What does it mean to be a man?

Dirt bikes, chainsaws, fistfights, guns, MORE POWER! Don’t show weakness, be strong, be successful. The list can go on and on with various attributes, qualities, and skills that make someone a man.

Where has this left us? Let’s be honest. After all, honesty is a manly quality.

It seems manliness has been boiled down to two groups: Homer Simpsons or a “modern-day Casanova” (it’s an actual Facebook page with 206 likes). Yes, we are either lazy, beer-guzzling buffoons or heartbreaking womanizers. Books geared toward men have a focus around working harder, growing platforms, or how to sculpt your beard into your favorite automatic weapon.

Previous generations’ pursuit to make boys more masculine has left angry, frustrated, live-in-the-basement, video game-playing young men.

Don’t get me wrong, dirt bikes and chainsaws and more power are great! If I had the money for a dirt bike, I would love one—if I wasn’t scared of sharp objects, I’d have a chainsaw in a minute. However, the desire or aptitude to use such things is not what makes you a man.

And neither is being tough. Tough exteriors that harbor the brokenness in our lives are not manly; they’re foolish.

If honesty is manly, let’s man up and be weak.

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After all, we are. We have fears about the future. We worry about our kids. We struggle with the destructive words spoken over us and the actions done to us. Our marriages are in crisis, and we don’t know how to fix them. Instead of speaking of the torrential downpour in our hearts, we listen to the lessons of generations past, push the “weakness” down, and let our calloused exterior forge a life of lies—lies that we “got this” and are in control.

Do you know who is tough? Jesus.

Rejected by those closest to him, gossiped and lied about, beaten and killed to save those he loved, Jesus was a real man. Yet despite his manliness, Jesus wasn’t scared to be authentic.

Frequently Jesus would withdraw and recharge (Luke 5:16).

He had close friends that he shared his life and heart with (Peter, James, and John, to mention a few). When his friend Lazarus died, it doesn’t say that he was strong for his friends and family, and did not shed a tear. No! The shortest verse in the Bible states that “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). When entering Jerusalem, Luke records that Jesus cried and mourned over the city (Luke 19:41-44).

We also cannot forget that though Jesus gave his life for those who reject him (Romans 5:8), it wasn’t without emotional distress. Luke 22:44 records that he was under so much stress that he was sweating drops of blood.

Even the Apostle Paul was beaten, punished, ridiculed, shipwrecked. The dude’s a beast! Though he was tough and took more of a beating for what he believes than probably anyone reading this, he still said, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

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Boast in weakness? Men don’t do that unless they get caught doing something they shouldn’t! I wonder, however, if we would be willing to speak our pain, open up our hearts, share our feelings, let people know that “no, we don’t have this,” if we could escape the wrong decisions—instant gratification, workaholism, greed—and be strong amid weakness, if we would find the wholeness that we seek?

Men, we need intimacy in our lives, and unless we are willing to open up, it won’t happen.

As Andy Stanley writes, “…intimacy involves knowing fully and being fully known.” (The New Rules For Love, Sex & Dating. p.138). But as Donald Miler points out, “It’s the one thing we all want, and must give up control to get.” (Scary Close. p.98.)

To be a man means that we admit our weaknesses, we share our hearts, we express the aches and pains of our souls and let others see inside.

Come on, men: man up and be weak.

Josh Trombley

I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia with my wife and four kids who keep me plenty busy. I also pastor a church I planted called, Life Boat Church. In my free time, I enjoy writing music, books, and blog. You can find more of my work at www.joshtrombley.com.