4 Things I Learned From Reading “Growth Into Manhood: Resuming The Journey”

 

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For the past few weeks, I’ve been reading and re-reading the book “Growth Into Manhood: Resuming the Journey,” by Alan Medinger.

The reading has been both informative and challenging as it relates to Biblical Manhood. I’ve spent a lot of time reading the writings of John Eldredge, but Alam Medinger has turned out to be a good and healthy change of pace.

Medinger speaks to men who have become men physically but are still in so many ways behaving like boys. But, he also addresses men who are attempting to leave or who have left homosexuality and same-sex attraction in an attempt to embrace their God-given masculinity.

After reading the book, I’ve been able to pull 4 things from the book that has really challenged me and helped me in my own walk into Biblical Manhood:

1. “STOP Believing ‘I’m Not Like Other Guys.'”

I learned that what I needed to stop believing was that I was “other” or “different.” While yes, I was unique, as the Lord made me. But, that didn’t mean that I was not capable of becoming the man that God called me to be. And, it certainly didn’t mean that I was not like the guys.

…he felt different from other boys, and different always translated as “less than” or “inferior to.” These feelings continued through the teen years and into adulthood. Even today, in the company of other men, he feels that somehow he is not a part of their world.

Medinger, Alan. Growth into Manhood: Resuming the Journey (p. 14). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

In fact, my wife has consistently reminded me and encouraged me in more than one way, both seriously and comedically, that I’m definitely like her Father and her uncles.

I’m unique and so is my Father-In-Law and others on my wife’s side. But, like a lot of guys, I display a certain level of masculinity and even at times a kind of fun-loving and healthy “boyishness” that comes out at proper times.

But, growing up, I thought otherwise.

When I was a boy, I always felt “different.” I didn’t really care for sports and I was more interested in things like books, art and music. My personal interests and obsessions featured Meteorology and Nuclear Science.

I was often bullied and teased for the way I dressed, the way I talked and the way I acted. It also didn’t help that I was attending Special Ed courses for my less than perfect background in math and reading.

Over and over, various experiences in my boyhood kept affirming the LIE that I was “not like other guys.”

So, I isolated myself…my comic books, video games, cartoons, anime and current events and music and books kept me company.

And, I would continue stating what felt like the truth about myself:
“I don’t do what other guys do” or “that’s not my thing.” I found myself avoiding attempts at trying sports and the times I did try it wasn’t too heartfelt due to lack of self-confidence and self-esteem.

So, what would’ve and could’ve been healthy, masculine experiences with opportunities to test my manhood and grow were often missed…sometimes due to lack of mentoring and initiation. And other times due to a personal decision to avoid and keep away from the potential of feeling humiliated, embarrassed and shamed.

2. Break Down Barriers Between Yourself and Other Men.

Healthy growth into Biblical Manhood is an effort that does not occur by ones self. It is an effort that involves your daily walk in the Lord, taking in and living out the Word of God and connecting with others. In particular, other men.

Masculinity bestows masculinity, as I’ve heard others say.

 

The Lord convicted me during the reading of Medinger’s book, making me realize that I actually had a wall built up between myself and the men that I “assumed” were not like me and I not like them.

Because they did not have the same, unique, interests, or come from the same situation as I did, I felt as though I could not relate. It didn’t help either that I kept pushing the idea that I was “not like the guys.”

I prayed and broke the walls down in prayer, asking the Lord to forgive me and to help me build healthy and wholesome relationships with other men.

When those walls came falling, those emotional and mental and heart-centered and self-centered walls, I began to realize what I was missing out on in the masculine journey. In fact, I began to realize that I had just as much in common with the men at my church, the men at my job and everywhere else.

3. No Longer Live From the Place Of the Boy. Give The Lord The Boy That’s In You!

When you’re around adult men, you probably as I have before, felt really, really young. Then, the temptation comes to try and be more than who or what you really are.

You pose! You “fake it till you make it.”

This is especially true if you’re around men whom you perceive have it all together and seem to be at the pinnacle of masculinity.

And you, you feel like a little boy. For me, I felt, oh say around, 13 years old…stuck in a place of perpetual adolescence. Which made sense, because the Lord over time was showing me that that period of my life was filled with me realizing some of my gifts but not quite sure in my identity.

For a lot of men, they feel young in some place in their life…totally unprepared…unfinished…not completely mature or grown-up so to speak.

When men live in the place and space of the little boy, they never “put away childish things.” Everything is about them. It is self-preservation and selfishness and self-centeredness.

