Most people wouldn’t call me a man.
I’m twenty. This means the government thinks I’m man enough to vote or join the military. My age has earned the privilege to pay taxes, too, and after years of trying, I’ve finally grown something of a beard.
Still, though, most people wouldn’t call me a man.
Lately, I’ve been asking myself: Am I that much different than other men? How many of the supposed “men” sitting in pews week in and week out would still be called a man if we held their manhood against biblical standards? I’m afraid the answer is, “Not many.”
Instead, we often take boys and put them in the shoes of leaders, fathers, and pastors, dressing them up as the men that they aren’t. Most people, both inside and outside the church, make the assumption that by advancing in your career, getting a house of your own, or growing a beard (one unlike mine) you have become a man.
To be fair, I can’t tell you how it feels to work a nine-to-five or be a father of two. I still don’t even know what it’s like to be completely independent. But I can tell you what God is revealing through His Word as He prepares me for all of those things in the ever-nearing future.
Here are four biblically rooted pieces of advice for young men that God has been showing me lately:
1. Go Get a Job.
In Genesis 2:15, we see the first thing that God does with man. God takes him, puts him in the Garden of Eden, and commands him “to work it and keep it.” Men were made to work hard. It’s important to note that this command was handed down to Adam before Eve was brought into existence. God didn’t create Adam and Eve only to say, “Good luck chief, you’ve got to look out for her now!” No—Adam was working the Garden even before he had anyone to support.
Young men, go out and get a job. It doesn’t have to be your career or a lifelong vocation, but you need to be learning how to manage money well and be a good steward of what God has given you.
2. Go Pursue a Wife.
Quit being complacent about finding somebody. Looking again to Genesis 2, God states what moms have been saying for years: “It is not good that the man should be alone” (v. 18). It’s essential for a man to find a wife. Matt Chandler once said, “Nothing is as dangerous as bored man,” while commenting on the role of men. I think the same dangers apply to single men. The longer you wait to look for your wife, the longer you’re subjecting yourself to “sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:5). While these words sound strong to our boyish culture, I think most young men would agree these sins slip into our lives subtly. Singleness can be a great means of service for God, but when abused, it quickly becomes a bigger hindrance than help.
3. Go Find a Mentor.
I know some of these goals feel out of your hands. You can’t force a company to hire you, and you definitely can’t make a girl want to date you—let alone marry you. These are major life steps, and it wouldn’t be fair to expect them to happen instantly. This is why I think Scripture recommends finding a mentor, specifically some kind of faithful man older than you who will demonstrate what biblical manhood looks like (Ps. 145:4; Titus 2). My mentor is a local pastor who has, at some point in my life, consistently been part of my small group, answered any questions I have had about life or faith, or made time for me if I needed advice from someone who has more life experience. Even with my move to Kansas City, he makes an effort to be available when I need to talk with him. By having an older, more experienced man of God invest into my life, I have grown in my walk with Christ. Mentorship is like spiritual fertilizer; the rich nutrients of your mentor’s advice and experience better helps the Word soak into the soil of your life.
4. Go Get in the Word.
A man of weak spirituality is not a man at all. How childish would it be to hold in your hands the very words of the Living God and approach them flippantly? To be a man is not to check off a list of do’s or don’t’s; instead, manhood is about cultivating a life of fruitful laboring for God—physically, emotionally, and faithfully. Want to hear practical advice for men from Scripture? Read Proverbs. Want to learn how to love your (future) wife? Read Song of Solomon. Want to learn how to create a life marked by spiritual disciplines? Read through the Psalms and put yourself in the shoes of the speaker or psalmist. We are given no spiritual equation for manhood, but we have the Word, which is enough to guide us, train us, and sustain us in our journey together as men.
[Amended from a post originally published at the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood].
Cody Glen Barnhart
Cody Glen Barnhart (@codygbarnhart) lives in Maryville, Tennessee, and is a student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has written for sites such as Canon & Culture, For the Church, and Gospel Centered Discipleship.