The path from boyhood to manhood is confusing in the modern world. Here are 3 pieces of advice for your journey.
”When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.1 Corinthians 13:11
The journey into manhood is not as clear as it used to be.
In many ways, our cultural reexamination of manhood has been a huge leap forward (encouraging men to explore and express their emotions) while other aspects of the modern man have been a step backward (Are we really prepared to say there are no significant differences between men and women?). The old archetype of manhood had its own faults (the John Wayne vision).
Though the old path into manhood had its problems, it did offer one thing we are now missing: clear guidance from older men.
”Though the old path into manhood had its problems, it did offer one thing we are now missing: clear guidance from older men.
If I could go back in time and say a few things to the twenty-something version of myself, I would first tell him not to get that terrible haircut with the blonde tips. You look like an idiot. After that, I would tell him three other things and ask him three questions:
Sometimes pleasing God means disappointing your parents.
Your mother and father have likely provided for you and sacrificed for you in ways that no other human being ever will. That being said, they are not God. And “Honor thy father and mother” means something very different as a twenty-something than it did when you were a child or a teenager. For you as an adult, it no longer means adhering to each of their wishes.
”'Honor thy father and mother' means something very different as a twenty-something than it did when you were a child or a teenager.
I’m not suggesting you disregard their counsel or flatly reject their desires for your life (especially if they are wise), but even Jesus sometimes had to make a choice about whether he was going to follow his family’s wishes or God’s (Matt. 12:46-50). In a Middle-Eastern, family-is-your-identity culture like Jesus’, this was a radical declaration of how God has reshaped who our family is and what it means to trust God as our Father.
Even if you have the best parents in the world, at some point in every young adult’s life, a specific situation will arise in which you will have to choose between following what you believe God is calling you to do or following what your parents are calling you to do. Are you more preoccupied with your parent’s agenda for your life than God’s agenda for the world?
Your primary goal is to know Christ, not to achieve career goals.
The early church was built on the faithfulness of men who were willing to abandon their careers to follow Jesus. It is a good thing if you have a vision for the type of family life or type of career you want but these goals cannot become ultimate and inflexible.
God often derails our plans and goals for our own benefit. Look at Moses, Jonah and Paul. All three men had clear plans that God interrupted. And they were all better men because of it.
”If our career ambitions leave us unwilling to be a part of God's mission and the needs of people in the world who are suffering, we might need to back up and reconsider our plans.
To know Christ IS to live. Career goals can be a part of your life with Christ but they can become harmful when they become too important. If our career ambitions leave us unwilling to be a part of God’s mission and the needs of people in the world who are suffering, we might need to back up and reconsider our plans. Are you willing to let God interrupt your life and career plans?
The world needs you to leave boyhood behind and live as a man.
When I was 21, I still hadn’t truly settled my inner-angst regarding my manhood. I was far more comfortable staying up late playing video games or looking at p*rn online than I was with fulfilling my responsibilities or loving a real woman. I couldn’t find an answer to the question, “Am I a man?” so I filled my time with escapism.
One day, I finally had an older man in my life sit me down, light a cigar, pray with me and then look me in the eye. His words were clear, loving and simple, “As of today, you are a man.” Having an older mentor declare me a man didn’t alleviate all of my masculine insecurities but it did rouse me into action and into embracing a new view of myself.
”Having an older mentor declare me a man didn't alleviate all of my masculine insecurities but it did rouse me into action and into embracing a new view of myself.
As men, we have the opportunity to step up and step in.
There are hurting people in the world that need us to show up physically and emotionally. Contrary to the belief that we’re not hurting anyone, our passivity does indeed hurt people. It hurts people who need friends, spouses, fathers, counselors and servants. We hold back because we’re afraid and others suffer as a result. We are forged into men when we step into the dangerous, adventurous life of adulthood.
”If you feel inadequate, uncertain, and intimidated about stepping into your adult manhood, the good new is this: every other male has been too. But, you have to start somewhere.
If you feel inadequate, uncertain, and intimidated about stepping into your adult manhood, the good new is this: every other male has been too. But, you have to start somewhere.
The world needs you to show up. What steps do you need to take right now to continue toward your adult manhood?
Sadly, our current statistics on male participation in volunteer gap year programs are following the national average. But they don’t have to. We’re committed to helping young men make the journey into manhood. We’re committed to helping men grow in their faith in Christ, in their intimacy with other people and to grow in their life skills.
We’re convinced this can’t happen when young men choose to pre-fail and stay safely at home. Transformation for ourselves and the world happen when we trust God enough to show up.
Question: What one piece of advice would you give to young men as they transition into adulthood?
Jesse Eubanks is the Founder and President of Love Thy Neighborhood. He’s been leading urban missions programs for young adults since 2005. He is the host of the Love Thy Neighborhood podcast and an ordained minister. He is the author of How We Relate: Understanding God, Yourself and Others Through the Enneagram from Zondervan Books and is passionate about the intersection of social action, relational health and Christian spiritual formation. Relevant Magazine named Jesse one of the top 50 Christian artists and activists making an impact on culture in America.