For men in this scenario, because what was supposed to be affirmed and tested in boyhood was not done so, life’s struggles cause men to fold, shutdown, give up, stay quiet, be passive and surrender.

This is where misinterpretation of life’s challenges and circumstances could take place — and confusion in boyhood comes, perhaps from mental, physical or sexual abuse or even from failures that were without mentoring or affirmation or just fear.

“…he (the boy) will soon be tested, and he will face battles and challenges as a warrior, and those tests and challenges often feel to men like a form of rejection or coldheartedness on the part of God, because he does not first know in his heart of hearts that he is…beloved.”

John Eldredge, Fathered by God, pg. 50

2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God has not given us the spirit of fear (or timidity), but of power, love and a sound mind.”

A little boy is comfortable. A little boy avoids responsibility, because responsibility can be uncomfortable. But God gives us responsibility.

Medinger, Alan. Growth into Manhood: Resuming the Journey (p. 179). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

But, what if we give the Lord the little boy in us!? What does that even look like!?

For me, it was me giving to Jesus my deepest fears, hopes, dreams, desires and hurts. It was telling him about the abuse, the bullying, the rejection and the pain behind it.

4. Devotional Time!

As much as the antidotes and stories that Medinger shared were incredibly helpful and affirming as I learn to walk out Biblical Manhood, their is one thing that Medinger said that put everything in perspective…devotional time with God in prayer and Bible study.

As much as activities for men that bond help, and, realizing the issues and wounds in your own life held you back from real faith, what helps to bring it all together and move you forward is the time you spend with God the Father and Christ Jesus.

It has been amazing how much prayer time and Bible study has really helped me. The Lord has been bringing up past wounds from my heart to heal me. He’s “restoring my soul” and giving me a “new heart.”

The Prodigal Son: The Son Who Was Lost While At Home

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The Introduction

You remember the story of the Prodigal son, right?

It is the parable in Luke 15:11-32 that Jesus told of the younger son who told his Father to give him his share of the estate. His Father does this and the young man goes off to a strange land. He squanders all he had on what is easily translated as “foolish” living.

Then, a famine hits the strange land and so decides to go get a job working for one of the citizens. It get’s so bad for the guy that he finds himself desiring to eat what the pigs are eating.

The Bible says that he “comes to his senses” (HCSB translation), returns to his Father’s home where he know he can get a real meal and work for him. He even decides that he will ask his Father for forgiveness.

His Father can see his son approaching far off and runs to his son, hugs and hisses him, and welcomes him back full of compassion and love. The young man asks for forgiveness and his Father practically throws a party for him.

Why?!

Because his son was dead but is now alive. He was lost and is now found.

THAT perspective, I have heard preached and taught for a long time, but, what about the other son? What about the oldest brother?

The Older Son

The story keeps going. It doesn’t just stop at the party. The younger brother did have an older brother. The older brother was out in the field. He approaches the house. He hears the party. He summons one of the servants and asked what the partying was about.

When he found out that his younger brother just got home and a party was being thrown for him…he got angry.

He was so angry he didn’t even go in!

Isn’t it interesting…anger can keep you from celebrating the very thing that God loves and celebrates…the return of one of His own…the saving of the lost…the living who was once dead.

His father came out and pleaded with his older son. If you read carefully you’ll catch what’s REALLY going on in the heart of the older son as he lists of the following reasons for his anger.

  • I have been slaving many years for you!
  • I have never disobeyed your orders!
  • You never gave me a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends!
  • Your son comes back…he devoured your assets with prostitutes…and then throw a party!?

But, check out His father’s reply in verse 31 and 32:

“‘Son,’ he said to him.’you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’

Lost In The House

There’s something profoundly broken in the heart of the older son. It reminds me of what I use to be as a younger Christian.

Something amazing would happen to a person or people who lived so frivously and foolishly while I worked hard to get what I have and do what I do.

Then…they return and suddenly everyone acts like the returning person hasn’t done a single thing wrong.

The older sons’ case sounds kind of like my own from years past:

  • I did all these things for you Lord…but we’re celebrating someone who sinned against you coming back!? Don’t you see me trying to bring my best work for you!? What’s up with that?
  • I’ve been pretty good here about not sinning against you and disobeying? I mean, yes, I’m imperfect but, hey, I’ve made pretty good progress.
  • I NEVER get the benefits like those other guys! I mean, a blessing here or there, but come on. Not like this party we’re doing for this thug.
  • Let’s not forget…that person returning did some pretty messed up stuff.

