Whether you’re 16, 86, or somewhere in between, you probably ask some version of this question in your head, your heart, and maybe even out loud to friends and mentors: What do I need to do and how should I think about how to be a man?
You’ve probably figured out by now it’s not about doing “macho stuff,” or being outdoorsy, or dressing just right, or knowing how to shave without getting razor burn. Although, if you figure out the last one, would you mind dropping us a line?
Maybe the question shows itself unanswered in your life. Maybe you’re fighting a battle with lust or trying to quit porn. Maybe no matter how successful you are at work, it’s never enough. Maybe each new relationship seems like the answer—then it’s not. Or some new habit, diet, workout, or book promises to be the answer, then isn’t. Maybe addictions look like relief, until they don’t. You know this list; you’ve probably lived some of it. All the unanswered pursuits of the right kind of masculinity that keep you searching for some guide for how to be a man.
One of the keys to being a man is honesty. So here goes nothing. This guide itself is not the answer either. Don’t click away, though. If you take it, use it, put it into practice with others in your life, and invite God to lead you as your ultimate guide, then you’ll start living a life that’s stronger, deeper, and more rewarding than you ever imagined possible.
Real progress starts when you realize where you are. Another way to put that is—all growth begins with self-awareness. You have to start by being honest with yourself if you’re going to be honest with others. So many of the pains we face as men come down to honesty. Being dishonest doesn’t just show up in hiding addictions, covering affairs, fudging finances, and misleading business deals. Getting honest is also about discovering what you’re actually feeling, allowing people to see your weaknesses, and no longer pretending to be something you’re not.
We’ve compiled some of our favorite material to help you get honest with life:
It’s hard to be honest alone, so rally some friends to go through some of these materials with you. Then get together and talk about what stuck for you.
- Warrior with Pastor Craig Groeschel — If you haven’t gone through these videos with other guys yet, do this first. Ask one other guy or maybe a few to get together and start talking about these new discussion videos based on Pastor Craig’s Warrior series. While you’re at it, read through the Warrior Bible Plan together.
- Quitting Porn — Shame and addiction grows best in the dark. It’s time to bring it to the light and tell some people you trust about what you’re battling. You are not the only one. You are not a lost cause. You are not any of the lies you believe about this addiction. You can win this battle with help from God and others. Read this post about quitting porn, tell some Jesus followers you trust, get into a group that will help you to be honest, and look into getting help from a professional.
- Habits — Small disciplines lead to big results. Change isn’t easy for anyone, but it isn’t impossible either. Starting a few small habits can change how you see yourself today and transform you into the man you want to be tomorrow. Pastor Craig developed very practical messages, and we’ve created a daily habits guide and a Bible plan. Don’t wait, get honest with yourself, start small, and start today.
- What Would Jesus Undo? — If He were editing your life, what would Jesus undo? We tie ourselves in knots going through the motions to meet the world’s expectations. But you weren’t created for that. Let Pastors Craig Groeschel and Tim Doremus lead your guys’ group through a discussion to get honest about what Jesus doesn’t put up with. There’s also a Bible Plan and entire message series.
It takes courage to live. Want proof? What would happen if you stopped doing everything you do every day? If you stopped paying bills, going to work, taking care of yourself, caring for others, being a friend, and basically stopped following the most basic expectations of humanity? What would happen? People would be hurt. There’s no question. Your most basic contributions to life require courage, and your current level of courage is not only protecting you but also probably fighting for others. Everything from here on out is just garnering the courage God’s already made available to you through Himself.
Here are some ideas for growing in courage:
Get together with other guys who are at all different stages of discovering courage. Use some of the great content below to help spark your conversation. If you attend Life.Church in person or online, then find or start a men’s group and challenge them to go through this content together.
- Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast — Pastor Craig’s podcast is personal, practical, and powerful. It takes the mystery out of being a leader. Whether it’s in your family, at work, or in your community, when the leader gets better, everyone gets better. So, whether you listen on your commute or with some friends, this is a great way to grow in courage as a leader.
- Wild Life: Start Really Living — Jesus didn’t give up His perfect life so we could just make it through ours. Seven guys—like you—set aside a few days to get honest about what’s keeping them from living a full life. You and your friends will love these videos and this Bible Plan for men.
In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis points out the importance of humility: “As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.” Makes sense. Micah 6:8 simplifies God’s requirements of us, “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” So how do we defeat pride and gain humility?
Here are some great ways to add more humility to your life:
No one sees you better than the people who know you best. Seeing a theme? Whether it’s for coffee, tacos, golf, or just to hang out, build a regular group of guys and go through some of these humility-producing resources together.
- Selfless — When you serve more, you take less. When you give more, you need less. When you thank more, you want less. When there’s more of God, you’re selfless. One way to grow in humility is to think of yourself less. This message series and Bible Plan will inspire you to do exactly that.
- Relationship Help — What if we’re not measured by our accomplishments, but empowered by our relationships? Through refreshing stories, author Roger Thompson reveals the kind of power relationships wield to shape a man. Start this relationship advice Bible Plan, and go through this content with a friend or a group of guys.
- Defeat Pride — Send one of these posts to a friend and start about conversation about how to tell if you’re full of yourself, deflating spiritual pride, building real confidence, and replacing negative self talk.
- How to Neighbor — In a time that’s so easily divided over where you live, how you vote, and what you think, learn how to humble yourself and love your neighbor the way Jesus asked us to. This powerful series, group discussion, and Bible Plan with Pastor Craig Groeschel are practical guides to putting others first.
It takes faith to know God and it takes faith to please God. But what is faith? Is it blind? Can it be strengthened like a muscle? If so, how? There are ways to grow your faith. The traditional term is spiritual disciplines. Which are basically just doing consistent things that connect you with the reality of God. Things like silence, prayer, solitude, fasting, generosity, serving, gathering with other Jesus followers, and reconnecting the things you love to the God you love.
Start one spiritual discipline and go through these resources with a group of guys who love and follow Jesus.
- What’s Next? — So, you’ve decided to dedicate your life to following Jesus. You may be wondering what’s next on your journey. This video-driven guide and Bible Plan will help move you toward the next steps in your walk with Christ.
- Contentment Guide — Do you want to be truly content with life? Maybe you feel like something’s missing, but you don’t even know what it is. These practices have been lived out, and lived in, and have remained true over time. This guide will define five practices for living a full and whole life: Solitude, silence, stillness, service, and sometimes secrecy.
- Daily Power — Pastor Craig’s book and Bible Plan Daily Power will connect you with God and His Word on a daily basis. You can’t beat that.
There are no clear-cut, exact answers for how to be a man. There isn’t even one exact way to be a man. But you can learn from the God-fearing men in your life and from the best example we have—Jesus.