A Return to Biblical Manhood

by Michael Hollister
Recently, the men of The Well completed a 6-week study on Biblical Manhood led by Pastor Matt Patrick. The study focused on who God calls us to be as men in accordance with His design and followed 33: The Series curriculum.

“Manhood”? Give me a break.

That’s not an uncommon reaction. So let’s get real…

Why did The Well believe a study on manhood was necessary? How did the study address the subject matter? And what was the result of the study?

To start, consider this: What is your actual, visceral reaction to the word “Manhood?”

Do you think it’s cheesy to consider? Do you feel resentment? What about anger? Or confusion?
Perhaps it evokes the painful memory of a male figure who was aggressive, cold, authoritative, or manipulative. Perhaps it evokes memories of being bullied. Or shameful feelings of inadequacy. Maybe you never had a male mentor affirm you as a man. Maybe you’re confused as to what it looks like to be a good man. Should you be more or less assertive? Should you be more or less compassionate? Is it okay not to like football? These negative feelings and connotations attached to “manhood” are common. And this is exactly why The Well hosted this study.

Why Manhood Matters

As Christians, we believe that God created everything intentionally, and that every piece of creation has specific roles to play for His glory. Therefore, men have certain roles to play. These roles exist in accordance with God’s design, and in alignment with His perfect character. They are crucial to human happiness and flourishing on earth. The collective roles and responsibilities of man can be considered “Biblical” or “Authentic” Manhood. When we stray from God’s guidance and order, disorder logically follows.

The Current Manhood Crisis

We began the study by recognizing that Authentic Manhood is in a state of crisis. Men are lost.
They are drifting and confused. They are dissatisfied with life. Passionless. Going through the motions. They are in pain. The results of this state of confusion are devastating.

Confused and visionless men resort to childish and destructive behavior. They resort to distractions and ways to escape reality. Lost and drifting men commit crimes. They manipulate. They destroy families. They destroy communities. This has resulted in massive disorder and pain in our world. Whereas men are meant to lead and bring order, flourishing, and beauty into the earth, instead many are acting like children and destroying instead of creating.

How Did We Get Here?

So why is manhood in such a state? Simply, we have strayed from God’s guidance. Just as C.S. Lewis observed that “God designed the human machine to run on Himself,” it follows that men are designed to “run on” God. He provides the guidance on how to live out our roles as men. Instead, we’ve been insisting on doing things on our own, as if the painting knows its purpose better than the painter himself. Simply put, inward focus has left us confused rather than fulfilled.

Coming Back Home

The purpose of our study was to answer the question “How do we come back home?” To do this, we created a roadmap. And we created an action plan to get us there. In this case, our destination was and is a RETURN to Authentic Manhood: the original design of man before The Fall. Our endpoint is found in Genesis, in God’s commands to Adam, which defined his roles as a man.

Adam was commanded to Create Beauty and to Cultivate Flourishing in the world. To do this, he was also called to Reject Passivity, Accept Responsibility, Lead Courageously, and Invest Eternally.

However, Adam failed to carry out his role. And we, like Adam, are fallen. So HOW do we return to a state of authentic manhood?

We need an example to look to: the only perfect man to have ever lived, Jesus. By examining Jesus’ character traits and behaviors, we can model how to be a true man in every sense of the word. Through the study, we began to see a roadmap for our own journeys. We began to understand our design as men, the different faces we are called to wear throughout life (in accordance with God’ character), and how the different seasons of our life call us to different roles. And we had a standard bearer by which to model our actions in these now-clearly-defined roles.

The Result

This brings us to the final question: WHAT was the result of the study?

We began strategizing individual action plans for becoming more authentic men. As a result, we catalyzed transformation that will bring about more powerful leadership and influence at home, at church, at work, and at play.

Additionally, we forged deeper, more authentic relationships with the members of our Dig groups. We now have deeper intimacy in our groups, and a framework for more directed and productive discussion in our weekly meetings and conversations moving forward.

Personally, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to address these issues head on. I am grateful for a community of men who, for their love of spreading the Gospel and making Disciples, are willing to confront important issues without judgment and engage life authentically.