The Lie of 'Man Up'
When men are told to 'man up,' we are robbed of an identity rooted in Christ. Fathers, we have to do better.
"Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love."
-1 Corinthians 16:13-14
At a recent men's ministry event, we were discussing the importance of being in community, and, most importantly, being fully known.
For the sake of brevity, being fully known means sharing all of your life - the good and the bad - with other men (or women) so that you can have true vulnerability and accountability in your walk with Jesus.
And usually, the question we ask is 'have you shared the last 10%' because many of us will grow to a place of opening up, but we won't share the ugliest part of what we've done, thought, or have had done to us.
And why would we? Our culture is one where men are shamed for showing emotion or wrestling with what has happened to them. Movies, music, and friends teach us that it's feminine to do so.
We hear it first as a young boy when we cry, scrape a knee, or fall off our bike and our dad says to 'man up'.
We are taught that crying over spilled milk is no point, so we bottle our emotions.
And what has that led to? Men who aren't fully engaged at church, in their marriage, or in their parenting. A culture where toughness is idolized and being authentic is mocked.
And we continue the cycle, raising our own sons this way.
But I called rubbish. It's a lie to tell someone to man up, to bottle it up, to suffer in darkness and silence instead of being open and authentic and fully transparent.
James 5:16 teaches us "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."
We aren't called to hide in darkness. In fact, that only benefits Satan's agenda of isolation and lacking community.
The greatest command being to love God and love others indicates we be in community and fellowship with God and others. That space of loving others gives way for us to be loved, too. For us to confess our sins so we can get prayer, get strong encouragement, and be healed in Jesus.
So I call rubbish to you, too. Fathers, do not believe the lie that our sons need to man up, or that you need to man up. I'm not calling us to be women, but I am calling us to be strong men who understand relationship and healing. That healing leads to maturity.