“And He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…” – Ephesians 4:11-13
One of the greatest spiritual problems of our age is the crisis of manhood. The Church must answer the questions the world is asking: What does it mean to be a man? Is it merely anatomy or a set of behaviors? Is there such a thing as “manhood”? Is manhood good? Does it matter? Is there some kind of standard of manhood, and why should anyone care if men don’t measure up?
The Church must answer. And the Church has THE answer. We know what it is to be a true man from the One who made man and became the true Man: Jesus Christ. He's the only answer to the overwhelming confusion of manhood in this age, the only One who can make us men right and whole, true and good.
Now I’m talking directly to you, fellas. The first step in addressing this problem in our culture is to start with ourselves: we must realize and admit that we are not the men we should be. None of us really are. That's why we all keep working at becoming better men. And we must admit that we lack the strength and tools to make this happen ourselves.
The only true and good man that ever walked this broken earth is Jesus. So we men look to Him to learn what it is to love, what it is to be weak, to be strong, to be true and good. We sit at His feet and listen. We learn from our master how to be men. More often than not, it's much different than we would expect it to be, but it always ends up being right and being deeper than we imagined.
And Jesus is more than just a man. He's also God Himself. So as you listen to Him, as His words get into you, you don't just learn. You are changed. He works on you, works in you, to make you more like man was always supposed to be, the true and good man you will become because of Him.
This isn't a 10-step program or helpful advice or a set of lifehacks. This is a new life. A life of constant learning and setbacks and growth. But through all the struggles, through all the failures, through all the guilt and shame and everything else, God never gives up on you. Because that's who He is. He's already given everything you need for this, before we even asked. That's how He loves you: unconditionally.
He's even already set up for you a place to hear and learn and train and be changed in all of this: the Church. There you'll hear that life-changing Word in the company of other men just like you--men struggling with their past and present, working to be better men, and knowing they can't do it themselves. That's why they come. They become your brothers-in-arms.
Brothers, join me in praying for the men of our world, that our Father bring them to the Truth (John 6:65) and make them true men. Pray that our brother, the Christ, equip us with His Sword—the Word (Eph. 6:17)—and send us to speak the Truth to them. Pray that the Spirit of power (2 Tim. 1:7) give us strength to fight against the old Adam within each of us that shrinks from the great task and mantle of manhood.
Know that God always answers these kind of prayers by giving us Himself. Come to the place where He is present and active to do so; come to the Divine Service. Gather within the Church. It’s the place all true men belong. Within the fortress of the Church we become true men. Within the Church we train under the tutelage of the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers. And from the Church we men march forth to do and defend good in this broken world, with our captain, the Christ, leading the charge.
Arise, true men of God. The world needs you.