Some thoughts, today, about manhood -reflections from my own life, mainly my failures. :) There sort of stack on top of each other and all go together.
1. Mission from God
Jesus had a clear cut mission from God. He knew who He was and what He had to do. That formed as the foundation of everything else, and He referred to it over and over. He was sent. He came to die. He came to bring a sword. He came to be light. These things primarily defined Him, not anyone or anything else.
Our mission, as men, is not that totally different. We are to be witnesses of God, of grace, of truth, of righteousness, and we are to be active servants in the world. The implication is a sense of self-knowledge and conviction about who you are, and also a fair measure of faith to carry you through living it out -because it won't be easy. It wasn't for Jesus, and it won't be for us.
2. Self-Denial but not Self-Abandonment
Jesus is the epitome of humility and self-denial for the good of others, but Jesus never abandoned Himself for anyone. Here is the difference: if Jesus was to abandon Himself, all it would have taken was Peter's rebuke for Jesus to question His call to die. "Maybe you're right, Peter. I don't want people to get the wrong idea about me. Besides, I really like you guys and don't want to go through the pain of your future betrayal." That would be self-abandonment. Jesus would be abandoning the self and the mission defined in the first point. He would be betraying Himself, and in so doing, betraying everyone else.
3. An Active Stance toward Life
Falling under both of these headings is the need for a man to take an active stance toward life, including the people and problems in it. If we divorce this from the two previous headings, we wind up with a common but misguided attitude. There are lots of people who take a more active stance toward life. They are so active, so up-to-the-frontlines, that they believe it is their right to tell people exactly what they think with no apology for themselves whatsoever. They are immature and arrogant.
Jesus was not like that. His active stance toward life, informed by his serving, missional identity and his refusal to betray it, brought Him to get involved in the lives of others in a variety of ways, but all of them good. He wept with the sorrowful. He had compassion on the weak. He dealt head-on with bullies. And He did all of these in a righteous manner. He did not take a passive, woe-is-me stance toward the dysfunction of life. He faced it in its inevitability. He got involved as a compassionate beacon for grace and truth, even when it hurt. But He did so in a very humble way, not grandstanding his wisdom or authority and elevating Himself above others like we have a tendency to do.
For some people, like me, this can be the most difficult. Some of us have this engrained tendency to retreat from the world and hide. Pain can be too much. Betrayal from others has been too much. The rage toward loved ones can be buried within, leading to a kind of self-destructive imploding force within. So, we sorta just quit. But it is no solution. In many ways this kind of passive retreat only invites more destruction and pain, rather than shielding us from it. That is the cruel irony.
Notice how this works like a stack of dominoes. You need the first two to have a healthy active stance toward life/others, but if you forfeit your active stance toward life you are either betraying yourself and your mission or you already have.