Do you see the indignant, self-righteous anger? His relationship with his Father was wrong. It wasn’t about how much work he did for him. It wasn’t meant for him to benefit at the end once he “DID” things. Sure, the older son may have been more mature and may have been pretty disciplined and worked for his Father.

But…did he know he was actually loved by his Father? From this perspective, it doesn’t look like love was the reason he served his Father!

In verse 29,  the tone makes it so obvious:

‘I have been slaving many years for you.’

Somewhere, deep in your own heart, you may be feeling like God let you down. Someone got that promotion. Someone got that ministry opportunity. Someone got that girlfriend/boyfriend. Someone got that opportunity and you’ve been “slaving many years” without a “goat” to celebrate with your friends.

But, the Father does something interesting. He goes out and pleads with his older son.

How often does the Lord plead with us to see thing from his perspective? How often does the Lord plead with us in truth, love, grace and mercy, to turn from our sinful ways and to seek after Him? How often does the Lord plead with us as a loving, compassionate Father who desires for us to be a part of the great celebration of the lost who is found!

From my personal experience, I realized I was lost in the house when I saw my relationship with God as a “I’ll do…so He can.”

I later realized that I couldn’t do enough for Him to do or be anything.

He already is…and His existence long pre-dates and over-rules any kind of work I could do.

When my relationship with God and Christ changed…I joined the party. When the relationship went from “doing” to “being,” the doing part followed, but it followed out of a completely different motivation.

 

Not Like The Other Guys

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Earlier this week, while reading “Fathered by God” by John Eldredge, I was moved to ask the question, “what is it that I believed for the longest time that hindered my growth of being the best man I could be?” Then, it hit me, and it was something that echoed in my heart and mind for the longest time.

“I’m not like the other guys!”

When I was a kid, I could remember sitting in the back in class, drawing and creating things on paper from imagination. I listened to music that was totally different from my classmates. They listened to a lot of rap and hip-hop while I kept secret my love for movie instrumentals, news themes, rock, Gospel and so forth. As a kid, my passion grew for writing, cartooning and even youth ministry.

During Elementary and Middle School I struggled to relate with other kids, especially with other boys. Up until High School, bullying and rejection was the norm.

I talked differently…dressed differently…acted differently…and that made me a target for ridicule and shame.

The more I continued to investigate this, I found out something fascinating about this thought…this very thing that I believed about myself for the longest time.

While it was true that I was different from other guys (because we all are individually unique) I also was being robbed of the idea that I was not able to ever connect with other guys in a healthy, holy and brotherly way. Truth is, there are men that we can connect with that have our best interests as well as men who can relate to some part of our story that we are living.

And, I can still dare to be different as I go forward in my masculine journey. The world needs different men…men who are strong…men who will stand up when it is inconvenient…men who will be warriors for a cause greater than themselves…for there families, for there jobs, for there community and for all.

The idea of “not being like the guys” was a well crafted lie wrapped in what sounded (and felt) like a horrible truth.

Truth is…I am like other guys. I like adventure. I like a good challenge. I have strength (I may not be buff, but I have strength that surpasses anything on the outside). I have courage.

I also found out that there are other young men much like myself…the geeky…the nerdy…critical thinkers…creatives…men of Faith…followers of Christ…my people! It took some time, but, I was able to connect and bond with other guys and build up a brotherhood unlike anything I ever experienced in boyhood.

My hope is that you do the same in your own journey.

Act Like A Man

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One week, it seemed like this particular message repeated itself over and over again.

And rightly so!

I was facing a situation that was peculiar and different for me. The whole thing was making me absolutely uncomfortable even to the point of feeling weird and anxious. At first, I thought about reconsidering my options and simply giving up on the endeavor.

Then, this message, “act like a man.”

Then, I started having doubts about my stage and place in life. You know, those, “am I man enough” doubts. The message repeated itself.

“Act like a man.”

The text you can find this is in 1 Corinthians 16:13 and it is translated in the Holman Christian Standard Bible as follows:

Be alert, stand firm in the faith, act like a man, be strong.

In the text, Paul is encouraging the reader to be alert, or “diligent” in the work that God has called us to, to be immovable and and firm in our Faith and to be courageous, brave, and strong.

I began to realize that this would have to be a daily occurrence.

Throughout the week, I found myself really focusing on where I have not acted like a man. While the list is not a mile long it is still enough steps from my front door to the mailbox.

And, to be honest, that’s probably every man that’s reading this.

But, the good news is, we can start right now and make the decision to choose Jesus over all of our not so manly ways.

We can daily choose to follow Jesus and choose to operate and act like men and the Lord empowers us to do so through His Word and through the Holy Spirit.