Every three months, I lead a hike to the top of a nearby mountain with the men in my community. This month, I thought the routine was getting a little stale, so we picked a new route: Off trail, straight up a rock slide. Loose rock and thorns meant that the going was treacherous; a careless footfall meant that the men below would be in the path of rolling boulders. Our hands and shins were bloodied. It was not for the faint-hearted.
The theme of the day was the latin phrase, “Virile Agitur,” which means “The manly thing is being done.”
The Manly Thing had nothing to do with the climb, the physical exertion, or the heat. The purpose of the climb was to mark the day. Like Godfrey of Ibelin smacking Balian across the face to remember his oath in the movie Kingdom of Heaven, the climb was designed so that the men remembered their vow that day to Do Manly Things.
So what makes a man? It’s the question of the century. Is it when you can legally drink? Is it when you lose your virginity? When you get married? Is it when we have kids? Is it when we have a house? a successful career? It’s none of those things. We are men when we begin to act like one.
Again, that doesn’t mean that we act like chest thumping, grunting, beer chugging gorillas. It means that we commit to put away childish things, to think, act, and speak like a true man should (1 Corinthians 13:11). It means that we act with responsibility, humility, commitment, and discipline. It means that we act like true men of courage, faith, and honor.
You know, simple stuff like that.
It’s a high calling, I’ll give you that. But that is exactly what we as men are called to. We are called to be the head of our household, protector of our families, and priest of our homes.
During our trek/scramble, we listened to a podcast about King David’s Mighty Men, that talked about how the Mighty Men had to make a choice to be the courageous men that we now know them as. They started as a bunch of down-and-out loners–distressed, discontented, and in debt (1 Samuel 22:1-2). So they had to make a choice, to follow a man after God’s own heart and to Act Like Mighty Men of God.
We too can make that choice. To stop acting like children, to start acting like Men. The men around us, as well as the women, are waiting for someone to start acting like a man. They’re waiting for you.