In the introduction to Eric Metaxas’s book 7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness, Metaxas wrestles with the ideas surrounding manhood, ultimately arising from the question, “What makes a man great?”
What does it mean to be strong?
Today, we live in a culture that has redefined these terms to mean something completely different from God’s meaning of those terms. There are two false prevailing notions in culture about what manhood is. Metaxas describes them as the idea of being “macho,” and the idea of being “emasculated.” I call them the bully and the wimp. Interestingly, both stem from misconstrued ideas of strength.
The bully feels insecure about his manhood and so abuses his strength to dominate and sometimes hurt others in order to prove to himself or others that he is strong. The wimp, on the other hand, has either been the victim of abused strength and so rejects strength altogether or feels inadequate about his own strength and chooses to reject it or live in a worldview where strength doesn’t matter. Of course, the bully and the wimp are both wrong definitions of what it means to be a man. So let’s discuss how strength should be understood in this context.
Strength is meant to be a blessing
God gave men a strength that he did not give to women. (This is not a denigrating or disparaging statement about women. God gave women strengths He did not give to men and expresses some of His attributes through women in ways that aren’t seen as clearly in men. God created male and female in His image, and we should celebrate those things that are different between us.) The strength He gives to men is demonstrated physically, as well as in leadership. This strength is given as a blessing for everyone.
What we see in Scripture is that when God blesses someone, He wants them to use that blessing in order to bless others. Genesis 12:2 is a perfect example where God tells Abraham, “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. ” So how is the strength God gives to men meant to be used as a blessing? The physical strength of men should be used to protect and love those who aren’t as strong (women and children). The leadership strength of men should be used to lead people to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves (See Matthew 22:36-40).
What makes a man great?
So what makes a man great? When Metaxas was selecting the people to put in his book, he writes that he was looking for one particular quality: “that of surrendering themselves to a higher purpose, of giving something away that they might have kept.” In a word – sacrifice. A great man lives for others rather than himself. He uses his strength to love, protect, and live sacrificially, and leads those around him to love God and to love others.
This is a repost from my old blog. It was originally posted on 3/13/14