There are a lot of mixed messages out there as to what the image of a man should be. Between what other men expect of their fellow man, and what women expect of the male species...there is today – more than ever before – quite a bit of confusion, misdirection and downright bad advice handed out to males seeking to improve themselves and their interactions with both genders.
So today, with the help of a fantastic list of 21 Laws of Manliness from Chad Howes' blog , and the life of arguably one of the most manly men of all time – we're going to walk through a universally applicable list of what a man should really look like in a society that – by and large – seems to glorify all the wrong stuff.
This leader of Israel in the Old Testament achieved too many man points for us to even count, both in the eyes of his people - the Israelites and more importantly in the sight of God. How did he do that?
In short, he followed the call of God on his life to 'be strong and courageous' and lead God's people into the land that God had promised them...even when it meant winning battle after impossible battle. Just take a casual read through the book of Joshua in the Bible, and you'll find some incredible stories of daring heroism and courageous leadership. Why am I using such a beast as a benchmark for manliness?
Because while we as men may no longer need to slaughter Canaanites to follow God's calling and protect our loved ones, there are still many principles that we can apply to our own 9-5, coffee-drinking, Prius-driving, skinny-jeaned, music-loving, romcom watching lives. So in today's post, I'm going to look at the first 9 laws of Manliness while looking at Joshua's life for a practical example. We'll continue discussing the remaining laws in the next month's post.
The first 8 of 21 Laws of Manliness (slightly adapted from the original)
1. A man must be self-reliant
Not self-reliant as in, 'No one needs to know what's going on inside or around me', but in a sense that we, as men, are not entitled to anything. We can't blame others (our support groups or the system) for our lack of motivation, achievement or inspiration. Joshua sought God for clear directions in conquering the Promised Land and then confirmed his plans with his support group – not the other way around. We as men need to be a support for others – so work at establishing your relationship with God, your knowledge of His Word, and your ability to relate well to others so that you can be a strong and courageous support for others – not constantly seeking validation and support from others.
2. Understand the hard work that success, even happiness, requires of you.
Forget the notion of instant gratification. I know it's advertised everywhere nowadays, but know that any genuine sense of success and happiness requires a lot of effort. Joshua had to defeat the armies of 31 kings before he could sit back and enjoy the satisfaction of finally occupying the land God had promised the Israelites. This principle has application across the board, in our jobs, in our family lives, in our purity, and in our studies. Anything worth having is worth working for, so don't let the lie of instant gratification get the better of you.
3. Forge your own path. Step into the arena. Don't be the coward who lives a small life.
Being a true man in God's sight means single-handedly pursuing God's plan and purpose for your own life, not simply following in whatever path seems most accessible or reasonable. Even if it means confronting your biggest fears and insecurities – God has a plan for your life and your job is to follow it. Joshua discovered his, and stuck to it. 'Lead my people into the Promised Land!' No easy task...but he got that stuff done.
4. Practice self-denial
Again, instant gratification must die. Replace the things or habits hindering your personal and spiritual growth with new habits that help you to grow. Joshua knew that there was absolutely no room in his life for foreign gods or idols (Joshua 24 verse 23) as it would jeopardize his whole mission...so let's do a stocktake, and deny ourselves of any idols that may be hindering our own lives.
5. Don't be afraid to stand alone on your principles and values.
The weak need numbers because they have none.
Joshua and Caleb vs. the ten other spies...enough said.
6. Fight. Even though you know you may lose, fight.
A coward will throw someone else under the bus to clean up his mess. That isn't you.
Joshua was told time after time to be strong and courageous. A fight requires both in no small amount. You need to be prepared to defend yourself, your honour, your values, your loved ones and your own soul. Jesus has already won the war, but there are plenty of battles to be fought on this side of eternity.
7. Accept responsibility for your actions.
Go out of the way to take the blame. A coward rarely sees his own faults, and blames others for his lack of success. Joshua had to accept defeat in battle because of Israel's sin (Joshua 7 verse 11). Joshua had to accept the responsibility of dealing with issue at hand before risking another defeat at the hands of their enemies.
8. Don't be afraid to fail. Be far more afraid of never trying.
A coward fears everything, and does nothing. Even when God told Joshua to walk around a wall until they fell down, Joshua led hundreds of men into what could be considered the most laughable strategy this world has ever seen. This sort of courage takes all kinds of trust and not to mention guts.
That will do us for this month, but stay tuned because I have a few thoughts about the remaining Laws of Manliness and the kind of application they should be having on our lives.
Blaine Packer is a graduate of Worldview Centre for Intercultural Studies who is passionate about media and mission. Currently residing in Launceston, Tasmania, Blaine is involved in both media and local ministry work at Door of Hope Christian Church.
Blaine Packer's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/blaine-packer.html