Jesus was a man who changed all of history. Surely we can glean something from His life?
Being a man can be hard. I’m in my early twenties, so I’m just starting my manhood journey, but some of my college friends and I are passionate about becoming authentic men of God. So we want to know, what does it even mean to be a man?
There are plenty of voices in culture telling us how to be men, but they don’t always agree. So how can we, as men, discover our purpose and identity?
I’ve been studying Jesus, and I do believe we can learn how to be a man from His perfect example. Jesus is God, but He’s also human. Jesus was a man who lived on earth for over thirty years and experienced many of the same feelings, temptations, and challenges we face today.
So, together, let’s discover three things Jesus teaches us about how to be an authentic man.
3 Things Jesus Teaches Us About How to Be a Man
If you want to become the man God created you to be, apprenticeship to Jesus is the best place to start. An apprentice is someone who’s learning to imitate the work and lifestyle of their leader. So as an apprentice of Jesus, our mission is to become more like Him every day.
Here are three qualities we see in Jesus that can help us learn how to become the men God created us to be.
1. Jesus was a gentle man, but He wasn’t a pushover.
This passage from John 8 beautifully captures Jesus’ courageous gentleness. Let’s break it down.
At dawn [Jesus] appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”
They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. John 8:2-9 NIV
Multiple times in this passage, Jesus lowered Himself in front of others when He had every right and ability to tower over them. And yet, He also stood firm and did not allow the accusers to follow through with their unmerciful threat of stoning the woman. She was brought to Jesus in a very vulnerable situation, and He saw her with kindness and compassion. Even as His critics were trying to trap Him, Jesus bent down, rather than getting rigid and defensive.
Sometimes I’m not good at being simultaneously gentle, strong, and courageous like Jesus. It can be easier for me to spit my opinions at someone rather than listen. And I can turn to unkind words when I get upset or stressed.
But Jesus was a man who was strong and also gentle. Men don’t have to use their strength or authority to belittle or steamroll people. Instead, Jesus leads us to respond with care, kindness, empathy, and courage in the face of injustice.
2. Jesus was hospitable to people rejected by others.
In this passage from Luke 5, Jesus is friendly and welcoming to the outcasts of Jewish society:
After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:27-32 NIV
Jesus warmly welcomed into His life many kinds of people who were routinely rejected by others. Even when it wasn’t culturally acceptable, Jesus was a man who chose to pursue people and make sacrifices to help them feel seen and cared for.
Men and women who follow Jesus are called to lead the way in opening up their hearts and homes for those others might see as unworthy, undesirable, or out of place. To me, hospitality hasn’t always seemed like the manliest quality, but it was a regular part of Jesus’ ministry.
So invite people into your life. Offer help to a stranger; get to know a neighbor. Ask a coworker to grab lunch, or invite some friends over for a game night—and see how God changes you through your hospitality.
3. Jesus was a mentorship-minded man.
Jesus hand-picked His disciples, choosing an odd group of mixed tradesmen to carry His message of salvation to the rest of the world. This account from Matthew gives a glimpse into the process:
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. Matthew 4:18-22
Jesus picked these men, knowing that, like all of us, they weren’t perfect. He could have traveled alone, preaching the good news. But Jesus wanted to build up younger men into passionate, Spirit-filled disciples. “Disciple” is another word for apprentice or learner. Younger men—like me—need to be coached and trained, and older men often have valuable experience and wisdom that we need to learn from.
Mentorship has been huge for my friend circle. We all have older men who are passionate about helping us to follow Jesus and figure out life. Navigating faith can be challenging by yourself or even with peers. That’s why it’s so valuable to have older followers of Jesus who can help us as we grow.
So find someone who can help you become more like Jesus, and look for opportunities to help younger Christians grow closer to God. A great place to start is by finding a LifeGroup. LifeGroups are small groups of Jesus followers who meet in person or online.
Becoming More Like Jesus
Following Jesus is a daily process of becoming more like Him. I’ve realized that if I want to grow as a man, I have to commit to being open to the daily practices that transform me into a person who thinks, acts, and sounds more like Jesus. And I’m hoping that, like me, you will find some other guys who are also interested in becoming the men God created them to be, by becoming apprentices of Jesus together.
If you want to learn more about the heart and practices of Jesus, here are some books I’ve appreciated:
- Gentle and Lowly, by Dane Ortlund
- The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, by John Mark Comer
- The Prodigal God, by Tim Keller