Friday, 27 May 2011

The Mark of a True Man

Rev Al Stewart wrote an excellent short piece titled 'The Making of a Man' in the May 2011 edition of the Christian newspaper 'Eternity'. In it he quoted Steve Biddulph who is the author of a number of books that deal with men and boys, including 'The New Manhood'. When asked what is the difference between a man and a boy Biddulph replied this way:

"Boys care about themselves, men care about other people"

Like Al Stewart, I think this is a key insight, for it is an important part of what it means to be a man in the varied roles we serve as husbands, fathers, leaders, bosses, brothers, mates and so on. God has made men different to women, not just in terms of physical strength and appearance, but also in the way we complement women. He has also given us special and distinct roles within the family and marriage.

When I last made reference to Steve Biddulph in a post I titled 'Other People's Children' (here), I spoke of the influence of just 'a few decent men' on my life - a 4th Grade teacher, a neighbour, and the owner of a pinball and slot car shop. None of these men were Christians, but all provided good models in varied life roles including husband, neighbour, teacher, mentor, business owner, father and husband. All had a significant influence on me and God used this for my 'good'.

Al Stewart suggests that we should recalibrate what we consider impressive in a man. "The mark of a man is the care he shows for others".  And he's right! This is an important part of male character. Those who know God must seek to honour him in all they do. We respond to his grace, love and the mercy shown to us in Christ, and in turn serve, protect, represent, guide, help and lead others. There are many other human virtues, but surely servanthood is a very important one and the ultimate model of servanthood will always be Christ.

There seems to be much confusion about the making of a man. How do we judge the worth of men? Women, what do you look for in a man? Men, what do you see as important in other men at work, at home, in the community, in relationships? Think of the imperfect men who have had a positive impact on us and contemplate why? Al Stewart is right, we do need to think in new ways about what makes a true man.

Other posts and articles from CASE on fathers and families

1. An article I wrote on 'The role of fathers' in Case 12 (here).
2. How time spent with children matters (here).
3. The impact of the loss of time spent sharing meals (here), and the role of fathers more generally (here).
4. The shared responsibility we have with communities for other people's children (here) and in the church (here).
5. A number of more practical posts about fathers on my other blog 'Literacy, families and learning' (here).
6. Apologetics in Family Life (here)
7. 'Marked by my Dad' (here)


Timaahy said...

Hi Trevor,

Biddulp says that "Boys care about themselves, men care about other people". Is this also the defining difference between girls and women?

If so, should we not just say that it is the difference between children and adults?

And if not, what is the defining difference between girls and women?


Trevor Cairney said...

Not sure Tim. I don't think he addresses this question in the book. To some extent it's probably the case that as we all grow older (boys and girls) that we begin to be able to think beyond self need. What research seems to suggest is that boys take longer to learn how to serve others and begin to lead lives that are more other-centred.