The Challenge of Identity
Updated: Oct 15
Last month, we talked about some of men's basic needs that help them achieve satisfaction and fulfillment in life. This month, we will explore the true identity of men according to God's purpose in creating us.
It's safe to say that one of the biggest challenges we men face in our modern society is finding our true identity.
It's safe to say that one of the biggest challenges we men face in our modern society is finding our true identity. Many of us struggle with what it really means to be man and what true masculinity is. More and more our traditional role in society is challenged and diminished. Many boys grow up in homes where there is little or no male influence. They are surrounded by adults who are primarily women. Later, when they attend school, most of their teachers are women. Later on, if they get married they continue to struggle with defining their role often finding their wives are better educated then they are and have occupations that are better paying than theirs. We men are frequently presented in a negative light in the media and in pop culture. We are often portrayed as incompetent bungling fools who frequently are out of touch and less wise and articulate than our female counter parts. Men are encouraged to be subservient to their wives and discouraged from expressing their opinions or asserting themselves expressing the attitude defined as "Mr. Nice Guy." Or on the other hand, we also tend to be portrayed as prone to anger and violence, acting on emotion and exhibiting abusive behavior to our spouses and children.
Because men often lack positive definitions of who they are suppose to be and are frequently presented with female role models instead of male role models, more and more we tend to experience gender confusion. This gender confusion I believe is often responsible for the growing influence of the gay lifestyle over many men's lives as well as the growing transgender identity that is expressed in many children today. We are searching to find out who we are and it can easily lead us down paths that are inconsistent with what God designed that a true man should be.
Many men also are presented with false concepts of what true masculinity is
Aside from gender confusion, many men also are presented with false concepts of what true masculinity is. If a young man doesn't have a positive male role model or a male figure who can nurture or guide him, he will often end up looking for masculine role models in pop culture and the entertainment industry where maleness is often identified with aggressiveness, domination, hypersexuality, hip hop culture, and even drug and alcohol abuse. It can also lead to rampant materialism where my male status is defined by my outward appearance and the things I own such as my car, my technological gadgets, and the clothes I wear.
As God stands for and defends the truth (see John 14:6), we are likewise to be faithful to the truth and live transparent and exemplary lives
Man's True Identity and God's Purpose in Creating Man
As search for man's true identity, we must go back to the beginning of creation where we find how God made man in the beginning and the roles He assigned him. In Genesis 1:26 we are told that humans were made in the image of God, both men and women. God created us to reflect God's image and His likeness. We were made to mentally, physically and spiritually mirror what God is like. We were given the ability to think and reason, to express creativity, to even look like God to a certain extent. But more that anything else, man was made to reflect the character and attributes of God. As men, God calls us in our thoughts and actions express God's love, grace, compassion, acceptance, and patience. As God is trustworthy and dependable, consistent in all He does, we as men were made to also be reliable and dependable and consistent in all we do. As God stands for and defends the truth (see John 14:6), we are likewise to be faithful to the truth and live transparent and exemplary lives. In our homes, in our churches, in our workplaces, it is God's purpose for us to show the world exactly what God is like. Isaiah 43:7 says we were created for God's glory. This means that in all we do and everything we're involved in, we are to bring glory to God. Our primary objective in life is to show the world what a wonderful God we serve and what He is like. God wants us to point everyone we know to Him and His power and love and not our own.
You are the closest thing to God that walks the face of the earth
But though we are to live to bring glory to God and reflect His character, we ourselves also have been crowned with glory and honor according to Psalm 8:5. This text goes on to say that we were made just a little lower than Elohim, God Himself. You my friend are God's highest form of creation on planet earth. There is no reason to feel inferior or worthless or unimportant. You are the closest thing to God that walks the face of the earth. Evolution says we are just a higher form of animal no more worthy of importance or notice than a cat or a dog. God says we are different from the animals. We look and think and achieve things in a similar manner to God if we are led by Him and filled with His Spirit. Animals don't have moral understanding but God has made us with the ability to know right from wrong. We have the ability to achieve great things and to make a lasting impact on the world that no animal can do.
When men speak up and take a stand, others tend to listen
We are also told God made us also to have dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:28). This concept is expanded in Genesis 2 where it says God put man in charge of the garden of Eden. We are told he was to dress and keep it, in other words to protect and care for it in such a way that it would thrive and reach its full potential. God gave Adam this responsibility before woman was created. Men were also created first before women, indicating that they were to have a certain preeminence. This does not mean that women are inferior, but that we as men are to be the main leaders and influencers in society. Studies show that when men take the lead, change takes place more definitely and quickly then when women are in charge. This is not to say that women cannot be good leaders. And many times women have to step in because men have abdicated their role. But throughout history, it is generally men that have been the catalyst for change. They are the generals leading the armies to victory, they are the founders of the cities and the nations, they are the leaders of the great religious revivals and reformations, they generally were the first to take a stand for social justice and civil rights. When men speak up and take a stand, others tend to listen. This is true in the church, in the home and also in the world at large. God has called us to take dominion, leadership and responsibility for the well being of others and the world.Men are most happy when they are fulfilling their purpose as being leaders and making a difference in the world. When their influence and opinions are downplayed and ignored, men lose their sense of purpose and feel they have failed.
Since sin entered, men have been given the responsibility to be the leaders of their home. They are to serve as the priests of their households, leading their wives and children to a relationship with God and interceding for their salvation, providing for their needs and protecting and nurturing them. Men are to be the role models and mentors to their children, giving them a concrete example of what it means to be a follower of Christ. When the man is absent in the home, the children flounder and lose their sense of true identity. This is true of both boys and girls. Girls especially will tend to fail at school, enter into a promiscuous lifestyle, and participate in substance abuse, if they do not have a strong father figure in their lives. Women also are more secure, live longer, and are overall happier and more fulfilled if they have a loving, caring husband in their lives.
God created us with the need to have something to do
God also created men with the desire to do useful labor. After sin, it was to man God said that with the "sweat of your brow" you will eat bread. We already mentioned how God put Adam in charge of taking care of the Garden of Eden. God created us with the need to have something to do. We were not made for idleness. We were made for work and we are happiest when we are doing the work we have found to do "with all our might." We men are to be productive and we are happiest when we feel we are.
We are to be the priests of our homes, helping our wives and children find the path to salvation and have a relationship with God
And so what is our true identity and purpose as men? Our identity is that we are made in God's image to reflect His character in all that we say and do. Our main purpose to bring glory to God and to bring others to Him. We are to be the leaders--at home in the church and in society at large. We are to be the priests of our homes, helping our wives and children find the path to salvation and have a relationship with God. As we find useful labor, we are to advance the cause of good to those around us in acts of love and service. Through men's ministries, it is our goal to help men in our churches discover their true identity and being crowned with glory and honor, achieve the purpose for which God has made them.
Dan Schiffbauer, MDiv, DMin
Men's Ministries Director