What makes a Man?
What makes a Man?
I am not talking about being physically alone, but rather being holistically alone. Os Guiness in his book "The Call" talks living with an "audience of one". He talks about how, if we to be obedient to God, we must live as if only God is watching. If God's opinion is the only one we care about, then we will be clear-minded about our lives. Therefore as men and leaders we must be able to make decisions as if God is our only audience. Rudyard Kipling describes the process of becoming a man much in the same way:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!
This poem has been considered one of the best descriptions of passage into manhood for many years. What Kipling is describing is a man who can stand on his own two feet, live by his convictions, and maintain his purpose. And the man does this, not only on his own, but in spite of of the discouragement of those around him.
Of course, Kipling writes this from a somewhat secular viewpoint, but hat does not diminish it's relevance. What makes a man is something created into our very make-up, and applies to those even who do not give their lives to Christ. The only difference is that some men live for Christ, and others live for themselves. Either way, to become a man still has the same test; to stand alone in his heart.
History shows us that all great men at point in their lives go on their chosen path alone, and often amidst great criticism from their peers. William Wallace, Martin Luther, Gallileao, and... Jesus. Jesus' own disciples ran away and denied Him on the day of His crucifixion. No one, even Jesus' closest disciples, knew what He had in mind till after His resurrection (and even then it took them a while).
Being alone is part of what being a leader in any capacity is. To be a leader separates us from those we lead. A leader can take council, get advice, but in the end he has to make up his mind on his own. We ourselves are alone before God in times of decision. We can be given advice and wisdom, but in the end, God holds us alone accountable for our decisions.
So what edification is given to man by acknowledging his state of loneliness before God? The edification lies in the sad truth that most men live in denial of this part of our God given development. The world tries to lead us to believe that it has already made all the important decisions for us, and we as fools have gladly forfeited the responsibility. Our human nature likes the idea of not being responsible for ourselves, but it is an illusion. In the end, we are judged... alone before God.
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