigger hindrance than helper.
3. Go Find a Mentor.
I know some of these goals are out of your hands. You can’t force a company to hire you, and you definitely can’t make a girl want to date you, or let alone marry you. These are pretty major life steps, and it wouldn’t be fair to expect them to happen instantly. That’s why I think Scripture recommends getting a mentor, specifically some kind of faithful man older than you who will demonstrate what a biblical man looks like (Ps. 145:4; Titus 2). My mentor is a local pastor who has consistently been a part of my small group, answered any questions I have had about life or faith, and made time for me if I needed advice from someone who has been there. By having an older, more experienced man (by the biblical definition) invest into my life, I have grown in my walk with Christ. Mentorship is like spiritual fertilizer; the rich nutrients of your mentor’s advice and experience better helps the Word soak into the soil of your life.
4. Go Get in the Word.
A man of weak faith is not a man at all. How childish would it be to hold in your hands the very words of the Living God and approach them flippantly? To be a man is not to check off a list of do’s or don’t’s; instead, being a man is about cultivating a life of fruitful laboring for God, physically, emotionally, and faithfully. Want to hear practical advice for men from Scripture? Read Proverbs. Want to learn how to love your (future) wife? Read Song of Solomon. Want to learn how to create a life marked by spiritual disciplines? Read through the Psalms and put yourself in the shoes of the speaker or psalmist. We have no spiritual equation for manhood, but we do have the Word, which is enough to guide us, train us, and sustain us in our journey together as men.
Bio: Cody Glen Barnhart (@glenchovies) is currently a student at Whitefield College and plans on attending The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He lives in Maryville, Tennessee. You can read his blog at www.counterculturing.com.
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