When I first decided to write on the idea of manliness I was unsure I would be able to have enough to say to fill up three blogs. But the more I’ve explored it, the more I’ve realized how much there is to say that could never be expressed in three books, let alone three blogs. This last blog in the trio could be about so many different topics, but eventually I settled on the idea of mentorship.
The more I learn about manhood the more I discover about how necessary men are in the process of boys growing into men. I have found that one of the greatest elements of being a man is the ability to make other men. Men train boys to be men.
I’ve noticed there are two main types of leaders that really shape a culture. For the sake of simplicity I will lable them the Paul type and the Barnabas type. The Paul type of leader is the one that is in the spot light and typically stands out in the crowd as the designated leader. The Barnabas type is usually in the background and focuses on a few deep relationships instead of on the masses. A good way to think of it, as John Piper points out: Paul is a great leader, but Barnabas is a great leader-maker.
Yet I noticed something, even though the two types seem very different, both have something remarkable in common. Both the Paul type of leader and the Barnabas type of leader focus on training boys to be men. You can see the “family tree” in that Barnabas mentored Paul, who then mentored Timothy. A key element of a good man is that he passes on his wisdom to those after him.
It’s interesting that I happen to be finishing this blog on Father’s Day, because training boys to become men and girls to become women is essentially what fatherhood accomplishes. God intended for men to raise their children to become men and women. The mark of a good man is how he raises his children.
I find it interesting that when people are impressed with me and wonder why I am the way I am my mind always turns back to my dad, my pastor, my youth pastor, my core group leader, and so many other godly men that impacted my life in one way or another. I realize that if I am becoming a man it is because God used other men to show me what that means.
Part of being a man is teaching boys how to have faith and integrity, yes, but also just teaching them practical life skills and showing them what it means to have responsibility. If boys are not taught how to grow up it will make it exponentially more difficult. When boys are raised by boys, they will remain boys. It takes a man to raise a boy into a man.
My dad and I have not always had the smoothest relationship, but I look back now and realize that he has impacted my life in so many ways that I cannot help but praise God that I grew up in the Thigpen household. From my dad I learned the necessity of hard work, how to love and protect a woman, and how to follow God with humility and authenticity.
I realize this blog is far too short, but I feel that I have to conclude it here. There is much that is left unsaid, but frankly, a blog is just not the place to say it. So I just want to end with this: guys, if you want to be a man, look not only for men that you can learn from, but also look for boys that you can teach. Being a man involves making men. By all means seek out mentors, but don’t let their wisdom end with you. Our culture is degenerating for lack of men. Boys need to learn how to be men. Take courage, gain wisdom, and pass it on.