What does it mean to be a man?
In many ways, the question gets at what it means to be human - a question that philosophers and religious thinkers alike have tried to answer.
This is not a discussion of gender identity. We are not asking what it means to be a man biologically speaking. What we are really asking here is “What does it mean to be a good man?”
The list below is by no means meant to be exhaustive, but only a starting point for discussion. This is a list of advice that we have shared with our boys over the years at their Rite of Passage weekends:
A good man maintains a close relationship with God, because life is best lived when you are in touch with your Creator.
A good man treats women with respect, including not looking at pornography.
A good man admits when he is wrong and tries to make things right when possible.
A good man apologizes, because everybody makes mistakes.
A good man thinks BIG and avoids Chicken Little syndrome.
A good man seeks help when he needs it, especially if that means fighting a bad habit or addiction.
A good man knows his limits.
A good man is honest.
A good man is not afraid to open up or to be in touch with his emotions. Showing emotion allows other people to open up, too.
A good man knows how to share but does not overshare.
A good man reads books, because reading opens the mind.
A good man writes letters, because a good letter can bring a lifetime of joy.
A good man limits his time watching TV, playing video games, or spent on the internet, because real life cannot be experienced on a screen.
A good man is reflective and thinks about deep things.
A good man does not give up easily. He is not a pushover.
A good man does not lose his childhood spirit. He does not allow himself to become battle-hardened and calloused, weary, emotionally distant, or jaded with life.
A good man has a positive attitude and welcomes others with a smile. Attitude is a choice.
A good man takes care of himself so he can take care of others. This includes his mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
A good man is not afraid to fail, because the only real failure is not trying at all.
A good man knows how to manage his fear.
A good man knows how to manage his anger.
A good man is kind and gentle to the poor and the outcast of society.
A good man responds appropriately to injustice.
A good man is open to life and is not afraid of children but instead sees them as a gift.
A good man maintains a relationship with his mother and father even when he disagrees with them, because he respects his parents and is grateful for their sacrifices.
Becoming a man is a process and does not happen overnight. It is one thing to know these concepts intellectually, but it takes a lifetime to learn how to practice them in your day-to-day life. “Growing up” does not happen in a weekend. It takes a lifetime.
Do you have a son or grandson about to turn thirteen? Are you looking to do something memorable for this birthday, to mark his entrance into manhood in a special way? Check out our new book Milestone to Manhood on Amazon here.