So I’ve been meditating on what it means to be a man. I tend to agree with William Bennet, in saying that today’s culture is agnostic about what it expects men to be. We don’t have a clearly defined definition of ‘what makes a man.’ So for the next few posts I’m going to offer a few personal reflections on what it means to be a man. I’ve read almost every book out there on manhood and I probably don’t have anything new to say. So here’s the first thing of what it means to be a man:
Men were created to explore. In Genesis 1, when God created man, “You may freely eat of any tree in the garden.” God’s first command to the man he had made was to eat freely. Whenever I read this I always wonder how many trees there were in the Garden, how large the garden was, and what this might have meant to Adam. If it meant anything, I think it meant that God wanted him to explore. Certainly there was a vast variety of fruits that he could have eaten. So, at the very outset of the creation story, we find a man exploring looking for food. How fitting! Whenever I have a late night craving for food, I get in my car and go driving looking for someplace that is open. Late night exploring for food. It is fascinating to me that the first command in the Bible is to explore and freely eat.
Men were created to explore, to discover, and to embark. We were wired for risk, excitement, new discoveries, and ruggedness. There is something innate in all men, everywhere, that desires to be journeying or questing to discover something. Risk is written on the soul of all men. To the extent that a man is not risking is the extent that he is not being a man. We were designed for enterprise…to boldly go where no one has gone before… that’s part of what it means to be a man.
The reason we were designed for enterprise, is that within the heart of every man is a desire, a longing, even a hunger to be a part of a cause. Sure, relationships are always important because ‘it is not good for a man to be alone,’ but written into the nature of masculinity is the desire to have something to live for. It is the cause that compels a man. At the core of this, in practical language, is that which is innate in us as men, to want something.
Desire is core to masculinity. Wanting something. Pursuing something. Chasing something. Working towards something … even if that something is an unknown new discovery, it is the journey that infuses our lives with meaning.
I think it is difficult for women to understand something… that if a man is not being driven or possessed by an all-consuming, over-arching adventure or cause, there is something in him that will forever feel incomplete.
We must explore. We must pursue. We must conquer. We must have our strength tested. It is what compels us.
We are enterprisers.