Friends & brothers,
Mature men are an endangered species. And, age or position is of little relevance. Job 32:9 (NKJV) says, “Great men are not always wise, nor do the aged alwaysunderstand justice.” A man of age or position can still be an immature, foolish boy.
On the other hand, males of scant age or position can be quite mature. Of all the Christian men Paul knew, young Timothy was his choice to pastor the very large and important church at Ephesus. Some historians believe he was only seventeen.
God is calling all males in His kingdom to become mature men, regardless of age or position!
Boys to Men
A “boy” becomes a true man, not through the accumulation of birthdays or positions, but the accumulation of experiences with God and his deepest self. Few males plumb the depths of both. Whether you are fifteen or fifty, we need mature men! Our women, our families, our churches, and our societies are thirsting for you.
Fifty Going on Fifteen
It is only natural to sneer contemptuously at the child-men who parade an over-the-top machismo. These big babies go to great lengths to steer clear of all apparent vulnerability. Everyone–except them–knows their macho banner is an overcompensation for low self-esteem.
Less compensatory, though, are the man-boys who are clearly weak, afraid, or brazenly adolescent. In general, they own their boyishness fully, justifying it with allusions to abuse or injustice, and therefore, an entitlement to stay childish.
A third, and more deceptive, category of child-men are the ego-driven Christian leaders. Like Diotrephes, they love to be first (3Jn 9). Like Diotrephes, they love exclusive power and attention (v10). These man-boys are the Christian version of narcissistic celebrities or political dictators. Some of these have been publicly chastised by the Lord in recent years. Expect more.
Illumination, Conviction, & Change
For some, the dysfunctional mileage is so great, the childish incomprehension so pronounced, that only the Spirit of wisdom and revelation can illumine their eyes to these truths (Eph 1:17,18). We need to pray seriously for this. We need to ask the Holy Spirit for the light of seven suns to dawn on our brothers, fathers, sons, and male spiritual leaders. We can criticize childish and selfish men incessantly, but at the end of our venting, it still remains that only the Holy Spirit can grant the conviction to change. Pray with me?
Glorious Father, we worship you! We ask that you grant the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in stronger measures to the males of your kingdom. Enlighten the eyes of our heart to the childish ways that must be put away, in order that we might evolve into mature men of God in the full stature of Christ. In Jesus name we ask and declare that you will do this. Amen.
Boys vs Men
The remainder of this article contrasts several important differences between “boys” and “men” (in random order). May the Holy Spirit alight upon these words.
Boys are afraid deep down; men are brave and ready.
Perhaps the greatest practical difference I notice in boys and men is the issue of fear. Deep down, boys are afraid. Afraid of pain. Afraid of commitment. Afraid of vulnerability. Afraid being alone. Afraid of feeling. Afraid of not being good enough. Afraid of being disliked. Afraid of being romantically undesirable. Afraid, afraid, afraid.
Mature men have explored–and conquered–those dark places and scary monsters within by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is exactly what 1John 4:18 says: perfect (mature) love ends fear, but the one who still fears is not yet perfect (mature).
As a result, mature men are brave and ready to tackle new experiences, new missions, new relationships, new territories, new challenges. Brave and ready to confront. Brave and ready to protect. Brave and ready to share their souls. Brave and ready for almost anything.
As a “boy”, Peter was afraid to publicly acknowledge his friendship with Jesus. As a man, he was brave and ready to be crucified upside down for Him.
Boys cower at crisis; men borrow crisis for opportunity.
Boys see crisis in negative terms. They get lost in the problem. Hence, they spend exorbitant amounts of energy trying to avoid crisis, or, quelling it as quickly as possible. They do this because (1) they feel inept to navigate the crisis intelligently, and, (2) they avoid uncomfortable emotions at all costs.
Mature men see uncomfortable emotions (induced by crisis) as merely a pebble in their shoe; mainly because they have already healed and closed past wounds that might exacerbate present crises. Therefore, uncomfortable emotions in the present can be managed as simply that. No triggers. No negative associations. No hypersensitivities. No emotional sunburns. No exacerbations.
Mature men have also constructed a vast infrastructure of spiritual intelligence from which they are “thoroughly equipped” (2Ti 3:17). This type of wisdom comes only from a constant baptism in the Scriptures (Ps 1:2,3), and, applying and experiencing those Scriptures in real life.
After numerous seasons of such emotional cleansing and constructing spiritual intelligence, a man develops quite a crisis-competence and crisis-confidence.
Boys have anger issues; men hold their water well and express emotions redemptively.
Boys have the mood swings of a temperamental Greek goddess. They throw temper tantrums. They storm out. They peel out. They slam doors. They throw things. They hit things. They scream at you. They walk out and leave you hangin’.
A male who acts like this is about eleven years old cognitively. Proverbs 29:11(NIV) says, “Fools give full vent to their rage…” Ecclesiastes 7:9 says, “…anger resides in the lap of fools.”
Mature men, though, hold their water well. Their bones may be on fire with aggravation or offense, but the fruits of self-control and patience are sufficiently present to not spew that fire. The most mature men in God’s kingdom rarely become inflamed at all, as Proverbs 17:27 and 19:11 (NIV 1984) say, “…a man of understanding is even-tempered…A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”
This patience, however, is not merely stuffing it, stewing over it, and expressing it in other, detrimental ways. The ultimate indicator of maturity is expressing heated or offended emotions redemptively. Sometimes that means expressing them honestly to the relevant person, but in a redemptive spirit. Sometimes it means expressing them honestly in prayer, but with a forgiving and intercessory heart.
Boys talk at you; men share.
As a soccer coach and youth pastor years ago, I noticed the boys tended to talk at each other, at the girls, and even at me. Their talking was more of a declaration, infomercial, or demand.
Men who are still boys do the same. They talk at their wives; at their congregations; at the bank-teller; at the waitress. These men make you feel as if you just watched the news or just left your boss’ office. They did a whole lot of talking, but you don’t feel any closer to them afterwards.
Mature men share. They know when to declare, when to inform, and when to share their souls in a meaningful way. They stop what they’re doing, lock eyes, and open their heart. They let you in. They share wants and needs, dreams and fears, feelings and reactions. They show humanity and vulnerability.
When a man shares like this, it is a powerful event. His wife feels like the Berlin Wall has come down. She rushes in. The children rush in. The congregation is stirred with compassion and support. Other men are compelled to share. A man opening up is akin to Father God revealing Himself. It is that momentous. It is that mature.
Boys want to be taken care of; men want to be caretakers.
Boys are consumers and takers. They want to be taken care of. They cannot keep a job. They constantly need rescuing. They need a perpetual mother.
Strong women, beware! These types like to attach to you. Purify yourself of the Mother Hen. Purify yourself of the need to rescue and manage. You need a mature man to lead you, not a manchild to need you.
Mature men are producers, providers, and givers. They are caretakers. They want to be caretakers. They are overflowing enough spiritually, emotionally, and in other ways to fill someone else’s cup.
Notice Boaz. He was spiritually abundant enough to not exploit Ruth sexually when she spent the night at his feet (Ru 3:13,14). He was emotionally whole enough to honor the due process for acquiring Ruth legitimately (ch 4). He was financially prosperous enough to care for her even before they were married (2:14-18, 3:15). He was a caretaker in every way. He was mature.
Boys are wanna-bes and copycats; men are peaceful in their own skin.
Boys are a patchwork of people they idolize. They talk like the head frat brother. They dress like Tom Brady. They act like their cousin. They try to preach like John Hagee.
Boys are wanna-bes and copycats. They have not come to a truce with their truest God-designed self.
Mature men are peaceful in their own skin. They do not fidget. They do not move spastically or suddenly. They do not look down or all around. They are not waiting for your approval signals. They can appreciate and learn from others without stealing their personality to add to the patchwork.
Jesus said to love ourselves as the basis for loving others. David beautifully called his own self “my darling” (Ps 22:20, 35:17 KJV). A mature man has grown to the level where he can honestly say of himself, “My darling.”
Boys are slobs and sloppy; men are orderly and organized.
It is not cool, guyish, or manly to be slobbish and sloppy–it is gross.
Boys have poor hygiene. They sometimes do not brush their teeth. Or their hair. Or shower. Or use deodorant. Or wear clean clothes. Or clean the toilet seat when they miss.
As an athlete, I continually experience (and smell) the worst of man-boys. Honestly, sometimes I could puke. Then they wonder why their wives are disinterested in sex.
Boys have living quarters that look like atomic bomb testing grounds. Their cars are like motorized landfills. Then they wonder why God won’t give them more money, a bigger business, a bigger ministry, or a woman to care for. C’mon fellas, not everything is a mystery.
Mature men are organized and ordered. They treat their bodies, living quarters, cars, office space–everything–with excellence and efficiency. They know where to find stuff. They smell fresh. They clean the toilet seat.
These are men of excellence. Level-10 brothers. True kings. Maturity is not merely praying up a tizzy and avoiding late-night HBO. It is also being excellent in the little things that affect so much. It is the little foxes that eat up your vineyard and keep God from giving you more (SS 2:15, Lk 16:10).
Boys want a concubine or girlfriend; men want a wife.
Boys are horny and pornographic (horny is very different from sexual.) They are hung up on bikini pics, Victoria’s Secret, racy movies, and pornographic material in general. In this mental state, guys are looking for one of two things: (1) a concubine, or (2) a non marriage-minded girlfriend. The concubine would be a mere sexual partner, and the non marriage-minded girlfriend would keep him unmarried should a “hotter” opportunity arise. Either way, a wife and family are first–from the bottom. (Keep in mind, “boys” can mean thirty, forty, or fifty years old just as easily as thirteen, fourteen, or fifteen.)
Married men can still be in this mental state. They stare. They ogle. They flirt with other women. They side-hug too long. They make inappropriate comments. They check out internet porn. They have “friendships” with sexual undercurrents.
This is not a man, this is a boy. Mentally, an adolescent boy. Spiritually, if born-again, a baby in Christ. And no, it does not matter if he is a pastor or has a ministry. That is only his position.
Mature men are sexual. Biblically, this is inseparable from a wife and encompasses all three dimensions of his being. Here’s what I mean.
Horny is animalistic and fleeting. It is flesh-deep only. Sexual encompasses a man’s entire being–body, soul, and spirit. To be truly sexual, then, means to experience sex in physical, soulical, and spiritual terms as God intended. All three.
Physically, sex is to create “one flesh” (Mt 19:5), meaning, a physical dependence/need between husband and wife (1Co 7:4).
Soulically, it is to create one emotional river, or in the words of the Shulammite, to seal their hearts together (SS 8:6). Spiritually, it is to create a three-way bond or “trinity” between husband, wife, and Christ (1Co 6:15-17).
Thus, a revealing chasm exists between the adolescent-minded, horny male and the mature, sexual man. The mature man has left the childish way of flesh-deep impulses; he has graduated into a one-woman man, an all-encompassing sexuality. Only he is truly sexual. Only he is truly mature.